Ep. 55 || Hospitality in the Little Years Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Today we are going to dive right in to talk about hospitality with children and the whole nine yards. This is sometimes a overwhelming topic in motherhood and something that we want to do as believers, but it’s definitely something that we want to think about, understand, and know why it is so important that we apply that, not only for the sake of the gospel but also as a really great teaching tool. We are going to jump right in today, right Laura? [laughs]   

Laura:  Yes, we’re diving deep. I grew up in a house that practiced a lot of hospitality. It was definitely full on. Every weekend there was somebody coming over for something, a lot of impromptu meetings. So it’s something that my husband and I have a huge passion for, and again,  I’m really excited to talk about this today. But it has definitely gotten harder. It used to be so much easier before kids and now with kids, I feel like there are so many more factors.   

Emily:  Obviously, I’m married to Laura’s brother,] so he’s cut from the same cloth, experienced the same things growing up like a ton of hospitality. I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of Laura’s parents, my in-laws, but I think that’s not always been a passion area for me if I were to look at all the different ways I do ministry in life. Hospitality is definitely on the list, but it’s not at the top of the list. I think with young kids, it’s been taking it day by day and month by month sometimes, and saying, “How does the Lord want us to lay down our comforts and sacrifice and extend what we have been given to others, and enjoy those relationships?” It’s definitely been a process for me.    

Laura:  With kids, I think no matter how good you are at hospitality, how naturally it comes to you, it definitely becomes more sacrificial. It becomes difficult for even the most hostess with the mostest I guess. Let’s chat through the gospel really quick. We have a couple of different things to speak of here. I think the first thing, if we look at God’s word, we are going to find hospitality all over the place. In the Old Testament, it was a command for the Israelites. When the people travelled around back then, they had to rely on the kindness of strangers. You can go to Leviticus 19 to see God’s law on this and his love for the traveler, for the sojourner. He commanded for the people to treat others to love him as you love yourself. They were called to remember how they were outsiders in Egypt, and now they are called to show the love of God that they received when they were rescued from Egypt.

You can even look at Genesis 18, I think that’s one of the most popular examples of hospitality in the Old Testament, where Abraham and Sarah were entertaining three strangers. They did all this great stuff that you can read as an example of great hospitality. It turned out that they were entertaining angels and one of them was Christ himself. Again, you can see in the New Testament this just continues, this charge for believers, especially with the early Church. You can see it in Romans, Hebrews, 1 Peter, 1 Timothy, Titus, all of these are charging the church body to show hospitality to each other, to strangers and to friends, Jews and Gentiles, and it was even a requirement for church leadership.    

Emily:  It is everywhere in scripture. That was an awesome overview. I’ll just be really honest here because I think we’ve been in this habit of bearing our souls on Risen Motherhood. I think all of those almost feel really burdensome to me. I’ve been a believer for a while and I know I’m supposed to be showing hospitality. I know we are supposed to be opening our home. I want to be like that, but for me, it has been hard to find motivation with just the biblical examples. Which is why it’s been helpful, as Laura and I were thinking about the show, to process through why. Why does it matter to God? Why does he love hospitality? I’ve enjoyed thinking through even in the Garden, think about how hospitable God was by creating this gorgeous place for mankind to live. They had good food and they had work to do and they had a purpose and they had good fellowship with God. So if there is an originator of good hospitality, it is the Lord.     

Laura:  God is the hostess with the mostest. [laughter]

Emily:  Did Adam and Eve appreciate that and trust God? No, sin enters and we’re definitely selfish beings who are always looking out for our own interests and so hospitality is very difficult for our sinful, selfish hearts. But we know that God made a way for his people to come back to him and be reconciled through Jesus. That was something that happened at great personal cost to Christ. He laid down everything to the point of death for us, so that we could be back in God’s kingdom again and someday, in a new heaven and new earth, experience that feasting at the table again, being  with the Lord, being in fellowship with him, being in a place that is beautiful and enjoyable with people we love. It’s this ultimate big picture of hospitality and it’s exciting and undeserved.

Laura:  I think when we hear this side of hospitality, I totally agree with you Em, that I think it rises within me, this desire to model God’s heart, because we want to love the things that God loves, to hate the things that he hates. This beautiful story of the gospel—hospitality is all over it. Even when it costs us something and, not even close to the cost that it cost Jesus, but when it costs us time, our energy, our money, sleep routine, crabby kids, all of those fun things. When we image God, we are showing them a picture of the gospel and just how radical God’s love is. I think that hopefully this picture of what God has done for us starts to motivate you and grow in you a love for exemplifying the same things that God loves, because this is how we draw others. We are a light. We are a salt and light to the others and we draw others to image him.   

Emily:  As you’re basking in that, now we’re going to get all the objections. Tthey’re all going to surface. Maybe you have lots of little kids at home, maybe you have one little kid that’s really in a difficult season right now. Maybe you have a newborn that you’re like, “I’m going to have to nurse this baby in the middle of the meal and our guests are going to want to be talking. I can’t pay attention because I have little ones that need to get down for a nap,” or maybe there’s a bedtime issue that you’re having to deal with. Other issues may be that your husband travelled somewhere. He is gone a lot and so you feel like, “Is this something I can do by myself with my kids?” Maybe you have a kiddo with some special needs or considerations like, “Oh, we’ve got lots of food allergies in our house,” or, “I have a kiddo that needs almost my full attention while people are here. How do I deal with that?” Maybe you are a working mom to whatever degree and life is really busy and you’re like, “I want to get home and just provide food for my own family.” Maybe you also have older kids and there’s activities. I don’t even know, I haven’t even gotten to that realm yet, but I watch other people do it and I’m like, “Wow, that’s really busy. How do you make space for hospitality?” There’s certainly a lot of things that come up.         

Laura:  There are so many variances but we can see that no matter where you’re at or what life stage you are in with your kids, hospitality is still a wonderful teaching tool. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love hospitality so much is that it really shows our children so many different facets of the gospel. I think that a lot of this is done through modeling, through the hosting of itself but also, a lot of it is done through communicating around it, before it, after it, and during it. I think that’s where those truths are. They come full circle for our children and they are able to see, “Oh, this is why we do this.” One of the first things that hospitality can show our kids is God’s love for all people; both the stranger and our friend. Hearts are changed in the living room. That is where the gospel does it’s work. It’s getting more and more difficult to invite people to church these days, as there are so many stereotypes or personal histories that hinder people from being open to something called “church”. But to come into your home, most people are super excited and willing to do that. It’s a comfortable welcoming inviting place and so in front of our children, it can show that, “We have believers in our home and we have unbelievers in our home. I think it shows them a heart for the lost and also how encouraging and refreshing it is for us, in our own souls, to meet with people that also love Jesus.

One big thing that I’m working with my kids is teaching them to make conversation, to ask good questions. It can show our children that everyone who comes into our home, we want to show them the good news of Jesus. With my son and my daughter, we are working on having them talk to people who come in. I know with little kids, a lot of times, they can shy away or get nervous or not want to talk. We’re like, “We don’t have to have a full conversation with them but we want you to be polite and show kindness even if you don’t feel comfortable with this person.” We talk him through that and we talk about it afterwards and it’s amazing to see the transformation as he’d had practice and also as we prep him for it than when we are like, “Hey, talk dude, talk, talk to this stranger.” [laughter]       

Emily:  What Laura just mentioned is a great universal tip, if you’re wanting to train your kids in anything, which is talk about it before, teach them how, do it and then talk about it afterwards; how it went pre and post activities—super good stuff there.  Some other things, real quick are, modeling for our children that we want to be generous, and that all of the possessions that we have belong to the Lord ultimately. I was reading a scripture yesterday about eternity and all of the riches and all of the wealth that God has lavished on us. It is funny when I think about what we are going to have forever, so why do we hold on to what we have right now? It doesn’t matter. We should spend it all for Christ. We shouldn’t be holding on to it because we have so much wonderful riches and comfort coming. I think it can be a way to show that to our children. Then finally, teaching our kids to have a servant heart and to lay down what they want to do in order to really care for others in really practical ways like helping set the table and seeing if they need any help with anything like coat. This all overlaps but all good stuff.      

Laura:  If you’ve spent any amount of time with me ever, you’ve probably heard me say, “See needs and meet them.” That was my mom’s mantra and she drilled it into us as kids, that no matter where we went, if the dishes need washed, well, that’s you. It didn’t matter if we were at someone’s house who we knew really, really well or at someone’s house who we didn’t know well, we tried to be able to serve whomever’s house we were in. Even in our own homes, we want to see needs and meet them. If someone needs a drink or if someone needs their coat hung up or whatever it is. That’s something I’m working on with my children of like, “Hey, can you go take this napkin to Mr. Steve over there?” We encourage them. Even my three-year old and my two-year old can learn how to see needs and meet them, even if mom is seeing them and then the child is meeting them but that’s something you can do right away.  

Emily:  If you are listening and you are like, “Hey, I want to get started on this,” or like, “Now I’m feeling all the motivation  and all the excitement,” what are some things that you could do, we could do, I could do? I need this list here.  [laughs] I think we went through a few examples in scripture of hospitality but that can be something you can be on the lookout for as you are reading scripture, doing your Bible study, whatever it is your working through right now. Also, just be praying even day by day like, “God is there somebody that you want me to reach out to today, or invite over or bring into our home for a deeper relationship?” I think sometimes I can get in radical mode of like, “What’s this big crazy hospitality thing I can do?” when really, it’s like, “Hey, we already have some people in our lives that probably wouldn’t mind coming over.” It’s probably a simple smaller thing for me that I miss or even brainstorming. My husband loves to brainstorm when we are going to have people over. [laughter] You and Brad need to get together and have some planning.  

Laura:  We used to, we used to. [laughter]

Emily:  So even entertaining that and processing through that and then getting it on the calendar, even if it’s not something that we send out invites for. It’s that prompting, so lots of good ideas.   

Laura:  Yes, and make it part of your natural rhythm. As I was going to say, my husband and I’s tendency is to overextend. I know right now we say, “We’re not going to throw this big elaborate Easter brunch because that’s a little bit difficult in this season of young kids but we strive to host twice a month. However that’s going to look, and it’s super impromptu—order pizza, use paper plates, don’t over think. The hosting isn’t about getting out your nice plates and making sure that you have fine china and all this stuff. It’s just about gathering together and so don’t over complicate it. I know you Emily, you guys invest deep in a few select people, right? I like that. Talk about that for a sec.   

Emily:  In this season, we’ve got four young kids and I’m pregnant so it’s mass chaos. We have a college student and my husband has a high school student that we are responsible for and we are always, “If no one else…” we have these people as part of our natural rhythm and we try to see them, at least our college student, every week and see how can she come into our home more. How can she have a bedroom here? Have a place here? Maybe we can’t have all the house parties right now but here’s something that we feel like the Lord is leading us to do, and she’s cool with our hot mess. [laughter] We love it and we are hopefully doing these things in the name of Christ, which is like what Laura was saying, is really what matters. What I’m learning, as well, is that this is about relationship with people and talking to them about Jesus and growing with them and less about all of the other details, although those can be a tool to minister to people.

Laura:  For me, I have a big mouth and I’m like, “Hey, let’s hang out.” Suddenly, randomly, I just got the idea that I want to spend time with a person. We’ve learned to  do some stuff after bedtime where people have babysitters are a little bit cheaper sometimes or we do things that are midmorning play dates so there’s no meal happening. So get creative. If there is a hindrance for you, get creative. There are definitely ways around it. No excuse is in surmountable. The last thing is learn from others in your life. If there is something that you are getting hang up on like, “What do I do with these muddy shoes in the winter? There are so many of them,” or, “What recipe do I make for gluten-free or for a lot of kids plus a lot of adults?” “What coffee craft do I use?” As I’ve grown in hosting, I’m like, these are some really good tools that I like to have on hand. It’s helped my experience to make hosting enjoyable because when you have the right equipment. Talk to someone who you know is a great host and learn from them. I think we need to wrap up here but hospitality is going to look really different for every family in every season. We really want to hit that home but know that it’s still something that we hope you can grow a love for, and grow and improve in, and really see the gospel revealed in your own life and in others’ lives as you guys begin an attitude and a practice of hospitality. Remember that it’s an overflow of what Jesus has done for you and of all the things that you’ve been given.

Of course, you can find us on social media. As always, we are on iTunes.  We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and then of course, find us on iTunes, leave us a rating and review, we’d love that. Have a great day.


Ep. 54 || Ask Us Anything! Spring 2017 Edition Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hello and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me. We have a really fun, long episode planned for you guys today. This is the Ask Us Anything Show that you probably heard a little bit about on social media, so we’re super excited to kick things off today.

Emily:  We feel like over the last, what, year and a half now Laura, we’ve been storing up questions, and we have some questions we get pretty frequently. As you guys know, each we week, we don’t really necessarily talk about super practical stuff on the show, so we thought it would be fun maybe like twice a year, to sit down and have a group question-answer session [laughs].

Laura:  We threw this out on social media a few weeks ago, and we got covered in questions. It was unbelievable how many you guys sent, and we so appreciate it. They ran the gamut from really simple stuff to really hard stuff. Come on guys [laughter]. There were all sorts of things, but one thing to note, is that a lot of these things we do answer on Instagram stories. If you’re not on Instagram, get over there, come over and follow us because those are only 24-hour things that last, so unfortunately it’s not like they last a long time. You can head over to Instagram and periodically we’ll answer some of these frequently asked questions that we get throughout the week that relate to that week’s show. We hope that you’ll find us there. It’s probably our most active platform and the community of women there is awesome. I love hanging out over there.

Emily:  Feel free to email us too because what often happens for show ideas, other than the fact that Laura and I are always generating all these show ideas, but sometimes we’ll get several emails in a row over the course of a month, about the same topic. We’ll go, “Okay, I think the Lord may be leading us to do a show on this.” Don’t hesitate. If there is a burning question that you have, because there are maybe other women who have it too, and it may become a show topic, which you’ll find out. We got several show topics from this little question session.

Laura:  Let’s dive in with our first question. Somebody asked, “How many coffees, AKA life juice,” those are her words, “Do you guys drink each day normally, then when you’re pregnant, and then when you’re nursing?” You want to kick us off Em?

Emily:  Sure. I’m one of those pregnant ladies who gets sick in my first trimester, and I think coffee sounds disgusting, but I have to drink it [laughs]. I choke it down for the first twelve weeks, but that usually ramps me down a little bit from my normal maybe three-ish cup, four-ish cup habit.

Laura:  Four cups?

Emily:  No, not really. I think it’s four cups in my mind, but realistically, it’s probably 2.5.

Laura:  Reheating it four times probably.

Emily:  Yes, I don’t think it’s really four. Maybe I’d fill it up four times and I don’t know what happens to it [laughter]. After my first trimester, usually I’ve naturally ramped down to about 1.5. I don’t even know what the cup measurement is. I literally mean a normal-sized mug. I drink a one and a half normal-sized mugs.

Laura:  I’ve seen some of your mugs. Some of them are kind of oversized girlfriend. [laughter]

Emily:  I don’t drink out of one of those jumbo mugs. I am only like, “This is just my one cup” [laughter].

Laura:  It’s like six total cups. [laughter]

Emily:  Same when I am nursing too. I don’t know, I almost never totally ramp down.

Laura:   I never change anything. I am a two-cup girl, and I don’t change it when I am pregnant, I don’t change it when I am nursing. I love coffee all the way through pregnancy. I am one of the lucky few, I suppose. There are other things that get me. It’s not that I don’t get sick, but coffee has never been repulsive to me. I learned to drink it back in college, but I love it all the way through. My kids, when they’re nursing, you have to get used to it baby.

Emily:  I really liked this question.

Laura:  Of course you did because you like fashion more than me. [laughter]

Emily:  Even though it’s becoming a smaller and smaller portion of my life, [laughter] the question is, “What are your go-to momiforms; mom uniforms, for on-the-go with your kiddos and what are your favorite places to shop for pieces?”

Laura:  We have a whole episode on momiforms that we’ve covered, so you can learn about how Emily and I are so different in this area [laughter]. Emily is much more fashionable, and has a lot of variety in her wardrobe.

Emily:  I am coming around though. I just don’t have time for that anymore [laughs].

Laura:  Well, five kids will do that to you. My go-to everyday is jeans, shirt, a nicer-ish shirt, but not a blouse. The silk blouse is a no-go with kids. I think every mom is going to be nodding along. But just like a cool tee, or whatever, and then a cardigan. And I wear sneaks; I wear slide-ons, whatever you call those.

Emily:  Like your Vans?

Laura:  Like my Vans. I wear them a lot. But I don’t change it up. I wear the same clothes all the time. You’re going to see me in the same clothes [laughter]. I am very boring, and I wear almost all neutrals. I’ve gone more and more towards that way.

Emily:  You always rock some cute flannels. I feel like I see you in sweaters that are cute and flannels.

Laura:  Yes, oversized sweaters.  I’m totally into the oversized stuff [laughter].

Emily:  I am right there with you. I am glad that oversized is in style.

Laura:  Thank goodness the midriff style is not in because there would be baby bellies all over the place.

Emily:  I think I like the moms in the ‘90s when it was like your shirt barely matches to the top of your jeans.

Laura:  Or didn’t even match and you we’re just… [laughter]

Emily:  Now we have this, “Okay, sure, if you pull on some leggings and some long wavy tunic...”

Laura:  Yes, like, “What’s under there? I don’t know. It’s a magic trick.” I just love it. I love it. You don’t even have to care [laughter]. So where do you shop at?

Emily:  It totally depends on if I am pregnant or not. [laughter] But when I am not pregnant, I love LOFT. It has this line called Lou & Grey, and it’s like a little bit of an ‘athleisure’ line. [laughter] Is that what it’s called, ‘athleisure’?

Laura:  I think that’s a legit word.

Emily:  I have several, what I would call ‘cute sweatshirts’, not grungy sweatshirts, but fashionable sweatshirts.

Laura:  You wear those a lot.

Emily:  You will regularly find me in a cute sweatshirt and jeans. Then another place I like to get my cute sweatshirts from is Nordstrom actually, because they have, I think about two sales a year. If you’re watching those sales, they’ve got some pretty good deals, and it’s free shipping, free returns.

Laura:  I do love that.

Emily:  Shop from home.

Laura:  Yes, I haven’t been to a dressing room in years.

Emily:  [laughs] Once a year I may go out shopping somewhere.

Laura:  For maternity, I love Old Navy, Gap, Target, and then non-maternity, I’m into Old Navy, Gap, Target, but I added Madewell. I don’t buy them for maternity; they do have maternity, but I love Madewell. I love me some Madewell when I’m not pregnant because I feel that, for spending the amount of money that I do, it’ll last me longer than…

Emily:  Go ahead Laura.

Laura:  A good maternity place that I found this pregnancy is PinkBlush Maternity. We will link to that, but they have great tops and they’re really cost-effective; they’re economical.

Emily:  But, I have been looking there for pants, so listen you guys. This is an all-call, if you know of maternity jeans that do not sag in the bottom after a day, [laughter] and they’re full panel, you email us. [laughter]

Laura:  Yes, I’ll take it too please. A baggy butt, not cool.

Emily:  Moving onto something much deeper. [laughter] What are you currently doing for your quiet times? How do you choose what you’re going to do, and anything you’d like to recommend or try.

Laura:  It’s like a six-part question there. For me right now, doing women’s Bible study, we’re doing From Garden to Glory by Courtney Doctor. It’s a nice, thick booklet, heavy little book there, but it’s very good. It covers a whole overview of the Bible, and it talks about the metanarrative of the Bible, which, if you’ve heard that term, it basically means seeing the whole Bible is one large story. Everything from the Old Testament, all points towards Jesus. It’s a very fun study. It’s something I’ve never formally done. I’ve done this informally, but where she walks you through the entire Bible to see how it’s one, big beautiful story that God put together. So I highly recommend it. I think it’s really, really good. It is a little bit time-intensive, but most things that Emily and I do are. I’m currently reading through the Bible from front to back with no special plan. I’m trying to read it for comprehension and I am looking for certain truths. I read five to ten chapters at a time. Not in a way to check it off the list, but to really comprehend, and take the time to go back and look, and see how all of these things are connecting. I’m reading for comprehension, and I take a little bit of notes and write down what little nugget of truth. I am currently in Ezekiel. I’d like to recommend any John Wilkins study, the Garden to Glory by Courtney Doctor. I know Em you’re doing a really good that I want to try so maybe you should go now.

Emily:  That was a good question of, how do you choose what you’re going to do? Like Laura, I really try to follow a lot of what our women ministry in the church is putting out. Probably most churches, either for women, or general, offer some type of Bible study, some type of curriculum. So it’s really easy to have that accountability and jump on board [laughs] with whatever your church is doing. Right now, we’re going through Ephesians by Keri Folmar, and I’ve just loved it. It’s an inductive study and so that is a method all in itself. Maybe Laura and I will jump on Instagram stories this week, and share about some different Bible study methods but I’ve just loved it. It’s the second study our church has done by her, so I would highly recommend it. When I am not doing a Bible study through church, and that’s literally all I do when I am in my study. But when I’m not doing that, I try to have a plan. It varies because if I don’t have a plan, I think it’s super awkward to just wake up in the morning and like, “I don’t know, I’ll just open up my Bible and point to something.”

Laura:  That is a recipe for not having a quiet time, [laughter] like two-minute one.

Emily:  Or having one and maybe pulling some things that aren’t true, or getting some weird stuff going on. I will often pick a book of the Bible that I’ve been interested in going through, and I’ll do an inductive study on my own. Occasionally, I’ll go through a book that’s not my steady diet, but sometimes, especially if there’s a particular issue I am wanting to think through, I will do that. Laura and I have both done some good Jen Wilkin studies. One of my favorite studies I’ve ever done for seeing Jesus, like Laura was saying, in the metanarrative of scripture was a study by Nancy Guthrie  who has a series called Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. She’s got several books in that series. In the book, she  explains things, and there’s Bible study. It’s really, really good and I think that was one of the most helpful tools I’ve ever used to understand how Jesus shows up in the Old Testament law and all those good things. [laughs]

Laura:  It changes everything when you start seeing Jesus in that Old Testament. It changes everything. Next question is, what temp do we keep our home in the winter months? I have no idea why someone wants to know this but we’re cold. We usually are about 67 during the day, 64 at night. My kids have space heaters in their room, well my daughter does. I remember my mother-in-law would always, when we lived back in Minneapolis, would bring a winter coat and wear it the entire time she was in our home. I would have to put up the heat for her.

Emily:  Laura’s husband is a Minnesotan.

Laura:  Oh my goodness. If it’s 60 degrees, he’s sweating. [laughter]

Emily:  We’re the opposite. I wrote this down, I was like, “This is a little bit embarrassing actually.” [laughter]

Laura:  I laughed when I saw Emily’s temperature.

Emily:  We keep it at 71 [laughter].

Laura:  You know what, I would love to keep it at 71. I am getting more used to my husband’s frugalities/he does like it cold so that’s why.

Emily:  When I’m pregnant, I’m pretty picky about temperature. Maybe I’ve just been pregnant so much in the last few years, my husband’s finally just like, “Whatever.” [laughter]

Laura:  “Whatever you want babe.” [laughter] Next question is, what are your favorite resources for teaching little kiddos about God?  Mention books, and shows, music, etc. We have a million shows on this, we’re not going to go into this, and this is where stories I think really plays in, Instagram stories, where we post a lot of this. We’ll link to these in the show notes but episode 4, 12, 27, 29, 44, 46 and 51. I just went through and figured out which shows we’ve had a talk about this topic. Any of the show notes for those shows/there’s a Resources We Love page on our website. Go there because it is constantly being updated. Any time you want to see what are we currently using, what are we loving right now, head over there and you will find direct links.

Emily:  Definitely keep updated on that. Like Laura said, if you haven’t ever headed over there, we really do try to load them with stuff. [laughs]

Laura:  We try and make them legitimate; something that you’d want to click to. It’s even stuff we didn’t mention on the show and related things that we’ve been enjoying. Next question, what are you involved in outside of your home, Em?

Emily:  [laughs] What am I involved in outside of my home? Not much right now [laughter]. I know we don’t always mention this on every show, but I have four kiddos, my oldest is four and a half, and my youngest is 18 months. None of them are in a pre-school program or in a mother’s day out program or anything so they’re all home all day. We’re in a season right now where there’s not a lot of ability to get them out and do a ton of stuff. So formally, outside of the home, I am involved in Bible study every other Wednesday night. [laughs] I’m on the women’s ministry team at church, that occasionally meets and looks into Bible studies and plans events. But our recent thing, which I’ll get into more, is our youngest kiddo just transitioned into about six therapy appointments a week and so, that has become my new part-time job [laughs]. Even though I am not necessarily doing like, “I work outside the home”, or, “I’ve got this really cool church thing I am involved in right now”, a huge portion of our life is making sure that that child’s needs are being met for their development. That’s become a huge part of my life in the last few months. It’s really new. What about you Laura?

Laura:  I am in more things. I only got two kids. I said Em has five earlier because I counted the one in your belly [laughter].

Emily:  It’s good to count the one in the belly.

Laura:  They’re the easiest they’ll ever be in your belly but they do count. They slow you down in some ways.

Emily: They do slow you down. 

Laura: And make you heavy breathe everywhere you go. But I’m really involved in my church and my son, after a little while, he’d be like, “We’re going to church again?” We are there a lot but I’m involved in the women’s Bible study and the women’s Bible Study Leadership Team; I lead a small group in Bible study. Then on Wednesday nights, I am lucky enough to be able to take theology classes at my church, which are awesome so we’re there then. My husband and I teach three and four-year-old Sunday school and we get to be involved with my son’s class, so that is super fun. Then we’re also Growth Group leaders and we host that in our home as well on Mondays. Then of course, Emily and I both have Risen Motherhood. We know is not outside our home necessarily, but it takes up a significant portion of our week, more and more as the podcast continues to grow, which is so fun. But it’s certainly becoming a large hunk of each of our weeks, I would say. I think I’ve talked about this before, but we’ll get into it more as well, but I do a lot of play dates and try to do a lot of hosting. Hospitality is one of a big ministry area for my husband and I. That’s just scattered throughout the week. I have childcare every Wednesday morning, which is phenomenal for three hours and it’s the best part of my week [laughter].

Emily:  It’s probably the fastest three hours of your week, every week. [laughter]

Laura:  Oh, it’s awesome; and then we just come home and we slam them down for a rest time/nap time, and then we go to theology class. Wednesdays are the best [laughter] part of my week because we’re just clipping through the day. It’s really fun so that’s awesome. Next question.  Guys, I don’t know why you want to know this, but a million times, we get asked this question.

Emily:  Yes. I’m always really curious about this for other people, so I kind of get it. What are your daily routines? When do you clean, cook, work out, play with your kids, food shop, all those good things?

Laura:  Emily and I are going to wave the white flag on the working out. [laughter].

Emily:  We don’t work out. [laughter]

Laura:  Neither of us work out and our bodies reflect that [laughter]. I know for a lot of people, that’s the tough one to fit in. We’re just going to talk about working out for one second because I feel like this is kind of a thing. Personally, I started working out as I had this strong desire to work out. Well, I had this strong desire for the results of working out. [laughter] I started to do it periodically, but what I started realizing is that when I worked out, I didn’t have quiet times. That it just seemed to replace that time because especially, I like to do those things first thing in the morning and I made a hard decision. It was hard, I’ll be honest, of just saying, “If I can’t juggle these two things, I would rather be spiritually fit than physically fit.” I know that some moms can totally juggle it and totally do it, but for some reason, every time I work out, the other thing falls. I realized what is hindering me from having quiet times, or the reason why I don’t work out, is that I felt like it was interfering with something that was more important to me.

Emily:  It’s really hard. Laura and I have talked personally; I don’t think we’ve ever talked on the show too much about this. But any given mom, or any given person only has so much capacity and can only juggle so many kinds of big things in life at one time. Working out consistently is a big thing and it’s great to prioritize that. I trained for one 5K in my life after I had twins.

Laura:  That was awesome.

Emily:  I felt so good. I totally get why that’s important. But I think everybody for themselves, like Laura said, has to look at their own life and their own schedule and say, “How does this fit in?” I feel like I live a pretty active life, and not necessarily in running but I am on my feet all day. I’m up and down, I am practically jumping to chase my children. [laughter] I look forward to a season of life someday when I can both work out and have a quiet time, and eat, [laughs] and take care of my family. We’ll just say that upfront.

Laura:  We’re not saying working out is bad at all; that you’re not having your quiet time. This is literally something Emily and I have had many conversations about. We tend to be kind of similar, and this is that, something else falls when we add working out and so for us, we’ve decided what our priorities are. For some people, working out is like a genuine form of self-care . They’re easily able to fit it in, and if that’s you, that’s awesome and we’re cheering you on. I know you can do even like twenty minutes and all that stuff, and we’ve heard it all. We don’t want to knock on working out at all, but just to let you know where we’re at on that. [laughter]

Emily:  An interesting question too is, when do we sit down and play with our kids? [laughs] I was thinking, I rarely actually think I sit down and play [laughter] anything with my kids, in terms of like, “Mommy will run the car down the track with you.”  Laura’s probably the same way, but I’m always watching their play. I’m involved in it, at a distance and I’m watching it. I’ll probably help setting up the toy, I am trying to help direct what they’re doing. That was another one I thought we could throw out real quick that I think you and I are pretty similar on.

Laura:  I think as you have more kids this gets so much easier because I definitely probably ‘intentionally’ played with my son when I just had one. I had two under two and Emily has four under four. After the first one gets past that age two, I feel like they just start playing together, so there is hope, moms, if you’re in that stage of feeling like you have to entertain. [laughter] There’s certainly times where I feel like I do puzzles with my kids, or, I love the train table. I don’t really imaginary play with my kids. I do a little, but I’ve got about ten minutes of acting like a dragon and then I am done. I’ve just learned that it’s okay. I don’t want to play house the way a three-year-old plays house; it’s very boring. [laughs]. When I play with my kids, I do want to do structured things and so we’ll sit down and we’ll color together, or we’ll do the train table. But there isn’t necessarily like, “I do this every day at 9:00 o’clock.” It’s really just when it fits in or when I sense my kids need it. Sometimes if they’re begging for attention or acting out, I think a lot of the times that means they’re looking for attention. So many times when I am thinking clearly, I will be like, “Okay, you know what, I need to stop whatever I am doing and I need to go over here. We’re going to do this activity,” and I will direct them. I heard once that a parent was talking about how she will sit down and help the kids learn how to play. They’ll be at the train table let’s say, and everybody’s fighting and pulling things. She’ll model the correct behavior, and intervene. If you do that for 20, 30 minutes, spend that time intentionally teaching your kids how to play, not explicitly, but modeling it, and helping to show them, the kids are going to start mirroring you. Oftentimes, they play so much better after you’ve spent that intentional time with them. Just a quick tip. If your kids are all over the place and they’re fighting and pulling at toys or whatever, to sit down and be intentional to play with them because oftentimes, then I can walk away for a significant amount of time and do my stuff, and they will play nicely, generally, together.

Emily:  Totally agree. Invest that time. If you’ve got multiple kids playing on the train set, two words: crane arm. You pick up the train, you pick it up like a crane, and you pass the person, and you move on with your life [laughter]

Laura:  That is a great tip [laughs]. I was like, “Crane arm? What is a crane arm?” That is hilarious.

Emily:  Whenever they’re getting ready to have a huge train accident, I am going, “Crane arm! Crane arm!”

Laura:  That is hilarious. I know my kids will just be like, “Oh, it’s a tornado,” and then the whole train table’s just be across the room.

Emily:  We should just blast through our routines here really quick.

Laura:  I was specifically asked especially with a husband who works long hours, how do I manage that? Maybe someday we’ll do a show on that because it’s a whole world of being a more single-type mom during the day but here’s our schedule. My kids go to bed late, I’ll tell you that already, so that they can see my husband, so they get up late, which means I get up at about 5:00 to 5:30, 5:30 when I am pregnant, I am struggling here. I do my quiet time first thing, and it’s about 30 minutes to an hour and most of that is spent in prayer. I’ve really been working on settling down and getting into my prayer life more. Then I finish, I do emails, answer Risen Motherhood stuff, all of that good stuff. My kids are up at 8:00. Yes, I know that’s late, but I am not going to apologize. [laughter] I used to apologize for how much my kids slept, but you know what, God’s just blessed me. So they wake up at 8:00, maybe 9:00, it’s awesome. We are all dressed, eaten, have a little family quiet time typically, by about 9: 00a.m. and we’re out the door between 9:00 and 9:30. Most of my morning stuff is at 9:30. Sometimes a play date might be at 10:00 but I like a very structured and full day. We are gone to either church, or we sometimes have appointments or a play date; different things in the morning. Then we come home, have lunch, rest, nap time; my son does not nap any more so we have rest time. They’ll give me about two hours with this recent transition to rest time. My son is learning how to stay in his room. Usually he’ll move around the house a little bit because two hours is a long time to be doing one thing so I’m involved with him during that time. But generally, I get about two hours of mommy-ish time. Then in the afternoon, we typically go to the park, if it’s nice, we’ll play in the backyard or we’ll play in the basement. That’s usually like if you’re asking me when my intentional play happens, probably around then, the kids need it more then. Then we cook together as a family, the kids and I. Sometimes when it’s a tough night, that’s TV time. I usually reserve it around them, but at around 4:30. Again, I only have two kids. They’re getting older and can help cook, so we do dinner together. It’s pretty fun, it takes a long time, but it’s something to do together. The kids play on their own after dinner, typically, while I clean the kitchen and vacuum. Sometimes that’s when my cleaning happens, is after dinner. Dad comes home between, I would say, 6:30 very rarely, and 9:00 p.m. My kids will hopefully get an hour with him, is what we strive to do, so they go to bed between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. sometimes 10:00 p.m. That’s why they sleep in later.

We’ve shifted our whole day so that dad gets to see the kids as much as possible. There are definitely days where he does not see them, and I won’t get into all of that. I know you moms, who are with me on this, are feeling for me, and I feel for you. It’s definitely a different family culture and season that we hope to get out of, to be able to have Dad home more but it does make the times with him very, very sweet. When Dad is home, he does bedtime 100%. That’s one great thing. Yes, so I am cleaning the kitchen, doing some clean up, doing some stuff, and then I’m on the couch. That is my break time; my first real break time for the day. Dad does it and he loves it. That’s his special time with the kids. We want to make sure he gets one-on-one time with the kids when he can.

Emily: Jumping into my routine here. Our wake up time depends on the day, it depends on who woke up in the night, and how everybody’s feeling so I’m up anywhere between 5:15 and 7:00 a.m. [laughter]. I know, that’s a huge range but that’s just where we’re at right now. My kids are up by 7:00 a.m.

Laura:  They’re like little soldiers. [laughter]. It’s like they sense it’s 7:00 a.m. and they’re all up right away. [laughs]

Emily:  Yes, no matter how dark their room is, no matter how much white noise.  They have an internal clock [laughter] that goes off. We have tried to make a little rule too, like, “If you are up, you can be in your room quietly but please do not come out until 7:00.” I know I need to get one of those little Okay to Wake clocks.

Laura:  Yes, they’re the best.

Emily:  They come matching in at 7:00 a.m. ready to eat my arm off. I have all boys [laughter]. Usually breakfast is our most elaborate meal of the day; it’s our most intense meal of the day. We will usually cook a full breakfast and sit down and eat together.

Laura:  That’s awesome.

Emily:  When I get to dinner, you’ll be less impressed. [laughter]. We eat pancakes, and eggs, and bacon, and toast, and muffins, and the whole nine yards, and that’s a really nice time, and I always really enjoy it. After that, they run off and go play for usually 30 minutes to an hour while I do quiet time. I clean up for breakfast and do a variety of random things. I usually feed our youngest child, so he still requires me to sit, and feed him, and give him liquids since he doesn’t do that on his own fully independently yet.  That is a real chunk of my time there at breakfast. Then we build in TV time to our morning every day. It’s just a nice predictable time that everyone can count on. And it’s been nice to play too, because I plan to do administrative things during that time. The kids usually watch a show and I am right there with my computer so I can monitor what’s going on, [laughs] usually doing emails and making appointments and all of those things. Like Laura, by 9 o’clock-ish we are still adjusting to our new routine. We’ve just moved, and our kiddo is in a bunch of therapy now. We usually have some type of therapy, people in and out of our house going somewhere between 9:00 and noon. We’re busy all morning; we have lunch. My three oldest kids do not nap anymore and so they have a rest time where they need to play quietly. I basically am like, “This is mommy-needs-a-break time.” I’ve gotten to a point where they all play together. I’m like, “If you guys can play without fighting, go for it but if you’re going to have an issue, we’re going to be in separate rooms and you can read quietly or whatever.” And they’ve learned pretty quickly how to do that. My youngest naps, and then late afternoon, we try to get out of the house again and do something. If it is anywhere near a nice day, we’re outside running off energy, and hang out with grandpa. My neighbors are now my parents [laughter] and so we see my dad most days of the week. He’s like a grandpa dream-nanny. [laughter] He’s awesome, so he helps out with the boys a lot. I will say dinner is a little bit of a hot mess for us right now. We’ve been in survival mode for a while, I am not even meal planning.  At 5:00 o’clock, I’m like, “Okay, what do we have? I’ve got frozen salmon, I can pull the rice cooker out. I’ve got a bag of frozen veggies, I can heat that up. I’ve got a frozen loaf of bread.” [laughter] It all just comes together. We eat with family a lot during the week. I think dinner is something that I am constantly like, “Oh, I’d love to improve on that.” But it’s also something in this season we’ve just chosen to say, “It is what it is.”

Laura:  You guys do the big breakfast, and your husband’s home for that and he values that. You’re placing priority too on what your husband wants. My husband is not home, he’s gone at 5:00 or whatever, so I am like, “Granola bars, kids. You want toast, that’s fancy. Toast is fancy."

Emily:  Our kids are in bed by 6:45 p.m.

Laura:  Hence the 7:00 a.m. wake up. If you push their bedtime back, it’s like...

Emily:  Yes, so everybody gets their time somewhere. Ours is at night and my husband and I try to spend several hours together in the evening doing a variety of random stuff. Sometimes just staring.

Laura:  That sounds nice [laughter]. What’s the balance of staying home and getting out with your kids and why do you intentionally choose those commitments?   How do you find balance? We’re going to generally answer this question. Em and I were just chatting about it. We really think it’s both a heart and a personality issue. She and I have super different personalities, if you haven’t picked up on that throughout the show. We have the same values, we have the same principles in our life, but we play it out really, really differently. I love to get out and about. Emily is in a new season where it’s more required for her son to get out, and for me, it’s definitely more of a choice. I love to have a bit of different things throughout the day. But, for both of us, we’re learning that if you’re going out so much that it’s really hard on your kids, maybe it’s hard on your ability to manage the home, you’re dropping balls in your home with being able to clean or cook or do those types of things, or maybe you’re trying to run away from something. I know this was a big issue for me of trying to run away from boredom or loneliness. Those are heart issues, so then it might be time to scale back. Like most things that we talk about on this show, it’s really about evaluating what are your motivations for getting out? What are your motivations for being in a commitment? That’s even choosing how much time to spend out of the house, plus in the house but then even what you’re engaging in is really important. If you feel like, “Oh, I have the time to be out,” and this is not hurting or hindering anything in the home. But remember that even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, or a part-time work-at-home mom, or somebody who feels like, “Hey, I’ve got this time that’s extra”, your time is still incredibly valuable. The question is, are you just going to Target and Starbucks every day, and spending some money and daydreaming of Target, just to be out and about? That’s okay every once in a while, but is that your consistent pattern? Or are you involving yourself in ministry or trying to grow spiritually? Maybe you’re trying to nurture a dream that you have of starting a business or maybe growing in a specific talent or a hobby. Are you applying yourself with that extra time that you have? Are you applying yourself in a way that is going to move the needle forward in a sense? A big, big, big question is, what is your husband’s support? What does he value?  Emily’s husband values spending time on breakfast and my husband loves a great dinner. Even though he warms it up in the microwave, I’ve spent time on dinner because he does value a great dinner to come home to. I manage my days so that I can make dinner and Emily manages her day so that she can make breakfast. Then things like, is he supportive of how much time you’re spending out and about, or how much money you’re spending engaging in these types of things? Make sure that he is on board, and what does he value? If it’s a clean house, or if it the kids looking presentable, whatever it may be, that you are prioritizing that piece of the puzzle. What’s the ROI on your time, essentially, is what you want to know?

Emily:  I echo everything Laura said and a lot of those principles apply. We have had a really similar question, which is, how do you balance your kids’ needs, and then being involved in church things? That similar, “Okay, we’re going to have to be out and about for church. They may have to be in childcare, or there may be something we have to do for small group where we have to stay up late.” I wanted to share a quick story, an example of a lesson that I learned about this, and then maybe share a few principles. For about three years, when I was pregnant with my first, all the way through when I had three under three, I was really heavily involved in a Bible study. Not at my church, but a parent church organization Bible Study. The actual hours’ commitment of when I had to be there was just about two and a half to three hours, two mornings a week. On paper, it was like, “This isn’t that big of a commitment,” but, by the time I had gotten to three under three, that also required me to wake up almost an hour earlier in the morning. Getting them all ready to be out the door early in the morning, and feeding them breakfast and all of those things we talked about, took an extra physical toll on me. Getting them there was really difficult, even getting them in the door. It was a huge parking lot and I had three little kids who could barely walk in the door. It was kind of a fiasco. People used to stand at the door and gawk at us walking in.  Like, “Here comes Emily with her three kids. Are they going to run out into the parking lot again?” [laughter] Then I had to pick them up, take them home. By that time, they were all starving, they were desperate for a nap, they were crying. Realistically, from probably like 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 or 1:00 p.m., that was the real time it was taking me. Then by 12:30, I was exhausted. I had already expended all of my physical energy, all of my mental energy, all of my emotional energy pouring out in this Bible study. I had almost nothing to give in the afternoon in terms of parenting, or even just things around my house. What I found was, this little Bible study that I committed to, that was wonderful, was actually taking up two full days of my week. I was doing stuff on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I was functionally out of commission for our home, and Thursday and Friday, I arrived again. The story is, I think you have to look at the whole impact sometimes. That’s not to say that it’s not super valuable but when I was pregnant with my fourth, I was like, “Look, is this even wise? [laughs] Can I even live through this with four kids? Is this smart? Is the amount of energy and toll this is taking on our family and our kids and me worth the investment?” That answer is going to be different for everyone, in every season, for every event but some of the questions that I have found myself asking, exactly what Laura said, “Am I able to complete the basic things around the house that I need to get done? Can I look for warning signs in my kids? Am I almost finding that I’m never disciplining them?” We’re always masking their behavior because we’re always gone, so I am not dealing with things. “Are my kids crying at the drop of a hat, and they’re getting upset over things that they’re generally okay over? Am I, as a mom, having really high anxiety levels about this commitment, I’m feeling overwhelmed and drowning? Is my husband asking like, 'I feel like you’ve been gone,' or, 'I feel like your mind has  been absent from the family.'" This isn’t something like, “Oh, I just had a hard day. I just had a hard week”, or even, ‘I’ve had a hard month.” This is like an extended season of time where you’re going, “Look, this church commitment or this ministry, this is something I’ve prayed about. This is something I’ve talked to my husband about, and maybe it is something I have to pull out of.” Or maybe like Laura said, you have this margin time and you are not spending it on eternal things. And there is time, and it is going to cost something to invest in ministry, and to invest in church things. Expect a cost, I would say, for sure. Maybe Laura can speak to that.

Laura:  Those are really great questions for something that is consistently taking up a ton of time. Something like going to church, or going to a small group every other Tuesday night, I would say those are things that you try to schedule for one night or one morning. I remember, as a new mom especially, I was very nap crazy. I wanted my child to get the best rest that they could. They were very structured and I felt like the sky was going to fall [laughter] if my son didn’t get his nap, or didn’t go to bed at 7:00, or I had to put him down in an unfamiliar place and then bring him home. I would encourage you to remember that your spiritual life is so important, even as a new mom. It’s more important than bedtimes. I can’t decide that for you, and Emily can’t decide that for you, but I would say that there are seasons and times where I think it’s important to not idolize that nap schedule or that morning wait time, or evening wait time, whatever it may be, in order that you can be fed spiritually. Being isolated with your children is not healthy. If you find yourself saying no to all of these commitments, particularly going to church, and being involved in a small group are some of the most important two pieces of the Christian community. You are doing that consistently, and you’re saying, “This season is too hard.” I think that something needs to be checked in your heart there, and to look at, “What am I valuing? Is my child really that messed up because they missed one nap [laughter] or is it something that we can recover from within a 24-hour period and move on?” This is a very short season of your life, but it is not unimportant, spiritually. I think we can say, “Oh, it’s just three months”, or, “It’s just the first year my child’s life that I am not really going to church; I’m not doing these things.” I would advocate to try to sacrifice in a few areas. In Emily’s example, it’s a large hunk. We’re talking about 48 hours here, but trying to be willing to sacrifice and suck it up for the church. [laughter] Sorry, I am always a little bit harsher but yes.

Emily:  I think it’s understanding what we’re getting to, is like some of the non-negotiable things that are like, “We’re going to go to church on Sunday.”  With my kids, it’s exhausting and that does require sacrifice but that’s not on the table to take out. We’re going to work around that small group and be a part of that. We’ve tried to be creative. For me, being in a Bible study is essential for my spiritual health.

Laura:  Yes, I would agree.

Emily:  I will find a way to get in a Bible study. Even like this season, I can’t do it during the day, I’ve started to do it at night, leave the house after the kids go to bed. I think you have to figure out for yourself, for your family, what are those things that are like, “These are not on the table to get out of our lives and so we’re going to have to figure out how to train our kids to work around them.” And, “What are the things we’re involved in, maybe from a ministry perspective, maybe from a church perspective, that are wonderful to do but could be things that you could cut out if you needed to?”

Laura:  How do you transition from full-time working to stay-at-home mom? I became a stay-at-home mom when I had my first child, so I didn’t transition in the between. I’m not sure how the people who asked this question, if it was like, “Hey I’ve got three kids and now I am coming home.” What I can say is, going from 40 to 50-hour week job to staying home all day was a big shock, and it wasn’t the flowers, and roses, and daisies that I was expecting. I really struggled with my identity. I struggled with knowing where did my attention and my affirmation come from? I remember talking my husband’s ear off, and really struggling when he came home late, and I felt like, “Oh, I need help, I need relief,” and this was just with one kid. I think that I would encourage you, with your expectations, to know that the adjustment might be bumpy. It’s not necessarily going to be amazing, even if this is something you’ve dreamed of and longed for your whole life. I do think that becoming a stay-at-home mom forced me to realize so much more to find my satisfaction, my affirmation, my identity in Christ and my fulfillment, because there aren’t these natural, worked-in affirmations that were provided. My best tips I guess, and I think Emily would echo these, is get involved in different things, like we’re talking about, using these checks and balances that we’ve just provided. Don’t stay home all day or  isolate yourself. Even if you’re getting out just a couple times a week, try to meet with people, find community, find hobbies and involve your kids in the stuff that you’re doing. Be intentional with your naptime. I think it can be easy to fritter it away and say, “I deserve to watch TV right now,” and sometimes you do. There’s a genuine rest time that’s allowable but try to be intentional with structuring your day. Emily, any other last advice pieces?

Emily:  I am right there with you. What you said about getting comfortable, that is going to be bumpy. Those are the moments. I’ve been through billion transitions in the last four and a half years and I always look back on those transitions and say, “That’s really what God was doing—working in my heart to show me sin areas that I’d been idolizing and things that I’d been putting my hope in, that were no longer there. Also, gear up to be looking to Christ and finding your identity in him. Another question that we get a ton and I think we are going to do a high-level show on this. Disciplining your toddler is the question. How do I discipline my toddler? How do you offer discipline to your toddlers? I will just say that we’re going to get to it. It’s just too big of a thing. It’s a great, over-coffee conversation.

Laura:  It’s also very subjective. We don’t exactly know what people always mean with discipline. It’s a very hard question to answer but we’re going to try. We’re going to give you guys a high-level overview, with some biblical concepts, in a full show. We’re going to plead the fifth today, but just know that this is coming, and our encouragement would be to remember that discipline is a requirement. Scripture compels us, as parents to do something to discipline our children, and that it’s important to have a system and be consistent in whatever it is that you do, even if it looks different from your girlfriend, or from child to child. We will get into this. We don’t have time today. We’re nervous to do it because it’s a hot topic. I get the hives when people ask us about this, and it comes probably couple of times a week. [laughs]

Emily:  Like Laura said, we want to cover it. We both place a very high value on discipline in our homes. The Bible places a high value on discipline. This is a major role of parents. We don’t want to ignore this, [laughs] but we’re still praying through and we’re going to find a way talk about it. It’s hard too, because we’re both like, “Hey, neither Laura and I have a book that we’re like, hey, this is what we do exactly.”

Laura:  We know nothing.

Emily:  My husband and I are probably like a conglomeration of four books that we’ve read, plus three older couples we’ve talked to, plus things we’ve read in scripture, plus our personalities. That makes up our discipline system and so it’s very difficult, because there isn't a Christian discipline book that I am like, “I fully endorse that 100%.”

Laura:  I’m hesitant too because I’m like my son is almost four but I have no proof in my pudding.

Emily:  We may have messed our kids up. [laughs]

Laura:  Yes, seriously. I think that’s my biggest hesitation with talking about it. It’s just that I feel like I don’t have the answers and I know it. I know that I’ll mess it up. My kids haven’t turned out to be these amazing, contributing citizens to society, that are super spiritual. I don’t know what they’re going to turn out to be.

Emily:  We’ll get there. We’ll do it on some level soon.

Laura:  What is your favorite place to go on a date-night, Em?

Emily:  We do not go out for dates very often.

Laura:  Okay, what’s your favorite date-night in activity? [laughter]

Emily:  Date-night in, we watch shows together or watch movies together. That’s probably the highlight of things, these days. We have a little restaurant here in town called The Cafe; it’s the fanciest restaurant [laughter] in our little town. It’s not that little but it’s little compared to where I grew up.  

Laura:  A middle-sized town.

Emily:  Yes, so we’ll go out to dinner occasionally. We actually like to have breakfast dates often, because it’s easier to convince my grandparents to watch our kids from like, “Hey, can you watch them from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.?” and we’ll go out and get breakfast. We’re not on any formal date night, but I know Laura, you and Mike have some awesome dates sometimes?

Laura:  My husband can be quite elaborate, but, yes, we love food. We’re wannabe foodies so we do go out. We also love going to movies because it never happens anymore and so it’s really special to get to go to a movie. Those are our two big things; date-night and we cook together.  That doesn’t happen that often but we like to cook and we eat on the couch, because we never eat on the couch with kids anymore because you have to have them eat at the table. We eat on the couch, which sounds so silly, but it’s nice for a date. I think the biggest thing with dates is calling it ‘a date’, saying, “We’re going to have a date-night.” Even if it’s at home, we’re going to open a bottle of wine and hang out, and we’re going to call it this so that your husband knows he’s not supposed to be on his phone, and you know you’re not supposed to be answering emails. You’re intentionally taking that time so, that would be my tip. Okay, so love stories. Emily, can you give a super-fast version of your love story? Is that possible?

Emily:  I met my husband, Brad—Laura’s brother—remember, in Kansas City. He had just graduated from college and moved there and I am from Kansas City. A mutual friend introduced us. She knew me really well and knew him and knew that we are both Christians, and she was like, “Hey, you guys should meet.” [laughter].

Laura:  Based on this.

Emily:  I know, which is I’m like well, “That’s a needed thing.” We were just friends for a while and if you know my husband, he’s super intentional, a big decision-maker, would you say Laura?

Laura:  He’s intense.

Emily:  He takes a long time to make decisions. He contemplated asking me out on a date for months, and I’m just like, “Whatev, we’re friends” [laughter], you know. Eventually, we did start dating each other more intentionally. I just thought the world of him. I have always admired my husband to no end, and have just thought he is incredibly smart, and interesting, and a great man and loved his family. I probably knew pretty quickly. I hoped he would ask me to marry him.

Laura:  And how quick was that Emily?

Emily:  Maybe within a month or two. I was like, “Hey, if he’s feeling this, I am on board. I really care for this guy.” He did not say “I love you,” until we got engaged.

Laura:  But this is my question is, how quick did you get engaged and how quick did you get married? Please give numbers.

Emily:  Probably 10 months after we started dating. We did get engaged, and 11 weeks later, we got married. 11 weeks you guys. 

Laura:  11 weeks, count them? [laughs]

Emily:  Yes, that was my full-time job for 11 weeks, planning my wedding [laughter]

Laura:  It’s my full-time job for five months girlfriend [laughter]. It was impressive.

Emily:  It was a whirlwind, but, yes, I wouldn’t change a thing. He’s absolutely great for me because of our personalities. We value the exact same things, but our personalities could not be more sanctifying for one another. But it is wonderful. I just absolutely love it.

Laura:  They’re a good couple. I’ll tell Brad to listen to minute 55, or whatever we’re on [laughter]. Tune in and get some information, brother. [laughter]

Emily:  What about you Laura?

Laura:  My love story, not quite as simple as Emily’s. My husband and I met in college and he was a couple of years older than me. We really only dated in town together for about two months, maybe not even that long. Formally, official boyfriend and girlfriend, we certainly played the flirtatious game for quite a while. We met through my brother Brad, Emily’s husband. They were friends, so I was dating the friend of my big brother, which didn’t go over well with Brad at first; it was not cool. But Brad came around and now they have man crushes on another, which is so fun. My husband moved because he graduated a couple of years before me. He moved to Minnesota to start working full-time, so we dated long distance for about two years. I lived in the cities through different internships in the summer time, so we did get summers together. I was graduating in December; I graduated a little early and he proposed for the first time. We were engaged two times. In December right after I graduated, we were only engaged for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t very long when I knew and he knew that it was not the right time. We don’t have time to get into all the reasons, I am sure everyone’s dying with bated breath, but know that it was 100% my fault. [laughter] It was just I needed to deal with quite a few things before I was able to get married. My husband, he was a total saint throughout the whole thing, and he loved me so much you guys; he stuck with me. But ultimately, he called the engagement off, I did not even have the strength to do that but it was the best thing for us. We didn’t talk for quite a few months. We both took time separate, and then I ended up moving to Minnesota to date him. The girl that said I would never move for a guy, moved for a guy. But I needed to figure out what it would be like to really live life with him. About eight or nine months later, we were engaged a second time. From there, we got married about five months later, and it has been bliss ever since, [laughter] and it’s just been wonderful. I would agree with Emily that we are exact opposites. He is much quieter, he is super calm, nothing shakes him or rattles him. He is brave and courageous and wise and he calls me out when I am wrong and, “You shouldn’t have said that”, or, “That sounded a little funny.” Just guides me in a very quiet manner. We’re very different, but I am so thankful, as Emily said, because he just continues to sanctify me. He really did just love me through our dating relationship, which is ultimately, when I knew he was the right guy, which is the way that he handled this bomb that I dropped on him. Praise God that we were able to find a reconciliation and healing and be happily married with, what do you say, 2.5 kids, 3 kids, plus the adoption process so it’s fun.

Emily:  This is not to make it sound like we have perfect marriages by any means but one thing Laura and I have come to deeply appreciate is the joy and the goodness of God in the midst of difficult things.

Laura:  We don’t have perfect marriages, that’s right [laughter]. Our last two questions, we’re going to do full episodes on these. We are going to do, how did you plan your family? Did you plan as you went? How did you know you were ready to add another child? That’s a conglomeration or bunch of questions we got asked, but basically, family planning. We’re going to do a show on that in the next couple months. Then, how did you transition from one to two or beyond? How do you navigate the new season, and how did it change after six months to one year? That is going to be a second show; it’s transitioning to additional kids. Emily has much more experience than I, [laughter] and we’re both staring at down the pipe of another transition. We’ll try to apply the gospel to both of those pieces, and talk through the heart issues but just know that those are shows that are coming. Because of the sheer number of times we got asked those questions...

Emily:  … and the magnitude. [laughs]

Laura:  And the meatiness, we’re going to take time to answer those thoroughly and well in a different show. And there were so many questions we didn’t even get to today.

Emily:  Maybe on Instagram stories this week when the show comes out, Laura and I will pick a few more softball questions to pop on Instagram stories and talk through some things, like Laura was going to talk about plough and trowel Bible study methods. I know some people maybe asked about our house.

Laura:  That’s Emily’s new house.

Emily:  Definitely we will try to sprinkle some more in there, in some creative way this week.

Laura:  If you have any other questions, always feel free to email us. As we mentioned at the beginning of the show, find us on social media as well. We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Then of course, we would just love it if you guys could give us a rating and review on iTunes. We’re really grateful to those of you that have taken time to do it. It’s about five minutes long, but we would love it if you would bless us with that, to get the word out about the show to more moms. Lots of moms have reported finding us through the search results on iTunes. Those rankings that you offer us brings us higher up in search results.

Emily:  We’ll be back at our normal time, next week! [laughter]

Laura:  Yes, this was so long. [laughter] All right, talk to you guys soon.



Ep. 51 || Family Devotions in the Season of Young Children Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hello and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me. Today, we are diving into a frequently asked question to Emily and I. We’re talking about family devotions. What do they look like? What are your expectations? How do you do them? What resources do you use, and Emily and I love to add, why do we do family devotions? Because this is Risen Motherhood and we talk about the “why” here because there’s no reason doing something if you don’t know why you do it. Emily, what was your picture pre-mom of what family devos looked like or pre-older children when it became a reality?

Emily:  Whenever I hear the word “family devotion”, my mind harkens back to like the 1800s. A family sitting in a one-room home around a fire and the father is reading out of this big old Bible for an hour.

Laura:  It’s probably King James.

Emily:  Yes and the children are all very well behaved and very quiet.

Laura:  They are knitting and crocheting or something.

Emily:  You are right there. Maybe they sing an old hymn together and they pray and it’s very picturesque. I even have a modern version of that in my mind too. That has caused a lot of issues for me because that’s completely unattainable, especially with young children. It leaves me always feeling like we are doing a really bad job at passing on our faith and our disciplines to our children. What about you Laura?

Laura:  It’s similar to you and definitely the sitting still thing, I have pictured my kids sitting still, listening and obeying and gobbling up what I was saying to them, and desiring to read it so much. It’s definitely anything but we are talking about monster trucks and if Jesus rode on monster trucks. That’s a common question in our home and questions about dinosaurs and dragons. It’s all over the place. That’s the reality.

Emily:  Most of our questions are, "Does Jesus love my stuffed animals?" and [laughs] stuff you just are like, “I don’t even know how to answer that question.” Whatever your expectation is that comes to your mind, picture it and we are going to hopefully encourage you today in how exercise this practice in a normal family.

Laura:  We are going to shatter all your unrealistic expectations.

Emily:  For the sake of today’s show, we thought we’d define what we are talking about because it may mean something different to each of you. We are saying this is a regular time when your family or most of your family sits down together and has a more intentional time of reading the scriptures, or maybe it’s a Bible storybook and learning together about the word of God. It’s an example of a time when mom and dad both act as disciplers and are showing their children, actively modeling what this practice looks like. Saying we need this daily. We rely on his word and here is what it looks like to press us through it and apply it to our lives.

Laura:  The whole reason behind why we have family devotions is that if you boil it down, it says if the gospel is everything to mom and dad then wouldn’t we want to share that with our own children, with our own flesh and blood? Out of the overflow of the joy of what we’ve received from Christ and God’s wonderful, magnificent plan that flows from that joy to say, “I want my children to know this truth. I want my children to share in this joy, to share in eternity” and if we understand our need, if we understand the need that we have for God’s guidance and his intervention in our life through his word, then we want to train our children in those things. If we believe that the gospel is just critical for our children in their eternity in life and in death, then our greatest hope and our greatest desire is for them to know Christ. That’s what family devos do is that they build a very solid foundation for our children to grow and understand. Emily has said in a previous show at one point that even if we don’t see our children come to faith until they are 20, 30, maybe we never see that happen, but when they do or if they do, this provides a wonderful foundation, a platform for which they can draw on, and that they have years and years of built up of truth and of knowing that, “Hey, this was so important to my parents. This was something that they took time out every single day to do,” and now they have something to draw on when they create their own relations with Christ.

Emily:  One of the things that happens sometimes, and I’ve experienced this a little bit is that, kids are going to church on Sunday or they are in Sunday school class or they are in youth group but in the home, they are not seeing mom and dad open the scriptures. They are not understanding how it’s critical to daily life and why it impacts their daily life. There can be this disconnect of thinking, church stuff is at church, and at home we can live another life. That is one of the many reasons why we want to make that connection for them, and see the home as primary spiritual training ground. We have talked in-depth about this topic a lot, in a lot of different ways and on a lot of different shows on Risen Motherhood. One thing we’ll do is, in the show notes, we are going to try to list a lot of related shows, if you want to understand this more; why parents are the primary disciplers of their children and how God has commissioned dads and moms to pass along the gospel to their children. We will just list a lot of resources there for you.

Laura:  While we don’t see the specific example, proper example of family devos in scripture, we do see in scripture, a lot of examples of parents passing on their faith to their children. You can look at Deuteronomy. It’s very explicit where the Lord says, “Teach these things to your children, talk to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise.” That’s a big one in Deuteronomy 6. We can even see a lot of common examples with Timothy, learning about these things from when he was young from his grandmother. The Proverbs 31 woman. No matter what, it’s important to remember that family devotions are family worship, and we see families practicing that all over the Bible especially even large communities at a time, practicing worship. That’s basically what you are doing in a family devotion. You are having family worship together. You are singing songs. You are reading the Bible. You are talking about God. All of those things honor him and worship him.

Emily:  Our goal today, like we said at the beginning, isn’t to put another burden on you. We want to encourage you that this is a great thing that you can start, in the season of young children and basically, though the main thing is we have to adjust our expectations and understand that doing a little bit or getting started on this habit is worthwhile in the season of young children. Laura and I thought we’d go through and share some our expectations and how we’ve managed them and learned to think more rightly about them.

Laura:  One of my biggest difficulties was learning how to talk to a two-year-old about Jesus. I felt I have never done that before. I’m not a big kid person. I didn’t babysit growing up and it was tough for me to learn how to bring down these big truths that I was barely even understanding in some ways, and be able to talk to a child about those things, especially with interruptions and distractions and things like that. One thing I want to encourage everybody in too is if that’s something that’s hard for you, your children are the best training ground ever. I feel they don’t remember the little nuances and theological errors that you might have, and they are not going to pick up on if one day you said something, and the next day you slightly correct that or change it to be more understandable and bring it down to their level. This is the time to do it when they are really, really young and they are soaking everything up and they trust you and you are diligently bringing these truths to them and this is a time where you can learn how to share the gospel in a very, very simple way. Because that’s one beautiful thing about the gospel, is it can be like that.

Emily:  One of the things my husband and I have been saying recently, because we have a kid who will ask endless questions before bed about the Bible and about God—some valid, some not. We’ll say we should have patience for these questions while he is still excited to ask them. Exactly like Laura said, you don’t have to have a perfect answer but that desire to engage our children spiritually is what draws them into relationship with us so that there is that trust there. Another expectation with young children to be aware of is the amount time. You are not going to wake up tomorrow morning, if you haven’t been having a quiet time or prayer time and you are going to start two hours a day, every day. You have to build up to it, especially if you have kids under three. This may be five minutes or seven minutes or three minutes a night. If you have kids a little bit older than that, maybe it’s 15 minutes. Maybe you have a good night and it’s 20 but I don’t know many families with young children who are doing 30-minute to an hour long quiet time. If you are able to do that, that is wonderful but that that’s something we have to train our kids in. Speaking of other families, that’s another thing we have to careful of is remembering that there is freedom in Christ, like Laura and I say on every show. The way families are going to pass along their faith to their children is going to look different. There may be some families where there’s a guitar involved in the family worship time.   

Laura:  I know a family that’s got dress up clothes. It is awesome but that isn’t us.

Emily:  That is okay and it’s okay to look at where your family is at and say, “Hey, we want to be faithful to tell our children about Jesus. What does that look like for us in this season and go do it?"

Laura:  What about dads’ involvement? Ideally, dad would lead this time but I can speak to the fact that my husband often sometimes doesn’t see my kids during the day at all. A lot of this does ride on me and when he’s home he does lead but we also keep it very simple for his days. We do little bit different things when he’s home, and if your husband is maybe in not interested in doing this or maybe he’s not a believer, or maybe he’s still growing in knowing how to be the spiritual leader of the family, we have shows on that. If you have more questions on what dad’s involvement looks like, we will link those up on the show notes.

Emily:  Yes because that can be a hard question and it can feel like you are doing it alone.

Laura:  Emily and I are going to talk through a little bit about some of our favorite resources, what we are each doing for quiet times, and what it looks like to give you that practical stuff we know all of you guys love. Em, do you want to go first?

Emily:  Sure and especially in the season of young kids, I feel it’s changed for us. Every few months I feel family devos starts to look different. Things we’ve done in the past, when we’ve done it in the morning have been … I had this little gospel book that I created where we talked about the 10 points of the gospel and literally the kids memorized it. I’ve done a book called Leading Little Ones to God, which I’ll link to and it’s old school. It maybe was published in the 60s as a theological lesson and something to help get conversations started. More recently we’ve been doing things before bed. In December, we sat down and read through most of the Gospel of Luke and we’d read a chapter or a section at a time, and then I would generally give a principle from it, if my kids would ask a question that didn’t make any sense, they would go to bed. My husband’s family, Laura’s family, did Pilgrim's Progress every January growing up. We got a kid’s version of that called Dangerous Journey that we read through and the boys loved it because it was scary.

Laura:  This book we will show it to you on show notes, but it’s really good but it is a little bit scary, right Em?

Emily:  It is scary but they loved it and they were so engaged with the story. It’s a metaphor for the Christian life and it’s a great conversation starter. Recently, we’ve also done The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung, which we’ll link to and that was good to talk through the main message of the Bible and weaving Jesus in there. Right now, we are going through The Jesus Storybook Bible and I know that’s something a lot of people around us have gone through with their kids. I feel until now our kids haven’t been able to grasp it. I will read that one little section at a time and then everybody gets to ask a question and we pray and we go to bed. Go to bed kids. Go to bed now.[laughter]

Laura:  We tend to do something in the morning over breakfast with me and the kids every day-ish. We are going to give a nice caveat on there. It doesn’t happen every day.

Emily:  Not every day-ish.

Laura:  Then also at the end of the day, we always read the Bible before bed and the two that we tend to read are Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Bible. I think that’s what it’s called, and The Greatest Story, that Emily mentioned. We have a few like that and Pilgrim’s Progress. My son calls it the dragon book and he loves it. He’s super into the skulls and scary parts of it. Anyway, we rotate on those before bed and then in the mornings, I switch it up a lot. We memorize scripture typically, at some point and we tend to do longer passages. I find it a lot easier with references, and my kids can get into it with a lot of actions and it’s just amazing what a three-year-old can soak up. Don’t underestimate your kids moms because I am amazed all the time by what they can take in, what they can process and what they can spit back out. We usually do that. We’ve done New City Catechisms. There’s also a CD that has all the catechisms to song. It’s called Songs for Saplings.

That’s not part of our quiet time but we play that throughout the day, to reinforce what a catechism means and remember the catechism. We will work through different theology books. I’ll link to two of them that we use in the show notes. That basically frames up a theological question or truth and then as Emily said, we always leave time for questions. A lot of times I’m saying, “What do you think about this? Why did God do that?” making up questions on the fly. I can’t think of how I do it now but if you’ve never done this before, it’s practicing and talking about the pictures and talking about what images the kids are seeing, and why didn’t Sally want to share with Suzie and what does God think about that? Basic stuff but a lot of it is on the fly, asking questions and giving that opportunity for your kids to ask any question, and to let them know we love talking about God, and we love and value the Bible and God’s truth and all those things. If you want to do this, we want to talk about a couple, practical next steps.

Emily:  All of that can sound like there’s a hundred things to do but Laura and I are not doing all these things at one time. I feel at least for us these change every week or every couple of months. Just think about one thing and add into your routine, something that you are already doing. At breakfast, like Laura said. We are going to do this while we are already all here or do something in the car, if you have a long commute somewhere or right before bed. That’s something our kids remind us of every day, even if we don’t want or we are ready for them to go to sleep. It’s in the routine and start small. Do one little thing even if it’s just reading two pages out of The Jesus Storybook Bible. We are not even going to get through the whole section. Start somewhere and then know that you can add to it, you can change it, you can let it evolve for your family and don’t forget to be in the word yourself. It’s hard to insert this into your kids’ life or to your family’s life if this isn’t something that’s important in our own life. That’s definitely important too.

Laura:  The main idea is we want you guys to all be encouraged to spend a certain time in your day, where you communicate to your kids how much mom and dad love and value the Bible, how you can learn from the Bible, how we want to think about what the Bible says, apply it to our lives and to show them that prayer is important. That is a key way to commune with God and a key part of the Christian life. It looks so many different ways and there are lots of different things that you can do. We hope that you leave this show, not feeling overwhelmed but instead equipped to be able to take just a piece of something that we shared today and apply it to your own life.

Emily: If you go to our show notes at RisenMotherhood.com, we will have links to all of these resources in detail, plus things that we didn’t remember to mention on the show. Then you can also find links to some of the other shows we mentioned that give other background into this conversation. Thanks for joining us. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter at Risen Motherhood and thanks for joining us.


Ep. 50 || When Momma Gets Mad, Part 2: Practical Ways to Stay Calm Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. We are picking back up in the middle of a serious conversation we were having in the last episode. If you didn’t catch that, definitely go back and listen for a little bit of the background to today’s conversation. Primarily, we were talking about when mom gets angry or frustrated with her kids, and how sin impacts that and causes that and then how the gospel gives us hope. When we left off last week, we were getting ready to start talking through our identity in Christ and how in Christ, we are seen as righteous before God and that frees us from having to label ourselves as the yelling mom or the angry mom or whatever condemnation we put on ourselves. That isn’t who we are in Christ, and we are free to repent and to seek Christ and live in that freedom and walk forward and fight sin. Today’s episode is going to be talking about what does that look like? How do we practically fight that sin? Laura and I are happy we are talking through this because we need to know what these tools are. [laughter]    

Laura:  Em, I feel like you just dove into the deep end immediately. It’s so good but I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to catch up with Em.” I do have to totally agree though with what you said about our labels and our identity. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it seems like, when we begin to say, “I’m the angry mom,” we begin to live out what we believe we are. As Emily said, we don’t want to be chained to that condemnation but we want to remember that we are a child of the most high God. That we serve the King of the universe that gives us all power and all ability to concur that sin because of his death and resurrection. If you are feeling like you clicked on this episode because you’re an angry mom, you know what, that’s not who you are anymore. You are a redeemed child of the King. Sometimes I just need to hear that. Maybe you need to hear that but as Emily said, we are not perfect; we want to talk through these. We’re verbalizing, thought processing with you. We hope that this is a helpful show with a lot of hope for you.        

Emily:  In that hope again, talking about fighting sin, I was thinking about how there are things that need to be right in our hearts, that we’re always in process; we’re always trying to work it out. Maybe you’re on a diet, it is not smart to have chocolate chip cookies in your pantry or Cheetos where you can grab them. There are some common sense things that you don’t need that level of temptation in your life. What Laura and I are talking through today is, in terms of anger and frustration in motherhood, how can we get the cookies out of the pantry, so that you’re not standing there looking at them going, “Oh, man, I’m going to break down. I’m going to break down.” What things can we do to set up in our lives? Maybe we are still working through some of these, “I want to be in control. I want things to be according to my preferences. I want to be comfortable.” That’s probably going to be a lifelong thing that we are working through but in the meantime, how can we protect ourselves from sinning against our children in our anger and learning to have that self-control? That’s the context of today. To start out, we’re going to through some of the things that make Laura and I angry. [laughter]      

Laura:  We are preaching to ourselves you guys. We do want to say, there is a righteous anger, so kids shouldn’t disobey. Sin should bother us, but it’s how we react to that. Sometimes I think we get angry, often at least I get angry, not even from sin in our children, it is 100% my own sin. Some things to look at if you feel like, “I’m getting ticked off all the time.” Are there areas that you have not yet trained your children but you should? This is a huge one. For me, Emily, I go to Target all the time, I feel like I live there. It was funny because once my daughter got big enough to sit on her own in those huge massive red carts, the big double semi that you drive in there, once she got big enough, she didn’t want to sit still any more. My kids want to lay underneath the cart, legs spread, they’re knocking the pasta boxes off the aisle because I have this massive load. For a while, I let them because my two kids, they fed off each other and they we’re all over the place. I was like, “This is the best way I’m going to get my shopping done because otherwise, she’s going to cry when I strap her into the cart.” But it became frustrating. The kids were falling off. Their fingers were getting rolled over. They were not being well behaved honestly and it was causing issues. They would fight. They both wanted to pick off the same piece of gum on the bottom of the cart or something weird like that. I realized I would get so frustrated but I had let them do this. I had laxed on the rules. I had not trained them how to sit in the cart and make that a priority. Honestly, in the end, how could I expect anything different? I would usually let them but then when it got too crazy, I would be like, “You guys all have to sit in the cart,” and realizing that I needed to take time to train them and to talk to them through those things, to prep them before we got to Target and talk about it afterwards when they did a good job or when they didn’t do such a good job. That’s a huge one I think, when we don’t train our children what our expectations are. We don’t allow them to practice. We flow around and then suddenly, erupt in anger.        

Emily:  Yes, and this is one of the bigger ones for me because I like to think of myself as the laid-back parent. I’m like, “I’m so cool. I’m so chill. It’s cool, you can do that to your brother, I’m just being patient here.” But the reality is it’s not patient, it’s putting off what needs to be dealt with. I think as a mom, I’ve learned I either deal with this now when it’s a small thing and it’s pretty easy to train and correct, or it becomes a big thing, and I freak out, and that’s the only way to get it under control. That’s exactly what Laura is saying, is to be proactive. If we let our kids get out of control and we are not stepping in when it’s still small, it’s really easy to lose it. Related to that, these are a little bit overlapping, but are we getting angry due to a lack of preplanning on our part or organization or we’re being overcommitted? An example of that that Laura and I could both relate to is the other day, I’m trying to get out the door for an appointment and realistically in hindsight, I didn’t leave enough time. Whenever all of our kids go into sloth mode, it’s so frustrating, and I was angry because they wouldn’t get themselves into the car. But really, I should have left more time.   

Laura:  Another one is an expectation or a behavior that’s too advanced for your child. My simple easy example of this is getting mad when my kids knock over their bowl of yogurt and it goes everywhere. Honestly, it’s a two-year old behavior. My daughter didn’t do it out of trying to be defiant or disobedient. We don’t want to get angry because our child literally is incapable of doing something that we expect.  

Emily:  [laughs] Another thing that can happen is you get frustrated because you feel like you have corrected a child, maybe you have been keeping them with discipline, but you’re still dealing with the same issue over and over again because, guess what, your kids are sinners. That can be really frustrating especially when you feel like, “I’ve been working on this for two years.” I remember we went through a season with my twins where they did not want to sleep at night. We literally, for months, we were on them. We did all the right things from a parenting perspective and nothing worked. We would get so frustrated but one day, they just went to sleep and that was the end of it. [laughter] We never had a problem with it ever again. In the meantime, that can be a real anger trigger when we forget this is just sin nature and guess what, I have things I keep doing over and over and over again and the Lord is so gracious.     

Laura:  Finally, we want to be aware of some of those external causes. A lot of these things are issues we haven’t really dealt with with our kids but if you have not gotten a lot of sleep, you’ve got a newborn, you’ve got kids like Emily where they’re getting up out of bed all the time, in that example, or maybe you’re super hormonal, you still have to be kind. Emily and I can both attest. We’re both pregnant and so we are feeling the whacky hormones or you’re PMSing or whatever, that’s where we want to be aware that those are not excuses. Just because you are PMSing, you are not allowed to be like, “I get to be mean and rude to everybody because my hormones are going crazy.” No, not an excuse. I have tried it many times and it doesn’t work.      

Emily:  We maybe mentioned this in our last show about saying, “I’m going to be different. This is going to stop on its own,” is when we are in those exhausted hormonal stages. Because if you’re having even several young little kids in a row, it’s easy to be like, “Okay, when it’s not a newborn, when I’m done nursing,” [laughs] and it’s like, “Wait a minute, it’s been three years and I haven’t been done doing any of those things.” It’s a legitimate thing to be aware of, like Laura said, but at some point, we have to go, “This though cannot be an excuse to sin against my children.”

Laura:  Unfortunately, these little years, we can come up with a lot of excuses but it’s not worth it. How do we fight this? We’ve gone through identifying a lot of common triggers and those are one way of eliminating many of those triggers. Figuring out, “What’s setting me off? How can I plan ahead? How can I change things up in my daily life so that I am no longer dealing with that?” But we talked about our kids are still sinners, we live in a fallen world, this is not perfection so we are still going to be dealing with the issue of anger, and impatience, and frustration on a daily basis, if you are a normal human being, [laugher] so I hope you all are. All the stuff we said in the show, we are not going to go through and repeat it here, but all the stuff that we said last week, about having a right perspective about what sin is, and what grace is, and who you are in your standing before the throne, remind yourself of the truth of that gospel. How do we do that? That’s what we’re going to get into.         

Emily:  One thing, and this is really hard for me, is to just pray and to stop either in those moments, or especially in the morning before I start my day. I think that is a big one that, when I’ve done my Bible study or I’ve done my quiet time, to stop and pray through who I am, who God is, what Jesus did for me and what that means for me today, especially focusing on my anger or my frustration. I feel like prayer is one of those things, as soon as I stop and pray, it is immediately admitting that I do not have it all together and I need God. I can be really stubborn in that, I need to grow that, but that is a great way to fight sin.       

Laura:  And be specific. It’s so funny how sometimes we are like, “I need help Lord.” Be specific and say, “I get upset when this happens. God, please help me. I don’t want to sin anymore because I know that’s not who I am. I am a new creation in you.” How do we learn what to pray or how to talk to God or how do we hear from God? It’s amazing. We have this thing called the Bible [laughter] and God speaks to us through the Bible. Get in God’s word every single day moms. This is so much more important than social media. It is so much more important than watching whatever show you are watching online, that you feel super committed to and you don’t miss an episode. Don’t miss time in God’s word. This is where you are going to learn who you are. When we read the Bible, what we really want to do is learn about who God is. That’s what the Bible tells us. We don’t open the Bible and say, “What does this say about me? How does this touch me and identify with my anger?” What you are going to be doing, we hope that you do when you read the Bible, is that you look at the Bible and say, “God what does this say about you? What could I learn about you? How does that change me? Because I know this about you, how does that change me?” I don’t know about you, Emily, but I feel like once a day isn’t even enough because Lord, I’m still a sinner. Personally, I will share with you guys, I’m starting to read the Bible again around four o'clock and read a short psalm, and hit the reset button to go into the witching hour. If you’ve got to read it six times a day, keep that Bible open and don’t be afraid. Don’t feel like you’re a one-and-done person because sin is not a one-and-done.    

Emily:  That leads us into our next one of remembering that part of our role as a mom and passing along the gospel is reminding our children that we need Jesus too, and confessing to them. “Mommy should not have talked to you that way,” or, “Mommy needs to trust God. This is something that God is working on in my heart.” It’s a wonderful example to them that Jesus and the gospel are powerful. They’re powerful for mommy and they’re powerful for our children too. It’s a great way to stop you in your tracks.   

Laura:  Exactly, oh man, it is very humbling but it’s a very beautiful picture as you are saying, Em. Finally, one of the things we want to talk about is community and accountability with anger. I think anger is one of those things we don’t really like admitting to each other or even believing that another mom struggles with. It’s one of those things where you have this perfect mom friend and you can’t even imagine her getting upset so why would you ever confess that that’s a struggle but it happens to everyone. All that stuff that we talked about, about grace and sin and all of that, that liberates you from any pretenses of trying to wear a mask with your friends. We hope that even by Emily and I’s example of sharing, because you guys, we’ve been talking about doing this show for six or eight months and have not even got the courage to really speak about it because we feel so behind in this area. We hope that this is an example to you of being able to confess and be very honest about where we struggle because there is power in that. God, in his beautiful plan has created a way for us to be able to encourage one another as we admit sin and confess it, and then we begin to move beyond just saying, “Yes, I get angry too,” and, “That sets me off too,” and, “I totally get it; you are so normal.” Let’s move beyond that to saying, “Hey, me too but what am I going to do about that? How can we stop being like this?” Let’s not fester and wallow in that sin but instead, let’s move beyond it with the hope that Jesus Christ brings to us and pray for one another and with each other.     

Emily:  Again, even if you aren’t struggling maybe with this right now, let’s say you’re like, “Okay, I really don’t understand this,” but your friend comes to you and is jokingly, “I had a bad day with my kids again. I wasn’t really patient with them,” I think, how can we respond graciously, remembering that we shouldn’t condemn other people or make them feel shame for this because that puts somebody into a hole. [laughs]

We had this Milton Vincent quote in our notes and I think we shared this gospel part of it before but, “With the worst facts about me exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling I truly have nothing left to hide,” and it’s true. There is no sin that has not been paid for in your life, in your friend’s life, and because of that, we can be free to share in community.    

Laura:  Amen, I love that. I feel like there has been so much good fruit in my life when I feel like I have admitted things to close friends and been able to be held accountable and to grow and improve. We hope that this show has been an encouragement to you. I know we barely scratched the surface of probably some of those things we can do, but the biggest thing if we can press it on you is to get in God’s word moms, to become biblically literate, and reading the truth of the gospel, and letting it wash over you, and encourage you and admit that weakness. Because God’s light will shine the brightest against that really bleak and dark backdrop of your sin. That is where he shows up and there is a beauty in the gospel when you admit that you are a weak mom in need of a savior, yet you continue to serve and love your family well. That is the gospel right there. Go forth today and try to make changes in your day if you’re struggling with this.   

Emily:  We’ll try to have some more resources as well on our show notes. You can find those on risenmotherhood.com. Again, you can find us across all social media platforms, well, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, [laughs] the ones we’re on, @RisenMotherhood. If you’ve enjoyed this show, you’re enjoying listening to Risen Motherhood, it would mean a lot to us if you would leave a rating, a review on iTunes. Thanks for joining us.


EP. 47 || Facing the Cold & Flu Season with Grace Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hello and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. We are so glad you are tuning in today. I have my lovely sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here, and Emily has a really special announcement today.  

Emily:  Much like Laura shared a few weeks back, I am also pregnant and expecting our fifth baby in August.  

Laura:  It’s going to be so fun because Emily and I are, how many weeks apart, are we like six?

Emily:  Four, five, six, I don’t know. [laughter]

Laura:   Neither of us could even probably count where we are today and how many weeks along, but we are going to be very pregnant this summer.  

Emily:  There’s going to be two Risen Motherhood babies this summer, which is really exciting.

Laura:  And that ties into our show a little bit. Today, we are talking about sickness. We both are experiencing lots of morning sickness but that’s not the exact kind of sickness we’re talking about. We are going to be talking a little bit about the colds, the flus. What else?  

Emily:  All the winter sickies.

Laura:  The runny noses, the bugs, the snots, coughs.

Emily:  Which I feel like in a season of young children, can feel like it’s going on nearly all the time in the winter. In fact, funny that we should record this show this morning because I was up with a sick baby last night for about an hour and a half—the cough, the runny nose, the whole, “Just come to our bed. We’ll try it out for a little while,” everything. Our family is actually coming off of a couple of weeks of passing it around to every person and I’ve had it. I’m pretty sure we got it because a couple of weeks ago, we were at a Legoland. I looked down and I saw an empty bottle of cold and flu medicine on the ground. I was like, “Well, hope everybody is having fun because we’re trading two hours of Legoland for two weeks of sickness.”  

Laura:  This will be the last time we’re having fun for a couple of weeks.

Emily:  Actually, I feel like it’s gotten a lot better. Overall, I remember when everybody was three and under. I think there was a couple of winters there where they were literally sick the entire winter.   

Laura:  I feel like my son, especially with his first year of life, we were in the ER six times. It was insane because of course, kids love to get sick in the middle of the night with the high, high fevers or on the weekends and things like that. Probably as a new mom, I was like, “Doctor, right away.” I feel like kids go every other year for some reason. Maybe that’s not true but mine do. We have a bad year, we have a good year, we have a bad year, and then a good year.   

Emily:  The other thing that I feel moms always get worried about in the winter is transferring the illness to people, and all of the things surrounding that. Like I mentioned, our kids were sick and I think it was last week or whenever that they first came down with it. I dropped them off at grandma’s house and I had to take my youngest son to an appointment. They barely had runny noses so I was like, “Whatever, kids have runny noses all the time in the winter. That in itself is nothing. They were acting normal. I come back later in the day to pick them up. They’d been with their cousins all day and literally two of them look like they’ve got severe pink eye. Grandma is going, “I think one of them has a fever,” and I’m like, “Urgh.” I feel horrible because they’ve been playing with their cousins all day long. Anyways, we’ve all been in that situation where you’re out somewhere and you think your kid is fine and then they throw up.   

Laura:  I thought it was always so funny in our church nursery. A bout of sickness would go around, and so all the moms would be talking about it. Somebody came down with hand-foot-mouth or RSV or something. It would be like a murder mystery to figure out which mom brought their kid who was sick. Where did this originate? We need to find patient zero. It was so funny because that’s something, and we’ll get into this later, but often times, you’re not going to find the exact source. Even though we always want someone to blame, it seems like we want to figure out, “Who did this?” it’s like, okay, everybody gets sick. As you and I can attest with however many kids we have between us, kids just get sick and often times, you don’t know that you are the cause and maybe your child was patient zero and you feel horrendous about it. [laughter]       

Emily:  Today we mostly want to talk about this common frustration we have maybe in the winter or feelings of frustration we have maybe in the winter or feelings of exhaustion surrounding the constant sickness and colds and flus of little kids. We wanted to caveat real quick. When I had my newborn twins and they just left the NICU, the doctors, as we were heading out were like, “Do not pass these babies around to anyone. You need to live a hermit lifestyle because if they get a cold or flu or fever, they are back here in the hospital immediately.”

We know that there are some more extreme cases out there where children, during this season, may be at a higher risk if they were to get a cold and flu. We know that those situations sometimes have different considerations. Today, we are talking about your general, “I’m so tired of having to take them to the doctor but they’re generally going to recover okay,” and more is our heart surrounding those common winter illnesses.   

Laura: That’s a good caveat Em. We’re going to look into where do we find sickness in scripture, what is some of the biblical basis surrounding that.  Obviously, sickness occurs due to the fall. It entered as soon as Eve took that bite. We started getting sickness, death, all of that physical suffering that we all experience, that’s when it entered. There are tons of examples of this in the Old Testament.  

Emily:  I think there’s everything from God judges Egypt with the plagues, and sends sickness that way. We see Job experiences all kinds of different bouts of illness. God, when he sets up Israel, gives all kinds of laws about how they are to deal with illness, both for their own health and because there’s issues of cleanliness and uncleanliness. Then we see it in the New Testament too. Look at Paul or any of the apostles, they’re like the first missionaries. They talk about how they encountered illness and physical suffering due to things that are going on with their bodies, like ailments, while they were spreading the gspel, and so this is certainly not anything that is new to the modern mommy. [laughter]   

Laura:  God doesn’t promise us, a life that is free from sickness ever. If you look at his own son and his followers, as Emily was starting to say, they experienced so much physical suffering from both persecution and from sickness. If you think about living back then, they didn’t have all the modern medicines that we did, and so they probably experienced things to a much more extreme degree than we ever did. Emily and I get it. We do not like it when our kids are sick any more than any other mom does.  It’s okay to hate the results of the fall, mourn those frustrating and painful aspects, but I am a firm believer that sickness sanctifies us. [laughter] I know Emily would agree but there is so much hope in sickness and grace that we can find.

Emily:  There’s not much worse than feeling like you’re experiencing or your children are experiencing some type of suffering and you feel like, “What is this for? Is this for nothing? I can do this if there’s a purpose in this but if the purpose is everybody is hurting and miserable, that’s not cool.” What’s wonderful is that when we are in Christ, we know that nothing is meaningless. God doesn’t waste anything. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives, and he is working everything for our good and so we can trust him that even when everything feels miserable, even if we don’t know the specifics of what is going on, that it’s not for nothing. It is to work out holiness in our lives and honestly, a lot of times it’s a good reminder to me because I don’t realize how much I take for granted when our children are feeling really well. I take for granted the amazing way that God made the human body, and the amazing modern medicines that he’s brought out. Because if I were a mom, 100, 200 years ago or living in other parts of the world, it may be quite a bit more serious when my child got just a “common illness” that we would experience here in the United States.   

Laura:  We can find so many different graces when our children are sick. As Emily was saying, being amazed at the bodies that God created with our immune system to fight off most of these sicknesses, especially when we’re talking about, as we were saying, the common cold or the flu. It’s amazing how our bodies  rest and take time to heal. Our children’s bodies are built to heal and that is a grace, because God does not need to allow that to happen. I think we can all attest to understanding how much more thankful we are for our health, for able bodies once we’ve gotten done with the sickness. We are so thankful to have a nose that does not run anymore, that that is not our permanent life. I think too, we can look at the image that it shows us. As God heals our outward bodies, as modern medicine, he uses those types of things to heal our outward bodies, we can be thankful that Christ heals our inward souls as well with his death and his resurrection on the cross. We can see that parallel and that’s where I think sickness can be a reminder of our flawed, feeble, weak bodies that are now healed in Christ and someday will be totally made new, and that someday we won’t experience these effects of the fall ever again.     

Emily:  Thankfully, you won’t have to take your kid to the doctor in heaven. [laughter] We are going to transition now into probably all of the stuff that you are really wondering about when it comes to sickness, and motherhood, and kids and how the gospel plays into that. Things like, “How do I respond if go into Chick-Fil-A and I see a mom has brought her super sick kids there to the play area?” or if like Laura was saying, you see a kiddo show up to the  nursery and you’re like, “Why did they bring them here?” We wanted to talk through some of those principles of things like we get those momma bear feelings. How can we be gracious? How can we have our minds and our hearts centered on Christ and be ready to trust God? The first thing was loving our neighbor as ourselves. I think that that’s a really practical thing we can do when our kiddos are sick. I know, over the years, my husband and I have a little bit different judgment calls on this but I always ask myself, “How would I feel if someone brought their kids out in the same state that my kids are in?” I try to think, “How can I treat another mom or another family with the same courtesy I would want to be treated?” instead of, “They’re probably not feeling well but I don’t want to lay aside my stuff so we’re just going to go.”   

Laura:  We can take Philippians 2:3 of counting others as more significant than yourself, as Emily was saying, of looking at other people’s children and then also your own children, considering the needs of your own children. They need rest and fluids. They need time probably to snuggle with mom. Often times, we can begin to want to do our own things. We don’t want to lay down our plans and our schedule, but that is a great chance to serve your children by saying, “No, we’re going to stay home. We’re going to have a tougher day probably on mom, of being here but allowing your body time to heal.”   

Emily:  That is so challenging to do in practice sometimes but so good. Another one we wanted to talk through was that practically, you can extend the same grace to moms as you would want to be extended. I know we mentioned earlier in the show, some of those examples of times when we’ve brought our kids places and we really didn’t think they were that sick or we really didn’t know they were going to get sick and it happens. It feels awful and so sometimes, we want that grace. We don’t want moms to get really upset with us or judge us or all of that. I think we need to remember that. When another mom may bring her kid somewhere, you don’t know why she chose to do that. You don’t know all the factors that went into her morning. You don’t know all the things that are going on and so try to believe the best of her intentions. I think sometimes too, it may not have been fair that she made that decision or exposed your children to illness, but there are a lot of unfair things in the gospel. [laughs] God has been very gracious and merciful towards us when we don’t deserve it and so it’s one of those remembering to extend that same forgiveness and grace. Maybe if a kid throws up somewhere and mom is absolutely mortified, definitely shuttle your kids away first, but after that, what would it look like to extend, “Can I help you? This is awful. It feels so bad when your kids get sick,” and just extend that courtesy.      

Laura:  Reality is you’ve made somebody else’s kid sick. Even if you don’t think you have, remember that illnesses start getting contagious 24 hours beforehand and so every time that I feel like I would get maybe frustrated at a situation, I have to remind myself, I have been her and like Emily was saying, I would want that same grace extended to me. You are not perfect in your own actions and so keeping that in mind. I think too, along with that, is just trusting God with your kids. We obviously should take appropriate precautions and do the whole vitamins and washing hands and making sure that we try to keep our kids safe but we don’t want them to live in a bubble. Honestly, it’s just not trusting God when we are too paranoid about germs that are around. Em, didn’t you find some study about sick kids?       

Emily:  Yes, I couldn’t believe it. I found it on Wikipedia or something, so take it for what it’s worth, but the average young kiddo gets between six and ten colds a year. A kiddo who may be exposed to a lot of other little children a lot, maybe in a daycare setting can get up to 12 on average, which is crazy to me if that’s the average because that means there’s some poor kiddo out there getting like 16 colds a year.     

Laura:  There you have it. Especially because colds come mostly in the winter, that’s your entire winter. If you feel like your kid is sick all winter, well, they’re just on average so you can feel great about that. [laughter]  

Emily:  I know Laura and I have both battled that in the past of feeling like, “Am I doing something really wrong as a mom because my kids are getting colds?” Again, I want to emphasize that in all things in life, we should do the wise precautionary things and do the things we need to do to keep our kids healthy but I think that we sometimes underestimate, and now that some time has passed and I looked back, just how normal it is. Sometimes illness is a reminder of how much we are not in control as moms and that can be really hard to grasp.    

Laura:  That ties into our last point of what we want to make. We need to always check our heart in sickness. We’ve been talking a little bit about that throughout the show, but basically, as Emily was saying there, let’s check our heart and see is there something that you’re idolizing during that time your child was sick? Maybe it’s your schedule, something that you wanted to do that day, your own personal comfort and desire to have an ‘easier’ day with your kids. Reality is sickness is inconvenient with whatever you’re going to be doing. Maybe you’re a working mom and you have to stay home and you feel like, “I cannot take another day.” There are a lot of things that we can begin to idolize. Some are valid reasons like missing work. I can see that definitely being a difficult thing but we need to check our hearts and see, “Am I going to be more tired? This is going to cost me money to take my kid to the ER or take my kid to the doctor. I’m not going to be able to clean my house or keep it as perfect as I really like to keep it or I am going to feel like I don’t have it all together.”  Even that idea of you don’t want somebody else thinking that you got their kid sick or you don’t take good care of your kids. If your kid’s sick all the time, maybe you feel a little bit of shame like Emily was saying of, “Hey, what did I do wrong? Is that my fault?” I think there’s a way to be lovingly concerned as a parent and to be genuine in feeling, “I don’t like to see my child hurt. I don’t like to see them not feeling well,” but at the same time, we always need to check our own motives with the anger or frustration that I think we can often experience that comes with sickness.

Emily:  Examining my own heart here, and I think Laura would agree, that a lot of times when I get really frustrated about all these winter illnesses, it’s a little bit about not wanting to see my kids uncomfortable, but it’s more about me and me not wanting to be uncomfortable, so always good things to think about. Ultimately, we know that in all things, God calls us to rejoice and he calls us to give thanks in circumstances. That’s really difficult when we think about circumstances that are less comfortable or less fun but this is still true. Even when your kiddo has a really bad cold, even when they have the flu, those are still times when God calls us to trust him and to give thanks and to believe that again, He is doing a good work in your heart, and in your life, and in that child’s life, and he is doing things that we cannot see. That’s the hard commission for the end.    

Laura:  If you were hoping for some practical nitty-gritties of how to treat cold and flu, I’ve written a little bit about it so we’ll have a little bit in our show notes. One thing you definitely want to check out are these DIY homemade lollipops. They’re honey lollipops, excuse me, so they’re simply made from pure honey and they’re awesome. You’ve got to try them out. They’re super easy and my kids love them. They eat them even when they’re not sick. That link will be in the show notes because I’m a big fan of making them.  So we’ll have some practical stuff, but of course, we will have lots of stuff in there around the heart issues around sickness. Head to the show notes, that’s risenmotherhood.com. Of course, there’s social media links, @RisenMotherhood for Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, we’d love it if you found us over there. If you have time, please leave us a review on iTunes. We would so appreciate it to get the word out to all the other moms about gospel-centered motherhood. We hope you guys have a great day.


Ep. 46 || Intentional Motherhood: Communicating Your Family's Mission

This transcript is edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my lovely sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Before we get started, a couple of really quick housekeeping things. If you haven’t taken our survey yet, please hop over to our show notes on risenmotherhood.com, we would love to hear from you. Just some good feedback that would be helpful for us in the coming year as we want to continue to serve you guys well and keep producing helpful content.

Then also, if you follow us over on Instagram, you might have noticed that we have a hashtag, #RisenMotherhood—big shocker right there. [laughs] Laura and I check that pretty frequently, at least once a week or so, and so we love scrolling through and seeing the way that the g4ospel is impacting your life in motherhood so consider using that. It’s definitely really encouraging to us and hopefully to others.

Laura:  Today we’re going to be talking about a family mission statement, family vision. These are things we want to be super clear upfront, that are nice to-dos and not necessary to-dos or need to-dos but we are going to be chatting through that a little bit today. Emily, I don’t know about you but I don’t think I grew up with a true family mission statement. Did you have any phrases that your parents would consistently say that you knew, “That’s a Graham thing to say?” that’s Emily’s maiden name.      

Emily:  For some reason, when I think about this, I can only think about stuff my dad said. I’m sure my mom said things, but I can remember on Saturday mornings, he would drive us to the airport to go watch airplanes take off. He would always look back in the car, because I would complain and he’d be like, “Emily, life is not always fun. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.” He used that one on me a lot.

There was a few other things that I remember him saying over and over again, but I think a lot of it was just, I want to say subconscious, but probably they didn’t realize they were doing it but over the course of my lifetime, communicated a lot of messages about what my parents valued, and what they hoped that I valued.       

Laura:  I know my dad and my mom would always say, “Remember who you are,” on our way up and, “Don’t worry,” and I was like, “Ta, ta, ta,” but my parents had a lot of catch phrases. I feel like they would say, and I say this all the time to even my husband or my kids, but my mom would say, “See needs and meet them.” She’s like, “You have two hands, so you need to go help. If you see dishes on the counter, go clean them up. If you see that the floor needs mopped, you need to go mop that even if it’s at your friend’s house.” It was very much like, if there is a need, you need to be the one to meet that, which as a kid was tough, but as an adult, I see immense value.      

Emily:  That’s one of things you see yourself turning around and saying to your own children, “I get this now, come on, come on, [laughter] pull your weight around here.”   

Laura:  I thought I’d never sound like my mother, and I sound exactly like my mother. It’s interesting because as we grow up, a lot of times, and maybe some of the listeners can relate to this, but as individual families, we all look different but sometimes there are things that you’re defined by or known by. That’s something that can happen naturally even if you’re not trying to have it happen. The point of this whole family mission statement thing is that—actually Emily was saying this, of talking about it—it helps you be in control of the message that we’re hoping to communicate.       

Emily:  I think I’m like you, PR queen.

Laura:  Yes, I have a background in PR. That’s exactly right. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. I’ve been removed from the workforce for too many years. We want to encourage you guys in thinking about, “What does our family stand for?” We all want to have a purposeful home, and I think we all would say we have goals for our children, and for our families but they may not have been ever spoken aloud for or really formulated.

That’s what a family mission statement helps you to do. It determines your priorities and your values as a family so that everyone can get on the train and get behind it. Sometimes it comes with a clever catch phrase and sometimes it doesn’t.    

Emily:  Half the battle is sitting down and thinking about it and talking about it, out loud with your spouse, and verbally affirming and getting on the same page. It can happen in formal ways and it happens in informal ways too, all the time. You sit down to make a family decision and it’s like, “Are we going to start our kid in this activity or not?” and then you can back into, “How does this fit into our family?” and, “How does this fit into what’s important to us?”

I think the main thing is being intentional there, like Laura said, and controlling the message, which really means making sure everything is consistent with our biggest mission as parents, which is to pass along the gospel to our children and hopefully raise our children in the Lord, and be showing them what is of supreme value is glorifying God and loving Jesus and not all the things of the world.

That’s definitely not something that happens naturally. I think naturally, our bent is to go the way of the culture. We always have to stop and check that because if not, you do that by default.            

Laura:  It’s a lot like the whole New Year’s resolution thing or one of those things you’ve gotten off track with. A mission statement or a vision statement can help you come back around to say, “These are the things we determine that are important to us.” I feel like maybe we need to give an example if you’re not familiar with these. My husband and I, we created ours by force. Our small group a few years ago literally forced us to make it or else we would be the weirdoes that didn’t participate.

We were like, “It sounds really cool,” but when the rubber hit the road, it was a little harder to do. My husband likes to joke about the Wifler way—things that are included in ours are beyond a high level; we exist to glorify God and some of those things. We will have examples in the show notes you guys. If you’re like, “What the heck are you talking about?” there’s going to be a lot of how-tos in the show notes. Underneath that, some of them are our personal family priorities, our hospitality and service and giving. We talk about how does that play out in our lives, and how does what the Wiflers do every day, how does that include our family mission statement.

One great thing about a mission statement is it helps you to say no to things like, “No, our kids are in too many activities,” or, “Those activities don’t serve us.”  When you’re asked to be in a lot of commitments, it helps you say, “These are what we’re saying yes to, these are what we’re saying no to, because we have talked about in a clear-headed situation where we’re both wanting to stay focused, we’ve talked about this. We know what is most important to how we can live out the gospel with the unique characteristics and traits that God has given us.'         

Emily:  Laura actually had this great quote she pulled out which I feel like I’ve read before from Stephen Covey. He says, “A family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is about, what it is you really want to do and be, and the principles you choose to govern your family life.”

I know if you have little kids, they’re probably not contributing to the conversation. [laughter] We did not sit our kids down. In fact, I think we did ours several years ago before we even have all the kids we have now. Still, I think it’s something exactly like he expresses, it’s something that the whole family can rally around and know, if nothing else, these are the things that we value.

That obviously can be communicated in a lot of ways but I think to tie it back to scripture, because obviously, we don’t want to go rogue here, [laughs] this is definitely something that we see. It’s not a path but an example that God has set. He set the course for his children and his kingdom and his family. He gave the greatest commandment, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself and then he gave us theGreat Commission. Both of those things are functionally mission statements. They’re things that we refer back to over and over again, and they’re things that define who we are and what we care about most as Christians. Keeping that in mind, missions statements are something that really is biblical if the point is to point your family to Christ.          

Laura:  The gospel’s essential to a believer’s family vision or what a believer’s daily life looks like and so it definitely, for us as believers, it’s going to look way different than a non-believer's. All we have to do, based off of what Emily was saying about how you flip open the Bible and you can see the mission statement that was given by God. Then how that plays out is in the entire Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament. You can look anywhere.

A few examples from even Paul’s writing. Ephesians 4, “Leading a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called in all lowliness and meekness with patience, forbearing with one another.” Romans 15, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to edify him.” Romans 12:10, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfishness or conceit but in lowliness count each other better than yourselves.”

We can look through the Bible of how does this play out in family mission statements or vision statements. I feel like we are using it interchangeably, but I don’t know which one’s the correct term. These things are backed up by scripture so you might have a few bullet points out of, “We want to be hospitable so where is that found in scripture and what does that look like played out in the Bible? What is the way God teaches us or Jesus showed hospitality?"

That’s another way that you formulate that, is you want to obviously as a believer, have the gospel essential and undergirds everything in that mission statement. Talking about, what type of people do we want to be and who do we hope our children become? That is all entirely shaped out of the overflow that God has done for us.                        

Emily:  Our mission statement is kind of wonky, [laughter] I feel like I need to say that. It’s an acrostic but it’s not like a normal acrostic where our last name forms the first letter. We just poked the letters [laughter]. One of our statements is about worship—that our family would know everything we do is worship. The heart of that statement is that our kids would know, “Whenever you are cleaning or you’re playing or you’re doing an activity or you’re at church or at school or whatever it is you’re doing, you are always valuing or treasuring something.”

Reminding them, “Is what you are doing something that you are doing to worship God? Are you thinking about it as a means to glorify God and a means to serve others and live out this purpose?” I think that’s one example of what Laura is saying; the gospel undergirds some of the statements in our mission and then we can communicate to our kids, “How does that apply to our lives and why is that important?" Just one example. I don’t know how many letters are in our last name off the top of my head, but we have that many little statements. [laughs]    

Laura:  The one thing too is that a family mission statement can change but remember that it flows from the top down, so right now, most of you listeners, your kids are probably, as Emily said, too young to really contribute. Some of you do have older children that can probably say, “Here’s what I value. Here’s what I’m interested in.” Know that the gospel‘s essential, it’s the foundation and it is what everything revolves around, but those little spokes to the wheel, I suppose, can change and will change as your family changes.

Adoption wasn’t necessarily in our family plan way back when we wrote this, but it has changed as God has changed our hearts and grown that in us and now we know it’s a part of our lives. That is a main piece of our family mission statement—orphan care. That’s another way to know that this isn’t set in stone. This isn’t a forever thing, just the gospel is forever.            

Emily:  I am already looking forward to rewriting ours and simplifying it. If you are like, “I would like to try to write something like this,” or, “I think this would be cool,” don’t feel any pressure. If you are informally having these conversations with your husband and you are informally basically communicating to your children that these are the most important things, then you’re already doing it.   

Laura:  You’re better than we are sometimes because Emily and I were talking about this and we were both like, “We need to dust ours’ off and actually look at it.” [laughter] So go you, if you’re informally doing this.

Emily:  If you want to write this, and if you’re in a small group at your church, you may elbow people and be like, “Let’s do this as a group.” We all got it done and it was a fun exercise to do with some of our good friends and other couples and we had that good accountability. We’ll put some resources in the show notes because really, it can look a lot of different ways. It doesn’t have to be a goofy acrostic, it doesn’t have to be this long paragraph, it can be a short sentence with bullet points, it can be one sentence, it could probably be a few words even, if you can be that concise. [laughs]        

Laura:  There is this one, I’ll link to it in the show notes, but they said, I think it was something like, “Inward, outward, onward, upward.” The family knew what that meant and then they could say it like a password, like something cool and the kids knew what it meant. It had a very robust neat meaning. I’ll link to that in the show notes but that’s an example of how skinny it can be.     

Emily:  My husband and I have the most conversations about this stuff in the car, when we’re on long car trips. When you put in your movie in the DVD player and you get everybody settled like, “Okay, we’re going to talk about all this family business things,” probably depending on the age of your kids but think of creative times like that. Maybe you can go out to coffee one morning and say, “Hey, let’s formalize this or let’s get on the same page.”

It’s definitely something that doesn’t have to take a super long time and it can exist for a while. Even ours gets a little dusty, but it’s still there and it’s still in the back of our minds and it’s still informing what it is that we are valuing as a family and the decisions that we’re making in terms of where we’re spending our time, where we are spending our resources, and all that.    

Laura:  Exactly. What do you do with it? We touched on it all over the place in this show so far but some people frame it. We have a family crest you guys because our small group made us make a family crest. Can you believe that? It’s not very good—I didn’t frame it, but we have a family crest. You can make beautiful artwork out of this. Some people in our small group did that and it’s on their wall. Ours is framed but it’s not currently on our wall, oops.

Refer to it. Maybe pull it out every January or when you’re making a hard decision, you can refer it out. Again, this is if you want to be more formal with it. Like we’ve said, we don’t want to add a lot of pressure or another to-do or a scary thing for you to do but it can be helpful, if you’ve taken time to write this down, to remember what it says. Some people have their kids memorize it, like I gave the four words earlier where their kids know what that means.

My husband and I joke about the Wifler Way but we hope that our kids someday will be able to say, “Hey, is this the Wifler Way?” because we want them to remember, “This is what I stand for. This is what I’m about. This is what my parents taught me and they didn’t teach me to do that.” We do want there to be meaning in what is starting out as a joke. We want there to be a reminder of, “Hey, this is what matters to the Wilfers but more than that, it’s what matters to God,” because that’s how we shaped this.         

Emily:  If you are in new year’s mode, this is a great time to stop and think about, not only what’s most important to us individually, but what’s most important to our family and sit down, formalize it if you want, and communicate it. The family mission statement is definitely an awesome thing. We will have a lot of resources for that in the show notes if you’re like, “How do I do this specifically?” There’s a lot of good articles out there that can give examples. Anything else Laura?  

Laura:  No.

Emily:  Again, you can find all of our show notes at risenmotherhood.com along with our survey or you can keep up with us on Instagram @RisenMotherhood, #RisenMotherhood or Twitter and Facebook. Thanks again for joining us.   


Ep. 45 || Welcome Back!

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m here with my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen.

Emily:  We are literally sitting together right now, which is so exciting because usually we record over Skype.

Laura:  Emily creeps me out when we’re together because she stares into my eyes really deeply and I’m a little bit like, “I’d rather look at the computer.” She’s deeply lovingly looking at me right now but it’s okay."

Emily:  We are breaking into this because we have been on a break for a few weeks, so we are getting back into the swing of things. We are super excited to be back for 2017. When we started this podcast, we didn’t even know if there would be an episode six, let alone a 2017 one.

Laura:  It’s so crazy. We want to look back at where we’ve come and how far this has been. I think something that’s so cool is that Emily and I started this as a five-episode series. We weren’t really sure. We were like, “Let’s put some ideas out there.”   

Emily:  Maybe our friends will be nice and listen to it. [laughter]

Laura:  Exactly, and so it’s really cool because thousands of women tune in every single week, and it’s really neat to see how it has grown. It seems to be a message that is really resonating with moms. We’re so grateful to all of you guys that are coming along on this ride with us, and have encouraged us to keep going and fostered the conversations because again, as we always say, “We haven’t arrived. We don’t know everything,” but we’re so grateful that we can share the things we’re learning and that you guys are sharing with us. It’s a really cool experience.   

Emily:  We wanted the show to kick off the New Year with some personal updates to start out with and then some Risen Motherhood updates. We’ve been doing lots of dreaming, and planning, and praying in the background, and thinking about what God has on our hearts to share this year and talk about, and so that’s what the show is going to be about. A little different than what we normally do but we haven’t given a personal update in a year maybe [laughter], so it’s time.    

Laura:  I guess I’ll start with my big news.

Emily:  You do have big news.

Laura:  I have big news. I’m pregnant! It’s weird to fall flat when you tell that to a microphone [laughter], but that’s okay. By the time this thing comes out, I’ll be about 14, 15 weeks; somewhere in there. Third baby, you don’t ever really know how far along you are. It was kind of an unexpected thing because as most of you guys know, we are also still adopting two children from Bulgaria. We started that process last January.

Emily:  I teased Laura. I found this really cute picture on Instagram one day of this family that had five kids and the mom was holding a baby in this cute little wrap, and then she had her adopted kids that she’d gotten in the same year and then her two toddlers. It was a family of five that happened in one year or so, like, “Ha, ha, Laura, that could be you.”  [laughter]

Laura:  Totally. It could be us. We’ll see, who knows? The adoptions should take two to three years, but God’s in charge of the timing and we are just praying that he has mercy on us. We’re really excited. We’re really grateful. I’ll be due in June, so that’s probably our biggest news. The adoption process, we’re eligible for kids. Somebody else had asked for an update on that, so we’re eligible. We’re waiting for an email or a phone call any day, any time so that’s exciting. Besides that, just cooking a baby and trying to enjoy my last few months with two kiddos.    

Emily:  You guys are still living in Chicago.

Laura:  Still in Chicago.

Emily:  Well, we are, Lord willing, moving soon. I think I’ve been saying that now for, it feels like six, eight weeks but, I don’t know, we don’t have a ton of updates.

Laura:  You’re moving though, to the same town. Let’s clarify.  

Emily:  Yes, about seven minutes away. [laughter]

Laura:  They’re building a house, which is really exciting.

Emily:  We’re building a house. That’s what we’ve been focused on in the background, throughout the fall. Our oldest son now is four and a half, and he is very spunky and our twins are three now and then our youngest son is 17, 18 months old [laughter]. Something else with our youngest that’s been keeping us busy, he’s actually the absolute sweetest personality of all of our kiddos. He doesn’t keep us “physically crawling on everything” busy but this year, he did have some developmental delays so we’ve been going through lots of therapy this last fall and trying to understand what’s going on. That’s a topic that Laura and I may jump into more this year.  

Laura:  We’ve had a lot of requests for special needs mommas out there. They’ve been asking for a show about how the gospel ties into that. We know that that’s a real struggle and something that’s near and dear to Emily’s heart and history. You’ve heard her talk a little about that on the show probably, but it’s definitely something that bridges us into maybe what we’re going to be talking about this year; some of the topics. So for special needs, we’re going to try to have a mom on. Maybe Emily can talk more about her experience as well, as she feels led to share. What else are we going to have?

Emily:  We definitely want to have a show for working moms.

Laura:  We hear you working moms. We support you. That’s the number one requested show.

Emily:  It’s been on our mind for probably like ever. We’ve been trying [laughs] to get it recorded.  

Laura:  I think part of it is finding the right mom and getting all that sorted out, but we definitely have a few people in the hopper that we’re going to bring on the show early on. Then also, PPD is another big topic that we want to cover.

Emily:  Which stands for?

Laura:  Postpartum depression. 

Emily:  That is a big one. What else?

Laura:  Those were the three bigs. Of course, we’ll smatter it in with everything. We’ll probably talk about pregnancy because it’s near and dear right now.

Emily:  That’s on the docket, probably more adoption this year.

Laura:  Yes, and all the usual stuff. Intentional motherhood, that’s what the heartbeat is going to be. Biblical literacy, we’ll get more into that in a little bit on the show but you can expect some really fun things. We’re excited about some of the interviews we have lined up; some of the show topics. Even over break, Emily and I were bursting at the seams with ideas.   

Emily:  We have show topics for days. Although, we always love hearing people’s ideas because sometimes, when we get two or three people that basically at the same time email or talk to us about a topic, we really feel like that’s the Lord leading us to record a show about that. Don’t be shy if there’s something you’re dying to hear about.   

Laura:  Drop us an email. That leads us into our next point, is that we actually want to hear a whole lot more from you guys. We mean it, and so we’ve pulled together a survey that we’d love you guys to take. It’s 10 questions, and it’s about everything from demographics to learn more about you guys, to how Emily and I use social media and how you guys use social media, and what is working, what’s not, even some of the stuff on how we cover our expenses. We know that that’s one of those touchy topics but we want to talk about it, to hear from you guys, what you would prefer. If you’re wondering more about what we’re talking about, head over to the survey; it’s fully explained in there. We’re even going to be asking a little bit about audio quality, although a little bit nervous since we are not computer and sound engineers or anything like that.  

Emily:  We will keep the survey up through the end of January. We would love for as many of you as possible, especially if you’ve been listening for a long time, we would love to get your feedback so that we can improve. Also, all of you out there, Laura and I are busy moms, and we want the time that we dedicate to Risen Motherhood to be absolutely maximized to serve you guys as well as we can. If there’s something we’re doing that is not beneficial at all, we want to hear that, and if there’s something that you guys are loving and God is really using, we want to do more.    

Laura: In return, you guys will receive a free printable. You can see a little preview of that on Instagram, and we’ll post to Facebook.   

Emily:  It’s beautiful.

Laura:  It’s pretty. It’s like winter, very beautiful, hopefully, you’ll like it. It’s got Colossians 3:16 on it, a verse that Emily and I both love and so we hope that will be a blessing to you. You will unlock that by taking a survey and can print as many copies as you want. As Emily said, it’ll be open through end of January and of course, we’ll remind you so don’t worry.   

Emily:  2017. When we started out 2016, I feel like when we were brainstorming show ideas, we were literally like, “Let’s talk about one of everything.”

Laura:  We were shooting from the hip. [laughter]

Emily:  We would get these ideas in the middle of the week, and we would message each other, and then we would fish through everything and talk through it. It was cool to see how all those ideas came about. But what’s interesting is that for 2017, Laura and I both feel like God has laid a general theme on our hearts. We will still be talking about a really wide variety of things related to motherhood, but particularly, I think moms need to be connected to God through scripture. I think that’s one of the things that we are so prone to leave out of our day. It’s one of the things that I know for Laura and I, is the most essential part of being able to keep the gospel as central in our motherhood.    

Laura:  I think it’s really interesting because almost daily, we are asked for our recommendations on different books and what resources we would do for this or that, or what would we read to learn more about discipline or hospitality or some things. We love that there are so many wonderful materials and resources out there that I’m so grateful for, that we have learned a lot from, but, really, what we see a lot in, I think our fellow moms today, and a lot of young mothers is that lack in biblical literacy and really knowing God’s word. I forget what missionary this was but I read a biography, I think it was George Muller, but he was talking about, “Why would I read any other book besides the Bible? Because it is the most important book. No other book is this important so I’m not going to waste my time on the other books.” While Emily and I both believe there are a lot of wonderful things that we can learn from authors and the books that are out today, that’s really why we want to encourage you guys to be spending your time reading the Bible. Maybe we’re reading these fun books or watching these TV shows and we’re learning and growing a lot, but have you read your Bible? Have you checked the truth of God’s word first? That’s a major thing will be knowing your Bible.       

Emily:  Everything from the practical of, “How does that fit into my day?” and “What do I do if I can’t fit it into a season?” and, “What can that look like?” Things like using discernment and, “How do I check the resources that I am reading online or that book that my friend recommended to me?” or, “How do I sort through some of these discipline questions?” or praying with kids. All of those things, I think we want to go through all the nitty-gritty and that, we think, will take at least a whole year of a lot of different topics. Another thing Laura and I have been really passionate about is not just be in a place where you come, listen and be like, “I’m inspired and that was good,” but really, trying to pass on how are we doing this, which is very imperfect, but to try to duplicate that, and have it feel a little bit more like discipleship and training, instead of just inspiring.     

Laura:  What we really want you to do is when you hear us talk, we want you to say, “Hey, amen! That’s right. That’s true,” or “Hey you! That’s wrong.” Emily and I aren’t right all the time; we fully admit that. You’ve heard us say it a million times. What we want to be able to do is not for you to say, “Laura and Emily said this thing,” or, “On Risen Motherhood, I heard this and that’s truth.” We want you to say, “Hey, that lines up with the Bible.” Everything you’re reading, whether that’s a print, social media post, the cool hot new book that everyone’s reading or the new podcast you’re listening to, for you guys to have an understanding of knowing how to discern truth and aligning that with your Bible.

I think there’s a lie out there that as a young mom, you don’t have time for your Bible. If you can’t get your Bible study done this week, don’t worry, that’s no big deal. There are genuine reasons and seasons that that happens. We will not overlook that because, amen, we need those, but there is a lie that Satan wants to fester and grow in young moms these days, where a lot of people are saying, “Young moms, you’re off the hook because you’ve got little kids so somehow, you cannot manage it.” That is not true. The fact that you don’t have time to read your Bible, that is a lie from the pit of hell. [laughter] I will say it. You can find time; we all can find time. This is not an everyday thing. I don’t want, “Don’t hear what I’m not saying,” type of thing but I think that most moms have a lot more time in their schedule to fit scripture and the truth of God’s Word into their daily life.    

Emily:  Yes, because I know I always have time to scroll Instagram and read all the cool inspiring things on there. Even for Laura and I, I know you mentioned that George Muller quote, as we’re looking into 2017, I think we’ve been challenging and encouraging each other, are we making scripture the most important thing and our time with the Lord? How can we do that even more next year?

I know in early December, I started reading the actual Bible to my children before bed. I have been so humbled by watching them listen and eat up the word of God. I typically think, “This is too hard for them. They’re not going to get this. They’re not going to be moved by this,” but their questions and seeing God work is amazing. I want to experience that in my own life too. This is for people who are busy and it’s for people who are stuck, and people who don’t understand everything yet. We need God’s word.        

Laura:  Remember, we’re still going to be talking about all the hot topics that we always talk about. [laughter] I know we’re sounding like, “It’s going to be the same show every week,” that’s not true at all but that will just be a port. We hope it’s a heartbeat from this year as we talk about all the crazy topics that affect you as a mom and the gospel is still going into every week. That’s something we’ve heard a lot of feedback on, is, “I love how everything goes back to the gospel,” and the “why” is explained. The why we don’t have to live that way is explained. Those things are going to be the same. It’s starting to sound like we’re a different show [laughter] and we’re not—we promise. It will still feel that way. We just hope that you will hear a cord and a heartbeat in our show that says, “Hey, you check us against scripture and not just take our word for it.” We hope that you do that in all of life.

Emily:  That is a huge plan for 2017 but we are excited. We’ll be back into our normal routine next week so Wednesday 5 a.m. Central Time [laughs] the podcast comes out. Be looking for us.  

Laura:  If there is a book you’re looking for a little bit on this, we wanted to plug one resource, Jen Wilkin Women of the Word—but read your Bible first— [laughter] I should have said that. Women of the Word is a great starter book if you’re like, “I have no clue how to read the Bible or study the Bible.” You can read it and it will work in your heart. That’s a great book and we’ll link it in the show notes. Speaking of, head over to our show notes, as always, risenmotherhood.com. We’ll have a little bit more about biblical literacy listed on there plus a link to that book and a link to the survey.    

Emily:  The survey yes, can’t forget about that.

Laura:  No, it’s very important that you take it, people. This is life or death here. Emily and I are like, “What are we going to do?” Please take the survey, we would really appreciate it; unlock that printable, print off a lot of copies. Find us on social media @RisenMotherhood for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all of those good things and leave us a review on iTunes please. If you haven’t done that, make that your new year’s resolution, your first one; the most important one.   

Emily:  Maybe that could be a new year’s resolution somebody could actually accomplish.

Laura:  Exactly, you can accomplish that one. [laughter] That’s not like, lose 10 pounds, that’s like, “I can go and do that today and feel real good.” Sometimes on my to-do list, I’ll write, ‘Write to-do list’ so that I can cross it off and it feels so good.

Emily:  You have to be related to my husband.

Laura:  Oh, really? It’s one of those. We hope you guys have a wonderful start to your year and your week and we’ll see you next week.  

Emily:  See you.


Ep. 44 || Raising More Than Just "Good" Kids Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler, and you are probably gearing up for Christmas.   

Laura:  It’s only a couple of weeks away.

Emily:  It’s very exciting and we wanted to let you guys know that this is going to be, probably our last Risen Motherhood podcast for the year. Do not worry—we’re coming back but like most of you guys, we have family stuff and a million other things going on. We know you do too, so we are going to take a couple week breather here but we are going to be back in January. As we were ending the year, we thought, hey, this is a season that is generally marked by a lot of joy and exciting things, but it’s also a very, very busy time of the year where it’s so easy to lose focus on what really matters in our parenting, and to lose focus on what our goal is as parents. We wanted to do a sendoff episode for 2016 to inspire you guys to think about that for when you come out of the Christmas fog. [laughs]    

Laura:  Yes, when you have the detox of your children—that’s what I like to call it. They’re back in the routine, eating a little bit better, and sleeping a little bit better; all of those things. This is still stuff that you can do even today, because it’s so important, as we always talk about here on Risen Motherhood, of being an intentional mom. The big thing that we want to talk about today is as moms, we often think about, “What’s my great impact? What is my mark on the world? What am I leaving?” I think we would all agree that that’s our children. As mothers, that is what we are sending forth. It’s the next generation but what does that mean? How are we different from society? What makes us, as believing moms, moms who believe in the resurrection, what makes us different and how does that impact look?       

Emily:  It also approaches the way that we parent and what things we pass along to them. In general, our culture says children need to be trained up to be good and moral. Maybe not even moral sometimes, but good contributors to society. The gold standard is that you would have a successful job, that you would be well educated, that you would have a lot of finances, that you would be well known, but as Christian moms, we are pointing our children towards eternity. We are trying to equip them to follow Jesus and to be able to process through that. More so than just training our children to do good things on the outside for the sake of it, we want to train them that they are sinners who need Jesus, and only by his power are going to do good works, and make contributions that are lasting for eternity, and teaching them how to deal with their sin, and their failure by being dependent on God. That is a totally different mindset than your standard, “Hey, treat people kindly because it’s going to get you further in life.”       

Laura:  I was telling Emily about this poster I had in my room growing up that said, “Stand up for what is right even if you’re standing alone.” It had this little image of a stick man with his arms in the air praising Jesus, but it made a real impact on me of wanting to stand up. I was thinking about how I might have to do that someday at school because I want to stand up for Jesus. Those are little high school thoughts but it definitely exemplifies what this is about—we want to raise our children to not follow society, to not pursue security or comfort or success or popularity, but instead to pursue Christ, so that no matter what, when they don’t have those things, when that security, comfort, success and popularity is ripped away, that they still want to do what is right. That they still want to honor God, and that they have a firm foundation. How do we do that? How can we get our kids to think outside of themselves and their own personal goals and need and want to be thinking like Jesus and yet at the same time, be comfortable with it? How do we teach them not just what to think to be a good person but how to think and how to process and make decisions? That’s what we’re going to chat through today.        

Emily:  I’m like an ancient parent. I have a four-year old. I’ve realized and started to see how you really can get to a point with a child where they will obey you, and can make the right choice but then I’ve noticed that sometimes my oldest son will follow my direction with a wrong heart. It is like Laura said, drawing out and learning how to teach him, “Okay, why am I asking you not to hit your brothers with a stick? It is not just for the sake of you’re going to injure them. It is because you need to think about them. How do you think that makes your brothers feel and how do you think that makes God feel?” We’ll get into that more but it’s that, “Hey, it’s not just about the outward action,” because God is about more than just the outward action. He is about our heart.    

Laura:  That’s right. But how do we do that? How do we teach them how to think? First, we have to teach them the gospel. That is the most important thing. Since it’s Risen Motherhood, here is the gospel. Our children are different and we are different as believers. We have to teach them who they are and that they’re not going to be the same as some of their neighbors; they’re not going to be the same as some of their friends. They’re going to act differently and that’s because they are different. We want to teach them to not live for today and the worldly comforts, but instead to look forward and ahead to the coming of the King. That’s hard to teach a three-year old, let’s be honest. It’s like, “Here’s your identity in Christ and you need to long for God’s redemptive story to come.” That’s really hard but what that really is, is helping your children embrace, as Jen Wilkin says, embracing their strangeness or embracing their alienness. That’s helping them to understand that we’re different because we love God, and because he matters to us, and he makes us different, and that is a good thing instead of just, “You can’t say those potty words because they are wrong.” This gives them a reason. We want to teach them to love God’s law in order to want to obey God because, again, more Jen Wilkin, the heart cannot love what the mind does not know. That applies to us as moms and it applies to our children.       

Emily:  Then also, I think being radical as you’re raising your children and getting them comfortable with that, and getting them comfortable with making sacrifices for the sake of others, whether it’s a small thing of like, “I know you really wanted that cookie but we need think about your brother and what would be in his best interests. Let’s give that to him even though you may not get that.” Of course, that would incite a massive tantrum [laughter] but those are good things to be teaching and talking to them about how we are to lay down our lives. We are to be wise, and we want to use our resources. I know that a lot of time, my husband is really good about telling our kids, “This is our house and these are God’s things and we want to give them away.” Our time is the Lord’s time and all of those things of reminding them that it is worthwhile to give everything to God even if there is a cost to us.       

Laura:  That takes more time and parenting. I think Emily you said that would ensue a massive tantrum [laughter] and that’s why most of us are like, “Okay, whatever, everyone can have cookies and we’ll figure this out.” But like you said, it’s so worthwhile. Those are opportunities to teach our children proper response, teaching them how to process, how to think about such things, so that someday when they hopefully leave the nest, they can make those decisions. Because you haven’t created a robot or a Pharisee, but instead you’ve created a child that says, “No, I see that things are better when I follow God’s law. I see how these things work to refine me and make me a more well-rounded person or just because I know that I want to obey God because I love what He’s done for me.”  

Emily:  And even that that like better [00:09:13] I talked to my oldest son about this, of it may not seem like it’s good in the way that we think of good, but it is the most satisfying thing. It’s the thing that’s going to bring us joy in the long-term. It is what is best for us and we can believe God that even if our circumstances didn’t turn out the way we wanted, we can trust that if we are following his law, it’s for our good. It’s those types of conversations that probably fly over their head and make them mad when they’re little, but I pray that it starts to sink in. 

Laura:  We are speaking, again, not from success in having children out there that are super awesome. We hope that, but we have learned these things from older wiser women who have taught us, and we’ve seen their children grow up and we hope that our children can become like theirs. These are things that we want to share with you of, “How do you do that with a three-year old,” and we’re in this stage with you, or a four-year old, whatever, but know that we are speaking from what wiser women have instilled in us. How does this work? What’s this look like? First and foremost, you’ve got to walk what you talk. You can’t tell your child, “Quiet times are so important and you need to have one,” if you never have one or, “Hey, let’s pray to God,” but they never see mom on her knees. You need to model those rhythms of a life that loves the Lord. You want to draw your children to it to say, “I always loved seeing my mom’s trust in God. That is something that I desire to model,” or, “My mom was fearless. She was a fearless woman because she had hope in God.” There are so many things I remember of my mom from growing up and I’m like, “Man, I want to emulate that from my mother.” Much of that, I know, was from spiritual practices, rhythms in her life of spending time with the Lord, and so I knew she was authentic. I knew especially as I got older that what she said was true, because she modeled it in her own life.        

Emily:  Another thing is giving them a foundation of knowledge to draw off of. We already mentioned sharing the gospel with our children and making sure that they know that really well, but everything from Bible stories, to theology, to understanding why we certain things as a family, or why we make certain decisions, and how that’s consistent with God’s teaching, and why it is for their good and all of those types of conversations. Something I struggled with from time to time is, “My child hasn’t accepted Christ yet so am I brainwashing them or something?” But when you think about, if your child, let’s say they’re in your house for their whole life until they’re 18 and you never see them accept Christ, but they have all of this stuff that you’ve poured into them. Even if they’re not ready to use it yet, Lord willing, if they go out and God works in their heart, and they do become a follower of Christ, imagine what a gift it will be for them to be able to start off with all of what they already have in their mind, and in their heart about who God is. It’s like, we don’t flip that switch for them. We cannot give them salvation, but we can certainly give them an arsenal of truth that, Lord willing, if and when they accept Christ, they can start from maturity. That is a huge gift that we give, often times, through knowledge.    

Laura:  And that’s a huge thing. I am a huge advocate for communication, “Just talk to one another. Air what you’re feeling. We can deal with knowing what you’re doing or what you’re feeling or why, if you just talk about it.” That’s something that you want to do with your kids, is constantly talk about God. We have multiple episodes on things like this. We’ll list them in the show notes of some of these that fit but talking about like, “Hey, God loves this. God doesn’t like that. Why? Why doesn’t he like these things? Is it that a swear word is really that bad?” My kids love to yell potty talk words and, “Diaper!” [laughter] they think it’s so funny. But sometimes, they’ve said these things in an unkind manner and so that’s something where we sit down and talk. Okay, the word ‘diaper’ or … I can’t even bring myself to say it on air, [laughter] other bathroom terms. Those words aren’t bad in and of themselves but it’s your heart motivation; it’s your intent.

Talking through those things and not wigging out just because a word was said and we just don’t say that in this house. It’s a conversation about what does God love? Why does he love it when you speak like that? And why is he sad when you speak in the other way?       

Emily:  I’m totally with you. Those are all things that I feel like I’m processing through. Another thing that I want to mention that I’m going to piggyback off of is helping your children figure out how to think for themselves like this, which often I want to jump in and give my children a monologue and preach to them. Go into preacher mommy mode and say, “This is why we do this and why we don’t do that.”

Instead, I’m finding that I need to stop and get on my children’s level and say, “Why do you think that?” or, “How do you think that made your brother feel?” “How do you think God wants you to treat that person?” or maybe bringing a scripture to them and saying, “Remember, whoever loves God must also love their brother. Do you think that was a loving way to treat your brother?”

What’s really amazing is that even my four-year old, I can watch the wheels turn in his mind and he’ll look at me and go, “No, I don’t think it was,” or, “That made God sad, mommy.” It’s cool because I’m watching him now start to process so that I don’t have to stand and preach and tell him, “Hey, this was wrong,” or, “That was wrong.” He can start to reason there for himself and Lord willing, that will get more and more as he gets older.

I think the goal is to teach our children that they’re always worshiping something with their head, and their heart, and their words, and their hands, and their feet, and everything they do, all of their talents need to be done in worship of God. We can teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and then when they fail and fall short of that, which they will over and over again, we can teach them how to turn to Jesus, and ask for forgiveness, and be dependent on God for their salvation. Then pray that they believe that is true. [laughs]      

Laura:  We should have spent a little more time on that one.

Emily:  Yes, because the ball is not all in our court. We don’t have total control over it.

Laura:  We had a few more, but maybe we’ll hop on and do a Facebook Live video or something like that because we are hitting our time here, but thank you so much for tuning in. We hope you guys all have a wonderful Christmas. If you want more information on this, head over to our show notes risenmotherhood.com and in all of our social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, @RisenMotherhood. Remember, we are taking a couple of weeks break but we will be back in January so look for us on social media. We’ll let you know when we’ll be back. We’re excited. 2017 is going to be a great year. We’ve got some really fun things planned so we hope you guys will all join us back there. I think that’s it. Have a wonderful holiday.


Ep. 40 || To-Do Lists & How-Tos: Finding Practical Help in Motherhood Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here. In today’s show, we are talking about practical stuff. On Risen Motherhood, as you guys know, often we steer away from talking about practical stuff because we know that there are a ton of different ways to do motherhood. Today, we are going to talk a little bit more about, if you’re looking for that practical help, some of the filter to think through it. That didn’t make sense.    

Emily:  [laughs] Looking at motherhood, I know that I came into motherhood feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing. You drive home from the hospital feeling very ill-equipped and not comfortable with it. That’s a common feeling, and we wanted to talk through that because we constantly get requests for the practical. It is so good and it’s really interesting that so many moms in our culture today feel ill-equipped to be a mom.  

Laura:  That goes back to a lot of our culture were very much trained to, “Where are you going to college? What’s your after-high school education plan? What do you want to be when you grow up?” At five, it’s okay to still want to be a mommy but then at 15, that’s not really an answer that you can give and that’s fine, but that’s how culture prepares us. So often, a lot of us were raised with mothers who did it all for us so we weren’t learning how to cook and clean, and manage a household. We do internships for a reason; to get that hands-on practical assistance in the job world. We really don’t have a trial period for a mom. You’re just tossed into the fire.   

Emily:  So many people in our generation had tons of activities growing up. Our times were full outside of school. I did dance growing up, and that took up all my time but then once I was in high school, I had something every night of the week. There wasn’t a lot of that time for learning how to do important things that help you manage a home or understanding being around little kids. I remember going huge seasons of my life without even being around young children. Of course, when you get to adulthood and you’re a mom and you have a baby, you’re literally walking into something that many of us have had almost no training on how to do. Even if you have friends that are moms, sometimes we are not super good about talking with women, who have not yet had children, about what we are experiencing, This is what a day looks like for me. This is how I figured out how to swaddle a baby,” or whatever that thing is. I’ve had to really seek out those opportunities to find out those practical things.     

Laura:  Growing up, I was not a kid person; I literally claimed that. In church, if someone wanted me to hold a baby, I was like, “No, thanks. Not interested.” [laughter] I never really babysat. I had a few instances that I babysat with some girlfriends, so I had other people to help me. I know that when I became a mom, I was really out of my comfort zone. I'd  not even given a child a bottle before. I did with my nephew. He was two or three years older than my eldest son so I had a little practice with him, but again, it’s not the same until you have your own child too. I’m not necessarily interested in, “What are the benefits of breastfeeding?” instead of, “Just give me the bottle. This will be fun. I get to hold my cute nephew.” It’s different when you become a mom. If you need proof on which one’s more popular, practical or heart issues, go on social media and practicals explode every time, dealing with heart issues, which is fine because we need help; that’s why.     

Emily:  Something that I wanted to bring up that blew my mind when I first heard it, and it’s so, “Duh,” when you hear about it, is thinking about motherhood and home management as something that we can actually increase in our knowledge, and in our performance, in our achievement in that area over time. A lot of women, in our culture, tend to think you either have this special mom gene or you don’t. Or it’s your personality—you’re either really good with kids and you’re really good at home or you’re not. I think that that’s not really true. This is a learned skill like anything else. Yes, there are some personality elements that play into it. I probably don’t have a personality that would do well as an accountant or something, but I could learn how, and grow in that if I needed to do that. The same thing is true for motherhood. There is no special mom gene. You learn from experience, through practice, and you learn through getting good training. As you do it, you can grow more comfortable with it and much like, again, in a career, you can go in entry-level. Over the course of years, as you take on more and more responsibility, and you get better at it and you learn new things, you can grow in your ability to manage a lot of things—a lot of kids or a lot of time at home. It’s definitely possible and I think it’s a myth that it’s not.          

Laura:  Whether or not you work, have a part-time or full-time job, all mothers need to grow in this skill. This is not speaking to those who are home all day, who need to grow the most at home management. This is a skill that it doesn’t matter what your extracurricular activity is, for lack of a better term, or what your life outside motherhood looks like. This is something that we all should grow in. That practical stuff is something that we can get better at. That’s something that I learned, that it takes skill and talent to manage a home well, just as it does to write a brief or give a presentation. There are skill sets involved in running a home. When you start to look at that, even though we don’t have that boss over our shoulder checking in, or we don’t have the quarterly reviews or the yearly reviews, but we can still apply ourselves in a way that looks very similar to what it might look to work outside the home.    

Emily:  I’m sure Laura and I have both experienced this in different ways because we have different personalities. Laura is a bit more of the A-type and task-oriented and naturally organized and on top of things. I’m a little bit more driven by my passion and my feelings or what comfort I want at that moment or relationships. It’s been interesting as we talk. We both have different areas where we feel like we’re weak. No matter where you feel like you’re weak, I think the temptation for us, as moms, again, growing up and not really being equipped for the practical things of motherhood like how to swaddle a baby, or how do you help your baby sleep through the night, or how do you introduce new foods, or how do you discipline a toddler, or all of those things. We’re not equipped and so we get insecure and scared and think, “Maybe wasn’t meant for me. Maybe this was meant for someone else.” We can then do a variety of things to get out from underneath that responsibility that the Lord has given us, to train up our children in the Lord and disciple them well, because we’re really not equipped. We can all benefit from that but we do a lot of things to get out from it.      

Laura:  We do a ton of things to get away from it. I know that I’m guilty of this. Pretty much every mom goes through seasons of this, so this is something that I think we’re all not immune from, but it shouldn’t be allowed to continue to stay in that. I think we can find ourselves checking out with TV or music or podcasts, entertainment; just being generally lazy. That can happen a lot for stay-at-home moms of, “We’ll just run the TV all day and I don’t have to really deal with this.” Again, there are seasons for more TV and seasons for not, so we’re not saying this is necessarily a heart issue always, but I think that can be something. Another thing can be placing hobbies really high on the list. I know I have seasons that I’ve thrown myself into DIY projects or decorating my home where it’s a good thing, but I’m using it to service a distraction to not deal with other things that I feel less good at in home management. That can also be working out or cooking or crafting or blogging or any hobby that we do. Those things can both be good things but you have to reevaluate, “What are my heart motivations for doing those things?”   

Emily:  We wanted to point out, I think that is our default when we feel insecure, that I think we all go into motherhood feeling this way. There are very few people that were equipped. I think this idea too of not thinking, “I’m alone in this and I’m the only one who’s feeling insecure.” We wanted to talk through, of course, what we always do on the show of how should we be looking at this in light of our faith and the gospel, and why being a follower of Christ changes our perspective and helps us not just check out and say, “I’ll put a band aid in that so that I don’t have to grow in that calling.”

One of the biggest things we’ve talked about a lot on the show is that our identity is in Christ. Because God is not looking at our performance and judging our salvation based on how we’re doing as a mom that day, we don’t have to fear our failure. We can take our failure to the cross. We don’t have to have this specific idea of motherhood. We can go to him and say, “Lord, what would you have me do?” There’s just this peace and freedom in that, so I think we can be mothering and doing our home management from a place of peace in knowing that it is settled. Our status in the Lord is settled so we can ask for his help.   

Laura:  I always love to remember the way you diaper your child or what kind of school you can send your child to isn’t in the Bible. That’s not explicitly written out and so there is no magic bullet. You can read through the Bible and you’re never going to find it tell you, “You must breastfeed no matter what,” or, “You must homeschool your child no matter what happens.” That should be a relief for us to remember that it is about the heart attitude. God is not about changing our actions and the things that we do, but he is looking at our hearts and wants to know, “Is that soft towards me? Is that dependent on me?” He is gracious to us and offers so much practical wisdom through blogs, friendships , books, and things like that. Those things are not bad but that cannot be what our ultimate hope is in. Before you move out and look at all these practical things, check your heart. Is it focused on the cross? Are we mirroring God’s image and knowing that, “I don’t have to compare myself to my neighbor down the street because I am God’s creation. I am made new in him and I have my own areas of failure, my own areas of sin that I have to work on. I can’t look like my girlfriend because I have a unique and individual relationship with the Lord. I am a unique individual.”  We want to work out our salvation with him and him alone, and know that there’s no handbook exactly, for what that practical has to look like for you. The heart is the most important above all.

Emily:  That is one of the reasons why, on Risen Motherhood, we don’t spend a ton of time talking about all the practical nitty-gritty. It’s not that Laura and I don’t have any ideas or that we haven’t found things that have worked for us. We just look among our friend groups and among all the moms that we’ve encountered, and see how different it is for different women. We feel like, “That’s not where we need to start; it’s the heart,” but there is totally a place for the practical, and we wanted to really quickly talk about it. If you are in a spot like most us are at various points in our mothering of feeling like, “I really don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to be loving my child well. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to be juggling motherhood and raising children,” or whatever the things are that you are feeling like you don’t know how to do, where do you go from there?

One of the biggest things that’s helped me is surrounding myself with women who are a little bit older than me, or even a little bit further in the next season of life, that can truly sit down and talk to me about the things that they’ve done that have worked, and know me personally, and can see our life, and help speak into what may work for my family, not just generally.  

Laura:  Like we said, there is still value in looking at research and studying. As Emily has said, I am a super type-A and I am research crazy, so it can definitely go the wrong direction as well. But I think overall, be vigilant about learning in motherhood. That should be the place that, next to your relationship with God and your relationship with your husband, where you should be applying yourself; it’s learning and growing in motherhood as a skill. You are not victim to your personality. Like me being type-A, I can get so overwhelmed and be like, “I need to do all of the things. If I cannot do all of the things then I shall not do everything.” Or with Emily’s personality, being more flexible and free flowing and the same issues that come with that type of personality. Don’t play the victim card on those things. Know that you are a new creation in Christ and you can overcome those things. You can do that by his power, the work that he has done for you. He can help you grow and improve, and he desires to do that. Know that however you’re naturally prone towards, you can overcome those things and that starts by a heart issue. Not with doing practical things, but by a heart issue.      

Emily:  And just do something sometimes. If you feel like there is an area and you’re like, “I don’t know what to do,” do some research and step out in faith, pray about it, and then try something. I feel like I’m constantly, as our kids are moving into new seasons, trying new things. Don’t feel like you’re a weirdy or you’re doing something wrong. Finally, we want to mention, again, this is an eternal thing. Your child’s soul is worth investing in. Your home is something that God’s called you to manage, regardless of what other work that you do. That is something we are called to take good care of; we are all called to serve our husbands well. I think it’s worth investing that time to learn how to do that well, and to thrive in that, and to get good at it practically, and to not feel like, “This is something I can never learn,” because it is worth investing in.   

Laura:  That DIY project I like to do  is not going to last forever, but my child’s soul is. I want to do everything that I can to make my home, to manage it well so that everything in my home points to Christ. That might be keeping my kitchen clean so that I can do hospitality. That might mean researching quiet times for my kids and how to employ that, so that I know how to communicate with them. It bridges numerous different things. We want to grow most in that because we can have all the practical in the world but if we don’t have Jesus, it’s totally meaningless.

Apply yourself to motherhood; it's definitely of utmost value. We want to encourage you guys in that today, to both remember what your identity is, but then also feel freedom in figuring out how motherhood should work for you.    

Emily:  Feel freedom to figure out how it should work for you. Definitely check out our show notes too. We will try to have some additional articles there for what to do when you don’t know what to do. Then as Laura mentioned at the beginning of the show, you can find us on social media. All of that can be found at our website, risenmotherhood.com. Definitely, as well, it would mean a lot to us if you would leave us a rating and review. That is one of the best ways for other moms to hear about this show. Thank you guys for listening.


Ep. 38 || Friendship and Motherhood Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to Risen Motherhood. I'm Emily Jensen, here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Before we get started talking about mom friendships today, I just wanted to let you guys know that we have an interview next week with Courtney Reissig. She is going to be speaking to a topic that we’ve wanted to dive into more on Risen Motherhood, discussing what her mom life looks like after a journey through infertility, miscarriage, and loss, and the way that some of those things are still impacting her today. We hope that you guys will tune in next week for that.

Laura:  It’s going to be great. Onto our show this week about mom friendships. Mom friends, it’s an awesome topic [laughter] and a terrifying topic as well.

Emily:  Why are friends so hard in this stage of life? At least, I feel they are.

Laura:  They totally are. I feel my friendships have changed so much since when I was in college, or working and single, or married but no kids. I feel like it’s the children.

Emily:  [laughs] Exactly because, at least for me, in general, friendship is hard anyways, and whenever I get extra time anymore, I find the more kids I’ve had, the more introverted I am. And I want to hide in a quiet room and not talk to anyone. It’s hard for me to use that ‘extra time’ to  go out and be with friends. I know everybody’s personality is different, but I sometimes have to force myself to be like, "No, this is going to be energizing for me."

Laura:  That’s the thing we have to keep that in mind; in the end you usually come home really peppy and excited and happy that you saw your friends but it is hard. Especially when you have to sometimes see friends after bedtimes and it’s late, when you are tired or that’s your only time with your husband maybe. And weekends sometimes feel out of the question because that’s family time. Unless you are doing something with a whole other family, it could be difficult to spend time with that one mom friend. It’s the schedule and it’s the energy.

Emily:  I don’t know if you’ve experienced this; maybe not as much. For play dates, I have pretty much never been to a play date with all four of my kids where I’ve gotten to talk to anyone.

Laura:  The more children you have, the more difficult it certainly is. I remember when I just had one and play dates were awesome. We had two babies and we would chat all the time, and stick a paci in every once in a while. Maybe someone would be nursing. You had a lot of time to talk but as you add subsequent children or as the children get older, it’s definitely way, way more difficult to feel we even had a chance to talk. You feel like you passed each other the whole time running around taking care of needs.

Emily:  You feel like you watched each other intervene and discipline issues to help people to handle different things. It felt like a docker as you were trying to correct your children in front of your friends. Laura, maybe you would share a little bit about moving to Chicago a little over a year and a half ago. You had to not start over but find a new community. How did that go? I know that you have some really good friends now. How do you feel you were able to make new friends? Teach me how to make friends, Laura.

Laura:  God’s grace—let’s put it that way. It was a huge blessing. I prayed for one friend by July, just one friend. My husband and I were both praying for that. It was really cool because I met my friend outside the nursery in June. God blessed me hugely, and she is one of closest friends’ today and the biggest thing with that is being bold. I literally walked up to people and was like, “I like your wagon.” I’m not even joking. I said that. “I like your wagon and hey, do you live around here?” If they had children about my children’s age,I walked up to moms in parking lots and parks. I was going to say I was fearless, but I had a lot of fear. That’s the wrong word. I swallowed every ounce of pride and fear that was in me.

Emily:  Like I got nothing to lose.

Laura:  I didn’t. I really didn’t. I was desperate because I know that friendships are vital to my health and vital to any mom’s health. As difficult as it is, it is so important that we make friends and that we have women who are encouraging in our lives. I maybe had an ulterior motive too because I had no family here and I needed a babysitter swapper, stuff like that. I knew that in order for me to enjoy where I lived and to be really invested in where I lived, I had to make friends.

Emily:  There are many difficulties with friendships. Things like moving, and I know I fear people are going to reject me as they get to know me. You and I have experienced this some. The closer that you know someone, the more you start to deal with their sin issues. You are like, "This is a real friendship because we are having to forbear with one another and be patient, and learn to give each grace, all of that and still be close." All those things are hard.   

Laura:  As a mom, I had to figure out that I can’t juggle as many friends. Even though I started over here in Chicago, in a sense it feels there are always more people that I could meet or I keep getting introduced to new people, which is so wonderful. You start to realize your max capacity is so much smaller than it used to be, and I think that’s okay. That’s realizing that those that you do have, you want them to be quality.

Emily:  That’s one of the things we wanted to talk about today: quality friendships and how do you find them,  how do you hold onto them, how can you be a good friends? Because we need all different types of friends as moms. You need the older mom friend who’s going to give you the perspective and talk you down.

Laura:  There is hope. You need that practical from a peer.

Emily: You need your younger friends who remind you that you really are thankful that you have children and that you are where you are. Like you said Laura, you need the friend who can help lighten your load, and we all need the social time and the reminder that we are something other than moms. We need all different types of friends. They are all important and play different role in our lives.

Laura:  It’s hard because of the fall and sin impacts our relationships, including our friendships. That’s why there’s no perfect friend out there. That’s why you are not going to be a perfect friend, but what’s beautiful is that we can look at redemption and we can see that what Christ has done for us and how we can move on past hurt feelings. We can be brave in meeting new people. We can choose to pursue friendship because Christ has pursued us. We can continue to image God and what He has done us in our friendships. One thing I love to think about is, especially when my friendships or my friends are believers, I know that our relationships will be eternal. At RM, we talk about how we are  getting that maternal perspective and knowing we are in this for the long haul. That’s the same in our relationships with our friends that are believers, that we want to see them pursuing Christ. We want to continue to sharpen them, to point them to scripture, to remind each other of truth. When you have a deep friendship with  someone who is pursuing Christ like you are, there is real encouragement there. There is real eternal hope. And it’s this beautiful picture of how the gospel is supposed to work in a community of believers as we strive for the cross. That’s what we want to pursue in friendships and it doesn’t always happen. That is a great thing to keep in mind when we try to remember the importance of getting out after 8:00 p.m. on a cold, winter night.

Emily:  As you are saying Laura, this idea that God gave us a Christian family and a Christian community—that as we live and parent alongside other moms too—to help us remember our gospel mission as moms. We can learn from other moms. There are times where this practical happens of, "How do I apply this gospel truth that I believe? How does that apply in my specific situation?" You get your good friend who’s your sister-in-Christ, who goes to your local church or lives in your town, and you talk through those things with them. That’s how you figure those things out. Or you watch your friends love on your children and point your children to Jesus, and you are further encouraged and you desire to do that more. Good friends point you to Jesus after you spend time with them. I don’t know if you have friends like this, Laura ,but I want to go be with God more because that person is exuding Christ. Friendships have all of these incredible opportunities to not only point us to Christ but to make us more into the image of Christ.  

Laura:  Amen. So many good things.

Emily:  What you said of great friendships point you to Christ—they make you want to go spend more time with Jesus. That starts with you being that good friend. In order to have great friends, we want to be good friends. That goes back to you pointing your friends to Christ.  Are you the "complaining that everything is bad" friend? Are you encouraging gossip? Those are things we don’t want to do in order to be edifying other friendships, because you are going to attract like people or no people. A great thing to do in our friendships is find ways to affirm your friend, to build them up when there is something that they are bringing to you they are struggling with and even a slight complaining like a flippant, offhanded comment about some sleep struggles, or a marriage struggle, or some child they are having some more issues. Those are opportunities to dive deeper and to give them gospel-centered counsel. Often we stay at that surface level or are too scared to go deep with them. I have found—and I know that you too have  Emily...and Emily and I are great friends, not just sister-in-laws—I’ve found that pushing each other beyond that surface level issue or complaint or struggle and saying, “Hey, what does the Bible say about this? What does Jesus say to this and how can I encourage my friend to look to the cross in this?”

Emily:  There’s this superficial level of encouragement that we offer each other sometimes that, “It’s going to be okay” “I hear you.” My situation is really bad too and we get into one-upmanship. I think that gives us that temporary sense of feeling okay. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve shared with Laura or friends at church something that I’m struggling through and they remind of who I am in Christ, and they remind me of the eternal perspective, and they remind to trust and depend on God. It maybe wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear because I wanted somebody to let me wallow, but I am so grateful for that and I always leave more encouraged in the right things with is hope. Be that friend and if you are like, “How do I find these types of friends?” It’s hard but I love Laura’s example of praying and hopefully, your first line of defense is looking in your local church body.

Laura:  Get involved. As someone who has moved twice as an adult, once as a mom, and basically started over with friends, start in your church and get involved. But the biggest thing I would say is I feel moms—all people, all humans—are like, “I showed up” and the buck stops there. They think that the impetus is on everyone else but let’s be real. That doesn’t happen. As wonderful as these people are and they are probably going to be some of your greatest friends, I have learned that I have to be the one to initiate. I have to start the conversations. I have to invite them, especially coming into a new community where these people already know each other. It’s not that they don’t want to be friends with you. It’s they’ve got a lot going on. Just think of how maybe you are or you used to be, and they are not necessarily thinking in the right mindset. I would just say, do more than just show up. Go out on a limb, say, "I want to hang out with you or would it be okay if we got together or do you want to go out for lunch?" You can do it at MOPS events, there’s hobby groups, Facebook groups where people meet in real life and communities, Bible studies. There’s BSF. There’s bible studies at church. There’s just a ton of opportunities to do that. There’s Chick-fil-A. A lot of Christian moms there.[laughter] Hobby Lobby. Any of those places and also online relationships. We want to be upfront with these don’t replace in person-relationships and face-to-face because they are very different.  Emily and I, both being in the online world have developed some really sweet and amazing relationships that are their own beautiful thing, because often times they can be very likeminded women that you would have never met in person.

Emily:  Laura touched on this a little bit, but we wanted to talk quickly about how do you maintain friendships—which sounds basic but as we’ve talked about, it’s pretty complicated—when you are a mom and you have kids at home. Things like, bring people meals, care for them during the hard times, text them. Have we mentioned this on the show yet Laura about Voxer?

Laura:  I don’t know.

Emily:  Voxer is an app. I’m going to try not to talk about this too long.

Laura:  We are obsessed with it.

Emily:  It’s an app that you can download on your phone, get your friend to download it, and then you can actually leave each other these voice messages that you can listen to when you have a second. You can send your friend back a message when you have a minute. It’s totally different than talking on the phone with both of your kids screaming in the background.

Laura:  It’s amazing because you can be changing a diaper, because there’s a hands-free mode. You can be talking to your friend but changing a diaper or washing the dishes and then they get that message. They can be doing their thing. It’s the best app for moms.

Emily:  Best app and do FaceTime, try play dates, maybe it would work out awesome for you.

Laura:  I still do a lot of play dates.

Emily:  It’s worth it sometimes. It’s totally worth it. Just do things together and have fun.

Laura:  Get together with other families too, even though that’s not necessarily the steep, one-on-one time. The other day I had a friend who texted and said, “Hey, let’s get together and let’s pop on a TV show, and I would love to take time to pray while we tried the kids with the half hour TV show.”

Emily:  That is so awesome.

Laura:  It was a great idea on her part. She’s like, “Would you guys all be okay with this?” We were like, “Yes, using TV for prayer, yes.” I thought that was a great idea. We had seven kids. There was three moms and seven kids, all under the age of five, and for the most part, we were uninterrupted. There were a couple of things, but there are ways to make it work. Go to a park and take five minutes to get together and be real and honest. I loved it because she said, “Hey, I want to intentionally share with you guys on this play date tomorrow.” I loved that, because we all came into it knowing we were going to get real and we are going to talk about the Lord and what’s happening in our lives. Communicate, communicate. So do life together with these other moms. That’s how God has designed it and offer a whole lot of grace.

Emily:  Thank you guys for listening today. Hopefully, it was beneficial for you. You can find our show notes on risenmotherhood.com with more resources and information. You can find us on social media @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and please, if you have enjoyed this leave us a review on iTunes. That would be awesome. It’s super helpful and it allows other moms to find out about this show. Thanks again for listening guys.


Ep. 37 || Working Hard at Home: Emily's Story Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hello, and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here. Today, we have another fun, special episode for you. I’m going to be talking to Emily about a way that God has changed her perspective and transformed some of her original views. It’s sort of an interview show. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist talking a little bit and sharing my views, but we are talking about being a stay-at-home mom. One thing I love about motherhood is that as moms, we are all called to the same end goal. We are all called to live out motherhood faithfully in light of the gospel, and raise our children to know and love the Lord. But it looks really different. What we’ll be focusing on today is how you spend your time. We’re really excited because I think Emily has grown and changed in her view in this. She is going to be sharing her story about how God worked in her heart and how he’s changed her viewpoint. I think you’ll enjoy hearing, and hopefully, many of you will relate to her and figure out a way to further apply yourself in motherhood. Emily, I will let you talk.  

Emily:  I’m a little nervous; this is soul-bearing today.

Laura:  I know. It’s weird to be on the hot seat, isn’t it?

Emily:  It is. It’s a little nerve-racking. I don’t think I’ve ever told this story in detail to anybody beyond friends; really good friends. [laughs]

Laura:  Perfect, today is the day. Why don’t we go back to the beginning? Tell me about what shaped your original viewpoints as stay-at-home mom? What drove your decision to be one?   

Emily:  It’s interesting because I can remember back to early childhood. I had this really good friend whose mom was a fulltime stay-at-home mom, a homemaker. Whenever I would go over to her house, there would be fresh baked cookies and she’d take us to the pool, and they had this gorgeous decorated house. I’d see her ironing her husband’s shirts and I was like, “What is this? I want that life.” [laughter] It was really interesting as a child, looking at that and thinking it seemed like a slower-paced life. It was fun for my friend to have her mom around, and I am a quality time person; I have always been. Even as a young child, I could have been a homebody, could have been with my parents 24/7, and really enjoyed that. Of course, all of those things shaped as I looked ahead into the future. When I was a little kid, I wasn’t spending a ton of time thinking thoughts about the future, but I think I knew that I did want to be a stay-at-home mom.

Then later I got into high school and college, and I was actually having to make decisions about what I wanted to do for a career, or how I was going to spend my time long-term. Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to get married and have a family or anything, so felt like I had to pick something. I didn’t have this big vision of sitting in an office or having something I was super passionate about. Again, I think I was really longing for the day when I didn’t have to work anymore. [laughs] Again, where I could have these fresh-baked cookies, cleaning my house, going on play dates lifestyle, but I know I needed a backup plan.    

Laura:  I think a lot of women can relate to that. I think it can be really hard. College is so tough to figure out what you’re going to do because it’s so much pressure for the rest of your life. How did that play out? That was your vision and dreams—fresh-baked cookies, pool parties—what did that look like? What worked? What didn’t?

Emily:  I did end up getting married obviously. [laughter] Basically, even as soon as I got married, I remember that there was a day that I was sitting at Starbucks. It was actually at the lowest point of the recession. I was not working at the time, and I remember thinking, “I can’t wait until we have this season of life where I don’t have to worry about this stuff anymore, like looking for a job. I can finally be at home and my husband can provide, and I can be in control of my day.” I had a “Yes, I want this stay-at-home mom life,” feeling and I didn’t even have kids yet. It’s definitely interesting but when I did have my first child, in some senses, it did live up to the hype in my mind. I did love some of the things I thought I was going to about it. My personality is a little bit more like go with the flow, go with what sounds like fun day. I didn’t really mind that there was mundane work to be done around the house. I wasn’t really bothered by some of those things, but I also was really shocked that I was not like Martha Stewart. [laughter]

Laura: You were shocked.

Emily: Yes. I thought, “I’m going to be awesome at this. I’m going to keep up with everything around the house. I’m going to get good meals on the table. I’m going to keep the house really clean. I’m going to take care of all of these administrative duties. I’m going to stay up on the laundry. I’m going to care for my husband,” but really, I was struggling with idleness. The reality was I was ping ponging from one activity to the next. I would try to schedule things but I didn’t have the self-discipline to finish those things. It was so easy to find an excuse of like, “I’ll just do it tomorrow.”              

Laura:  Because you had time tomorrow.

Emily:  I had time tomorrow. I had time.  

Laura:  Yes, that’s a common trap.

Emily:  Exactly, that’s a great way to put it. What was really shocking, as I look back, I couldn’t even keep my kitchen clean every day. I was in a season where I should have been able to do that but it was because I was being driven by my agenda, and my comforts, and my likes and living life the way I wanted.

Laura:  Interesting. So it was less about the fact that you couldn’t do it because you were taking on too much but more about you hadn’t applied yourself in a way to get it done?  

Emily:  Yes, in hindsight.

Laura:  In the moment, it felt like, “Oh, my goodness, I have so much to do,” probably?

Emily:  In the moment it felt like that. But in hindsight, I think I, again, wasn’t really thinking of my life in terms of calling. I was just like, “I got all this time. I want to go to the park. Let’s go to Chipotle tonight. Let’s do something fun today.” [laughs]

Laura:  Yes, with children, it’s funny because there’s a pressing need, break, pressing need, break, and the more children you have, the more pressing needs you have. But with one child, you get a lot of those naps. I remember I had four hours a day of naps. I was plopping on the couch, “I’m going to watch some TV,” even if there’s dishes in the sink because I had time that afternoon. I would put it off with the same mindset you had. What changed your view or how did your mind change to get that fire under you to do a little bit more? How did your goals and values change as a stay-at-home mom and when?    

Emily:  I remember being pregnant with my twins and realizing I was going to have three babies under 16 months and I better figure something out. [laughs] Because if I couldn’t get my kitchen clean and stay up on with these basic tasks with one child, I was really going to struggle with three very young children. I honestly feel like this was God’s sovereign goodwill for my life to sanctify me and put me under some good pressure. When my twins were born, we had a family living with us and I felt like all the control and all this idea of, "I have time," was taken out of my hands because I couldn’t live this lifestyle anymore. It was very limited to what I could do. I was always meeting a child’s need or taking care of something urgent for this long season. Anyways, I remember reading through The Ministry of Motherhood during that time and started to think about, “Wait a minute, am I looking at this all wrong? Am I looking at this from terms of how I want spending my time or am I looking at this in terms of what God has called me to do?”      

Laura:  That Ministry of Motherhood book is by Sally Clarkson. We will link to it in the show notes but it really transformed both Emily and I’s views on motherhood. Whether you work or you’re full-time at home, it’s a great book for all moms and it kinds of talks about what we talk about here on Risen Motherhood. Then, how did that play out? Once the twins are born, these things dawned on you. [laughter] Talk about not necessarily what you did with your time but just your mindset.

Emily:  Having a lot of young children under a young age has shown me a lot about myself and what I worship. I’ve seen so many times how I just want to escape the hard. I want to check out; I want to take the easy way out. Or I can become controlling when people don’t do what I want them to do. [laughs]  

Laura:  Little ones under four feet tall.

Emily:  Yes, my little minions in my house. One day it dawned on me that I could potentially be with my kids all day and not model Jesus for them and that was a horrifying thought. [laughter] I realized all that valuable time would be wasted. Here I am, I’ve made this sacrifice, I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I was really, really challenged because I was watching women around me that had a variety of circumstances, and a variety of situations living out their biblical call to motherhood and being faithful moms and not spending quite as much time with their kids as I was. Yet here I am spending a lot of time with my kids and I just kept going, “Wouldn’t it be this awful waste to say  that I was with my kids all the time but I wasn’t passing along the gospel onto them intentionally.“

Laura:  I think that will give us a great segue into the gospel and how our gifts fall into motherhood. Can you talk through a point or two about the gospel here? I’ll chime in here too. I’m a stay-at-home mom if you all didn’t know. Where do you want to start Em?  

Emily:  I think some of these realizations  didn’t change anything necessarily about what I did. I’m still with my kids the vast majority of the day, [laughs] but it changed the way I looked at my day and I looked at my time. I feel like one of the biggest things for me that changed, especially in terms of how the gospel applies, is realizing that everything I am and everything I have belongs to God. It’s not my own, it’s not about me or my day, and what I feel like, or what makes me happy. It’s about God and his will for my life and his calling for my life. I don’t have a boss. I used to think about that like, “Woohoo, I don’t have a boss. I can do what I want,” but it’s like, "No, I have God looking at my work in all the hidden quiet places; looking at my heart." I want to give my life as an offering of thanksgiving for all the things he’s done for me and God sees when I’m wasting my time. He sees when I leave things undone out of laziness, or when I choose social media instead of intervening to discipline my kids. I just realize, “If Christ laid down his life for me, and I am giving everything to follow him, my life belongs to the Lord.” It’s not like, “Hey, I’m free to do what I want.”      

Laura:  It’s amazing too when you really apply yourself. I was actually talking to a girlfriend this weekend and she was like, “However much time you give yourself to get something done, that’s how long it will take.” If you have two hours and you’re like, “Oh man, I should probably have five,” but you only have two, you get it done in two. I think there’s an element as an at-home mom of thinking, “I have all the days to get things done,” or, “I can do that at nap time,” or, “I can do that after bedtime,” and we keep pushing. This is the moment to disciple your children. We’ve talked before on the show how during these moral years, you are really forming their morals up until junior high. You are starting now to junior high. That is when brick-by-brick, we are slowly building the love for the Lord, and the knowledge of who he is. We’re putting in the gracious and the kindness and self-control. We’re investing in all of these qualities we want to see in our children. You’re doing that now mom and it’s going to take that 15 years or 13 years or whatever it is, and we don’t have time to push that off to tomorrow or, “I’ll start quiet times tomorrow. I’ll wash the dishes tomorrow.” It’s amazing because if we apply ourselves to live faithfully and trusting God that he is going to put in front of us what needs to get done, we can actually often get those things done that need to be done.       

Emily:  Christ does not put a heavy burden on us. He equips us through the Holy Spirit to do what he’s asking us to do; to live faithfully in that moment. As we’ve talked about a lot on the show, identity is such a huge thing to understand. A lot of times, we can look at ourselves in terms of, “I’m a stay-at-home mom. Here is what my schedule is like and here is what I do during the day.” But I really started to think like, “No, I am a Christ follower. I am a disciple. I’m a co-heir with Christ, a daughter of the king.” Because that’s who I really am, I’m free to be about God’s priority instead of thinking about my time in terms of this legalistic way. There is no rule about how many hours I need to be with my kids each week, but I’m also free to lay down my other dreams and desires and not feel like, “I need to have it all right now.” In both ways, that’s freeing to be able to be each day, “I’m going to obey the Lord because that’s my joy.”     

Laura:  Remember that as moms, we are not out of the call to make disciples just because, especially when you’re at home, it can be hard to see that missing opportunity. Being home, our children are our disciples. In addition to that, there are ways that we can do ministry. Just because we are an at-home mom doesn’t mean we’re only contained in the four walls either. Bringing your children alongside you and ministering to other people, finding ways that you can use your gifts and talents and not just being at home. If you love to cook, then great. Host and have people over and entertain, and share Christ’s love through cooking. Taking your kids to the local Pro-Life clinic or serving at church and in the nursery. My church is redoing their nursery, so helping to paint that if you’re creative in that way. There are so many ways that, as a stay-at-home mom, you don’t have to be contained in your four walls. Also remembering that your greatest job is to disciple those children that are in your homes, and again, that’s whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom.    

Emily:  Finally, I think one of the things too that’s changed my mindset on this, and that God’s been really gracious to show me is that, not everyone is in the same situation that I am. There are a lot of women out there in different circumstances across the globe—my sisters in Christ, that are living out their motherhood and they’re calling, in much, much more challenging situations than what I was facing. I was reading this book recently, it’s called The Insanity of God, but there’s this part about missionaries and he talks about, not giving up in our freedom what persecuted Christians don’t give up in their persecution. I feel like thinking a lot about, “Okay, with all the time that I have, I want to do this well and be thoughtful about it because it’s a gift that I have.”    

Laura:  That’s so important to be grateful for, the fact that we even have a choice to be home and to recognize that as a total gift. I think that’s a good spot to end. Moms, I hope you were really encouraged by Emily’s story today of how God has really changed her mind and what that looks like to have a faithful calling to motherhood in light of the gospel. You can find a lot of the links. We’ll post everything that we mentioned on the show in addition to some other articles about the same topic in the show notes. Go to www.risenmotherhood.com, that is where you will find them. Of course, we would love some reviews and some ratings on iTunes, that is the best way to get the word out about the show. We would do appreciate it you guys. This is the best way to do it, to share the show if you like what we’re doing here. I think that’s it, right Emily?   

Emily:  Yes.


EP. 36 || True Hope for Moms: Discerning Lies You Hear Online Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler.

Laura:  Emily, I think the first thing we need to talk about today is our new printable. We have a gorgeous new printable out from Give it Pretty. It’s got these awesome ferns that feel very fall and it’s really pretty. We hope you guys will head over to download it. The quote is by George Muller and it says, “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.” We just love that. A great reminder for all of us moms, to every morning, the first and primary business for us to attend to is to go and pray, and to speak to the Lord, and to remember where our joy is found, because we all know it cannot be in our children, or in our schedule, or in our accomplishments of the day. God is the only constant. He is the only one that is worth having joy in because he is the true source of that joy. We hope you guys will head over to risenmotherhood.com and download it. It’s completely free because of the generous work of Give it Pretty. She also has an Etsy shop, so you can find her on Etsy.com. Check her out as she’s got some really beautiful prints, and cards, and confetti, and lots of fun things for wrapping and packaging that I think you guys will all find very helpful, as you get ready for parties or anything like that. Check her out and check out the printable.    

Emily:  Laura, I wanted to kick things off this morning by sharing a story with you. I have not told you yet, but it happened a couple of days ago and it totally frames this show up. It was a rainy day. I was standing in the kitchen, the kids are playing, and it was kind of dark. I’m sneaking a muffin or two out of this bag of muffins I have sitting on my counter. I’m chowing down and my twins catch me, so they’re asking me for muffins. I’m like, “Okay, here’s a couple of muffins,” and I go on about my day. I come back later, I turn on the lights, I’m cleaning, and I notice that the whole bag of muffins is moldy. I immediately start gagging and I’m over the sink. I’m like, “I don’t know. It’s been 30 minutes so it’s too late.” But that feeling of, “Oh, my goodness. I consumed something that is disgusting.” I’m googling on my phone ‘What happens to children who eat mold?’ [laughter] I totally panicked. It’s really interesting because I was thinking about this later going, “How did that happen?” I thought about this show that we’re recording about discerning truth and what happens when we are sometimes in a spot, as a mom, where we are having a bad day or feeling down. We’re lurking in the dark, we’re consuming stuff and we’re not really thinking about it. It tastes good going down at first and then later, we see something in the light or see something in the light of truth and all of a sudden, we realize we’ve been consuming something that is not good for us. I thought, “Wow, I did not want that word picture!” [laughter]         

Laura:  God really drove today’s show home for you, didn’t he? [laughter]

Emily:  That is what we are talking about today; the things that we consume online, whether it’s through Instagram or through your Facebook feed or Twitter or Pinterest or whatever. These things that you take in and you enjoy them and eat them. Maybe if you were to examine them a little bit more closely, you would see that they’re really not good for your soul.

Laura:  Indeed.  These things that we take in and feel super good. Things like saying, “You’re enough,” or, “If you just love your kids, you’re fine.” “You’re doing a great job mom. No matter what happened today, you did an awesome job,” or, “If you apply yourself harder and you juggle more, you can get a lot more done if you put your mind to it.” A lot of these messages are  tricky messages. Emily and I have had multiple discussions around these messages, and what they mean, how they go down, and how to deal with them because they’re super popular. I’m absolutely sure that today, you have seen some of these messages pop up on your Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or whatever feed you’re looking at.

Emily:  Laura and I realized they are so popular because they appeal to the side of us that wants to just … there’s a verse in 2 Timothy that talks about people accepting false teaching because they have itchy ears and they want to be told what they want they want to hear. There is that element there of, that’s an easy thing but it’s something that we can digest that doesn’t confront our sin, and so it’s totally common and understandable why that’s there.  

Laura:  Yes. Why people put them out and why people consume them. It’s funny because Emily and I, both as bloggers, can see that those are the type of messages that get shared a ton and they go viral. Like Emily said, they feel good to say and we are not saying that they are always wrong. We want to put a blanket statement up front to say these are not always wrong. It’s okay to send a piece and say, “Hey mom. You did a good job today.” But if they are not sandwiched by truth or supported and under guarded by proper theology, sometimes these things that we hear online really are not truthful. They are false messages. We want to talk through some of those things that, as you take in these messages, the lens to view them through.        

Emily:  We want to make sure that we take what is right and true, and that we leave the rest behind because this is a message that isn’t going to fully satisfy. I know that when I am reading these things, my brain literally screams, “I’m not doing a good job.” [laughter] I know that I’m not good enough and so I don’t even know what to do with that statement because I feel like the Holy Spirit bristles against that so quickly. That was something we wanted to talk about is having that voice that comes forward of, “When I read something that tells me, 'Hey, you’re good just because you love your kids.' I want to respond, 'Hey, if you looked at what I did today, you would know that yes, I love my kids but no, the way I responded to them was not good. I need something else to do with that sin and that failure other than to stuff it down and to try to ignore it'.”  

Laura:  That’s what a lot of those messages can do for us. They just feel good in the moment but long-term, they’re not really dealing with the issue. I think we talked though in our guilt show of false guilt vs. true guilt and something needing repentance from the Holy Spirit. If you’re suffering through that, that might be a good show to go through and listen to. We’re talking through as you consume or see these messages, again, they’re not always bad or negative or totally sinful [laughter], but we want you to see them though the truth like Emily said of, “I’m not a good mom, I know that and thank goodness for grace.” Anytime you see those things, those are chances to thank God for his grace in your life because you know what a wretched sinner you are. The other reason these things are so popular is because nobody wants to hear that they’re a bad mom; [laughter] that’s why they go viral. That’s the thing about the gospel, is that the gospel is sort of offensive at first. Death came before life and Jesus had to die before we were redeemed. That’s a hard truth as believers and for anyone to come to terms with is that the bad news comes before that good news but we can’t forget the bad news. The reason the good news is the good news is because of the bad news.  

Emily:  Talking through the gospel, because that’s what we do here, the only two humans aside from Jesus who were ever able to say, “This is good and God has made us good and we are enough,” are Adam and Eve, before the fall. The rest of us don’t get to start there. We may get to end there after Christ bled but as followers of Christ, we have to believe and acknowledge our sin. The scripture says, if we say we have no sin, if we’re saying things like, “I’m enough on my own,” or, “I can do better if I just try hard enough,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. We need to confess our sin and be open to our sin as followers of Christ, and acknowledge it because then we get to glorify Jesus and make our Savior important.  

Laura:  The beautiful thing is acknowledging Jesus because that’s where redemption comes in and remembering it is all grace, moms. Any good you do is of Christ. Those are things that Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on the cross has allowed for you to do and so those are times to be grateful. I know sometimes I’m like, “Whoa, that was a supernatural amount of patience. Where did that come from?” [laughter] At times, I have those moments but that is the Lord Jesus Christ working in my life. If it were up to me, I would be an impatient, horrible, lazy mom. [laughter] I am so grateful that God gives grace and allows us to do great things because we are born sinners, we are rebellious, we are wicked, and we don’t want anything to do with God on our own. I think that’s a wonderful truth. We could be grateful to God for every time that we triumph over sin. That’s a time when we are doing a good job. That’s a moment for us to be grateful to God.  

Emily:  That is such a good thing, as we can tend to claim that righteousness as our own. Even hearing, “Good job,” we need to remember that good in me is Christ in me. The other thing, Laura and I talked about this a lot on previous shows about our identity and that God doesn’t love us because of how we are doing as a mom. [laughter] God loves us because we are his creation and he loves us because of what Jesus did. We don’t understand that. We don’t understand why he chooses us and pursues us and lays his life down for us, but he does that not because of how we are doing in our motherhood. The other thing we wanted to bring out was don’t gloss over your weakness or powerlessness and think that, “I’d better hide that stuff down.” That is exactly where God wants to meet us. He works most powerfully in our humility, when we are contrite, and when we are broken over our sin. If you’re waiting to get all, “Okay, I’m doing a good enough job. I’m going to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I’m a good mom and then I’m going to go approach the Lord.” You’ve missed an opportunity to truly connect on your brokenness, which is where we need God.  

Laura:  As Em has said, none of us are ever going to be enough. We’re not going to be good moms just because we showed up or just because we loved our kids. That isn’t what ultimately makes us a good mom and ultimately, the goal isn’t even to be a good mom. It’s to bring glory to God in everything that we do. Not to be satisfied in our own efforts but to be satisfied in him, doing his will, spreading the gospel, making disciples—that should be our end goal. It should be to say, “I want to come to the end of the day and feel like I’m a good mom.” No, you want to come to the end of the day and say, “I serve a good God.” It’s just a mental shift, and it’s something that, again, we don’t want to say, “Never read those messages, they’re horrible,” but when you read and consume those things, in the back of your mind it should be, “Hey, I see something that I did good day. I want that to point me to Jesus, not point me to my own self-worship.”   

Emily:  That is so good, Laura. I think it’s so hard to realize that we don’t have to live on this roller coaster of whether or not we’re measuring up every day. Because I feel that at the end of every day, I look at what I did and I measured up to a standard, and so I totally understand this feeling of wanting to hear, “Oh you’re doing okay.” But really, and I’ve given this illustration before, I’ve heard it a million places so if you’ve heard it, sorry, [laughter] but for those of you who haven’t, we think, “I got a B-plus in motherhood or a C-minus,” but the reality is we fell short. We got a big fat F.

Anything short of meeting God’s standards of 100% perfect is a failing grade. The good news is that Jesus takes our failing grade and he takes the punishment for that and he doesn’t stop there but he gives us his perfect score. That is the record with which we are approaching God. That’s the record with which we’re approaching the throne of grace. Do our good works bring him glory? Absolutely. Do we want to pursue holiness? Yes, but we do that out of a heart that realizes we already have that perfect record and it’s like our gratitude flowing out. That’ a totally different way to look at it than seeing your failure and then wanting to hide your report card. [laughter]   

Laura:  This is such good news Emily, yes. I love that illustration. I’ve heard it a few times. [laughter] I love it; it’s so good. I think this is such good news for us because we can rest in this. We don’t have to worry if we measure up, as Emily said. We know our standing not just today but forever and ever and ever. It’s so refreshing and it should actually encourage you more than hearing a temporary message that says, “Hey, you did this great job. Even if you screwed up a thousand different things today, you’re still okay.” But this says, “You did a ton of different things that you shouldn’t have done, but your price has already been paid by Christ on the cross, and now you get to live for eternity with him forever. Your daily status is not going to change no matter what you do.” We have nothing to offer and he chose us at that point and so our joy and our acceptance doesn’t have to rest on being a good enough mom or a failure of a mom or anything like that.      

Emily:  We were also looking through some examples in scripture as we were prepping for this show. Another thing I was going to mention, as I was looking at these examples is that, do you ever notice in these mom things in the Bible, when God is really working, it’s in a place of brokenness. That is hard to swallow but looking at Hannah, she was struggling through barrenness, and then she has her son Samuel, and she dedicates him to the Lord. That was a broken moment and a broken part of her life, and a sad thing, but God redeemed them, worked through that, and it became a big part of the redemption story. Mary as well; look at what happened to her, probably her worst nightmare as a mom happened to her son, but God worked in her brokenness and it’s beautiful. Again, not wanting to gloss over the fact that sometimes those broken places or the places that scare us the most or where we feel the most inadequate can be the very things that God wants to use to work out something for his glory in our lives.     

Laura:  Every time I see a greater need, every time I recognize those areas like, “Lord, I can’t do this. I do not have control over my impatience or I feel frustrated or something comes out of me that I feel really ashamed about," those moments point me to Jesus more than the moments where I do a great job because I see my need; my sin is in my face. It totally freaked me out and I am like, “God, I can do nothing apart from you.”

Seeing, like Emily said, those moments of need and desperation, draws us closer to Christ. It draws us closer to becoming identified with him, to defining and seeing our need. We can celebrate in our neediness because we know that we have a great Savior who works in and through that, and will redeem us, and make us whole and restore all at the end of the age.  

Emily: I love how you said, “My sin scares me sometimes.” I love that because it should. It should jar us a little bit. Those are the moments where we can be humble and realize, “Oops, I do not have it all together,” but there is a greater hope. As we were thinking about this show today and we were like, “What do we want to communicate?” it’s mostly, again, as you are consuming some of these things online, whether it is a blog post in your news feed or something you are seeing on Instagram, be discerning and know that even though that is going to comfort you temporarily, there is a greater hope. As you’re sharing things, you’re hitting share or you’re hitting like, or you’re commenting or whatever, also think in terms of how can you minister to the other moms who are in your life, and see how you can share messages that are going to point them to Jesus. Even if they’re a little bit hard to read at some points, and even if it confronts sin, or even if it’s not a popular cultural message, think about that. Use that intentionally to share articles that point women to Jesus, to like and promote things that do more than gloss over sin and say, “Hey, you showed up so you’re okay.” Anyways, that was our hope today. We hope that that’s what you walked away with.     

Laura:  I couldn’t have said it better myself. At the end there, I didn’t know we were going to say that but I liked that. That’s a great practical application from this show of being conscientious of what gets shared and what you’re liking. I think that is something that we should all have more thought in, of what we’re pushing out on social media. I know how easy it is to hit share on that feel-good message but we want to point all things back to Christ and point all people to Christ, and so it’s good to be discerning as Emily said. Thank you so much for joining us. We hope that you were encouraged by today’s show. If you were, please head over to iTunes and give us a rating and review. We know we ask every time but it is the best way to support the show. If you don’t know how, we have a little tutorial on the side bar of our website risenmotherhood.com. It will walk you through all the steps, pre-screenshots from my phone and computer so you can check that out and of course, find us on all the social media. Speaking of social media messages and stuff, [laughter] Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, @RisenMotherhood. You can easily can find us so please, join the community; join the conversation. We want to continue to encourage as many moms as possible to continue looking to Christ for their hope, not for themselves and so we hope that this message has encouraged you today.


EP. 35 || Putting Your Marriage First: Give Him More than the Leftovers Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura Wifler with my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here. Today, we are going to be talking about marriage and keeping it a priority; keeping it first in your life.

Emily:  As Laura mentioned, we are talking about putting your marriage first, which is really challenging after you have children sometimes, because the reality of it is that the needs on your plate usually increase, like all the things that need to take care of during the day. At the end of the day, I’m around my four little kids all day, they have touched me a billion times, [laughs] I have in fact used a million words on them and there’s been moments of stress. A lot of times, even physically, I’m worn out. I actually wore a Fitbit around my house one day on an average day and saw that I walked seven miles around my house, which was nuts. I don’t even know how that’s possible but then I was like, “Well, this explains why I’m so tired.” [laughter] My husband gets home and wants to have a super-deep business savvy conversation and my brain is just like, “Blah, blah, blah,” [laughter] mush.    

Laura:  It’s so funny because I think my husband and I are completely opposite in the sense of when he gets home, I really like to verbally download and I desire that because I feel like I must tell someone what I did all day or didn’t happen. But he really needs that wind down time; that time to recharge. That time of silence. I feel like often I struggle in serving him that way because I’m like, “No, no, this is what I want to do and what I want to talk about.” [laughter]

Emily:  There are other examples too that Laura and I thought of as far as not thinking of our husband first. I let my kids eat my husband’s snacks sometimes. [laughter] He comes home and he is like, “Where did all my crackers go?” I’m like, “Sorry,” and I forget the things he wanted me to get at the store. Maybe he’ll ask me to be like, “There’s this one area in the house that’s really bothering me. No big deal, but if you can get to it today, please do.” It will end up on the bottom of my to-do list and I won’t do it, or I will let our bedroom stay really messy. Everything in the house is pristine and you walk into our room and it’s [laughs] just bad.      

Laura:  I can do the same type of stuff. I know that when my husband gets home, I’m often like, “Okay! They’re yours.” I’m going to clean the kitchen and they’re crawling all over him. We aren’t able to eat dinner together often so I set out a plate for him but the kids think it’s second dinner so they’re basically eating off his plate the whole time. [laughter] I’m not really thinking. I’m like, “Yes, break,” and poor guy is like eating with a couple of monkeys on him who are begging for more food. I tend to be like, “Okay, he can eat these leftovers from lunch like a garbage disposal. Here’s everything we have and I’m going to use it up in his lunch.” Often, I can find myself really wanting … I don’t want to pay for a sitter because it’s hard. It’s hard to pay for a sitter but often, I’ll be like, “Yes, let’s go do these fun things with the kids. That’s no problem,” but bring a sitter on date night, that can be a lot more difficult for me. There are so many ways that we can inadvertently put our husband on the back burner and not really be thinking about his needs. I think we do that because we convince ourselves that it’s okay.      

Emily:  Because our kids are needy, and they’re right there and you’re like, “If I don’t take care of this, they’re going to be crying. We’re going have a temper tantrum on our hands.” Our husbands are often, especially if you’re married to a believer, they’re often very gracious and [laughter] generous and they’re very patient. They may go a long time without saying anything, so you realize, “This isn’t going to cause an immediate big issue.”     

Laura:  He’s not going to cling to my leg and cry at my feet.

Emily:  Exactly. So you put their needs behind your kids. I know that sometimes when my husband and I have a conflict or something that we haven’t fully worked through yet, I will let that seep into all my interactions with him and it’s really unhealthy. There’s definitely a lot of reasons why we, as moms, justify that.

Laura:  It’s so important for us to overcome our justification. As mothers, we have to remember that our husbands, especially if they’re a believer, are working for the same goal that we are, and that we’re parenting towards that same goal, and that’s eternity. That means that our marriage matters so much in motherhood. It can be easy for us to be like, “Okay, I’ve got my kids and then I’ve got my marriage,” and not really look at them as bonded or intertwined. What we have to realize is that the health of our children actually relies on the health of our marriage as well.   

Emily:  What we see in scripture is that God set up Adam and Eve and the marriage relationship as the foundation of the family. Also, husband and wife are a picture of Christ and the church, and this is an incredible witness to not only our children but the world around us. We are living out this incredible gospel truth for the world when we have a healthy marriage. Those are really important things to remember. We don’t have time to go super deep into that but especially as wives, God calls us to serve and love our husbands well, and love our neighbor as our self. Our husband is our closest neighbor so all of those things are super important to remember.       

Laura:  Marriage is about friendship. Remember, it was right before the fall, as Emily was starting to say there, so that’s a good and it’s a wonderful thing. Now it has become riddled with sin and there are issues that happened because Satan wants to divide that marriage because it is that beautiful thing. He’ll even use a good thing to try to hurt your marriage and that’s your children.

Often times, we can start to focus as moms into our kids, because as Emily and I were saying, that their needs are a lot more pressing and in our face. We have to remember that that is from the accuser; he wants to divide us in our marriage. Ultimately, I love the picture of remembering that I’m still called to serve my husband as I’m supposed to serve the church and that this is the great story of redemption that is lived out right in my home. I can love and prioritize my husband even when it’s hard; even when my kids’ needs are so much louder or even when it just feels easier to do something else. I want to look beyond the here and now of this moment, of today and remember what is coming to me; that future reward. I love it because we are studying The Meaning of Marriage with my growth group by Tim Keller. He talks a lot about seeing the person your spouse is today and loving that person, but really, you love them because you can see the person that God someday created them to be, and you are choosing and striving to love that. Does that make sense?         

Emily:  Yes, I have to think on that more; that’s deep. [laughter]

Laura:  I love it because he’s talking about the sanctification that occurs in marriage and as moms, that’s happening so much as we daily try to strive to prioritize our husbands. We are seeing a greater depth and reliance on the Gospel because of marriage, both in serving our husband despite his flaws, and choosing to serve him despite your flaws. Another one that will hit you hard.     

Emily:  There’s so much meat here. Laura, you started to talk about this but the reality that too, sometimes marriage is just hard. There are really difficult things that you go through and choosing to forgive our husbands, because Christ forgave us. That doesn’t mean that we’re excusing where he’s at or anything like that but I think just living and walking in forgiveness is super good. We could talk about all these deep things forever. Obviously, there’s books written on this. [laughs]  

Laura:  If you want a great book on it, check out Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. We will link to it in the show notes but it has changed a lot of my perspective on marriage and really encouraged me to desire to serve my husband, even when it’s really difficult. That’s not because of necessarily things that he does but just life—being a mom, having a family that’s growing, and involving a lot things, it can be very hard because his needs tend to be the quietest. [laughter]  

Emily:  What do we do practically? We wanted to get into this a little bit because this is helpful, because it’s like, “How does this translate though? I’m really struggling. I’m trying to juggle my kids but I want to put my husband first.” I think it starts with speaking that truth. What Laura and I just went though is reminding yourself, “No, I don’t want to push my husband to the bottom of the list. I want to love him and I want to prioritize him.” Maybe you don’t want to but you know that it’s important.

It’s choosing to take that thing that maybe your husband asked you to do, or you know that he cares about and you put it at the top of your to-do list instead of the bottom. Sometimes I’ll even tell my kids, “Daddy asked mommy to do this and I want to take care of this and so you need to be patient while I do this,” or whatever the thing is. Even letting your kids know, “Daddy’s needs are important to me and we as a family are going to try to honor daddy and his preferences.”  

Laura:  I just took my husband’s car in to get fixed. We traded cars and my son’s all, “What, why are we driving dad’s car?” It was funny because he was like, “Where are my toys?” because our cars are loaded with toys and all these things. That’s such a good point, Emily. It’s not like, “Okay, we’re going to fix dad’s car,” it’s going beyond that and saying, “Because we love daddy. Because daddy works so hard for us and does all these things for us, we’re going to take his car and get it fixed, and that’s an awesome way we can serve him.” It’s tweaking that language in front of your kids, of going beyond the, “I’m going to tell you exactly what’s happening and nothing more,” [laughter] but telling them the “why” behind it. I think especially as a stay at home mom, when you’re with your kids all day, that’s really easy, but even as a working mom, showing that value to your husband, of him working or everything that he does and ways that you can serve him even outside of work. I know that adds a whole another element of prioritizing your marriage when you’re both gone for a full day.    

Emily:  Speaking again of basically remembering our husbands’ rightful important place in our lives, I feel like I get preachy sometimes with people, but we have to remember our marriage is for our entire lifetime. Our kids are around for a short season. Hopefully, when they become adults, they will move out at some point and become pretty self-sufficient. That’s what we’re supposed to be training them for, is to go, leave, and to make their own family.  To spread the gospel and go do their own good work for the Lord, we hope, but guess what, your husband is still going to be there when those kids go off to school or whatever it is. It is so important because what I’ve heard happens is, if you invest all of your time into your children, and put your marriage on the back burner, when your children are gone, all of those years of neglect are going to show. Do you still have a healthy, thriving marriage of somebody that you’re excited to grow old with? There is this myth that this is impossible to achieve when you have young children. I hear that so often, “With young kids, you just can’t. Marriage is so hard.” I feel like as my husband and I have believed biblical truth and we have trusted God, by his grace, our marriage is doing well with a lot of young children. It’s not perfect but I do think it’s possible. I don’t feel like we should believe the myth that just because you have young kids, your marriage has to be bad. There are lots of challenges but you can choose to trust God in the midst of them. [laughter]     

Laura:  That was good. It’s hard truth but it’s good truth to hear. To pad that a little bit more. My husband and I, and I know Emily you would say this, we are not immune to difficult seasons or seasons where we’re not talking as much or we’re not jiving as much or there seems like there’s a little bit more disagreement than other seasons. You can feel, “Okay, we’re in this weird spot,” but that is where prioritizing your marriage changes that. That duty to delight, as John Piper says, or just the dry abundance of, “We’re going through a jarry season and so I’m going to do my duty. I’m going to do what I need to do and my feelings will catch up. My heart will catch up.” That is not just a Christian thing. The culture would even say that that often happens. You would do something, you would get to know it more, and you strive for it and you do those actions, that your feelings can follow. Just to encourage you, I’ve had plenty of these seasons, I know my husband has for me and all those things where we’re getting into a little bit of a rut but we’re choosing to prioritize, we’re going to go on dates, we’re going to choose to talk. It’s going to be a little bit hard but the end reward is so worth it. Like Emily said, that long-term goal of desiring a healthy and wonderful relationship with our husbands. It has to land outside of our children. It cannot be all around them or it’s going to crumble when they go out and do something.       

Emily:  We haven’t said this yet but the root of all of this, if you want to prioritize your marriage well and love your husband well, is to love Christ and to be connected with him and walking with him and believing these truths. As God’s word changes your heart and you’re led by the Holy Spirit, these things don’t necessarily get super easy but I do feel like it’s possible. [laughs]

Laura:  If you are sustained by Christ and not by your husband or your children, you’re going to be able to be much more gracious throughout the day; grace-filled, and you are going to start thinking about the needs of others and that includes your husband. That falls into that practical stuff of having your time in the word, praying for your husband, praying that this happens, it changes your heart if you’re in a tough season. We had a couple of questions to go through here, of asking yourself, where has he expressed preferences and how can you prioritize those things? How can you honor those things even if they’re really small? In fact, those can be the easiest ones or easiest ways to show him love a lot of times.    

Emily:  I love this question. How can you save physical and emotional energy for your husband each day? I ask myself that sometimes during the day. How can I maybe not do this extra task so that I truly have extra energy? Or even these conversations on how can I intentionally put aside part of me to save for my husband?  What else Laura?

Laura:  How about maximizing your time together? My husband and I don’t have a ton of time together. I think that’s the way it is for a lot of spouses, especially alone time. What are ways that you can plan special events, play into your shared interests or maybe there’s a business you run together, or who knows? Really being intentional about that time you do have together and not just binge watching Netflix. Although that can be good too, so definitely, times for different things.     

Emily:  Finally, just ask your husband. I know that occasionally I will be like, “Honey, what is important to you that I am getting done?” or, “How can I serve you better?” or, “What is the one thing where you’re like, 'I don’t care if anything else gets done today but here’s one thing that would really bless me?'” I’m always shocked at how simple his answer is. It’s something like, “Could you make sure I have coffee on my way out the door?” or, “Can you just make the bed?” or whatever. “Can you be in a great mood tonight and we can relax?” [laughter] You know what I mean. It’s like, “Let’s just have a nice night tonight.” I’m always amazed at how gracious it is and how encouraged I am when I can just complete that one small thing.   

Laura:  Even if you’re working. I know these tasks are going to look a lot different and your routines look a lot different, but I think it’s still important that you find ways to prioritize one another. That you can find ways that if he does have a preference for some of those things you do, that you guys can meet them. Yes, I think there are a lot of ways to look at this and I think it can be a really beautiful picture of the gospel played out when you guys are striving together. Especially us as moms, taking on that on us of being the first ones to start prioritizing our marriage.      

Emily:  Lots of good stuff for guys to think on. [laughs] We will provide some more resources too in our show notes risenmotherhood.com. Hopefully, I’m going to try to get some books and articles and things for you guys to look into more. Remember that you can find us on social media, @RisenMotherhood and then please leave us a review on iTunes. We actually have a little tutorial on our website risenmotherhood.com where you can see how to leave a review exactly, if you’re not sure how. That would be a huge blessing to us. Thanks again for listening, and you guys have a great day.  



This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Hey guys. Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I'm Laura Wifler, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me.

Emily: Hey.

Laura: And first thing we want to let you guys know is that we're actually taking a break after this episode. This is our last episode for the spring of 2018.

Emily: Yes. And we are already excitedly planning podcast for September when we return. So this is just like last summer if you guys have been around for a while you know we took a few months break from the podcast episodes only so we can enjoy your family, and just like you guys, rest and get revved back up for our wonderful content.

Laura: And of course we're not going away completely though, so don't worry you get your Risen Motherhood fix. We have the blog running all summer. We also have lots of social media content lined up, and I don't know do we have anything else, Emily? That's kind of the main two.

Emily: Yeah, so we're definitely still going to be out there engaging and sharing stuff.

Laura: Instagram stories—go find us there. We've been trying to get Facebook Stories to work, but I've been having some struggs with it. I don't know. So, we'll see if we get that fixed, but we hope you guys will join us throughout the summer and look for us to return in September. But with that, we want to get to the show.

Emily: Yeah. Laura, I just remembered something funny I was going to tell you. So last night, you remember how we had the kids record the intro for the AUA show? My husband Brad is—of course you know Brad, he's your brother—I'm talking to you like you don't know who he is. He's like the weirdest thing happened. We were driving the other day, and the boys were like, "I have a new podcast I'm starting dad." And he's like, "What?" "It's called the worst mom in the world." So the line we had them say over and over again was, "When you're the worst mom on the planet," from the intro. So what they got is that mommy and Laura do a podcast called the Worst Mom in the World, and they want to be on it.

Laura: That is awesome. Oh man, I love it. I love that's probably what they're going to be telling the grocery store people.

Emily: I was like, "No, that's not what the podcast is called."

Laura: It might be how we feel sometimes, but it's what it's called.

Emily: So, speaking of that, I think it's just been really funny to talk with people in real life about what it is that we do in terms of ministry. And because we're talking about evangelism, I told Laura this story last night actually that I was stopped at a therapy appointment and a lady overheard me talking about this book update. Somebody was asking me about it and she said, "Oh what's your book on?" And I was like, "Oh, it's on motherhood and the gospel." My voice changed, I got all weird and awkward and it was like I coughed out the words. I felt so dorky afterwards, and I just was like, "Why do we get so weird about that? Why do I get so weird about something so simple that is not threatening?" It's a perfect opportunity for me to talk clearly about Jesus and the things that I just love so much, but it can feel so awkward to share the gospel with people.

Laura: Totally, I hear you. I think it's hilarious when people ask me, "Oh so what do you do?" I don't know if they're believer or not but there's somebody new, and I'm usually like, "I run a pod- ministry- Christian. I don't even know." It's all coming out in a jumbled mess, and it's just hilarious, because  Emily and I have actually talked to this a few times of how we speak so freely to Emily's closet about Jesus. And it's like we are bold and brave, we're behind these mics we have. But even like going into our safe community at Risen Motherhood on social media and things like that, like where we just feel like, "Oh generally, we know the message is going to be received." It's so easy and so free, but then you get to a point where you don't know how it's going to be received. And all I can do is have fear of man completely where I'm thinking about how do I look, and I don't want to make them uncomfortable, or I don't want to be uncomfortable.

Emily: And do they even know what this is.

Laura: They probably don't even know what a podcast is, and I'm worried about the word Christian.

Emily: Yeah, I think, for me, what's a big struggle is this idea that I can kind of talk Bible study and prayer all day and feel like, "Oh yeah, those are disciplines that are consistent in my life." But when I think about the simple fact of sharing the gospel evangelism, do I do that as frequently as you know I probably should know? No, and why is that? I feel like it's one area of my own personal spiritual life that is really challenging and something I wish I was more passionate about in my everyday life.

Laura: Right. Yes. So just to let you guys know, if you're a mom at home who's wondering why is it so hard to share the gospel, Emily and I literally sort of do it for a living now—not a living but we do it all the time. And we still find it to be incredibly hard to do it in our everyday life. And I think there's a lot of reasons for this, right? I mean, there's the element of our family has just a lot of needs that feel urgent or they kind of feel all consuming. And so, it can take a lot of us just to love those in front of us and invest well in front of us or even just being tired. I mean I think that's that's something that is a real thing but also can be kind of used as an excuse to host someone that maybe you don't know very well or feel like, "I'm already so physically and emotionally drained and now I'm going to go talk to this person who's kind of emotionally draining for me maybe." So those can be definite real hindrances.

Emily: Yeah. I know for me too there's this element of not knowing where to start. I maybe see missionaries or people who are church planters and I'm like, "Oh great, that makes sense." But I don't always know what it looks like in my own context. How to meet more unbelievers without being totally awkward or just kind of constructing a situation that's not real. And so it can be a barrier just to think outside the box and see what's right in front of me.

Laura: All right. Or maybe past efforts like Emily and I were just sharing like the times where we do kind of feel like we want to be brave and get out and do it maybe something it failed. Maybe we've felt really embarrassed or maybe we were rejected—definitely things like that have happened to me in my past that makes me just feel like it's not even worth it. I don't want to go through that emotional toil.

Emily: Or I think just feel uncomfortable talking about God and the gospel. I mean there's an element of fluency in it that really only comes as we practice and as the things of the Lord roll off of our tongue in everyday conversation. And even if they do, it can still be challenging because the language you might use with an unbeliever to talk about the gospel is probably a little bit different than what you may use at church—just in terms of understandability. So there are definitely a lot of barriers but still very important.

Laura: Yeah. Bouncing off of what you said, Em, of feeling like you need to have a robust theology or getting nervous about getting until some kind of theological argument you know where somebody maybe wants to pick a hole. That can be really daunting, but you know the reality of the gospel is what we talk about here on every single show at Risen Motherhood. You can tell it a lot of different ways with different words but as long as you have that essence in there, then what's great is that all you have to do is be able to explain how God did that for you. You can tell your story within that context. That's all you need to really know to share the gospel. If you're feeling like, "Oh I'm scared to do this because I don't have the right words or I don't know how to frame it up," we're going to get to talking a little bit deeper about what to do if you're feeling that way. But just remember that that's really what it is. That is sharing the gospel. If you know that story, if you know the story of how God saved you from your sin and death, then you know how to share the gospel.

Emily: Yeah, and I think the gospel then transforms us and our lives and changes our heart. So if we are extremely grateful for that and we have truly been transformed and we know the hope that we have forever, that is going to make us want to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength which is the first and greatest commandment. And it's going to propel us towards the second commandment which is the great commission—going out and making disciples, loving others in the name of Christ. And that is really where this evangelism peace comes into play. If he's done this for us, then we want to go to the ends of the earth and tell everyone. Because the reality is everyone is going to live forever. What is the reality of their forever going to be though? Is it going to be with God, where he's going to make all things new and restore everything and there's going to be joy? Or is it going to be apart from God, where there's going to be no eternal punishment and sadness and weeping and gnashing of teeth? And so if we really believe that, then there has to be an element of us telling that. There is a verse in Romans that talks about Paul saying, "I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." And he also goes on to say that, "faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ." So, we definitely have that commission as believers to help people hear the good news. It's great news.

Laura: Yes. So if it's such great news, what you'd hope is that this would flow out of you out of your joy. But the reality is we live in the "already but not yet," which means we still have our sin nature in us. And so we end up being self-focused, afraid of rejection, afraid to be persecuted for our faith, or we're just self-focused with our own needs. You know, we're thinking about just what's right in front of us rather than the eternal. So we know that these things happen and that we have these moments, and we all have them but that doesn't mean.But that doesn't mean it has to be the pattern or the future of our life—that we can continue to grow in holiness, that as we get to know Christ more, as we grow in our Christian walk, and we fall more and more in love with him, that joy really does start to overflow. And we are never stuck in where we're at, so we can remember that the more that we dwell on God's grace, the more it changes our hearts and the more changes our actions and our words.

Emily: Absolutely. And I think one thing that can kind of take the pressure off when we're thinking about this, is realizing that salvation belongs to the Lord and it is ultimately him who is sovereign over hearts and people being able to understand and receive the gospel and put their faith and their hope in Christ. I think I have to remember the Parable of the Sower, and we need to be sower and be casting out the seeds of the gospel, but we don't always know what people's hearts are like. We don't know if the cares of the world are going to choke it out. We don't know if hard times are going to cause people to fall away, we don't know, but we are still responsible for sowing the seeds. And God is who gives the growth.

Laura: Amen, amen, Em. So we want to talk through a couple of common myths or pitfalls. These are things that Emily and I have fallen into at different moments in our lives, so know we're preaching to ourselves here. But the first thing that I think a lot of us, especially moms who are at home or at home generally during the day, we kind of think to ourselves, "Oh I'm pouring everything that I have to my own home mission field." And so we stop looking outwardly, we stop looking at the needs of those around us, because we feel like, "Oh we're already participate in the Great Commission. I mean we have our little children." And it's true our children are our mission field. That is a true element, and we are to raise them to know and love Jesus, and we are to share the gospel to them. But at the same time, when we make that task so important, then we leave no time for unbelievers or to evangelize with other people and really in reality, evangelizing to other people, seeing the needs of others, that's part of our witness to our own children. And so, we need to kind of have both of those things, not just saying, "Oh you know, I'm taking care of my kids and so they're becoming Christians, but it doesn't matter what everybody else is doing. Someone else will care for that."

Emily: Yeah. And like Laura saying, it is such a good opportunity but that doesn't mean it's an either or. Like I have to go out and leave them. No, it's bringing them alongside—part of training our children is having them see us care for the lost.

Laura: And we have a couple shows on this. Yes. We'll list them in the show notes. I don't remember the titles. This is what I feel like when I'm evangelizing—totally blanking.

Emily: But the flipside to that is sometimes we can see the mission field as being primarily out there. And so, in an effort to reach people in the gospel with good intentions, we may serve and serve and serve and be away from our home and be away from the people who may need us right there. And we are reaching people with the gospel, but we're forgetting our own unreached people group in our own house who also needs to hear the gospel, whom we have tremendous influence over. And so again, it's not an either or, but I think we have to be cautious about not falling into either of those ditches—thinking it's all out there and neglecting the mission field in our own home, or it's all in here and I don't need to do anything in terms of reaching my neighbor.

Laura: So another one would be that you view your life as a witness. So this makes a lot of sense, because we are supposed to be in the world but not of the world. And so often our witness can be the fact that you know maybe you don't swear, or you dress modestly, or you're not cheating out your co-workers or your company, your children are obedient and they seemed to respond to you, and there's this element that you look like a Christian to the outside. But the problem with that is the fact that the reality is if you don't give words, if you don't explain why you're different and why you do things differently, you're nothing more different, in the world's eyes, than someone who is morally upright. We have to remember that in order to reach the heart of another person, it often requires communicating the reason why you're different. Instead of kind of deep down hoping, "I hope someone will come up to me and ask me about Jesus."

Emily: Yeah, and one thing Laura and I were talking about as we were prepping for this show is a really practical thing that has helped us in this is to let people know really early on in a relationship, when you meet them, that you are a follower of Christ. And then, as they see your life, as you interact with them, as they see, "Oh this person really cares about me, this person really wants to know what's going in my heart, and they are really gracious in whatever those things are," they have a context and a framework for knowing that's in light of your belief in Christ. So that can be a way to kind of get around that pitfall.

Laura: And it makes it way easier later in the relationship if you want to go deeper with them or talk about stuff. At least for me I'm like, "Okay, they already know that I'm different, and they already know that I follow Christ." And so it's way more easy, I think than, "Oh I've known you for ten years and you have no clue I'm a Christian. And that's embarrassing.".

Emily: "Why are you bringing this up now? Didn't you love me before?" And then another one, this is kind of modern, but I think there is this element of like social media bio evangelism, where maybe your profile is like, "Mom of three kids, loves Jesus and coffee." It's kind of like our today's you know 2018's way of putting a fish on the back of your car.

Laura: I like that. I forgot about those!

Emily: So the truth is it is great to acknowledge online that you are a follower of Christ. I don't think anyone would say that's a bad thing, don't do that . But I think the flip side to that is sometimes our profile shows that we actually have a different functional God, and that we we actually are worshiping and living out something completely different. And that can be very confusing to people who are seeing "Jesus saves" in our profile, but it looks like we're trusting in something else to save us as we're posting different articles or we're posting pictures. And then another element is that we use that as an excuse to not go out and meet people in real life and to share the gospel with our neighbor across the street, or to invite a co-worker over to our house for dinner because we're like, "Nope, I'm cool. I got evangelism box checked." It's not an element of, "What's the least I can do to be witnessing? " No, it's, "I really genuinely want to share the gospel with people, not just put the fish on the back of my car or the Jesus in my social media."

Laura: Okay. So we've kind of started talking about all of these pitfalls. So now a little bit of encouragement about some ideas for how to share the gospel or get started. Hopefully you're thinking, "Okay I want to do this. This is something that I've been convicted to do." So the first thing to kind of start with is asking when was the last time you did share the gospel with someone—even if it was just your own children; I shouldn't say "just your children," that's important. And why is it, if it's been a long time for you?

Emily: Yeah. So some ideas if you are wanting to say, "Yeah I haven't shared the gospel in a while. I want to get more regular in this," is to pray for a greater desire for that, to practice in your own home with your own children—what a wonderful opportunity to expose them and to get all your goofy words out. And then three, just to think about things in your life that are a good jumping off point to talk to new acquaintances or co-workers or anyone else that you're going to come in contact with about Jesus.

Laura: Yeah, this is one of those that has been really helpful for me. I know when we were in the adoption process, people would always ask me, "Why are you adopting?" You know believers, nonbelievers, it's a very natural question. And I remember the first few times I got asked by a non-believer I left God out of the equation. I completely confess to all of you on the podcast that I just gave some of these surface answers and some statistics. While they are valid and true and definitely helped convince my husband towards that path, I was like, "No, the number one reason I'm adopting, is because of my own adoption from God." And that was really convicting for me as I walked away from that. And so I rehearsed it at home saying, "What is a natural way? How can I get comfortable with the language to talk to anyone about adoption and how that intersects with my Christian faith?" And so it was just a natural door. And these days, my daughter has special needs and so a lot of people ask, "Oh how's your daughter and what's going on? How are you processing it?" And that's another great chance where I have, in my own time, thought through this is how I can share the gospel through my daughter's story or through how God's working and my life in this situation. It's become a lot less scary because I kind of know what I'm going to say. And so maybe thinking through some of those things in your own life, as Emily was saying, what's already happening now that you can use as a springboard to naturally share the gospel or even drop in that nugget letting people know you're a Christian even if it's not this big robust, "This is the gospel!"? You can sprinkle in the fact that my life is different, I live differently, or I make decisions based on my faith.

Emily: And another thing we can think intentionally about is, "Who is in our immediate sphere of influence?" This may be a parent. Of course children, I don't ever skip over that. Our own parents, in-laws, people who are very good friends, a co-worker that you see every day, maybe even extended family. Just consider sometimes we overlook those people, and we're you know we're thinking halfway on the other side of the world when we have somebody we see three times a week that doesn't know Jesus that we could really just invest more intentionally in. So, go ahead and start praying for that person. Think about ways that you can remember them or encourage them or really foster a relationship with them that makes them feel genuinely loved, that is different and redemptive in a way that no one else is reaching out to them.

Laura: This takes a lot of intentionality. One show that does come to mind for me that I remember the title of is "Hospitality and the Little Years, Episode 55," so definitely check that out. That one's a pretty easy one. And "Serving Others Right Where You're At, Episode 43, "would be helpful in this, I think.

Emily: And then the final one, especially for those of you who feel like, "I'm at home a lot and with my kids all the time, I don't have any of these people," I would just challenge you to think about it. Are there people though that you see pretty regularly? Do you take anybody to therapy? Do you go to certain doctors appointments over and over again? Are there teachers that you see? Is there a grocery delivery person that you see frequently? A barista? A mailman? A hairdresser? A nail tech? A house cleaner? Think about all of those people in everyday life that you see—can you be intentional as you are doing that? I know one thing we try to do every year is send out Christmas cards to a lot of these people that we may see two, three times a month and write a sweet know and just say, "We pray for you. And we're really thankful that you do this in our lives." And I don't know what difference that makes. But it's just one small thing you can do when you aren't sure how to foster deeper relationships with unbelievers in your life.

Laura: Yeah, I got a friend who I know via Instagram on the Internet. But she leaves gift cards and a note for her UPS person every Christmas.

Emily: That's sweet.

Laura: I know. I love that. And I was like I gotta do that. So, you know, there are ways. She just takes it to the door. I'll try to link to her Instagram post about it, because it was super inspiring and really easy. So anyway, basically final words for all the moms out there: know that you are not alone in this being a little bit daunting, a little bit scary. But also know that God gives you all that you need. He promises that he will care for you. He'll be near to you and even if you feel like you tried it and it failed miserably or you didn't have the perfect words or you feel a bit embarrassed by, trust that God's word won't return void to you. And that as you make diligent efforts to try to share the gospel, God honors that. And that he opened a donkey's mouth, so if he can work with a donkey, he can work with you.

Emily: Yeah. Two things that just came to mind. One is to expect that this is going to be costly. So I don't think we said that overtly, but I think sometimes we get in our little comfort zone and were like, "I want to share the gospel but not in a way that is going to cost me."

Laura: "As long as I know they're going out just like totally receive Jesus in that moment, I'll share it."

Emily: Yes, spreading the good news of Jesus is costly. We do a whole show about that. And two, we have a printable on our website that you can use to share Risen Motherhood with people, with moms in your life. If you're like, "Oh I don't know quite how to share with this mom about Jesus, but I'm going to have Emily and Laura do it through the podcast. Here's this thing that I've really been enjoying!" And we hear that from a lot of you guys that you're sharing Risen Motherhood with other moms. Hopefully, they don't come back and listen to this and feel really awkward.

Laura: Tell them to the last show.

Emily: But that this can be a way to start conversations, so we hope that you can download that little notecard.

Laura: Yeah. Well there's like a five by seven sides. And there's a flyer. You can just pin it up all over your town if you wanted to—no problem. So OK we got to wrap it up. We are hitting time. We're usually a lot better about this, but we went over, I'm pretty sure today. We'll see. But if you want to find any of the stuff that we've mentioned today, please check us out at www.risenmotherhood.com. That's where our show notes are found. We talk about them on every show. We post lots of links and resources, so hopefully we'll have some stuff there that you can check out for further articles, to get more inspired, and maybe find some new tips and tricks also for sharing the gospel with those in your life. And of course find us on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter @risenmotherhood. And we'll see you in September! So have a great summer break everyone!

Emily: Yes, see ya!


This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily, here with my sister-in-law, Laura. Before we jump into today’s topic—because we’re going to be all about resources—we wanted to share that we have some free downloadable Bible study resources on our website, risenmotherhood.com/abide. You can find all of those free downloads there.

Laura: They are tools to help equip you to study the Bible on your own. We have a pretty robust tutorial that—even if you've never studied the Bible by yourself and you don’t have any other resources around you—you can get this for free and you can study your Bible. Hopefully it walks you through how to simply study the Bible. There are all free for you, and you can thank all of our patrons who have supported us to make those resources for you. We have a clean minimalist look that some of you probably have not seen quite yet, because we did give them a quick update. We’ve also got a floral one that's really pretty and kind of romantic-looking and matches our logo a little bit. We have both of those options for you depending on if you like clean and minimalist or if you like feminine and floral—we've got that one for you too. [laughter]

Emily:  Yes; definitely go check those out. Like I mentioned today, we are talking about resources, and how we spend our time as moms when we want to grow spiritually. We’re all really busy, and there are a lot of resources out there, so how do we determine what our time goes to? It can be kind of challenging.

Laura:  Yes, and today we’re specifically talking about spiritual growth, because we don’t want to say that you always want to be doing this Christian application stuff and not watching Netflix, or having free time with your husband, or playing with your kids, or whatever it may be. We’re just talking about as you grow in your Christian life and as you use resources and employ different things beyond the Bible, how are you discerning and choosing those? There are so many things out there that are vying for your time—everything from book clubs to Bible studies that other people are offering, different books, social media, blogs, podcasts like ours.

Emily:  There are also all kinds of conferences out there that you can go to— there are conferences online, like recently Laura and I were a part of one. There are also conferences that you can go to in your own area. It just goes on and on. Oh, and if you miss a conference, you can watch all of the things online; there are a million videos that you can catch up on. There are so many resources that it can be paralyzing to decide what to use.

Laura:  Or it can be, “Oh, this person said to use this,” or, “This is a bestseller so I am going to read that.” And while sometimes there is value in having other people help you discern what resources to use, one of our heartbeats at Risen Motherhood is to teach you how to discern and look critically at resources that are available to you. Often, Emily and I—and the whole Risen Motherhood team—are asked for our thoughts about specific Christian leaders, or specific authors or conferences that are going on. That's one of those things, which, like I said, we would prefer that you guys are really digging in deep into doing your own research, because we know that we make errors. We’re not always right, and we also don’t know all the great resources out there. A lot of times we’ll say, “We don’t know, we haven’t checked that out yet.” While we wish we could offer an answer, we just don’t know everything. We’re just five people on the team that can’t do it all. [laughter]

Emily:  We’re trying to learn this alongside you. Another thing that Laura and I are really passionate about is the local church. We want to continue to point you guys and ourselves to talk to the people who are tasked with our spiritual oversight and protection. Those people can really help us discern maybe a little better than somebody online, like Laura and I. But today, we just want to have a conversation about how we’re all super busy. We have precious time, and we want the little time that does go towards this to be used on things that are really wonderful and helpful—to grow in our understanding of what a very helpful resource is and not fill our time with things that are just okay when there’s something that could be much more beneficial for the time that we’re spending out there.

Laura:  It’s kind of like one of those where there are really good things and even probably some better things. But what is the best thing? Because your time is so valuable.

Emily:  I like this verse. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk. Not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Something that we’re charged with is to be wise with the time God has given us and to take it seriously. Therefore, what is the best kind of bang for our buck in terms of time?

Laura:  Before we get to exactly how to pose that out, we want to recognize that God’s word encourages us all to grow in a variety of ways. We grow through our local church corporately, hearing the Word of God preached, and meeting with other believers. But we’re also charged to seek growth on our own. We therefore want to seek first to grow in wisdom, and wisdom is knowledge applied. We learn about God and who he is, and then we apply that to our lives. We see that in James 1:5 which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let them ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Also in Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.” We are, therefore, charged in God’s word to grow in wisdom.

Emily:  Additionally, we see this kind of overlapping paired with the concept of discernment. Philippians 1:9 says, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment.” Then in Romans 12:2, and this is oft quoted although the whole quote is not always given. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. That by testing, you may discern what the will of God is. What is good and acceptable and perfect.” A lot of times we hear that, “Renew your mind,” but in this context, it’s for the sake of discerning the will of God and knowing what is good and acceptable.

Laura:  First off, outside of any of these other resources, when we’re talking about how to grow spiritually, especially on our own but also corporately, are reading your Bible—being in God’s word. For both Emily and I, the question that we often ask ourselves, or we might ask each other as we’re thinking about new resources is, “Hey, am I reading my Bible first? Am I really getting in God’s word and getting a firsthand knowledge of his word and his will for my life?” That’s just one of those things why—again as we talked about at the beginning with the Abide Method—we’ve created those tools, because we want to encourage you guys to get in God’s word first. Remember that you will wither apart from being in God’s word. You can spend all of your time reading wonderful resources and going to all of the best events, and hear the best speakers. But if you’re not in scripture—and growing and applying it—then it will all be for naught.

Emily:  I love this story of George Mueller, who is a famous missionary. He was said to have read his Bible cover to cover 200 times, which is amazing. He has this quote, “The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, and yet not be happy in the Lord and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man, day by day.” Actually I was reading this book called The Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald Whitney, which is very applicable. He was talking about George Mueller in his book, and how George Mueller had this turning point when he didn’t just read his Bible, but he meditated on it. How that completely transformed the way he prayed, and that that was a critical aspect. These stories can remind us that God’s word is essential, and that is really what, first and foremost, causes us to grow spiritually.

Laura:  I don’t think we have to worry about any of us being at risk for spending too much time in God’s word. [Laughter] That’s something that we can always learn to know, to love, and to prioritize it more in our lives. Let’s get to the gospel and look a little bit at what we’re already talking about—all about the Bible stuff. [Laughter]

Emily:  Spiritual growth. The main thing that we just wanted to bring out in creation is that when Adam and Eve were in the garden with their creator, they had direct access to the one who was providing their nourishment and growth.

Laura:  They were not reading books about God. Let’s just put it that way. [Laughter]

Emily:  God set it up so that they could be in relationship with him directly. But we know that after the fall, that relationship was severed. Now our hearts turn towards false gods, and we can be led astray, very easily, by all kinds of other bad doctrines, untrue things, or even just flat out evil things. We worship things that are not of the Lord.

Laura:  When we’re seeking out worldly solutions for a lot of our problems, the first thing that we often turn to is not the Bible but, as Em said, we’re turning to social media. Or we’re trying to say, “I am just going to go to this new conference because it’s all over social media. It’s probably good because somebody’s touting it and saying it’s good.” Or maybe we become lazy when it comes to discernment. Like we’re talking about, we are failing to live up to what God is asking us to do while we’re supposed to apply our knowledge of him and use discernment. Or sometimes we can swing the other way and be very strict what we engage in. We pridefully snub our noses at anything that we think might just be a little bit unworthy. Or we live in a lot of fear, “Ooh, that thing might really ruin my standing with Christ if I engage in that.”

Emily:  But in redemption, we see that Jesus died for all of our sin and failure related to wisdom and lack of discernment, and our love for other gods. He took the punishment. Now he’s given us righteousness and the Holy Spirit so that we can utilize discernment when we look at how to spend our time growing spiritually. Also, we don’t have to be terrified that if I listen to a little portion of this thing by this speaker, who I don’t know if they’re associated with exactly the right people, my standing with God is going to be compromised—because our righteousness is in Christ. We don’t have to operate out of fear. We can have wisdom, and we can continue to correct our path as we read the Word of God and grow in our knowledge of what his will is. It’s just really great that Jesus has purchased that ability for us.

Laura:  It’s a huge relief. Some day in restoration, we know that we’ll be in an even better state than Eden was. We will walk with God once again, and we won’t struggle any more with discerning how to spend our time or what opportunities we should be engaging in. Instead, we will have all we need because we’ll be in the presence of our savior. Every need of ours will be met, every question that matters will be answered, and our time will be spent rejoicing in Christ and being with him. Once again, we aren’t going to need the books! [Laughter]

Emily:  It’s kind of nice to not be overwhelmed by all these decisions and all of the things that are out there. You can have that and just be at peace. Okay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what does it look like to make decisions? You’re a busy mom, so how do you spend your time with resources? The first thing we wanted to say is don’t hear us say, “Stress out about this. Start freaking out about all the details.” Hear our heart in this that it’s less maybe about what you actually do, and more about your heart and growing in this. All the time, Laura and I still read things and get to know different resources, and then we change our path. It can be really easy to get overwhelmed in this in a bad way.

Laura:  Emily and I were talking and we were both saying five, seven years ago, I read some books that maybe I wouldn’t read today. We recognized that we have grown in our spiritual walk, but at the time we thought that it was great. That’s not to say that everything that I am reading today in five years, I am going to be like, “Oh my goodness, why did I read that?” But just recognizing that there’s growth that happens, and that you grow in discernment just like you grow in wisdom. As Emily said, we want to hit this home—it is more about your heart as you choose than it is about the choosing.

Emily:  Another question that you might have as we’re jumping into this is, “Well, is it okay for me to ever spend time reading something that isn’t overtly about growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?” Yes, if your heart is right. There’s a great quote by Dane Ortlund that says, “With the right filter, it’s not wrong.” There are a lot of bad books out there, and there are also a lot of good books. What he’s really mentioning is that we want to spend our time reading the best books.

Laura:  And he said that at a table that I was sitting at. So it’s not a written quote anywhere.

Emily:  Oh, this is like a firsthand quote. I like it!

Laura:  I didn’t realize that I was going to say it, I’d written it down on our notes [laughs], because I’ll never forget that at the time he said that, I used to be able…

Emily:  Give us the context, Laura.

Laura:  He was talking about online things, and we were talking about what resources to engage in. I just appreciated him saying, “I want to spend my time with the best books.” This may, therefore, not be a verbatim quote, that’s all I am trying to say, because it’s kind of a vague memory from about a year ago. We were able to attend the same church together in Chicago, which was awesome, and he talked about that at our table.

Emily:  With the right filter, we can engage in all kinds of resources.

Laura:  That’s right.

Emily:  Really, one of the main issues here is stewardship of our time. All of our time is a gift for him. Laura and I recently went to the same conference where Jackie Hill Perry was speaking. She did such a beautiful job of reminding us that we are not redeemed for our own purposes, but we are redeemed to give our lives to God. To remember that we are hidden in Christ and all of our lives are his. We, therefore, want to be aware of how we use that time while keeping an open hand and experiencing the freedom of Christ.

Laura:  Here are some questions for you. As you guys know, Emily and I love putting together questions, figuring out what kind of time do you have, and how should you spend it? The first thing you want to ask yourself is, “What kind of time do you actually have?”

Emily:  Maybe you can double up on something. For instance, do you have the ability to play an audio book, a podcast, or a sermon in the background, maybe while you’re washing dishes? Maybe you’re on a commute to work, going for a walk, or doing other chores around the house? Or maybe, how many weekends do you have in the year that you could do a conference? Or that you could go off and have a solitude retreat and pray and grow in something? Maybe you have evenings during the week when you can do an online seminar. Or you can read some really great books, or especially engage in Bible study with other women at your church. We should evaluate what those pockets are, and be thoughtful and creative about them.

Laura:  Because you might have time to do a Bible study or a book club, but not both. It’s important to know, what do I have and how should I spend it? The first question is, “Have I prioritized reading my Bible and spending time with God?” And if not, that’s the first thing that should go on your schedule.

Emily:  There you go. That’s an easy one to just slot right in. [Laughs]

Laura:  And Em and I need that kind of medicine. We need to hear that all the time too, because we fall of off these things, and we’re like, “Hey, we’ve got to get back on reading our Bible.” We know how easy it can be to fall off of that.

Emily:  In addition to that, then how much time do I have to give to these other resources? We’ve kind of gone through some examples for that, and one thing we wanted to mention is this question of, “Am I involved in my local church?” And then, “Have I asked how I can serve in the local church?” Spiritual growth also comes in our serving of other believers. Or for the things that I engage in, “Have we considered what is their purpose?” Like, “Why have I chosen this resource?”

Laura:  It is important to evaluate, “Am I leaning too heavily on one resource, or one ministry or one person? Am I just trusting them blindly and saying that they’re my authority, rather than the Bible is my authority?” Again, we can’t stress enough at Risen Motherhood that Emily and I (a) just don’t have the capacity to look at every resource, and (b) we’re fallible human beings, and we never want you to blindly trust us. We also don’t want you to just trust any other human-run ministry. The reality is that we want you to be looking at the Bible and viewing things and evaluating them critically with a gospel lens. Therefore, have you really thought critically about some of your favorite resources, or maybe the book that you’re reading or the podcast that you’re listening to? We have a show that goes pretty deep into this—how to evaluate a specific resource or author. It’s episode 53 from last year and it’s called Discerning Resources. Head there for more questions. But I think what happens, or what’s really common, is that we’re kind of looking for things that are going to sooth our itchy ears or things that are just going to feel good. As humans, we’re naturally drawn to those things that don’t make us uncomfortable, or that feel really friendly and fun or whatever. That’s fine, and there’s a place for that. We don’t want to say, “You shouldn’t read anything that’s fun. It should really be hard and horrible.” What we’re trying to say is that you should challenge yourself and evaluate those things with a critical lens, and see, “Hey, is there some weird theology in here?” or, “Is the author suggesting some stuff that doesn’t sound like what I’ve read in the Bible?” And if it does, is there a better resource that you can look at than the one that you’re currently reading?

Emily:  That’s a key rate right there— the questioning. What is the better thing? Another question is, “Am I willing to stop consuming resources that are not healthy for me?” Maybe you are in a book club, or in an online Bible study, or whatever the thing is, and you enjoy it and you like it. But you are starting to notice that there are better, richer, more true resources out there. What does it look like for you to shift over the course of time—knowing that this is not a one-stop journey to grow in your discernment and make different decisions?

Laura:  We hope that you can take some of these questions and find one or two application points to take away from it. Remember that the goal isn’t that we get this perfect or get all weird, we have freedom in Christ who died for that. The point is for us to recognize, “Hey, you guys are super busy.” We’re all super busy moms, just trying to keep our heads above water. Let’s, therefore, do what we can to water the soil of our hearts as God gives us growth. Also, just swap out those mediocre resources, or maybe even some slightly harmful things that we’re consuming, with something that’s more challenging or more true that we can find that’s out there.

Emily:  Just like you’d say to your kids, “Don’t eat a cookie. Let’s get a banana for a snack,” right? Let’s make some healthier swaps here. [Laughs]

Laura:  Sometimes easier said than done. [Laughter]

Emily:  What is your go-to spiritual snack?

Laura:  Yes, that’s a good question.

Emily:  Make it a little healthier. Okay, if you want to find resources, you can head to our website, risenmotherhood.com/resources. Don’t forget to check out those ABIDE worksheets that you can download for free. You can also find more if you follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Risen Motherhood. Thanks, guys.

EP. 100 || Ask Us Anything! Spring 2018 Edition

This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

[00:00:50] Laura: Well hi, and welcome back to this special 100th episode of Risen Motherhood, as you heard on the intro. Wasn't that adorable, Emily?

[00:00:58] Emily: It was so fun, but it wasn't as adorable recording it. [Laughter] It was actually the voices of all of our children—Laura, myself, and then our other sister-in-law, Becca. So all of our kids had a little tiny sliver of a line they said in there, and it was quite fun getting that recording bit by bit.

[00:01:19] Laura: Yeah, it was really fun, and the kids are cute because they're very excited to be "on the radio" and hear their voices over the car bluetooth. So, it was just fun. It was really fun to be able to record that with them and to celebrate our one 100th episode. Not only did we want to record a special intro, but we also have a very special new product for all of you guys.

[00:01:41] Emily: Yes. In celebration we're debuting an updated version of our kids abide card, which has always been a free downloadable tool that says, "Read, Observe, Interpret, Apply," which is kind of going through that inductive Bible study method with verbiage on the back at a kid's level. But we worked with a professional children's illustrator who did a wonderful job of designing these beautiful updated cards that we know you guys are going to love. I mean they're so adorable.

[00:02:12] Laura: I love it, and I put them out and frame them.

[00:02:14] Emily: They have little woodland animals on them.

[00:02:17] Laura: Oh she just did such a wonderful job. And then on the back, this has instructions for you to be able to talk with your kids about how to study the Bible. It makes it really really simple and again the content is really the same as our old kid's abide card, but it's just been updated so that it's more interesting for kids—like our kids are super into it. They love seeing which one is their favorite and stuff, so it's really cute. And then on top of that we have another special announcement!

[00:02:43] Emily: Yes, something that we've been asked about for a while and it is time! We are opening our blog for submissions. So the main reason behind this is just because with our theme this year unity in the Gospel, one thing we've been talking about a lot behind the scenes is wanting to get more stories from all different kinds of moms that have been through all different situations and are applying the gospel in their unique circumstances. And we know that you guys have wonderful stories to tell in light of the Gospel and we really want to hear them.

[00:03:15] Laura: Yeah. And you don't have to be published before, you don't have to be an author. We are looking for women who can tell their story and then apply a broader gospel application. So what you've seen on our blog; if you want to try your hand at that we would love love love to see a submission from you.

[00:03:31] Those open on May 23rd and it closes on May 29th. So you can start now and start working on your post, so that whenever it is open, you can submit that. There is a whole info website that you can see all the requirements and things that we're looking for, just to help make your post where it needs to be in order to go on the blog. So. Definitely check that out. That's at risenmotherhood.com/2018submissions.

[00:03:53] Emily: Yes. So we are so excited to see those come in and then start posting those on the blog throughout the next year. And the final little housekeeping bit we wanted to mention is that, just like last summer, the podcast is going to go on a break for the summer and so there'll be more details about that to come. We will be back in September. We are already planning for our fall podcast calendar. We are so excited, but everything else is still going to be running. We'll still be doing social media and the blog and the website and all other free resources and everything there, so we'll definitely still be around.

[00:04:32] Laura: And we have one more show next week, so this isn't our final episode. Or is it just one more? I think it's just one more. You'll be surprised. Check social media, you'll see. Watch your podcast app, you'll find out. But we do have a show or two left for you, then summer break. Hopefully you guys get a summer break too. So OK onto our questions.

[00:04:56] Emily: Ask us anything! If you're a new listener, both in the fall and in the spring we've kind of started this little tradition of doing "Ask us Anything!" because throughout the year our Risen Motherhood inbox fills up with lots of great questions. And this is just a wonderful time for us to be a little bit more casual as get to know you get to know us, and for us to just interact in a different way. So we are answering questions today that came in on social media and in email through the website.

[00:05:28] Laura: We always get like hundreds of questions. So it's really the most up voted ones, most frequently asked ones that we try to answers. Let's get going here without further ado. What are your favorite easy go-to meals or do you meal plan? Emily?

[00:05:45] Emily: Actually, today meal plan. [Laughter]

[00:05:47] Laura: Okay, on the regular? [Laughter]

[00:05:49] Emily: Big claps for that. No, I really come and go in spurts. I mean, I think breakfast is usually kind of our big sit down family meal of the day when we kind of have a feast, and dinner is usually pretty low key at our house. In fact, we live next door to my parents so we actually eat with family usually two to three dinners a week.

[00:06:10] Laura: Sometimes she is here. I'm living with my parents. We sound ridiculous.

[00:06:15] Emily: I know. It's been it's just been really nice in this season of life, I try to have like a lot of things on hand that I can throw together for a dinner. So, we typically go to things like baked salmon and then steamed vegetables and rolls that are in the freezer with rice in the rice cooker. I like to do a lot of one pan chicken dishes—the one pot wonders—where you just line the chicken up and then you put all the vegetables in the side and just drizzle a bunch of oil, salt, and pepper over it, and it's just a meal that's really easy. So I keep a lot of that stuff around. That way if there's no parents that are willing to take us in for dinner, I definitely have something on hand that I can make in about 30 minutes.

[00:06:57] Laura: So I'm the total opposite. I love to meal plan. I sit down on a Sunday and I meal plan. I use Google Calendar. Call it old school, but my husband and I do live with my parents temporarily. If again you're a new listener, we've moved to Iowa. We're actually currently building a house, which you might hear more about on the shows going forward, but we are living with my parents for quite some time. So I do most of the meals here while living with them. And so I do plan, everybody can kind of know what we're eating. So I just sit down and put a meal plan out. I don't make a lot of things twice. I view them as many creative projects, and I love to kind of improvise and make food, so I don't have any great go to meals for you guys. Maybe a couple that I'll put in the show notes. But in general, one of my best tips is that if my husband by chance says, "Honey can you make this again?" and he will make that request like, "I know you won't. So please try." I'll just said as a recurring event on my calendar every two to three months so then that meal pops up and I don't have to worry about digging it up or keeping a recipe book or anything like that. So it works really easy. And I do have a couple go to meals that I will make when I have to bring meals to a friend. And they're very delicious. And I will list them in the show notes.

[00:08:11] Emily: Nice. All right, next question. This is good. We've never talked about this before. Where did you go to college and what did you study?

[00:08:19] Laura: This is an easy one yes. I went to Iowa State University in central Iowa, and I studied Journalism and Mass Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations.

[00:08:29] Emily: Nice.

[00:08:30] Laura: It was as if you didn't know that answer, Emily. [Laughter].

[00:08:32] Emily: I know but it just always sounds just so cool and professional.

[00:08:37] Laura: It's so long. It's always like can we just tighten that up a little?

[00:08:41] Emily: So I graduated from Avala University, which is a small private school in Kansas City with a Bachelors of Science and Special Education. And then I also got certified Elementary Education as well.

[00:08:53] Laura: I think that sounds really cool like certifications and stuff. That sounds cool. OK. So leading into that or from that I suppose. What did you do before kids? Did you work outside the home?

[00:09:07] Emily: Yes, so right out of college, I worked as a special education teacher in an elementary school for a very short period of time. I feel like I had like 12 jobs before I had kid. I maybe did. So for awhile, I also worked as a para-educator, which I actually loved doing that because I got to be one-on-one with kids who were on IPs and just really get to know that one child. I just absolutely adored that. And then I nannied in-home for a family who had a child on the autism spectrum. And then I also worked in our family business here in central Iowa.

[00:09:43] Laura: Everyone's taken a turn with the family biz.

[00:09:45] Emily: I know, it's funny. Actually, my oldest son was just asking me the other day, "So what did you do before I was born?" And I got to explain him, "I sat at this desk!" He's been in the office many times and so he got a hootch thinking of me answering the phone and doing all that good front desk stuff. What about you, Laura?

[00:10:03] Laura: Yes, so I worked pretty much one steady job. I think I worked at a small public relations agency in Minneapolis and there's not a lot more to say. But I was an account executive there and worked with all sorts of businesses working on communication and stuff like that. That's why I really loved the strategic side of Risen Motherhood. I think it kind of plays into the things that I studied in school.

[00:10:27] Emily: Yes, Laura is really super good at business because she comes from a family of entrepreneurs.

[00:10:31] Laura: Oh, thank you Emily. [Laughter] We haven't gotten to that one question where it says, "What do you love best about Laura and Emily?" but maybe we should jump there. It was, "What does Laura love best about Emily and what does Emily love about Laura?" Let's jump to that. But maybe it's not my entrepreneurial skills.

[00:10:51] Emily: I literally thought multiple times that I should just sit down and write a speech. [Laughter]

[00:10:55] Laura: Ooh.

[00:10:55] Emily: But I didn't. [Laughter]

[00:10:59] Laura: One of my love languages is words of affirmation. So, Emily I really would have loved that. [Laughter].

[00:11:05] Emily: I think it's just hard to describe because I think what I love best about you is what I love best about our relationship. It's very unique to me and my life. And it's very special to me. And I love that you are one person in my life that does a really wonderful job of loving me and correcting me. And I think you just are able to do that super well. You are just really the opposite personality of me, but I absolutely love it. And I think it's just really good. And I just love that you balance me out and you're not afraid to love me and affirm me, and then—in a nice way—of telling me I'm wrong or missing something. But it's been so good because I've seen so much growth in my life, both personally and then also you know through Risen Motherhood, you could call it professionally in ministry, because of who you are and what you bring out of me and the way you challenge me and point me to Christ in really straight forward ways. And I just I need that, I need that little courageous push. I need somebody next to me, like linking arms with a sword in their hand because I'm kind of looking around for the cushions to sit down. [Laughter].

[00:12:31] Laura: This is where it's so funny, because you are in my brain for this. Emily I don't know what each other are going to say a lot of times on the show. We know kind of what the other person might say, but we did not discuss this one. And first of all, I can barely look her in the eyes. I mean it's always kind of an awkward conversation but good. And I think it's that's the exact same thing that I was thinking about is that were the exact opposite. Like we could not be more different. And rarely are you always attracted to that kind of difference in yourself. But I love that. And I think that that is the same for me. You correct me and challenge me in areas that I need to be softer or I need to be kinder or I need to be more thoughtful. And you're always very strategic in communication and your words and the things that you say and how things are presented. And out of a way of love for other people and out of a way of just caring for them. And I think that's something that I know that I have grown so much, and I appreciate just your, "Oh hang on let's think through that a little bit more. Let's go back to that. Let's really be thoughtful and intentional with this." And again, I think that's one of the strengths of Risen Motherhood is our two different personalities playing together, and the tug and pull of our personalities a little bit. Just like you said, it's always in love. I feel like you can say pretty much anything to me, and I know your heart and you always say it in love. It hurts sometimes, but I also know it's because you love me and you want my best for me and my family, and you're looking out for my best interest. Other people had asked us some questions that got up voted: how do you guys seem to have such a good sister in law relationship? And I think that that flows well into this is that Emily always looks out for my best. She's always saying, "Hey take a step back. What do you need?" Because I can tend to blaze trails, I have the sword and I'm whipping it. I'm in the battlefield. Find me a dragon! But Emily is so good at saying, "What does your family need? What are your priorities?" She calls me back to the cross, calls me back to the gospel, preaching it to me when I think sometimes I'm running around with a blindfold on.

[00:14:50] Emily: I love you, Laura.

[00:14:52] Laura: I love you. [Laughter].

[00:14:54] Emily: Those are all the warm fuzzies, and I feel like we could talk about that for hours.

[00:14:57] Laura: Yeah, we kind of did.

[00:15:00] Emily: We did talk about it for a short hour. But to bounce off of that and jumping ahead to that question about sister-in-law relationships. I think, what was interesting as we were processing through that question about cultivating the depth of joy with your sister-in-laws in this friendship, we were like, "There's no special sauce." You know, I think God has been really gracious to us. One practical thing I would note, we are all kind of in the same season of life, and that's helpful. I do think it removes some barriers in our ability to understand one another and communicate with each other.

[00:15:38] Laura: And we're talking about Becca here, too. We'll give you your affirmation in private later.

[00:15:46] Emily: And honestly, it just helps that we all loved Jesus. And so the deepest, most important thing to all of us is the gospel and seeing ourselves as sisters in Christ, first and foremost. And so I think when you have people in relationships working from that starting point and you all love each other, then you do normal things that Jesus followers do, like you forgive one another and you let love cover a multitude of sins and you try to put their interests before your own. And when somebody is having a crabby bad day and you know they're just a little off at a family event, you can say, "OK. That's not their heart.".

[00:16:25] Laura: Something that Em and I have gotten a lot better at, and we do this with Becca too, but it wasn't at the beginning; it wasn't this good. It was a couple weeks ago, we were actually recording the show and you stopped it and you asked, "Hey? Is everything ok like are we good?" I was having an off day because of other reasons, but it was kind of flowing in. She noticed it, stopped, and talked about it and brought it up. And that's something that I feel like with friendships and with sister in laws, that's kind of one of those things where you want them to ask you about it, but you also kind of don't want to have to bring it up yourself. I think that's something that we've gotten better at. Just like, "Hey, I'm noticing something's off. I'm going to point it out and bring it up and give her space to talk about it if she wants to."

[00:17:03] Emily: Yeah. So God's been really good in that, but I don't know that we have any special, extra tips for each other.

[00:17:12] Laura: It's not always perfect. Emily and I have hurt each other's feelings, so know that. We've had hard conversations, and it has been one of those things where I think we say, "Well we're not getting rid of each other, so we best make this work."

[00:20:17] Laura: Anyway let's move on. There's way too much Emily and Laura.

[00:20:21] Emily: All right, moving onto a little bit about the book. So somebody asked, "How has writing a book impacted your relationship and your feelings about the Risen Motherhood ministry?"

[00:20:33] Laura: This is a good one. I think this is funny because right now, we're trying to answer the questions that you guys most up voted or most frequently asked, and I feel like they're all about us and kind of how we're doing and stuff like that, which is really sweet of you guys. We really appreciate your care for us and thoughts for us. And I think that with the book, it has definitely been hard to kind of be myself through the writing. I feel like I'm going to speak for Emily; we've had a lot of conversations about this. And with our relationship with one another, we have to be even more honest than we already were as we are sharpening one another. And I think that's been just very true through the book to allow someone to look at your work. It's what you think is your best and then Emily to come in and kind of be like, "This this this this this." I know that it's good and it's coming from a good place, but it's just always hard to have critique of your work.

[00:21:25] Emily: It's a very vulnerable place to be. You know, Laura and I are the first person that sees each other's chapters, and it's our book collectively, and so it matters deeply that both of us love everything that's going on to those pages. But again, it's been a growth in a good way, because I totally trust Laura. I totally know her heart, and I know her heart is for reaching women with the gospel through this book. That's my heart. And so whenever we share those things with each other, it's where we're headed in the same direction. So, it's been good for our relationship, but I think for the ministry, it's been good too although it came also kind of get us in our heads.

[00:22:04] Laura: Yes. It's different than the podcast because it's the written word. And so you can kind of seem to mull over it more, labor over it, and it never feels finished. And so there's a lot of overwhelming or paralyzing that that goes with it. And so it's been a lot about taking this one step at a time, trust God to lead us, trust that the words and the message that are in the book is going to reach all of you. And hopefully, even more moms will be reached with this message who maybe have never heard the podcast but have access to the book or maybe learn in a different way. And so it's really exciting. But I think it's just been kind of different than the podcast because you don't hear inflection, tone, and the conversation, and that's been a really different thing for us.

[00:22:52] Emily: Yeah, and I'm actually I'm so excited for you guys to read it.

[00:22:55] Laura: Yes. Oh my goodness!

[00:22:56] Emily: I'm getting really excited because I feel like God has led us in a little different direction than what we've shared before. We may cover a topic in the book that we've covered on the podcast, but he's grown us a lot since we recorded it and we're coming at it in a different way. And so I'm really excited for you guys to read some of the personal stories that are in there. I'm looking forward to the final product.

[00:23:22] Laura: Yes. Yes. Oh I'm looking for the final product too. [Laughter]

[00:23:26] OK so what are some of the challenging aspects for doing Risen Motherhood and what's the one thing that you love the most about it?

[00:23:34] Emily: Okay, so I think, for me, one of the most challenging things—but for Laura—too is walking a line with content. That has been a conversation from day one—particularly in the content that we share and endorse and put on our website and people we have write on the blog. I mean all it goes on and on and on. Because on one hand, Laura and I are extremely passionate about sound doctrine, and we want to not lead anyone astray. We don't want to confuse anyone about what we think is most true and most helpful. But on the other hand, there are so many sisters in Christ doing amazing work. You know, we don't want to be these weird, nitpicky, not gracious people and not see areas that we can have unity with others who are spreading the gospel in an amazing way. And so it's just always a really hard balance to strike. And it's one that we literally talk a lot about, because we don't want to compromise but we also don't want to be afraid of what other people think of us if we if you know we share something. And we also know we're fallible. That's one of the hardest things about this thing.

[00:24:48] Laura: And we know how easy it is for us to make mistakes. For other people, we've seen it happen. And then for ourselves, we want to be a very charitable ministry. We want to be a very generous ministry having that abundance mentality that we never want to keep fellow women or men that are doing great work down or think that that's going to grow Risen Motherhood somehow. That's something that we're both big advocates of. That's why we have our resources page because we want to share this person said it better. Go listen to them you know or whatever. But that can just be a big struggle. What we love is that ultimately the Gospel never changes. We love the Gospel, and we love that we get to talk about it every single day in all different ways through all the different mediums and this is what we think about. We get to create content around it. We get to talk with one another about it. It's just unbelievable that God would entrust us, who really are regular everyday people who are sinners, with his message even in a very small way.

[00:26:00] Emily: It is. It is such a joy. And I just think of how much I get bored of doing other things, but I just never get bored of thinking of ways to share the gospel and I never get tired of this message. It just grows more beautiful and it grows more passion and it gets me more excited. And I think both Laura and I just absolutely adore laying down our time for the sake of God's gospel going forward to the ends of the earth in whatever little tiny way we can participate. And it's just amazing.

[00:26:36] Laura: And I love working with my sister in law. I mean I really mean that. And Autumn and Kaitlin.

[00:26:40] Emily: Yeah, we have the best team. And Becca!

[00:26:44] Laura: Yes, sister-in-laws! OK. Let's move on. So how do you foster close sibling relationships in your home? So we're moving into kind of some of the practical stuff that you guys have asked about. How do you hope to foster close sibling relationships in the future? And how do you teach patience and kindness in conflict with one another?

[00:27:02] Emily: Just a quick reminder, Laura and I's oldest child, between us, is five. So we can tell you what we've been doing, but if you run into us someday in public and our kids are punching each other in the other in the arm, we do not know the fruit of this yet.

[00:27:22] Laura: We plead the fifth on these things.

[00:27:24] Emily: In terms of answering all of these things, I would just say our kids spend a lot of time together. And so I think it provides a lot of opportunities for them to work out conflicts in a way that we hope honors God and is based in the Gospel. We expect our children to work through things and continue playing together.

[00:27:47] Laura: We expect them to fight. That's fully expected.

[00:27:49] Emily: Yes, that's fully expected. But it's also fully expected we are going to reconcile. We're going to reconcile and we're going to move on. So one of the things we started doing—my husband and I actually started doing this when we first got married—is saying, "I am sorry for blank. Will you forgive me for blank?" And then the other person has to say, "I forgive you for blank." And then there has to be a hug. And so my husband I started doing this and all of our kids know this by heart. Like I will literally hear them in the other room. If somebody is like,"Whomp!" And they're screaming, I'll hear, "Uh...I'm sorry that I hit you. Will you forgive me for being unkind?." You know, I can hear the speech. I hope it's helping.

[00:28:34] Laura: Yes. It's so good because I think labeling things, having a kind of a phrase or a pattern to work through is huge. And I think that's really really important. We have our kids do that kind of same thing as well. And also I think something that we try to do is fostering sibling relationships is talking a lot in our family about how much family matters. My parents would say to me a lot, "Your friends may come and go but your family will last forever." And that's one of those things that has been helpful for me as I process through seasons. And we moved a lot we were little, so it always felt like my friends were kind of going and a high priority was definitely fostering sibling relationships and letting us know these relationships matter. God created the family unit, he gave us to one another. He chose us to be together in this family and so we need to make it work. Kind of like I said to Emily of, "Well you're stuck with me. So let's have a good time together and let's learn to live together. Let's learn to love one another." And our children, you know, their siblings are their neighbors. And so anything that the Bible says about loving your neighbor, that applies and that's something that you can teach your children when they speak and engage with their siblings. All those things apply.

[00:29:43] Emily: Yeah and one thing we talk a lot about with our kids is the fact that the people that are in their house are going to be the hardest people to show the love of Christ to. And so we always say if you're not able to love your brother here, this is a truer representation of how you love more than even how you go treat your friend at school that you see for 30 minutes. And so a long time ago we memorize I John 4:21 or 29. "And this is my commandment. Whoever loves God must also love his brother." And we say that a lot. Whenever there's a conflict, "Remember you guys say you love God. We need to also love who?" "My brother!" Then there's a big forgiveness hug. That's usually sometimes a choking hug which turns into more need for forgiveness. But I think even bringing Bible verses into it can help remind them that this is really important to God.

[00:30:40] Laura: Yep! Another question. How do you meet the needs of your children, husband, and others while still finding time for yourself, especially your kiddos in the early years? This was up voted to the number one question, and this is something that we have answered before. We've done quite a few shows about this topic actually, which will link to in the show. So please go look there for really focused shows, but clearly you guys are wanting more. So if you're asking for how we meet the needs of everyone, the answer is we we don't. We can't be all things to all people, but a couple of practical things that we kind of both do: I get up early—now that my baby is out of a season of waking up late in the night. I get up before my kids and really try to fit in some self-care at that time or get some work done and have my quiet time and things like that. And then also we do have rest time. Emily has a rest time of sorts. Neither of us have kids that nap every day. But we try to sync a time every single day where all the kids are playing pretty individually or maybe as a small group, but they kind of know this is time that you're not asking Mommy questions, you're not coming to me with 15 requests for drinks and to figure this out and to do that. But we set them up with some type of activity, and they are told to play this for an hour and then the other babies nap in ours. Our time changes every day. It's not like a set schedule, it's whenever the baby naps. I'm like, "OK, rest time!"

[00:32:08] Emily: Yeah and I think it's a very fluid thing. It is a very week by week, season by season thing. I've learned that for me, my husband wants to give me times of rest and time away, but he doesn't always know when or how. He can't read my mind. And so I've learned to advocate for myself a little bit. And not in the way of I deserve this, but just saying something to him. And we've worked together to brainstorm how I can get away. We look at our calendar over the next couple of weeks and we say, "Here would be a good night if you want to go do something. Or can we get you off on a trip by yourself in the next six months?" You know, I know one thing my husband does every day that gives me a break is in the morning, he does the very first bottle. And every morning I lay there and think, "I'm so thankful for this." It's just a little thing. On Wednesday nights, I go to Bible study and he puts all five kids to bed. And it's not this life changing thing, but it is in a small way, a little bit of time that I get to not have to do something. So look for practical things like that. But one thing I think is always good to say is the reality that motherhood is hard. Especially in this season of little children. It is a time of pouring out and laying down and of putting others' needs before your own—not to a martyr degree but it is the truth.

[00:33:43] Laura: You know, we heard a lot from you guys like, "Hey, motherhood is really hard. Should it be this hard? Is this really how motherhood is supposed to go?" And without obviously knowing your unique situation and having a cup of coffee with you and really understanding what's going on, the general answer I think is yes. Like Emily said, this is a season where it's very physically demanding and exhausting, and so I think a lot of us are looking for time in the day where we can leisurely read a book or watch TV or just even feel caught up on the dishes or whatever and not feel like this endless cycle is going on. But that cycle is what this young season of children is. But remember that the Gospel gives you hope in every situation. And so no matter what is going on in your life the Gospel applies. The Gospel matters. The resurrection changes what is happening in your day today. And so you have not been forgotten. You have not been overlooked by God. He sees you, he sees your need. He sees the needs of all of those around you. And remember that because of Christ's death on the cross, and then his resurrection, the work is done and you can rest. And that may be, right now, a state of your heart, and you may still need to continue meeting those needs. But you can rest knowing that it is finished and that your salvation is secure, that you have an eternal perspective. Just know that you can cry out to God and he'll provide all that you need. And we do encourage you that if you're in that situation, go find someone to talk to in real life. We just did show on mommy mentors—that's not really what it's called, it has a better name—but about finding a discipler or finding a mentor. And we would really encourage you to do that. If you're feeling at the end of your rope, go into your local church and find community there and look for other women to help you in this because it is hard.

[00:35:31] Emily: Yep, a gospel life is a costly life but it's beautiful. And I think that there is joy in obedience. And whenever I cry out to God, and he provides what I need and helps me to persevere with his strength, there is joy in that. Even if you're tired.

[00:35:53] Laura: God is strong where you are weak and so motherhood puts us in that weak spot, right? OK. This one is another one that you guys ask a lot. What does Sabbath and Sabbath rhythms look like for you and your family in this season of young children?

[00:36:07] Emily: This is fun. This was asked so many times. I thought maybe we need to rethink our Sabbath.

[00:36:14] Laura: Because there are a lot of ways to do Sabbath. But thankfully we are free in Christ, right? We're not under the law with Sabbath but there are so many different ways to do it. So know that Emily and I's is just one example.

[00:36:27] Emily: Yes totally. And I think it also looks different for every family. In fact Journeywomen just had a really great podcast with Abigail Dodds—so good. So that would be a great thing to listen to if you are kind of curious about this topic. But our family doesn't have any formal rules or expectations or anything. We just view it as a church day. It's when we go to worship, we go to Sunday school, we usually have a small group every other week. It's a time to be with family. So that may be a time when we eat out with family. We take all of our kids to a restaurant or we may just eat leftovers at home. It's a day of rest in the sense of my husband has full permission to take a two-hour nap in the afternoon. So we encourage the kids to rest. I'm usually not on my phone much, so I'm usually pretty unplugged. Obviously there are exceptions to all these things, but as a general rule, I put on sweatpants at four o'clock. My husband and I like to watch a show together on Sunday nights. It's kind of our routine. And so it's a relaxing day.

[00:37:44] Laura: I would ditto Emily. I really have nothing to add. It's a little different, but generally it's the same type of thing. So the next question is, "How do you handle discipline and any creative tips or tricks over the years? Please touch on disciplining toddlers and preschoolers from a biblical perspective." That's a whole show we've done. It didn't have tons of practical, because again Emily and I feel like we don't have a lot of proof in our pudding yet, but if you want to listen to Episode 57 "How Discipline Helps Us Communicate the Gospel," we did share as much as we could in a 20-minute show. There are also good resources on the show notes! So Emily, why don't you talk through natural consequences? Em and I do a lot of the same things, so we're going to sort of bounce back and forth.

[00:38:31] Emily: We do. This would be for three to five year olds, so a little bit on the older end. One thing I really love about this season is that we're kind of out of the nitty gritty of, "Obey, respond! Obey, respond!" We've trained that, and now there are a lot of natural consequences of disobedience. Obeying mommy and daddy has more fruitfulness and more joy, and obeying God is more joy, than what happens when you sin and you do not respond in obedience.

[00:39:01] And so one example of this is recently, my husband and I went through all of our kids' clothes and we pulled everything out. We had five bags of clothes that needed to be put away in the basement in trash bags. And my oldest son ran up and said, "The twins are playing rain downstairs. Come quick." They were playing rain with the five bags of clothes by dropping them into the air. And clothes were flying everywhere! So the entire basement was covered in clothes. A natural consequence of that was they had to pick up every single shirt and shorts and put them all back in the bags. And it took a very long time and it was very strenuous for them.

[00:39:44] Laura: And probably for you to keep them on task.

[00:39:47] Emily: Yes, it is painful for me too. You know at the end of that we talked about, "Was that 30 seconds of fun really worth that hour and a half? Who were you thinking about?" I don't know how long it was. It felt like an hour and a half. It may not have been, but you know, "Was it really worth it? Who were you thinking about when you were tearing those clothes out? Were you thinking about you or were you thinking about mommy and daddy?" You know, you see their eyes, and they're really starting to calculate, "I guess I was only thinking about me. I wasn't thinking about the work that I had to do." This is one example of lots of ways to do this. In fact, my oldest son just recently said, "Mommy, remember that time when I couldn't go to that birthday party because I disobeyed?"

[00:40:31] Laura: I remember that time!

[00:40:32] Emily: That was so long ago! He doesn't remember what he did, but he remembered that he could n 't come to a party because we told him he needed to obey or he wasn't going to the party. There are definitely great opportunities for teaching about the heart lessons in natural consequences.

[00:40:50] Laura: And the words that you're hearing Emily say are the words that she really uses. We use the word, repentance we use the word reconcile, we use the word forgiveness. I mean not every time, but it's just kind of getting them used to those biblical words. I'm always an advocate of speaking to your child at a level that's a little bit higher than they are. They understand more than you think they do, and they understand more than you know. You can say the word and then kind of explain it on their level. But getting them used to those words is really good. And another thing I would add to using this natural consequence method is I think it's really helpful in building trust in you as a parent from your children and you teaching appropriate responses to different things. Recently, for example, my son was running in the living room yelling, "She's so ugly," or something like that. He must have heard it at school or in a movie. I'm not even sure where he picked up. He wasn't saying it to anyone in particular. He was just repeating a phrase that he had heard. My head, of course, snaps to attention when he starts saying the word ugly, but instead of being like, "Hey, don't say that! That's so mean!" or freaking out on him, I just walked over and said, "Hey bud, where do you hear that? Why are you saying that?" And I got down on his level and talked with him about it. "This is what the word ugly means and it can be very hurtful for someone if you say that. So we don't want to say that about a fellow image bearer, somebody else that God made because that is not something that's kind to say." And so we talked through that, and I think that's something that helps our children feel free to come to us because they're not going to get freaked out at, they're not going to get yelled at. Having a calm response to your child and being filled with grace, and even sharing that sometimes I say things that are kind and that's not a person that mommy wants to be can help teach them what's honoring to God.

[00:42:42] I think that's one of the times where my son didn't have like a natural consequence for saying that, but it did open the door for us to be able to have preventative instruction, and it takes away the fear of him doing something wrong and then feeling like he can't come to me or talk with me about or if he has questions about something that happened. I want him to always feel like he can come and his mom will talk with him and explain things. Yeah I like what we're getting to is just saying that there is a deeper reason and a deeper principle for things we want our kids to understand. One thing we talk about is running at church. And if I see my kids running I pull them aside and explain, "It's not just that you disobeyed mommy—that may be part of it—but it's also seeing these other people who we want to respect." It's getting to the root of what's going on and why that thing is unkind or wrong.

[00:43:32] Laura: Right. Exactly.

[00:43:33] Emily: But let's think about the broader picture here. And then just a quick word on toddlers and school-age children: one way that we train immediate obedience really practically is we get in a situation where no one is in trouble, there's no high stakes, here we're just hanging out at home, and we'll have our kids stand on the other side of the room and play a funny game. Daddy stands on the other side and he'll say, "So-and-so, come!" And then they have to say, "OK daddy," and run to daddy as fast as they can. And we do this like 20 times in a row. I mean just over and over and over again. As soon as you give a request, they have to say, "OK daddy! OK mommy!"

[00:44:16] And then we practice putting them in another room where they can't see us. "So and so, come!" "OK, daddy!" And then they have to come. And that's just one way to just start the process. Obviously it is way more complicated and involves years and years of doing all those things, but if you're looking for one quick thing to start, that's one. If they're walking, they can walk to you. And if they can say, "OK, Daddy. OK Mommy."

[00:44:39] Laura: My kids have to say that any time that I give an instruction. They have to respond with, "OK Mommy. OK daddy." We do teach them that around 18 months to two-year age, right when they're starting to talk, we definitely start saying it, especially when it's discipline. I give the instruction, and then they may not be able to repeat it all back to me, but they can say, "OK Mommy," and look me in the eye. That's when I kind of know that we're comprehending and we're together. They don't want to agree with you when they're being disobedient, but when they're willing to make eye contact and they're willing to say, "OK Mommy," you know that you're connected at that deeper heart level with them. Something else I would say, especially for those young kids, is that I think that a lot of young children can understand. Not necessarily consequences like they might get hurt, but they will understand that mom and dad don't like it when I do this and they seem to get upset when I do this, so I'm not going to keep doing this. And so I think young children can learn no and they can learn there are things they're not allowed to do. They can learn rules and boundaries. It looks totally different than an older child. But I think there's this element of being able to teach a young child to obey. Kind of like what Emily is saying, "OK, come when you're called. Obey when I say, 'No, you stop doing that action.'" They may not understand the full brunt—they definitely probably don't—but I think that that's something that a lot of people kind of give up on.

[00:46:23] Emily: Yeah. OK, a final word on this. One thing to we try to help our kids understand is why we want them to obey right away and why it matters. Again I think this is for a little bit of an older child. But the other day I saw one of my twins was trying to slide down a banister that was really high. And I walked in and of course, the sound of my voice is roaring, "No! Stop!" and that can sound like anger, but what that is the anger of a loving mom that wants to protect them from something very harmful. And that is like our God, right? We image him by saying he wants us to have life and not death. And so he cares fiercely about us, so he does things that say, "Come be in my will. Come do what I'm asking you to do because that's where there's life. Don't play over where there's death." And so I think helping our kids understand, "This is not my cry to you to be mean and this is my cry because there is life and good things when you listen, and you have wisdom, and you obey Mommy and Daddy. Do you hear my voice pouring out you? It's because I care about you. I care too much about you to let you do something silly." They're not just going to learn as they get old you. They don't grow out of disobedience. And we've seen that. If you do not deal with it when they're young, it doesn't go away.

[00:47:41] Laura: I think discipline and motherhood is hard. Often I would want to kitchen parent. You know, I'm squawking out orders from the kitchen like, "Hey! Hey! Stop." I'm kind of pretending I don't really hear what's happening. Often I find that if I go to my children and sit on these little kiddie chairs,  I'll hold their hands and they have to hold each other's hands, and we all sit down just talk. We look at each other in the eyes, and we pray and we ask God to forgive us, and to help us with everything. I find that most of the time, not every time, but most of the time they will play much better together after that. Much better than if I continue to just yell at them from the side or toss somebody in time out or whatever I shooting from the hip. Often there are no consequences that happen, we're just having a discussion and I'm reminding them, "Hey, we are family and God put us together. Let's work together, let's enjoy one another." Those are the kind of things that foster sibling relationships. All of this flows together and I think that so much of it comes from us being willing to sacrifice our wants and our needs and our comforts our desires and say, "This is hard. And I'm exhausted, and I've done this multiple times today, but I'm going to come over and I'm going to do it one more time." Just know that this takes is a lot. It takes consistency and effort, but it matters.

[00:49:15] Emily: And the prayer pow-wow does wonders.

[00:49:17] Laura: Ooh the prayer pow-wow. I don't call it that, but I like it.

[00:49:20] Emily: I just made that up on the spot. I just know we get together like, "We're going to have family heart to heart!"

[00:49:28] Another question we got a lot is, "How do you get intentional time with each kid during the day? What does connection with your kids look like? Do you have one on one time with each child each day? Dates with individual kids? Especially family time etc. “Lauren and I have pretty much the same answer for this so I'm just going to answer at a high level and that's no, we don't have formal plans for getting one on one time with our kids. But because we have family nearby, sometimes we have opportunities where we have one child that gets to go to the store with us randomly or the older siblings get taken and we have time with one child and we try to take advantage of that. I think both Laura and I would say we just look for those times and when they happen, we try to snag them—for 10-15 minutes, whatever it is like running the errand.

[00:50:14] Laura: And you're probably hearing a common theme from us of communication. So when we're with them, and we're trying to be intentional, it's really just like asking—especially our older kids—"Hey how was your day at school today?" Like for my children, it might be, "Are you enjoying the move? Do you miss any of your friends from back home?" And car times are really good because you might have just one or they're strapped in, so they need to listen to you talking about church and how that went. But I think that's something, as Emily said, we're just kind of taking advantage of the pockets of time that there are. I think for the babies, that does look a little bit different. Emily and I were both talking about this, our babies are with us all the time, so I don't really have to make intentional time for her. In fact, I've often felt I need to be spending more time with my older kids because I spend so much time with my youngest who has special needs and needs a lot of therapies and appointments and things. It's harder to get time with the kids as they're older.

[00:51:10] Emily: Yeah and I think Laura's quick mention about the child with special needs—you know we both have a child with special needs at different ages. And I think one thing we do is make therapy time special. Also, I still try to get one on one time with my son right before bed, because he can kind of get lost in the mix even though he's got different needs. So it's just looking for that opportunity to count. When am I going to pray with this specific child or when am I going to sing with that specific child? I'm just looking for the opportunity and taking it. That's all we do, it's not on the calendar.

[00:51:44] Laura: And they asked about if we have family games or anything like that.

[00:51:48] I think a lot of it happens on the Sabbath. We'll take a family nap together. My kids love it. I mean it takes a lot to wind down. Let's be real. But I think there's something about Mom and Dad being close and that we're all piling together. So, we'll kind of take a nap together or attempt to, or we'll play Trouble or Connect Four or read aloud. So we definitely are getting into that phase,  but in terms of anything scheduled? No. But it is being intentional in a sense of keeping your eyes out on the lookout for those times.

[00:52:21] Emily: OK, if you have hung on until this because you saw it somewhere in the promo, we're getting ready to do it. OK, the question is, "How do you still enjoy sex when you're feeling used up, tired, and very unbeautiful all the time? How do you honestly balance intimacy with your husband while being in the exhausting season of babies? How can we apply the gospel to this situation?"

[00:52:44] Laura: We actually have a blog post coming out around the time of the show that is really helpful. Emily and I both read it and it's great. So that's something to look at. But first off, I guess as we talk about it here, we just want you to know we're going to give general principles. You know it's one thing to talk with your girlfriends over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine about what's going on in your life concerning intimacy, but it's a whole another thing to talk to tens of thousands of women on a podcast about something that's so personal and intimate. For all of us.

[00:53:19] Emily: Yeah. And again, talking to such a big group of people, we know that there are just a tremendous number of complexities—everything from pornography, infidelity, being unequally yoked with your spouse, and past sexual sin before marriage. Maybe some people experience physical pain after childbirth that impacts their ability to have physical intimacy with their husband. And so we just know whenever we come up to this topic, that there are so many different lenses that are hearing this. So please take what we're going to say—which we hope is very general—probably has lots of caveats and lots of different ways for different scenarios. And if you have deeper questions, you should always go talk to someone at your church, talk to a counselor, talk to an older couple, go talk to someone who can listen to your specific situation because it may be more complicated than what we're sharing here.

[00:54:14] Laura: Yes, I echo all of that. So the first thing we want to do is distill any myth that there is a perfect number of times a week to be intimate with your husband. I think, especially in Christian circles, we can kind of want to know if we should have it three times a week, once a week, once a month, or twice a year. "What's the number?" is kind of what everybody wants to know. But ultimately, everyone is really different, and husbands and wives each have different needs and desires and drives.

[00:54:43] So I think as long as you're both happy with it, and you're communicating it, and you actually having sex, then your number is fine. So don't stress out about a certain number of times. I've known of a few different people that have said, "OK we want to have sex this many times a week, let's schedule it." And that was something that, for them, was really helpful in that season of life, and it helped them meet their desires of what they wanted versus what their schedule looked like.

[00:55:08] Emily: So it's a good thing for your relationship. And I think it's something that needs to be viewed as healthy. This is something that's pre-fall. God created it. So this is a good thing. It's a gift. So it's something we need to communicate about. Ideally, in a marriage of two believers who love God and have a generally healthy relationship, we should want to lay our lives down for that other person, we want to outdo the other person in showing love. And if that's the attitude of both spouses, and it's not a regular pattern for either person to be like, "No, no, no. Me, me, me. I need my side. I need this to be this way," but both people are saying, "I really want to come closer to loving you in the way that you want to be loved," it will work out. You will figure out the right number, and it can just be as simple as checking in with those conversations of, "Hey, how are you feeling about this?"

[00:56:08] And it can be a little awkward but do it in a time that's low pressure as a normal check-in conversation to say, "I want to love you. How can we do better at this?"

[00:56:23] Laura: Yeah. Don't be afraid to bring it up with your husband if you feel like, "Oh we're not having it enough," or, “This is maybe too much for me." Share with him that maybe there are some needs. Like maybe you like to take a shower beforehand, or maybe you just want to be able to think about it throughout the day. And again, like Emily is saying, there's an element of being able to prepare, talk about, and kind of set expectations so you guys will be on the same page, but then also being willing to set aside your expectations and feel a little bit spontaneous and be willing to say, "Yes, this isn't exactly what I wanted tonight or this isn't exactly what I was thinking would happen, but again I love you and I want to serve you and I want to pour out for you. And so I'm willing to do that." There's just kind of this mix that needs to happen. It's kind of the seesaw back and forth of communicating about it and really talking about it, but then also laying down what you want and being willing to compromise,  within healthy measures again.

[00:57:19] Emily: And I think it's important to just pray. Pray together for this. Or pray alone. I think we've heard that often, it can be helpful when maybe you do know that time is coming up, and that you know the night before you said, "Hey honey, I'm really tired. And you know it's just been a hard day. Try this again tomorrow night," that you take time to pray and ask God to help you have that desire. I think sometimes too it helps us in practical things as well. But certainly don't devalue prayer as a legitimate way to work through this issue.

[00:58:03] Laura: Yeah. So again, we highly recommend talking with your friends and getting vulnerable about it, meaning with an older, wiser woman than you and being willing to talk about this. I mean we know it's uncomfortable and hard. I feel like we sound kind of uncomfortable right now. And Emily I do talk about this. I mean, not like tons because she's married to my brother. Generally, I'm OK talking about it with her. But with that, we are able to get a lot more vulnerable with friends. And so we would encourage you to be able to do that too, especially if you're feeling really worn out and at the end of your rope and like you're just kind of a tired mom. That's very very normal. And we get it, and we just want you to know that we hear you, you're normal, but at the same time, we want you to meet with others to talk about it more and not let that just be an excuse for whatever is happening.

[00:58:55] Emily: Yeah because just like all of the other things that make a healthy marriage, this is a component of God's design for healthy marriage. And so it's important. It's not something to lay down the fight on.

[00:59:06] Laura: That's right. OK, so one of the other highly requested questions was, "How do you shift your heart and attitude when everything and everyone annoys you? How do you reset your heart?" So this is a great question and something that Emily experience too. We have done shows very specifically on this, so instead of talking about this again, we do want to just point out a couple of shows—especially the Preaching the Gospel to Yourself episode. What do we do when we need to reset our hearts? We preach the Gospel to ourselves, so we delve deep into that. Another show we really encourage you to go listen to is "A Bad Moment Doesn't Make a Bad Day" episode. That's one where for when you feel like you snapped or you flipped a switch, and you don't really know how to regroup from your day. That's pretty early in the archives but it's helpful. I think that was something that I had to realize. Just like if you're trying to eat healthy and you're like, "I just messed up so much today, I'm just going to keep blowing it the rest of the day." But really, any real dietitian would say, "No no no. You restart now." So you can always reset because of the Gospel. Because of Christ, you are a new creation and so you can reset and know that whenever your heart attitude is kind of stinky, you can sweeten it up by preaching the Gospel to yourself.

[01:00:30] Emily: And we will wrap this show up with a question that we get everytime we do Ask Us Anything.

[01:00:37] Laura: Yeah. And we definitely had it this time.

[01:00:39] Emily: "What is your daily routine like?" So Laura I can just briefly share because it's hard to talk about your daily routine in a brief way. But it really varies because of our kids' schedules. This year was like a math equation to put it on the calendar because I had so many people in so many different places on different days. My kids don't have school every day, so it always depends if it's a school morning or not. I also have a child who's in therapy multiple days a week. And so it might be a therapy day. That all varies. But our kids usually wake up between 6:45 and 7 a.m., breakfast is between 7 and 7:15. We all have breakfast together usually unless my husband had to leave early for something, but usually he's around. It's been fun because lately I've been looking down the table like, "Oh all of our kids are at the table now. Oh that is fun." Even the baby is there eating her Cheerios or whatever. And so that usually wraps up about 8:00 o'clock. Depending on what the day looks like, if it's a school morning, I may do some cleaning around the house, hang out with whatever kids are at home, I may do some work on Risen Motherhood, and I may do therapy with kids. Usually around 11:00 to noon, it's like another big transition time for us. So whoever I have at home is eating lunch and then we have to go swap kids at school. And I have some kids in school in the morning and some kids in school in the afternoon—I sound like of a billion kids.

[01:02:12] Laura: You do have a billion.

[01:02:13] Emily: OK. So it's too complicated. And then whoever comes home the afternoon, there is a nap/rest time. So I have two kids that nap and then my twins are at home and they're supposed to be playing quietly. And this is my time that I listen to podcasts, I listen to audio books, I clean the house, I prep dinner, I do laundry, I do Risen Motherhood. That all happens during that two hours. Of course, I get interrupted during that time but that's the expectation. And then usually around 3:00, that's another big transition time of everyone is home. Then from 3:00-5:30, I'm all hands on deck during that time usually.

[01:03:02] Sometimes my dad, who lives next door, will take a couple of the kids and we will tag team making sure we can go outside and play or go run errands or do whatever we need to do. And then we usually try to have dinner between 5:30-6:00, and bedtime is promptly at 7 p.m. for everyone in the house except dad nights.

[01:03:25] Laura: What do you do after bedtime?

[01:03:27] Emily: What do we do after kids go to bed? We clean up, so we usually have to clean the kitchen together. That is a nightly activity, and that's when my husband and I talk honestly and chat about our day and all the different things going on. And then we have "veg time," is what we call it. That's like him on the iPad doing whatever he's doing and I'm literally sitting to my bed staring at the wall [laughter] or I like reading a book. And then honestly, we watch a show pretty much every night on Netflix together. My husband usually falls asleep, but I have to stay up to watch the whole episode!

[01:04:03] Laura: I can't believe he falls asleep.

[01:04:03] Emily: So then every morning he's like, "Well, what happened?" Anyways it's just a fun thing but we like it.

[01:04:14] Laura: Nice. OK. So for me, I'm up as early as I can be around 5:30. My husband goes to works pretty early, sometimes between 4:30-5:30. So I try to get up with him. I go have my coffee, have a quiet time, I usually work on RM, and sometimes the baby wakes up. She's been having a lot of early weeks, but it's just kind of what it is.

[01:04:44] And then I was thinking about the rest of my day and I have all these different roles of wife and mom, of course, and then RM, writing the book, and then we're working on building and designing a house right now. Which I'm surprised by how much work goes into it even though Emily warned me. And then also I kind of view being a therapist as a role for my daughter, kind of how Emily fills the same role for her son, but just going to all of her appointments—both medical and then also therapy type care stuff, and there's a lot that just goes with that.

[01:05:16] So I do live with my parents right now. And so they are around and they've been a huge help. It's definitely a new thing for me. I used to be about five hours away from family. So this was really fun and it's really nice because they'll really help throughout the day. I have a lot of assistance, it's like I'm almost like overwhelmed.

[01:05:36] But everyone's up around 7:00 and then we do breakfast. I am total opposite of Emily, and it is like granola bars or yogurt cups. It's very simple. Then off to school for my oldest. I usually take all three kids with me for that kind of stuff three days a week. So then we usually have therapy around 10:15 and whoever is available comes.

[01:06:01] They usually all come with me and they just play with toys at therapy or they help. We talk a lot about how everyone contributes to the work of the home, and we're a family, so we all support one another. Our youngest needs extra help, and so we're going to all support her. And she comes to things for you and you go to things for her. So we talk about that a lot because sometimes they're wondering, "Why are we coming here again?" And then I have to pick up my oldest at around 11:15. And then I do have childcare seven hours a week. Generally, I can count on childcare that's mixed throughout the week, and that is usually when I try to write for the book or do larger RM projects. My parents are wonderful but this is not childcare from them. They've got a lot of other grandkids, a lot of other commitments, so it's definitely something that was a little more reliable. And then the end of the day will also be for appointments for the house or medical things for my daughter. I make dinner every night. And then my husband is usually home by 5:00 p.m., which is like a massive improvement, if you've ever heard me talk about my husband's old job. And so we usually just kind of hang as a family and the kids are in bed between 7 and 8. We have, I guess, I'm going to call it veg time.

[01:07:24] We also just kind of hang, read books, talk. Yeah, it's just a pretty chill night. So every day is very different.

[01:07:34] Emily: I feel like there are 100 things I didn't mention.

[01:07:36] Laura: But you mentioned like 100 things.

[01:07:39] Emily: Laura and I both have over five appointments a week of therapy or some kind of a doctor's appointment for our children. That is definitely a huge portion of life now. And I too have seven hours of childcare every week to write the book, outside of like grandparents.

[01:08:02] Laura: Em and I help each other, we help Becca out, like there's a lot of family unity. It's cool.

[01:08:10] Emily: So what else? I don't think I've ever shared this before, I also have help with cleaning.

[01:08:15] Laura: Yeah, Emmy has a housecleaner.

[01:08:16] Emily: I think people always ask, "How do you guys do Risen Motherhood?" I'm like, "With lots of help and I don't do everything!" And so that's a real way that we have taken legit hours out of my week of something that I don't do.

[01:08:30] I also go in and out of seasons of exercising and right now, I'm in a season of not exercising again and in a couple of weeks or a couple of months, I may be back in a season of trying to exercise. So I think when you're hearing these things, and it sounds like we're doing a lot, what we don't always share is what we're not doing.

[01:08:47] Laura: Yeah. 100%. Like our hair. [Laughter].

[01:08:49] Emily: Like our hair, like how many days a week I don't shower. I actually have like a shower schedule now. So if you see me wearing a ball cap, it's probably an off day.

[01:08:58] Laura: You have good hair tonight. So that counts for something today.

[01:09:03] Emily: So anyways, that was probably way more than you ever wanted to know about Laura and I's schedules, and it is so much more complicated than that, and the reality probably looks different every day. But anyways, thanks for joining us for another Ask Us Anything.

[01:09:16] Laura: Yeah, we had a lot of questions that we didn't answer, but we actually do have a blog post going up this week where we link to shows or blog posts that have answers to many of these. We'll probably answer a couple on social media. So be looking on social media for those. And of course, if you don't know where we're at, we're @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And of course, our show notes are at www.risenmotherood.com, go to the podcast tab and there you'll find a pretty picture of Emily and I's family that you can click on and find all of the resources, all of the links that we mentioned, all the shows. We did a ton of stuff! It will all be in the show notes post for you to be able to access any related links. So thank you so much for joining us for the special one hundredth episode!

[01:10:06] Emily: Wow. Can you believe that we got to 100 episodes?

[01:10:08] Laura: No I never saw this coming. Like legit, never saw it coming.

[01:10:11] Emily: I remember the day we were just doing five.

[01:10:17] Laura: Yeah, some people ask, "Why did you start Risen Motherhood? Or what did you start for? Why did you do this?" Good question. Check out Episode 00—the secret episode. It's the very first one that we actually recorded about halfway through our first year. We explain where the idea came from, kind of why we're doing this, and it helps set the stage for what Risen Motherhood is all about.

[01:10:46] Emily: Happy hundredth episode, Laura.

[01:10:48] Laura: Happy 100th to you. Oh my. We need to sign off. It's late. We're tired. We're getting real cheesy. Thank you so much for joining us and we'll see you guys next week.



This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! We’re excited for you guys to hear this interview with Andrew and Chrissy Wolgemuth today, talking all about foster care and the gospel. They’ve been married for 14 years and have three daughters and a son. Chrissy manages her home and homeschools their kids, and Andrew works as a literary agent for Christian authors and blogs about fatherhood at dadcraft.com. They live in Colorado where they love exploring the mountains, and they’ve been involved in foster care and adoption for the last six years.

May is National Foster Care Month, so with that on the horizon, we wanted to talk about foster care and the gospel, because we know that there are so many aspects that portray Christ’s love for us so well. Even if you are not directly involved in foster care, we hope that you still find a lot of value in this episode.

Andrew and Chrissy do a great job of speaking to how you can support people that are pursuing foster care directly in your church community or in your family. We really hope you enjoy this episode, and are encouraged by it, so let’s jump in with myself, Laura, Chrissy, and Andrew.

Laura:  Hi Andrew and Chrissy! Thanks so much for joining us on Risen Motherhood today.

Andrew:  Laura, thank you. It’s really a pleasure to be on with you.

Laura:  We are super excited to have you guys. We know we probably teed this up for you in the intro, but Andrew is actually our agent for our book, which is how we got connected with him. He has gently and slowly led us through the process of the whole book world, and been a great leader for us. Throughout the process, we actually found out that he and his wife were involved in foster care, so we invited them on the show today to talk through what that experience has been like for them.

Maybe we’ll just let you guys speak for yourselves obviously. [Laughter] How long have you guys been married? How many kids do you have? Can you just tell us a little bit about what a day looks like in the Wolgemuth family?

Chrissy:  We have been married for 14 years, and we have four kids, aged 10, 8, 5, and 3.

Andrew:  As a literary agent, I can kind of work wherever, as long as I’ve got internet and an airport, so I work from home and thoroughly enjoy that. Chrissy homeschools the older two—and the younger two to a certain extent—so we’re all in our house all day most days, which is a part of what allows us to foster care and is just a part of our family dynamic. We all enjoy each other pretty well.

Emily:  That's super fun. I know my kids love it when dad is home, although I am super curious about all your strategies for keeping everybody out of the office at some point. [Laughter]

Andrew:  We’re going to put those strategies to the test for this. I mean, a part of it is I actually grew up homeschooled so I am pretty used to being at home and having that work space and making it happen. Also, this is all the kids have known for the most part. Aside from infancy, I’ve worked from home.

Daddy’s office is where he’s working and if he doesn’t have his ear buds in, then maybe you can knock on the door. There's a window they can see in. But at the same time, I feel like I am always leaning on the edge of that BBC guy—that interview guy—and this, by the way, works out really well for the most part. [Laughter]

Laura:  Can you guys tell us a little bit about how God led you to participate in foster care? And what did that initial decision-making process look like? Where was your heart at and how did God bring you to that decision?

Chrissy:  From early in our marriage, we talked about adoption; it was kind of something we were interested in. And then it took over a year to get pregnant and doctors weren’t super hopeful during that time. I felt like that continued to soften our hearts.

Then fast forward; we did manage to get pregnant twice, and during the second pregnancy, I struggled with nausea and couldn’t get out of bed for months—and I had a toddler. I just remember looking at Andrew and saying, “I can’t do this again.” And he’s like, “You don’t have to, let’s adopt.” [Laughter]

From that point on, we decided that was going to be the next step for extending our family. About seven years ago, we were trying to decide international or domestic. Those are just big decisions, and it feels like there are so many options even within those two realms. Because we had lost some money in the housing market while trying to move here, we didn’t have this huge chunk of money for international adoption, and because when we moved here, our church had established a relationship with the state to train foster and adoptive families, we thought, “Alright, let’s try that out as our first step.”

We started going to training and it was just amazing; God really broke our hearts during that process for the kids in the system but also for their parents. The state has a policy of reunification, which means if parents are willing to work their treatment plan that the courts give them, then they can get their children back. But in the meantime, obviously those kids need a home. We, therefore, felt like really that's where God was leading us.

Emily:  We have some very good friends who are doing foster care right now, and I know Laura has some really good friends as well. It’s been interesting to see how they’ve not only embraced the children, but they’ve embraced the gospel for the parents as well. Just seeing that whole relationship as, “How can we minister to and love this whole family?”

It’s been really cool to watch how God has expanded their view to care for and love their children, but to see to the health of the whole family too—however God works in that situation, which isn’t always the way that they expect. But I like how you share that it broke your heart for that and showed how you can be a part of that. It’s really amazing to watch as somebody who's not directly involved with it but really closely involved in the lives of someone who's going through that.

Andrew:  The beauty of this church-based program and training that we went through then was that they instil that vision from the beginning. Right from the first sessions, they handed out placards and you stood up in the front of the class and it represented all the different participants in fostering and potentially adopting—but certainly any foster care situation. You’re talking about social workers, and different types of social workers – the intake and the outtake, and the ongoing—the judge, and so on.

You realize like, “Wow, this is a huge group of people,” and you have the opportunity to show them God’s love. You're talking about a broken situation; even the workers who may have full, intact households themselves are constantly, day after day, working in broken situations. They face accusations of taking kids away from parents in unjust situations. I mean just painful stuff. But all these participants need the gospel and are touched by your participation or participation in foster care.

Laura:  It’s really neat to see the chain reaction that can be set off by a family who chooses to invest intentionally, with the hope of the gospel, in the foster care system. That is a really beautiful picture, and as we’re all talking about here, maybe we can be a little bit more explicit with this next question. Can you walk us through what is God’s call for his people to care for orphans, and how does that play out in the believer’s life?

Andrew:  It’s funny because the technical definition of an orphan is, “a child whose parents have died.” And the reality is, when we think about the Bible, that's talking about widows and orphans with some frequency, we’re not actually interacting with orphans in that technical sense.

The Lord has broadened our perspective to understand God’s heart for the vulnerable— orphans and widows in particular—in biblical times as those folks, but still today. But in our situation, its kids who are stuck in the midst of families broken with addiction, or troubled with the criminal justice system. All sorts of different things that make kids essentially orphans in that they are extremely vulnerable.

Throughout the Bible, you see God’s heart for the vulnerable, saying, “Hey, Israel,” or, “Hey Church, a part of your call is to be seeking out the vulnerable and loving them.” The other thing that we've been struck by is the cyclical nature of family breakdown. And we all know that, intuitively I think, there's nothing like sitting in a courtroom and hearing a birth mom talk about her desire to have her son, and reflecting back on her own childhood in the foster care system.

You realize that she survived, that she's had few moments of peace or safety through her life. Then the reality is she can hardly do better than falling into the same habits, and as a result, her children are struggling as well. And there it is, the Lord saying, “Church, step in. Provide a place of peace for these children, for their families.”

Emily:  That's a beautiful way to say it. We were talking with our kids recently about our friends who are doing foster care and explaining the situation to them a little bit. It was amazing to see the looks on their faces when I said, “You know there are some children whose mommies and daddies love them, but they don’t know how to care for them, and they need help.” Just the reality of like, “Wow!” What an opportunity too to be thankful if we are in a situation where we are able to care for our children by the grace of God, right? And to be able to communicate even to biological children like, “Let’s say thank you to God for this!” And then to realize that all of us in relation to God are needy. We’re vulnerable, and it’s only because he stopped to repair our relationship with him and to break our cycle of sin that we are able to enjoy life.

Chrissy:  Also when we remember that everybody is created in the image of God, that has value. Then we can’t just say, “Oh these kids, or these families are struggling,” and we’re not tuned into that. We have to value that and enter in and...

Andrew:  There is something really powerful though about communicating this to our biological children, and now, we’re communicating it to children that we fostered to adopt. We have our home base, and honestly, it’s easy to be a bit condescending towards birth parents or towards situations they got themselves into. Like, “How could they? What were they thinking?” But when you have to communicate it to your children, and you're communicating it to children who have been adopted out of that system, it demands that you respect these different people. It’s the reminder that we’re there, but by the grace of God. Chrissy and I would go, “Certainly.”  And the reality that often we interact with people who have no safety net, no family or church. Our kids would never be in foster care because we have so many different networks of people supporting us. But the Lord has called us to look for folks who don’t have that network and to support them through this way.

Laura:  Andrew, you're making me think of a really practical question here, so I know I am going to put you on the spot a little bit. As Emily shared, we both have dear friends that are heavily involved in the foster care system, and I know one of their struggles has been, “How do I talk to my biological children about that? What do I say?” especially with children sort of coming in and out, sometimes moving very quickly through a home. Do you have any practical tips on how you talk with your children about what that looks at? Just for the mom at home who's kind of like, “I am not sure how to explain this.”

Chrissy:  I think it’s really age dependent. With our older girls, we’re starting to have more honest conversations. They’ve driven to visits with me to see their birth parents. And yet, because of addiction, because of a bad choice, these parents made this decision and they weren’t able to take care of their kids. We keep it pretty general, especially if there are any scary details. But, especially if you're at that point of having visits, just to say, “These parents are engaged. They're trying and they really want their kids back,” and so just being honest because kids are pretty perceptive. Even from the beginning, we’d say, “This is a temporary thing. We’re just going to love them as long as God has them in our house.” And they deal with that more honestly, probably better than we do. We’re always setting out schedules and trying to plan in the future, and they're not.

Laura:  It often seems to be the case I feel, with all things parenting, we’re the ones that are kind of winding it all up tight, and really anxious.  Just keep it simple and tell it to the kids like it is, and they're usually like, “Oh, okay,” and kind of move on while we’re making it this stressful thing.

Andrew:  We've found there's always something to celebrate. I mean, we live in a culture where abortion is so easy and available, that just the courage it takes for a mom and hopefully a birth dad, involved to a certain extent, to carry through pregnancy, to get to a hospital to deliver a baby, is worth celebrating. We’ve found even in some of the darkest situations, there's still something to respect and honor about the birth family with our conversations with our kids.

Laura:  Great point. Can you guys share a couple of common obstacles to foster care? And also a little bit just how you have seen God’s faithfulness and provision, especially when you feel weak and like you can’t do it? I am sure that happens in all of parenting and all of motherhood, but I am sure that that is also brought acutely to light through the foster care journey. If you could just touch on that, we’d love it.

Chrissy:  First of all, I think the system is really hard to navigate at times – there's lots of required paperwork and training. Especially if you don’t have a kid placed in your home it’s really hard to want to do that. That's one thing. I think there's a lot of fear involved with foster care. a lot of people wonder like, “What if a child doesn’t stay? How is that going to affect my family? Can my heart take that?”

When we got our first placement, we were really wrestling with those questions. We were directed to the book of Ruth, and the story of Boaz being the kinsman’s redeemer. It was really impressed on us that there are people who have rights over these kids more than we do. And just like Boaz took his place and made sure there wasn’t somebody ahead of him, as the kinsman’s redeemer, we put ourselves in that place—that these parents have rights to their children first, before we do. I think that was kind of a sobering and encouraging way to look at it.

Then, where these kids come from trauma and neglect—even a newborn has something called a primal wound. It’s this concept of a primal wound. Even being separated from the woman who carried the child for nine months, it’s a wound, and a trauma that they carry with them. That trauma can come out in a lot of different forms with kids.

When we say, “Oh, foster care or adoption,” everybody has their worst case scenario that they love to tell you about. Those stories just circulate and give people that fear. But what I’d say is, we've had kids come in and they've just expressed their pain. They don’t hide it, and what it makes you realize is that we’re not the savior. God is the Savior and we can’t heal those wounds, but he can.

There’s this unique dependency on the Lord for these kids, and knowing that they're not in your care for a lifetime and that it might be days or weeks or months, but that you love them when they come into your home helps you realize that God created them and that he loves them so much. That transfers to your other kids where you realize, “I am not their Savior either,” these kids that are in your home everyday. It’s like a great perspective to realize our dependency on the Lord.

Andrew:  I’d add too that we live in an American consumer culture, and the church slips into that too. That’s a serious obstacle when you're fostering, and going that route, even towards adoption, you're not the customer. The state’s main goal is to take care of these kids and reunify them with their family, and we’re just a vehicle for that. We’re a participant in that process, and that's a humbling thing because of how the system is not created to cater to foster families at all. It just sort of puts you in your place, and that, in and of itself, is a bit of an obstacle. Then too, there's a natural tendency to want to avoid pain and messiness, and to subtly or not so subtly seek out comfort in our lives. There’s a very real sense in the trauma Chrissy talked about—being present in these little people that you're inviting into your home—and you’re asking your other kids and other family members to deal with it.

That pushes against our own tendencies to protect our kids and to just be safe and comfortable. Those are some of the more subtle obstacles that I’d think of, but things which we feel pretty poignantly in the midst of the process. You kind of have to remind each other, “Hey, we’ve chosen this, and this comes with the territory that the Lord promises his presence through it.” The reality is that you're dealing with kids, social workers, and birth parents who are going to be in the messiness—why not reflect, as we can, the light of the gospel in the midst of that?

Emily:  What you're describing is actually something Laura and I were just talking about. That the costliness of the gospel and of following Christ and being that light is oftentimes like, “I’ll share if it doesn’t cost me anything. I’ll love if it doesn’t hurt.” But Christ paid this ultimate cost; he went all the way and died; he experienced shame and rejection and all kind of different pain on our behalf.

Therefore if we are taking up our cross and following him, we have to expect suffering and persecution, and it’s just really challenging. I think that's one beautiful thing that we've seen as we've watched friends walk through foster care is just the way God upholds them. The cost is being paid just to see God beautifully sustain them and shine the brightest in them when they are weak and when they are asking for prayer, and they're saying, “We need him, we need some help with the other kids.” It’s beautiful to see them lay down comforts in their own lives, and God sustain them through that process. It’s a picture of the gospel for all to see.

Chrissy:  Along with the cost is real joy. We get to see our kids love all these kids who come into our home, and we just count it as a sweet family ministry. I mean, it’s hard to get out when your kids are young and to be serving. So to invite that into your home where they can just serve in their normal life—breakfast, lunch, dinner—in the normal rhythms of life, and to see your kids just pitch in and play games and reach these children in ways that we couldn’t. It is such a joy to see that ministry in your kids.

Andrew:  Yes.

Emily:  I love that.

Laura:  I do too. Okay, so what would you guys say to someone who's not foster caring directly, but they do want to support the vulnerable or other families who are involved? Much like Emily and I? Can you guys give us a little bit of advice and tips here? How can we be most supportive to families who are not doing what you guys are doing?

Andrew:  That’s a great question because a central part of how this works for our family is the fact that we have a really wonderful local church and friends from that church. And then neighbors even who are aware of what we’re involved in and have said, “We’re a phone call. We’re a blank check. Whatever the need in the midst of this, let us know.”

There really are innumerable ways to serve fostering families, and that for us has looked like meals, it has looked like people who get a certain level of training so that they're state approved to provide support and to be a respite provider. It’s as simple as conversational partners. You're walking through stuff and you just need to share about here’s what we’re looking at and dealing with. Whether that person has legal or fostering experience, just to listen is something. And then to the extent that people have expertise in those different areas is hugely helpful.

Chrissy:  I would also say that these kids come from homes where people struggle with homelessness and mental health. If you think about broadening the foster care realm into thinking those are the issues that are causing kids to come into foster care, you might have a passion for any of those areas. You might be a better fit or have skills where you can help out. That might be more of a preventative or a support in those roles.

Andrew:  Yes, more birth parent-focused.

Laura:  There are probably endless opportunities, like you said Andrew, for us to get involved and to support. I want to ask two questions. I was thinking about our listeners and we've all sorts of women listening in. But there are probably some that are likely interested in foster care and hooked on this episode because they're like, “Hmm, I am thinking about that,” or, “We’re praying about that; feeling led towards that. Let’s just see what these guys have to say.”

Then there might just be the camp of women who are also in the midst of thoughts of foster care and probably deep down in the trenches, they’re dealing with a lot of the realities of what you guys have spoken about. We usually end with some encouragement when we do interviews for the specific people that we’re talking to. I wonder if you could speak to both the women and husbands who might be listening with, “Hey, if you're interested, here is why you should do it.”

Chrissy:  A word of encouragement.

Laura:  Yes. Then to the other group who's down and dirty in it, and they're experiencing all that comes with foster care.

Chrissy: To the first group, the people who are interested, you just need to take a step in learning more. That could be just going to a meeting through the local county, or finding a support group. A lot of churches have fostering, adoptive support groups. When you just start hearing stories and hearing what those steps might look like, that might stir your heart.

Then even voicing that. If you say to your small group, “Hey, we’re thinking about foster care or adoption,” you might be surprised how many other people have thought about it but never voiced it. That might be a place or a community that you didn’t even know was there.

But I think community is so important in this because it’s easy to believe lies and to be discouraged. Therefore the more people that you have surrounding you, especially people who are doing it, the better off you're going to be.

Andrew:  Absolutely. And the encouragement on the backend of that really is that the Lord just does something really special through the process. Whether its interacting with other fostering families, or the church coming alongside fostering families, time and again in the midst of fostering or after, we realize how real the Lord’s presence feels. In a way, we often miss it in more normal life. For the rewards; I mean, we have fostered younger kids to this point, and the reality is that probably none of them would recognize us a few months, or even a year, after they’ve been in our household. Whatever the length of time, they're just young.

So the tangible is we’re not going to show up in a thank you note after college graduation or something. But there are joys along the way of just seeing these children begin to thrive and kind of start to get a foot in life. And then again, the Lord’s presence through that process and then what it does for a family. They're often hard, challenging days, but the Lord just uses those. We love just what it has done for our family and for our walk with the Lord, and that's a huge part of our joy in the process.

Another resource if you're intrigued or considering—we've got a very special church where our lead pastor and his wife have adopted five times—is a podcast from our pastor that’s just sort of out there to listen to about fostering and adopting in faith (fosteringandadopting.com). It’s 14 episodes that walk through his journey and how the church came alongside. That’s another just more in-depth look about what it’s like, why the Lord’s call is in that direction, and what it looks like to participate.

Laura:  We love resources at Risen Motherhood, so thank you.

Emily:  We’ll include that in our show notes. Something that I’ve observed—that I love you pulled out—is when they're young like that, they may not remember you. But we've observed that friends who are doing foster care do infants a lot of times. The gift that they're giving to those children in that developmentally fragile period is a lifelong gift, potentially the difference between thriving and not being able to have relationships with people down the road. Because there was a mom and a dad who touched them, helped them, loved them, and fed them in an extremely vulnerable time. It’s just a gift to watch and see that. They may not know that, but it is an absolutely life-changing thing.

Andrew:  That's right. And to the family in the midst of it, to the husband and wife in the darker days, it’s those same promises that feel distant, but that feel absolutely true. What is it? It’s a call to a deeper faith; that somehow God is using this—that your visit in the middle of the night to a detention center where your kid has ended up or whatever is a sacrifice where you don’t know how it’s going to play out. You don’t know if the kid will ever look at you and say, “Hey, thanks, I really needed that.”

But what an offering to the Lord to say, “Here’s all we’ve got for now. Use it,” and to trust that the Lord will provide through the local church, friendships, or whatever what you need to sustain you another day, another week in the midst of it.  

Laura: I love that. I was chatting with a girlfriend who's doing foster care to two little ones right now, and she has three others. We were talking back and forth and she was like, “Well, I don’t really know how you're dealing with special needs,” with my daughter recently being diagnosed with special needs. And I was like, “I don’t know how you're doing it with foster care.” We were both like, “Praise God!” That he offers that perfect grace and meets both of us in our unique situations right where we’re at. I didn’t know what I needed going into our challenge with special needs, and she didn’t know what she would need going into foster care. But she was just like, “God’s grace has met me every step of the way.” Even when I feel like, “I don’t know what I am going to do now,” or, “I don’t know how to deal with this situation.” I think from the outside looking in, as Emily and I both are not involved in foster care straight up, it can kind of be like, “How do you deal with that heartache and that pain?” It just seems like a unique type of thing, and it is. But at the same time, we see God’s grace being sufficient for all of us in our unique situations and circumstances, and that he is so faithful in all these things that we work through. If he give us more of himself, then that's all that we need. That is a beautiful thing and it’s well worth it.

Emily:  This was really encouraging, and I assume there are probably people listening who are weeping and feeling called. And also just feeling really encouraged. Hopefully, even if you know that you're not going to be directly involved in this, if you have foster parents in mind right now, and you're like, “I am going to text them. I am going to call them after this, and ask how I can come alongside them better and pray for them.” Thank you guys so much for sharing a little bit of what you've learned along the way.

Laura:  We appreciate you guys being here.

Chrissy:  Thanks.

Andrew:  Certainly. Thanks for having us.

Laura:  If you guys want to hear more about foster care or adoption, we will put a lot of links in our show notes today. We’ll also ask Andrew and Chrissy for some of their recommendations so we can include those, and hopefully you guys find more encouragement on that. And of course to find out more, follow us on social media, @risenmotherhood.com - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can find all the links there as well.


Ep. 98 || Motherhood & Music: Remembering the Gospel Through Song Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Laura, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily, here with me. Today we’re talking about a very fun topic—music and moms and motherhood. Before we get to that topic, we wanted to ask you guys real quick, if you wouldn’t mind taking about five minutes out of your day to give us an iTunes review? Sometimes when I am having kind of a discouraging day I will go and read those iTunes reviews, and I have literally started crying. Emily, have you ever felt the same?

Emily:  I definitely have saved some on my phone before to remember, because I just love reading about what God is doing. Because Laura and I just sit at a table and record, and we don’t always get to know the result of what we’re doing. It is, therefore, just so amazing to see God work in and through something as simple as a podcast. It’s just awesome.

Laura:  When we hear about you guys starting Bible studies, or getting back into the word for the first time, or that you’re communicating better with your husband, or whatever, it’s not credit to Emily and I. It is one hundred percent credit to God. But we are so thankful that he can use any little thing that we offer on this podcast in order to have the Holy Spirit transform your lives. Like Emily was saying, it’s just so fun to get a little peek into what God is doing, and so we read every single one of those. If you’re looking for how to do an iTunes review, we do have a quick tutorial on our website. It’s really simple and easy. Like I said, about five minutes of your time, and it really helps new women find our podcast. It is very important for iTunes to continue ranking us. Just like you know with social media, everything has algorithms; there are tricky little things that they do. We don’t know the half of it, but we know that reviews help. [Laughter]

Emily:  Yes.

Laura:  If you don’t mind doing that, that would be great.

Emily:  That would be awesome. We are really excited to be talking about music today, and I will admit I am not a very musical person. I’ve never been the type of person who’s like thing is to pick up an instrument and learn it. I think I was last chair in flute in middle school. [Laughs]

Laura:  Although I think you have a history with the guitar, Emily? Is that correct?

Emily:  Oh yes, I tried, and I am thinking about breaking it out for my kids because I think they will accept the poorness of my guitar skills. [Laughter]

Laura:  They think anything is awesome. You can just tinker away on anything; I am playing the recorder at home, and it’s out of tune. I mean, can a recorder be in tune? I’m not really sure. [Laughter]

Emily:  I have no idea. [Laughs] But what I love is that God has implanted an enjoyment of music in all of our hearts, in different ways. Even if we don’t consider ourselves as a super musical person, it can be something that really comforts me—if I am having a really difficult day—to listen to hymns, which have rich lyrics. Sometimes it just draws my heart back to the Lord in a way that is different than just the spoken word. Then the other night I was singing a goodnight song to my five-and-a-half year old, who sometimes is too cool for that kind of stuff. He was just like, “Mommy, I just love this.” It reaches their hearts and it’s so cool.

Laura:  There’s something about music that just is a universal language for all of us. It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s at least some genre of music or some type of music that you love. It’s just part of the very nature of who we are as humans, and it’s amazing the power that music has—that fact that it can even take you back to a specific moment of your life or how your memory is triggered when you hear a certain song. The power of music is pretty amazing.

Emily:  It’s one incredible gift that God has given us to use for worship. We obviously know that worship is much bigger than just music and singing. But singing and music is one way that we can respond to God, when we look at who he is, and we think on his character, and read his word. Sometimes the only appropriate reaction to that is to burst out in song, or to make a joyful noise. [Laughter]

Laura:  Sometimes it might not be a beautiful noise, but it’s a joyful noise. Over here at least, for Emily and I. [Laughter] Before we get into the gospel, we want to just make one thing really clear. That there’s just a lot of theology involved in singing, and there have been whole books written on it. There are a lot of ways that we kind of went back and forth about how should we talk about it today. But we really just want to be clear that we’re mainly going to be talking about music and singing in the home—just for you as a mom with your kids and getting your husband involved. We’re not necessarily talking about singing in the local church or with a congregation. We’re just talking about the role music can play, as you encourage your family in the gospel, and yourself. [laughter]

Emily:  Thinking about the gospel and music, and just the way it shows up in scripture, it’s cool to see there is a solid legacy of singing in the Old Testament. In Exodus—I loved as we studied Exodus last fall as a church—when Moses and all of the people cross through the Red Sea. They’re standing on the other side having just escaped Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and Moses, and Miriam and all the people break out into song when they see what God has done. It’s just so deep and emotional, and it expresses this powerful response as they’re seeing the waves crash in that probably couldn’t have been communicated by silence. And just saying, “Wow, what God did was really cool. We couldn’t communicate it.” It had to be a beautiful song. I just love that picture.

Laura:  Yes, that’s a great picture. Then we also see, in the Old Testament, music as a way for God’s people to remember his promises, both for today and forever. We see another one of Moses’ songs in Deuteronomy 32: “He is the rock. His works are perfect. All his ways are just.” It’s just speaking about truth and about who God is. We also see them talking about God’s commands, reminding themselves of God’s commands through song. Also in Deuteronomy, Moses was told by God to write down songs and to teach it to the people.

Emily:  They’re just a vital part of God’s design. There are so many great verses in Psalms; like Psalm 5:11: “Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. Let them ever sing for joy and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exalt in you.” Also Psalm 51:14: “My tongue will sing out loud of your righteousness.” This is obviously a big part of our expression of worship to God. It’s just one way.

Laura:  Another way that we see songs used in the Old Testament is that they were used as a witness to other nations and to other people groups. So many of the Psalms written would be sang aloud by the entire Israelite communities. It was probably so loud that other nations and other people groups around them could hear these truths that were sang about God.

Emily:  We also see singing in the New Testament. Mark 14:26 says, “And when they had sang a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” This was right before Jesus goes to pray, and he’s arrested. He’s singing with his disciples.

Laura:  Yes, we even see it as very explicit command in the Epistles. Probably the most well known passage charging us to sing is from Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” There are a lot of other examples in the New Testament, as well.

Emily:  The other exciting thing is this is in our future too, and we see singing in Revelation. Revelation 7:9-12 talks about there being a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, every tribe, all different peoples and languages standing before the throne of the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches.

They’re falling on their faces before the throne and worshipping God. There is so much song in Revelation—we even see the Song of Moses again—the same picture of them on the other side of the Red Sea. We see the people in Revelation 15:3, singing the Song of Moses, the servant of God, the song of the Lamb. Saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty.” So song is definitely in our future. [Laughs]

Laura:   So you best get used to it. [Laughter]

Emily:  It’s just cool that the gospel is implanted in song. I feel that’s kind of very cool.

Laura:  It’s pretty exciting; it’s like, what a gift from God to have something so enjoyable and to be able to worship him through it.

We want to put in a quick gospel caveat here. We see that from scripture, as we’ve just discussed, singing is a command from God. But because of Christ, we do not have to view music and singing as something that we really have to do. It’s something that we get to do as a response. It’s a response of worship for the sacrifice that Christ has done. He redeemed us from the law, and we want to remember that. That is why we sing; it’s not because we have to, but because we get to, because of Christ’s sacrifice.

Emily:  What’s interesting is that even worldview research shows how important singing is, and what an amazing role it plays in brain development and learning with children, and even adults, and with different types of therapies. It is a critical part of even the world’s understanding of what a healthy brain and heart is like.

Laura:  It’s really cool to look at how a child may not be responsive to you saying, “Clean up.” But if you sing, “Clean up, clean up. Everybody do your share.” There’s your little taste of my singing. [Laughter]

Emily:  What’s the Daniel tiger one? “Clean up, pick up, put away.” [Laughter]

Laura: That’s the one. Or how about, “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away!” My kids sing it all day long. [Laughs]

Emily:  I bet you’re just so happy you got to hear Laura and I sing. [Laughter]

Laura:  Never again. But it’s kind of amazing the way we are built. Even worldly science would say, “That helps with your memory and helps children transition or understand instructions.” It’s just really cool; it’s so apparent to everyone.

Emily:  That just affirms the good gift that God gave us. We wanted to run through a list of ways we’ve seen this in our own family—ways that you can incorporate music, and the gospel within music more intentionally in your own everyday life.

Laura:  That’s right. Maybe you’re feeling like, “I love music, but I don’t know how to play it.” Or, “I don’t know how to get it into my home or into our regular routines.” Just like with anything else, hopefully there are very natural moments in your day that you can incorporate music in. We want to talk through a list of what you can use music for, and what it can teach. Then we’ll give some examples about how we do it in our own homes, I guess? This is just kind of a more practical show now that I think about it, Em.

Emily:  First of all, music is just teaching biblical truth. You can find a lot of the things we’re getting ready to mention on our resources page, on our website @risenmotherhood.com/resources—there’s a whole section of children and music there. If we’re going too fast, just go there to find out what we’re talking about.

Laura:  Or the show notes.

Emily:  Yes. In our home, we will listen to songs that either have catechisms or that have biblical wisdom in them. It is amazing; I will hear our kids later singing the words, “God’s Word, God’s nuggets of gold.” They’re just singing it while they’re playing, and it’s like, “Ha, ha, you learned something really true there.” I hope that just sticks in their mind, whether it’s a little line, or it’s a deep, dark turn of truth.

Laura:  Think about just the simplicity of, “Jesus loves me.” I mean, every kid knows it. Even a lot of non-believing kids know that song and just think about the truth that is being put in their heart. At least at that young age, that hopefully evolves into a true belief of the words of that song.

Emily:  I had a friend who told me when she was really young, she used to go to this Bible study that would sing, “Good morning God, this is your day. I am your child, show me your way.”

Laura:  I like that song.

Emily:  When she got to be an adult, she went through a harder season, and she’s like, “But that song would come back to me every morning. This song that I learned when I was four or five years old.”

Laura:  That just gives me goose pimples I love that stuff. [Laughter] The second one which is very much along that line is hiding God’s word in our hearts. Now there are so many musicians that are creating beautiful music, that are straight up scripture, which is so awesome. We love Seeds Family Worship and Honey for the Heart. Again, as Emily said, these are mentioned on the resources page. These are great things because we already should be memorizing scripture and hiding God’s word in our hearts. As we said, music is a really great way to remember things.  I know that we’ve had CDs playing in the background of our car. Like Emily said, my kids will just whip out singing and I am like, “That’s straight scripture.” I’ll remember those things, and those useful reminders that are just sort of by listening to them, it’s almost like osmosis. You know, I am starting to understand and hide scripture in my heart.

Emily:  Another thing that music and singing can do within our families is really remind us of our relationship to God. It can help us preach the gospel to ourselves, and help us remember our station. We sing things like, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” We sing songs that communicate these really deep truths. I know we’ve started trying to sing some hymns with our kids, so we really can sing the gospel in these really rich theological ways. There are definitely a ton of old, beautiful hymns, but one that I like that’s a little bit more recent is “Speak, O Lord” by the Gettys. We’ve memorized the whole second verse of that, and we have little hand motions that go along with it. And even though they don’t understand it, it’s still really great. I hope that later in life when they sing like, “Teach us Lord full obedience, holy reverence, true humility,” that that will come back to mind, and help instruct them in the gospel.

Laura:  That’s right. Many of the best songs walk us through the gospel stories. We sing and we can proclaim truth, and in many of them, walk us through confession. They end in the promises of our savior, which is truly preaching the gospel to yourself. I am thinking of “Blessed Assurance” of Franny Crosby, and which is one of my favorites. I know at 5pm I am at a loss. We had a show a few weeks ago or maybe months ago about preaching the gospel to yourself and what it really means. In that, I know that at 5 o’clock at night, I sometimes cannot give the brainpower to really be able to work through that. But I can remember the lyrics of a beloved hymn. And Franny Crosby says, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his spirit, washed in his blood.” That is just truth washing over you to remember your identity in Christ.

Emily:  Going along with that is singing about our mission and reminding us of our witness. Of course the classic, little child song is, “This little light of mine, I am gonna let it shine.” Sometimes that’s abstract, but there are songs like, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” It just goes on and on, but to look at songs that really help our children catch a vision for the fact that we’re all swept up into this bigger story, and we have a job to do here on earth for God. It’s just a good reminder.

Laura:  It reminds our kids that God’s story isn’t supposed to be kept to ourselves. They should move us to share our faith with others. M kids are obsessed with “Nothing but the Blood…” That’s like their favorite song, and my son was singing it at the grocery store as loudly as he could. Mostly it’s just singing “Nothing but the blood...” [Laughter] That’s it. I wanted to hush him up, but I just kept remembering like, “No, I want to let my son sing.” He may not understand the full reverence or worship of what this is but allowing that song and those words to be proclaimed in a public grocery store, I was like, “You know what, all praise be to Jesus.”

Emily:  And a quick note about implanting truths, this is one beautiful way we can communicate gospel truths to our very young children—our infants. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old who has some significant developmental delays. One of the main ways, right now, I am trying to instruct him in the gospel is singing to him when I rock him every night. I have about six or seven hymns that we go through, and I’ll insert his name into them. I don’t know exactly what he’s retaining, but I have faith that that is one of the ways that God is going to implant truth into his heart. And that’s true for very young children. Therefore don’t discount it if your kids can’t talk yet. You can still sing with them, and have faith that God is using that.

Laura:  One of the other ways that worship and singing functions so beautifully is that it unites us together. I know it’s just really fun when we get together with friends or families. Or maybe like mine and Emily’s kids will get together, and they all know the same songs. There’s just something special. Think about when you share an experience like going to a concert with other people. There’s just something that bonds you when you share those things and you share those words. When you know some of the same music as a family. I know our family sings the doxology before bed. Seasonally, I would say, “We sing it every night right now.” We’re kind of doing it, and then we’ll get out of it and do something different.

I don’t want to say every night, but we try to sing that together because that’s just such truth, and it’s easy for my kids to remember. It’s nice and short, so we don’t feel like it’s going on for four different verses. That’s a really simple way that we can get together with extended family and they all know the doxology too. And the kids will go, “Ooh cool, you know.” [Laughter]

Emily:  Hearing others singing is even an encouraging thing that can draw your heart back to what is true and good in scripture. There are so many wonderful things about song.  Hopefully in our kind of jumbled back and forth conversation here, you got some really great ideas of new ways to use music. Maybe you feel more motivated to turn on a song today for your children. Or to teach your children some new songs that have great truth in them.

Laura:  Something that’s kind of invaluable is a hymnbook.

Emily:  Yes!

Laura:  I was just thinking we should link one of those on our resources page. I am not sure we have one up there, but it’s just really nice to have one on the bedside table because sometimes you can’t think of them, so you can look them up. Or maybe you weren’t raised with hymns and you’re not familiar with them. A hymnbook is, therefore, really handy to have. We’ll have some other music. We’ll try to put together some resources for our show notes page that are encouraging. Oh, and we have stuff on our newsletter. We send out a song in our newsletter every month that our RM team has been loving lately and has been on repeat. So that’s another place to find. It’s just a single song, but it’s probably a good place to hopefully find an encouraging song that you might not have heard before.

Emily:  Yes. Hopefully you guys got some ideas today. If you want to find any more of these resources, again, they’re all @risenmotherhood.com. You can find our show notes and our resources page there, and also follow us @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more discussion about this this week.

Laura: Thanks, guys.


Ep. 97 || Locking Arms With Moms Ahead of Us Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of the Risen Motherhood podcast. I am Emily, here with my sister-in-law, Laura. Before we get into our topic today, we just wanted to let you guys know, in case you didn’t, that you can actually read our shows. We have transcriptions through our show notes, which we started awhile ago. We did that because we heard from moms that English was not their first language, and their browser— Google translate—could translate those transcriptions into their language. We also heard from moms with hearing impairments that this was an easier way to consume the podcast.

Laura:  Easier for even any mom to be able to read on her phone or computer. Maybe it’s easier if you’re working, you’re nursing, or whatever. There are probably a lot of reasons. We know that quite a few access those, but if you haven’t seen those, there’s a super easy button to click on on every show’s show notes page, which you can find on our website. You can access those and read the show.

Emily: Also, a huge thanks to our patrons because you guys are the ones who fund this, since this actually does cost us money to do. We are really thankful for you guys and excited that hopefully more women get to consume the show this way.

Laura:  Alright, we’re going to get into our topic today. We are talking about a fun topic for Emily and I, because we have been really blessed in this area over different times of our lives. We’re talking about women—older mothers, or older women, that have discipled or mentored us—and the effect that they’ve had on our lives. We just want to encourage all you today on how to find one of these women, or maybe what the benefit might be of some of the women who are already in your life.

Emily:  I feel like we’ve said this on the show before Laura, but everything good we know, outside of scripture of course, is from older, wiser women who’ve gone ahead of us.

Laura:  One hundred percent.

Emily:  I can think of so many times. Before I started my first season of discipline with my youngest child, I remember sitting down with a mom whose children were all out of high school, and going, “How do I do this?” She went through with me, step by step, what she did when her children were little. I didn’t do it cookie-cutter exactly that way, but it was incredibly helpful and instructive to me. I can think of so many times where I’ve had a hard decision to make, or honestly, I’ve just had a question like, “When do I help my child get rid of their pacifier?” Where a mom who’s gone ahead of me can help speak into that situation, knowing my context—my life, what’s going on, what our kids are like—and it’s super helpful.

Laura:  I totally agree. I know that I have one woman in my life who anytime I struggled with fear or worry, or anxiety would consistently say to me, “Laura, you have better theology than that.” I hear her voice ringing in my ears, and it was such a good reminder of like, “Oh yes, I don’t need to do this.” I’ve been so appreciative of some of the moms who have mourned over things that have happened in motherhood or just shared in my sorrows. But then, also offered that perspective of being further down the road and being able to say, “This too will pass,” or given me that eternal perspective—not only joining with me in the sorrow but knowing they’re further down the road, they were able to reach out a hand and give me hope in that moment.

Emily:  Although sometimes I remember when I was in that position of being a first time mom—you want to feel like, “Oh, I’ve kind of got a handle on this.” We always learn and grow with time, and as Laura was saying, it gives us perspective. If we are growing in the word with other believers, we’re also hopefully growing in godliness and in our ability to apply the gospel to a lot of different challenging experiences. When we are in a situation where we need that wisdom, it is helpful to look to a mom who’s gone ahead of us. That doesn’t necessarily mean 20 or 30 years ahead of us. That could be a year ahead of you. Or it could be a mom who’s younger than you with children that are one season ahead of you. Just remember that Laura and I are older moms to other women, and that it’s very much a shifting timeline. [Laughs]

Laura:  What we’re trying to say through this show is we might be using the terms “older mom” and “younger mom,” but there is no age. You are older than someone, and even a woman who is in high school can help disciple a younger girl who’s younger than her. For instance, I remember being in elementary and having older high schoolers that I looked up to. I would say that they made a profound impact on my spiritual life. There is never this, “Oh, I am an older woman because I am 50, or 60, or 20.” There’s no line for that, and we want to make that really clear. That everyone is able and built for discipleship, and able to invest in someone who is younger than them. Like Emily was saying, that might even be that they have older children than you, but numerically through their age, they’re younger than you. Or even more spiritually mature too.

Emily:  One of the things that comes to mind right off the bat, of why we need this, is because there are so many choices that we face everyday in motherhood that are kind of grey areas. They’re things that we need biblical wisdom to apply truth to our circumstances. Having a woman like this in your life can help you when you aren’t sure how to discipline your toddler, or when you can’t figure out what to do about a school choice, or how to handle a work or childcare situation. Or maybe you’re struggling through questions about family size or you’re in a conflict with your husband and you want to genuinely, humbly seek out wisdom. Like Laura said, maybe there’s something you just need perspective on or you don’t know how to handle something simple like chores. The list goes on and on for how a woman who’s in a further-ahead-of-you stage can really help you have wisdom for your own situation.

Laura:  It’s important to remember that if you are married, our husbands are great as our first line of defence for finding new ideas or for dealing with an issue, especially when it concerns your own children. But women who are further down the path than you can be a tremendous help as you try to look at, “What am I going to be doing?” “What does the Bible say about this?” “What is my heart attitude?” I mean, a lot of the women in my life have asked me really hard, penetrating questions that maybe sometimes my husband doesn’t ask me. That’s totally fine, but I’ve been really grateful for some of these deeper issues because they’re females too, and they understand how we work better than our husbands do in some senses. I know that’s something that’s been really helpful, and why we want women in our life like that.

Emily:  Going through the gospel—which we always get to do on Risen Motherhood—thinking about creation, there is this generational nature about creation from the beginning. When Adam and Eve were created to be fruitful and multiply, there was also this understanding—and we see this often in the New Testament—that they were going to pass on what they knew about God, his character, the work that he was doing, and the covenant promises he made to them from one generation to another.

Laura:  We see that especially as a pattern in the Old Testament. We’ve talked about this a lot when we talk about parents investing in their children. This same pattern happens through older women—like spiritual mothers in your life—being able to invest and pass down biblical instruction to you. I think too, in the Bible, we see that grey hair is often referred to as a really good thing.

Emily:  Yes! [Laughter]

Laura:  I have a couple of grey hairs and I am like, “Wisdom. It’s just wisdom. It means I am getting wiser.” But that’s something that we see in the Psalms, and with age and life experience, often, not always though, does come spiritual maturity.

Emily:  Even though that was God’s good design and good plan, the fall and sin entered. That obviously messes up every relationship we have, and in some ways, impacts on all of God’s good design. Just like Laura was saying, even though life and walking with the Lord should grow us in godliness, now, sometimes as we age, maturity doesn’t always coexist in that. There’s this verse in Psalms 119:100 that says, “I understand more than the aged for I keep your precepts.” It’s kind of that feeling of sometimes when people grow older, if they’re not walking with the Lord and not focusing on his truth, they aren’t necessarily growing in godliness.

Laura: On the flipside of that, we can also have this mentality of we know everything and we’ve experienced enough of life to be able to make all the right decisions. We’re not really numbering our days or recognizing that we need to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Another thing is, with the fall, came a lot of generational power struggles. You know, just think about your relationship with your parents in high school.

Emily:  Hello teenage years. [Laughter]

Laura:  Exactly. That’s something else that occurred when the fall came, and God’s good design was riddled with sin in some of these ways.

Emily:  We see this in the church in the context of this kind of older women, younger women. Again, remembering that those terms are relative. We see in Titus 2, older women had to be reverent in behavior and not slanderous or being slaves to too much wine. They were to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children; to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled. This is the main verse that we all go to whenever we’re talking about this. But we know that this isn’t always lived out in the church in the way that we would like.

Laura: Just like we were saying earlier with the sin, people aren’t always respectful with one another. Sometimes when you come to people for advice, they might say something that’s untrue or unhelpful, or that isn’t really taking into account your unique situation. Sometimes they encourage us towards worldly things and not towards things of godliness. It’s one of those difficult things about relationship now.

Emily:  Sometimes—whether you’re in the older women position at any stage in your life—we don’t always take responsibility for the discipleship that God has entrusted to us: to teach younger women these things. Sometimes when you’re in the position of the younger woman, you don’t want to hear what somebody older than you has to say. Again, that pride element can come into play, and maybe you’re running to Instagram or Google at first to figure out the answers to your problems, rather than seeking out a real relationship with somebody that can help you learn how to do some of these things that are difficult.

Laura:  I know sometimes I’ve thought this about my mom, or other women, of, “Times have changed since you were a mom.” My mom will probably listen to the show and be like, “Yes, Laura has said that to me.” I think a really common thing is that we just feel like they grew up in a different age than us. Seriously, since I had a baby five years ago, I am like, “Oh, look at all the new gizmos they have out.” I mean, can I register again, please? Because there is the coolest stuff, and I feel like raising children has changed even in five years.

Emily:  The fall impacts our ability to see universal wisdom from older women, whether or not they’ve lived through our specific generation. But there is hope because in redemption and restoration, we see that Christ died for the fact that we sin in all of those ways—our lack of reverence, our pride, and our bad attitudes about older women or women that are younger than us. He died for our lack of engagement and discipleship—the way we fail. It’s just so great that he came to reconcile us to God. That he could give us a new heart so that we can humble ourselves and have some of these relationships as the Bible instructs us to.

Laura:  With that comes the fact that you can look at the log in your own eye first. Get that out of your eye before you start looking at the speck in theirs. We can bond over other women who are older and younger than us, and over our status in Christ, whether or not we use this same baby swing.

Emily: I love that—that unity and the gospel piece—regardless of our life experiences, we are one in Christ. That is going to be our eternal reality, so we can definitely work that out now.

Laura:  What kind of moms do we really need in our lives? That’s kind of the big question, right? How do we find these moms, and what kinds of moms do we need? The first one we all think of—at least Emily and I have found very invaluable—is the one-step-ahead-of-you mom.

Emily:  This could be somebody whose kid is literally a year ahead of your child. Actually our sister-in-law, Becca, really serves as this person for Laura and I. She’s like, “This is how you get enrolled in this sport,” “This is how you register for kindergarten.” [Laughs]

Laura:  Yeah. She’s like, “Don’t do that dance class. Do this dance class,” “Here’s how we do quiet times as a family,” “This is a great book that we found,” “This is what you should buy for the next birthday present,” or, “Here’s a great book that your child’s going to love next year.” Or even just being able to say like, “Oh, in one year, they’re going to grow out of that.” [Laughter]

Emily:  That’s always encouraging. Another, who is just ahead of the one-step-ahead-of-you mom, is maybe the next-season mom. This could be somebody who’s got kiddos that are like three to seven years older than yours. They have a pretty good hindsight perspective of the stage you’re in, because they’re out of it. But they can still remember and help prepare you for the next big things that are on the horizon. I have a couple of friends whose kids are actually in mid to late elementary school. It’s super interesting to watch some of the issues that they’re dealing with and to just get a little feed in my mind of, “Okay, how can I prepare for that very next thing?”

Laura:  Then you have the young adult moms. This one might be someone who is in a season that is just becoming an empty nester. Or her kids are at least largely self-sufficient—in college or almost out of the house. These women that have been in my life have been very helpful for—this is my favorite—giving me all my catchy phrases for motherhood. They always say a lot of these things, and I’ve stolen a lot of their phrases. Any wise things you hear out of my mouth are usually from this generation. They are very helpful in pulling out further perspective and giving you biblical insight and wisdom. Kind of like an all in life—not just in the down and dirty of motherhood but for you as a full woman. You know, like what’s going to be the long term view of your life and how you’re going to raise your kids.

Emily:  Then, we love this group as well—kind of the empty nester—the grandmothers. Sometimes these women are far enough from the toddler tantrums that they can’t necessarily always identify with you and give you a fist pump in that moment and say, “I get it.”

But they can just really encourage us in the joys of children. I think many of these women have just lived through a lot of life, and they’ve got some wonderful heart lessons and wisdom that they’ve experienced through trials and suffering of life. For me, these are the women that point me to Christ and to eternity. A lot of the times these are the women that I go to when I am in the midst of a really difficult, big life decision. Not just, “Hey, I am trying to figure out the nitty-gritty of what book to read.”

Laura:  They don’t remember how to drop the pacifier. They just don’t. It’s okay, I don’t want want to remember when I am that age.

Emily:  I know, I don’t want to remember all these details. [Laughter]

Laura:  Then we have the great-grandmother. She may not be kind of boots on the ground, bringing you meals, or offering to watch your toddler. But she’s one of those people that probably just glows when she sees your child. She just reminds you what a sweet gift and a precious thing it is to be a mom and to have children. Those are the kind of women that I just love spending time around.

Emily:  Real quick; I know we just broad brushed over a lot of that. But you can experience a variety of different types of wisdom in all these different stages. We’re trying to group it together to give you a feel. Also before we move on, I want to say that you can learn a ton from women who are single or who may not have children. Please do not disregard an older woman who is not married or who does not have children. They can still teach you a ton, and you should still have women like that in your life.

Laura:  That’s what I was going to say. You really should still have those types of women in your life. How do you find these type of women? A lot of you are probably thinking, “Oh, this sounds so nice. But I’ve tried, and no one’s responding,” or, “I don’t know anyone who is these ages.” First of all, you’ve heard me say this stuff on the show before, and Emily can attest to that, I admit that I can be sort of fearless about meeting new people. But sometimes this takes intentionality. You have to approach the older woman and, likely, she feels insecure. She probably feels unqualified, like she’s not good enough and doesn’t have something to offer you. You therefore may have to take that first step to affirm her, encourage her and say, “I will take you, sins and all. I don’t care about the warts. I want to learn from you because I’ve seen you and I’ve seen your life. I’ve watched it from afar, and now I’d like an up close view.”

Emily:  Definitely ask questions and be teachable. If you put yourself in the path of this older woman, go to her instead of maybe going straight to Google. Call or text her or ask her to come over and give her your questions.

Laura:  That’s right. And know that a little goes a long way. Sometimes we imagine these relationships as we meet once a week for coffee, which is not realistic when you’re a mom. That’s where we want to remember that, at least for me, and I know I speak for Emily too, we have been immensely helped by even saying, “Hey, can I meet with you for coffee for 45 minutes today? It’s a one-time meeting.” This mom, this woman knows that we’re going there to have an intentional discussion about something we’re working through. That is probably very honoring to her, and you are probably going to come away with more clarity and peace in your situation. Know that you don’t have to have this weekly meeting. Or maybe you guys meet up and you have the kids with you. It doesn’t always have to be these deep heart-to-hearts with hot coffee. Think of it as your quiet time, right? Where you don’t get the perfect quiet time when you are a mom. You might not get that perfect looking mentorship moment when you are a mom.

Emily:  If you are in transition right now and you’re like, “I don’t have these women in my life, and it’s just not going to happen.” Maybe you’re a missionary in another country, or maybe you’re a part of a church plant and you have very few older moms to commune with—whatever your reason, it happens. But God can still be gracious in those situations. And there are still older women; I mean, you can even look online. Look at Elisabeth Elliot or Nancy Wolgemuth, or somebody like that, that you can learn from. Or Karen Ellis. All these people come to mind—on audio books or podcasts or radio. That’s not a replacement for flesh and blood, but God can still provide wisdom in those seasons.

Laura: And keep an eye out with that. You really never know when you will cross paths with the woman that is perfect for being able to invest in your life. We just want to encourage you guys today. We know that it can be hard—relationships can be very difficult. It’s not going to go perfectly, but we want to encourage you to persevere because these relationships are so worth it. Also, be intentional and willing to put yourself out there. Both in the sense of looking for someone and asking them and saying, “Hey, will you invest in my life?” But also, you know how much you’re probably craving it, there might be a mom who’s younger than you that is also craving it. That might be a situation too where you can offer assistance or help. Or just make yourself available to those moms, because we want to share the wisdom that we’ve all learned, and that God has blessed us each individually with so that we can all grow towards the kingdom.

Emily:  Alright. So be not wise in your own eyes, mom. [Laughter]

Laura:  A little Proverbs for you there.

Emily:  Thanks for joining us today. You can find everything @risenmotherhood.com, including our show notes and our training scripts. You can also follow us on social media @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Thanks, guys!


Ep. 96 || Freedom in Education Choices: An Interview with Jen Wilkin on Public Schooling, Part 4 Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hey guys. Welcome to the final instalment of our four-part series on educating our children and the Gospel. If you missed it the past few weeks, we encourage you to go back and listen to all our episodes on education and the gospel.

We’ve done a high-level overview of what scripture speaks to about how to educate our children. Then we’ve zoomed in through three different interviews to learn more about how God leads individual families in different ways of educating their children.

The first was Melissa Krueger, with private schooling, second was Irene Sun with homeschool, and today we’re hearing from our final mom, Jen Wilkin. She’ll be speaking to how she sent her children through public education, and the freedom she found in the gospel.

Jen serves on staff at the Village Church, and is an author and Bible teacher. You probably heard us talk a lot about her book, Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. It’s a favorite here at Risen Motherhood, for learning how to study the Bible properly. She’s also written None Like Him, which talks about ten ways God is different from us and why that’s a good thing. She also has a new book coming out, In His Image, which explores the other side of that coin – 10 attributes of God that Christians are called to reflect. This book is already available for pre-order as it comes out in May of this year. Of course you can find Jen’s work all over the web, so we’ve included links for where you can follow her on risenmotherhood.com. In addition, I just want to make sure all of you know about our learning page @risenmotherhood.com/education. This is a special spot designated on our site for all our education resources that we collected during our schooling series here at RM. We know it’s a big, important topic so we want to make it super easy to find everything. There, you’ll find links to all the interviews and show notes, discussion questions for the shows, and any extra articles or resources, and of course, the questionnaire document that we’ve developed. If you’ve not checked this out yet, let me encourage you to do so. The entire document is just made up of intentional questions that you and your husband can work through as you process through this decision. We pray that it will be a blessing to you. Okay, now let’s get to the interview with Jen, Emily, and me.

Laura: Hi Jen. Thank you so much for joining us on the Risen Motherhood podcast today.

Jen:  I am so glad to be on, thanks for having me.

Laura:  We know you’ve been on the show before, and a lot of our listeners are really familiar with your work and your writing. We just love you on Risen Motherhood obviously. But can you give a quick background for anyone who might not have heard of you yet, and talk a little bit about your family and what your day looks like, and then of course how you educate your children.

Jen:  I am Jen, and I’ve been married to Jeff for almost 25 years; it’ll be 25 years this summer. It’s so funny, he’s actually sitting over there while we’re recording, and he just gave a big cheer. [laughter] So that’s a good sign probably, that he’s excited about that number.

We have four children – they are Matt, 21; Mary Kate, 20; Claire, 19 and Calvin 17. All of the birthdays are getting ready to flip. Only one, Calvin, is left at home right now – he’s a Senior in high school and he will leave in August to join his siblings at Texas A&M University. He cannot wait.

Laura:  All of them together. Amazing.

Jen:  Yes. He does find our company delightful, but I think he is about ready to go for sure. I am on staff at the Village Church Institute, and I have responsibility for all of our adult classes at our five campuses. My thing that I love the most is to talk about Bible literacy in the church, and especially among women. We chose to send our children through public school from start to finish.

Laura:  Can you walk us through your decision for public education? You said that you’ve done that from start to finish. Taking yourself back to when you were a mom of young littles – especially at the precipice of that decision – can you walk us through a little bit of how that worked for you and your husband?

Jen: Well, I always like to say up front that I fully acknowledge that this is a very personal decision, and there are a million factors that impact it. What worked for us is not necessarily going to work for everyone. But I do like to give our perspective because sometimes, people in Christian communities will write off this option as not being one that they can consider at all. So while I don’t think that our situation is not necessarily normative, I do like to talk about it just to let people know that you can love the Lord and send your children to public schools. And that all the other pieces in that puzzle line up.

But when our kids were small – you could probably tell from their ages that I said, our children were all born within four years. There’s exactly four years between my oldest, Matt, and my youngest, Calvin. Because of that, we had to assess things a little differently than someone who maybe had their children a little more spread out, or who maybe had fewer children, or even more children. You know, that’s something that affects the way that you make this decision.

In our case, financially, private school was not going to be an option for us, especially with having so many, and at the same time. I mean, right now I’ve got three in college, and another one heading out the door to join them soon. If we had done private school for all of their earlier years, there was just no way we were going to be able to think about having money available for them when it was time for them to go off to college just because it’s so many of them in a row. We did not seriously consider private school because of financial restrictions. So I don’t want to say that we weighed private school heavily against public school and then chose according to our conscience. It wasn’t that. It just was not an option for us financially. So then you’re faced with homeschool or public school.

At the time that our kids were little, we were in a community where there were a ton of homeschoolers and they were actually doing it really well. We were in the Houston area and they were doing co-ops, they had proms. That area was maybe a little bit ahead of some of the areas that we had lived in at other times where you sort of thought of homeschooling like, “Why would anybody do that?” We never felt that way about homeschooling. But we also come from a family of public educators so we had some convictions around public school as an ideal. Also, we were living in an area where, from an academic standpoint, the public schools were excellent. Which meant the decision for us was not going to be based on whether or not they would get a good education in the one environment versus the other. When we think about our children’s schooling option, for us at least, we did not feel an impulse to shield our children from influences that they might encounter in a public school. And again, the education piece was not a factor. We weren’t living somewhere where it’s an inner city school, or where the funding is bad. I have family members who have public schools near them that I don’t know how you would ever have the courage to send your child there. Although many people do, and I think it can be admirable. But a lot of the factors that sometimes keep people from right out of the gates saying, “Yes,” to public school have never been an issue.

Emily:  I love how you bring up so many factors there. Even among our own friend groups as we’ve been having these conversations, an observation we’ve made is that when you look at the financial piece of the puzzle, we’re literally like, “What school is in your neighborhood?” And, “What is that specific school like?” All of these different questions come into play, and so it’s really hard to just make a blanket statement of any kind that says, “Oh, this is the better decision.” Kind of bridging into that question, can you just talk us through why we have freedom in Christ in this decision? Is there a better choice? I think we’ve kind of flown the plane around and answered that, but if you want to expound on that anymore, I think that would be helpful.

Jen:  You know, again, of our children, no one has a learning disability, and we had no special considerations with our children. This removed a lot of questions off the table for us, and then it became a question for us of, well, “We believe that if at all possible, we should opt-in to the public school system.” I would say that as a Christian, whatever choice you pursue with your own children, it’s important to feel a conviction that education is a right that we’re all entitled to. Even if your children are not participating in the public school system, you as an adult can find ways to participate in and improve the public school system for those families who do not have another option. For us, we were able to hold to public education as an ideal, not just by investing in it as members of our community, but by actually placing our children there with very little risk associated with that decision. So we wanted to. One of the misconceptions about education choices – and it’s probably come up in the other interviews as well – is that it’s a decision you make when your child enters into kindergarten. And then you just stay the course for ever. Though it may appear that we did that, if there had ever been a compelling reason to re-evaluate that decision, we certainly would have. We didn’t happen to run into one, and some of that is just because of the makeup of our family. A lot of the things that people fear with regard to public schools are things like bullying, or a child being isolated, not making friends or making the wrong friends. At least in the case of our family, our children were their own peer group in many regards, because they were so close in age. They shared a lot of friends and a lot of overlap in their friend groups, a lot of policing of who people were being friends with just among our kids. Then like-mindedness with their siblings, right? The peers they were spending the most time with were underneath their own roof. Some of the factors that can make public school – but honestly, any classroom environment difficult – were alleviated for us a little just because they had each other.

Laura: Jen you talked a little bit about how you would re-evaluate if you needed to. Can you speak to that mom who does feel guilt or anxiety, maybe, of sending her child to any schooling system, because there are pros and cons or strengths and weaknesses to every choice. Can you give some gospel hope to that mom? Because I know Emily and I are at the beginning of this stage, but we already feel some anxiety about it. I am not sure that is going to go away. Or at certain moments, I am sure there are always moments as a mom that you’re feeling like, “Did I make the right choice? Was that the right thing for my family, or for this individual child?”

Jen:  Yes. I think as Christians, in general we have a tendency to place a lot of emphasis on the decision point. We cease to recognize that God is way less invested in your decision than he is in what happens after the decision. He’s interested in who your child is, not where your child is educated. One or two things may relate to one another, but we tend to think like, “If I make the wrong decision, then all is lost.” That is not a true narrative. And not only that, but in trying to decide what is the “right” decision, it’s important for us to keep examining whether we are reaching our conclusion based on what our peers or other parents are saying. Parental peer pressure is a thing; we want the approval of our friends. We want to be perceived as being a good parent, not a bad parent. Depending on what little sub-culture you’re living in in your area, you can be heavily influenced just by what everybody else is doing because you don’t want to deal with the scrutiny of going against the grain. In fact in our case, I would say that by putting our kids in public school was the move that was going against the grain in some cases. When you’re in the church and you have four kids in four years, and you’re on record as being a committed believer, people automatically assume that you’re going to do homeschool or private school. I would get emails from women saying, “Can you tell me what curriculum you’re using in your homeschooling?” I would be like, “Oh gosh, I don’t know how to break this to them,” and thinking that they’d be disappointed to learn that we sent our kids to public school.

Emily:  One thing you’ve talked about a lot on other platforms that I really appreciated is influencers in our children’s lives – the influence of parents and the faith of mom and dad in living out the gospel in the home. One of my questions about public school and private school - but public school maybe even more so – is what does that look like then to be intentional in the home? How did you guys then teach your children scripture, bringing them up in the Lord when they did spend more time outside of the home? We definitely know that’s possible, but it’s good and helpful for us to hear what that looks like.

Jen:  Well, the teaching points just write themselves when your kids spend all their time in public school. That’s what you talk about when you’re together as a family, talking about spiritual things. That’s one of the things really that I have loved about the kids being in public school is there is no shilly-shallying around about who is a believer and who isn’t. Children and educators in the public schools are not trying to present themselves as one thing when in fact they’re another. They’re up front with where they’re coming from. The whole nominal Christian syndrome that can exist is just not in the public schools. If you do say that you are a Christian, it’s not going to garner you favor and friends. It’s probably going to make you seem a little bit weird and that means that when you get home, home is a place where you exhale and know this is where we have shared values and beliefs, and where we have those conversations. I think that too often, Christians who put their kids in public schools are seen as just sort of throwing their kids to the wolves. They are seen as not being sensitive to the influencers that they would come up against, not just from their peers, but also from their teachers. I just always like to remind parents that they don’t know anyone who got their world view from their third grade teacher. Children spend way more time around us on the whole than they do around these other people. We have way more capacity for modelling either good or bad for our children than any other adult in their lives. And certainly more than any kids sitting next to him at the lunch table, telling them all the things that you really don’t want them to know.

Laura: That’s a comfort. It really is because I do think that’s a genuine fear any time we’re sending our children out. Whether that’s mom sending her child to a childcare provider or a public school. We can often get way too caught up in the tiny, minutiae of a few moments that they were with that person and not pull back and look at the child’s life as a whole, and how they’re being influenced. That should hopefully be a great relief to moms in all stages of life for sure. Then coming back to people who are at the beginning stages because that’s the majority of our listeners who are just starting to navigate some of these decisions. Can you just offer some tips for how a mom and dad might thoughtfully or, preferably, work through their education options? Not just for public school, but just for all of the options in front of them because there are a lot.

Jen:  You need to start by asking what’s best for your child and your family. But that can’t be the only question you ask because if we only ever did what was best for our child and our family, we wouldn’t be very good citizens in our communities. It may be that your education isn’t as closely tied to the specific needs of a child or a specific aspect of your family’s needs. But there ought to be some way to make that decision that also takes into account the community in which you live. I do think it can be a danger of choosing non-public school options that we then don’t recognize some of the very real education needs that exist all around us, for people who are not able to choose homeschool or public school. For homeschool and public school, there are socio-economic implications for even being able to have those as an option for you to choose. We should be honest about that, and we should acknowledge that. We cannot say homeschooling is really the best way to educate our kids and everyone should be doing that. The single mom who’s working a minimum wage job does not have that as an option, and then is supposed to carry the stigma because she’s not a good enough mom. It doesn’t make any sense, right? Like, the only option is going to be public school. Whereas for my own family, I may decide educationally, I want to invest in them and do homeschooling. I am so going to look for ways to serve my community’s educational needs in addition to that. Just because I’ve settled what my own children need doesn’t mean that I get to turn my eyes away from what the other children in my community also might need.

Homeschooling could be a valid choice. If you’re thinking through the decision, at some point it’s important to first of all not make it a fear-based decision. Too often when we start thinking through these things, we’re trying to minimize fears instead of asking basic questions around why is this one particular approach better than this other approach? For the Wilkin family, we were not concerned about the spiritual component of sending our kids to public school. We felt like it actually challenged us appropriately, as parents, to take full responsibility for the spiritual nurture of our children. Which is not to say that it is wrong for your children to receive spiritual nurture in a private or homeschool setting. It’s simply that it was the right set of checks and balances for us to know that they were not going to be getting it at school. They might be getting the opposite of it at school, and that that was an opportunity, not a threat.

Emily:  I love that you just shared that, and I am not sure if I’ve heard anybody put it into words quite like that. That can actually be the very thing that spurs parents on to have really intentional conversations. To be making sure when they are at home, that that investment is happening because you know that it’s not happening from the teachers or necessarily from the general peers. Another thing, we heard on another podcast where you talked about schooling is the diversity component, as well. My husband and I have a son that’s getting ready to enter the public school system because he’s got some special needs. He’s going to need help and a commendation, and a public school is probably the only place that’s really equipped to do that. One of the things his doctors said to us recently as we were discussing the options is, “You know, I think this is going to be more than just a blessing to you guys. It’s just going to bless other people to be around him and to see differences.” That was a good reminder to me of the differences that are in the public school setting often, and how that can really benefit kids.

Jen:  Absolutely. They encounter every form of diversity. Having the children with special needs who are in regular contact with the children who are in the average classroom was a huge thing for our kids and for a lot of their friends as well. The opportunities that are there for kids to go and help out in the classrooms with the children with special needs – it’s a lot of cross-pollination. Whereas when I was growing up, children with special needs were often in another room, and we didn’t see them. You didn’t know what to do and it was awkward and strange. It just isn’t like that anymore. I love that, and that you encounter socio-economic diversity and lot of really sad stories. That sounds like a terrible thing to be thankful for I guess. But my kids would come home in tears over something that they had learned about – seeing a friend’s parents’ marriage falling apart or something that had happened to someone, and just things that don’t always get talked about at a youth group. And yet they had to confront some really hard things early on in life, and ask some questions about where God is in the middle of all of this. And how can we speak words of comfort to someone who is going through this? Those were all just things that I really treasure about having them, then, in a public school.

People from different religions – we have a huge Mormon population at the high school where my kids went and in our community. We’ve, therefore, had a lot of really good conversations about Mormonism and the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. If you raise kids according to a Christian world view, when they’re staying out of some of the typical things that other people are doing, their good friends are probably going to end up being the Mormons. This is because the Mormons are probably avoiding a lot of the same behaviors. That was an opportunity for conversation. Then when they go off to college, or whatever is next after high school, they’re not encountering these questions for the first time.

Laura:  It definitely sounds like a wonderful training ground. Whereas if you were to select a different education option, you might just have to work harder to find those things that expose your children to those things. That certainly is just a beautiful thing, for the kids to be exposed to diversity early on, and even to the brokenness of the world. Like you were saying, those are great moments to train your child in biblical thinking and understanding where hope applies and where the gospel applies to their everyday. They need that; it’s a very real and bright thing in their daily life at school. Jen, is there any last thing that you would love to say to a mom? I feel like we have to start ending the interview because time always hits. But I am always like, “Jen, just talk a little bit more.” Is there one last encouragement that you would offer to a mom who’s kind of in our stage - at the beginning of this, and feeling like this is a big decision? Could you just share some gospel hope for her?

Jen:  Absolutely. You know, we’re not given to a spirit of fear, so this is a decision that you’re capable of making as the parent. If you make one decision and it’s not working out, then as the parent, you can make a different decision. Children are very resilient. My step-mom would always say that to me. But I am like “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe not my children.” [laughter]

Emily:   I know. [laughter]

Laura:  We always say our kids are made of rubber and they just bounce right back. [laughter]

Jen:   Yes, and she tried. If we view our education choices as which path will help my child avoid the most potential adversity, that’s a wrong way to think about it. I always like to be clear; we did not send our children to public school so they could be missionaries. We sent them there so that they could learn to read and to do math. Over time, of course as they grew into maturity, there were opportunities where they wanted to share their faith. But the point of your education choice, I would urge, should be primarily related to learning because children are going to face issues of faith differently, depending on what environment they’re in. Education environments have different sets of pressures, but they all have pressures associated with them. You could end up with your child in an environment where their faith is never challenged. Or you could have them in an environment where people pretend to be really good Christians and then are doing whatever covertly. There’s always a set of difficulties associated with any educational environment kids are going into go into. I would say start by weighing the merits of how good of an education is my child going to get? Then give yourself permission to course correct if you need to, and pray a whole lot. [Laughter]

Emily:  We really appreciate you coming on and sharing this. It’s just so encouraging, and you’re actually the third in the series that we’ve gone through. I hope that the moms that have tuned in, through this process, are feeling a little bit more like this is about giving glory to God in who we are, as you said. And not the minutiae of what we decide. He’s so much bigger and so much sovereign than that. We don’t know the end, but he does, and so we can just keep obeying him one step at a time. I am just so hopeful at the end of this, and I hope everyone who is listening feels that way as well. Thank you so much for the wisdom that you added to this conversation Jen.

Jen:  Thanks for letting me chime in.

Laura:  Thanks for tuning in today to the Risen Motherhood podcast. We encourage you to check out our web page, risenmotherhood.com/education. On that page, we’ve made it easy to find all our resources on this topic, with links to interviews and an education questionnaire. Plus tons of additional articles and tools that we found helpful for our families as we navigate this topic.

And of course we’d love it if you came and found us on social media, where you can keep up with the ministry of Risen Motherhood. You’ll find us @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks for joining us.