Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Bigger Vision of Motherhood

Leslie Basham: Erin Davis says we live in a world that puts pressures on mothers. You can be a mom, but . . . 

Erin Davis: You’d better not look like one, and you’d better not drive a car that says you’re amom. You should somehow manage to keep this image of a non-mom life because “children area burden.”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, July 7, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: All this month, we’re getting to know authors in the True Woman line of books. We want the True Woman name to be like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. You can trust these books to be biblically sound. You can trust these authors believe in this message and are learning to live it out in their own lives. 

Last week, we heard about one of the books in the True Woman Line—Paula Hendricks, author of Confessions of a Boy Crazy Girl. It’s a joy to see God raise up a whole generation of younger women who are enthusiastically embracing God’s calling on their lives as women. 

And today, I’m delighted to welcome another one of those younger women, a dear friend, and another author in the True Woman line of books. Erin Davis is with us. Erin, thanks so much for joining us on Revive Our Hearts.

Erin: Thanks for having me back.

Nancy: Erin’s husband, Jason, is the marketing manager for Revive Our Hearts and a former youth pastor. You are the primary blogger at the Lies Young Women Believe blog. So you’re getting to see a lot of glimpses into thelives of those young women.

Erin: God continues to use the content from that book to expose lies and replace them with God’s truth. Yes, I get to see it every day, and it’s pretty exciting to see how He’s still working through that book.

Nancy: And you’ve been so brave to step into those topics “where angels fear to tread” with those young women. There are some really raw, difficult subjects you’ve dealing with on that blog. Some subjects, some stations would really not even want us to deal with on the air. But those young girls are dealing with some really rough and raw issues, and you’ve jumped right into the fray on that.

Erin: And our prayer, those of us in leadership for that blog, has been that that blog would become a beacon of truth online. So we do tend to draw in some pretty gritty questions, thoughts from some girls in pretty dire situations, and we don’t shy away from them. We use God’s truth as our sword, and it’s been really exciting to see how He’s been changing the lives of young women across the country and really, around the world.

Nancy: I love your heart for mentoring and discipling those young women as you’ve been mentored and discipled by older women. It’s just neat to see that baton of truth being passed down to you, and from you, to the next generation. And now you’ve stepped into another subject, which is really not all that different, because it’s still about discipleship and mentoring. Your book is called Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role.

Erin: I feared to write a motherhood book, because those who know me and know my family know that I don’t have motherhood all figured out. I’m not a perfect mom raising perfect kids.

Nancy: So you did not write this as an expert?

Erin: I did not write this as a mothering expert—certainly not! I wrote it through my own journey and what the Lord is using motherhood to teach me, and there’s a lot to be learned through the journey of motherhood.

Nancy: And your book is a huge encouragement to mothers to think beyond the details—the nuts and bolts—of getting kids clothed and fed, and to piano lessons, or whatever the season of life is. You’re saying there is a mission and a vision beyond that for women to embrace.

Erin: There is a lot of nitty-gritty that comes with motherhood, no matter what age your kids are. If you get so focused on that nitty-gritty and can’t see the big picture, it can sure feel burdensome. But if you can turn to God’s Word for a bigger vision of motherhood, you’re still going to have to make a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but you can find more purpose in it. It makes it a whole lot more bearable, and a whole lot more fun, because you’re doing a really important job.

Nancy: What I love about you, Erin, is that you’re so honest and transparent. In this book you share a lot about your own journey and the fact that motherhood wasn’t something you just fell into naturally, or easily, or joyfully initially, but God used an incident when you were twelve weeks pregnant with your first child to really start a whole paradigm shift in your life.

That’s the point where you got the news from your doctor that this baby you were carrying probably wouldn’t survive the pregnancy and that doctor had some counsel that you probably weren’t really ready to hear.

Erin: That’s right. I wasn’t very far along in my pregnancy and we decided to have an ultrasound. The doctor called me. I was getting ready to leave for a three-week business trip. She said, “I’ve seen your ultrasound results, and there’s a problem with your pregnancy.” I said, “Well, it’s going to have to wait; I’m getting ready to go on a business trip,” which is sort of indicative of where my heart was before all of this happened.

She said, “You’re going to have to make a decision about this pregnancy before three weeks is up.

I said, “A decision about this pregnancy? I decided. I got pregnant, that’s what I already decided.” But she was subtly trying to tell me that the situation was dire.

My little boy, I didn’t know it was a boy at the time, had a blockage in his bladder. That really doesn’t sound all that serious, except that babies when they’re in the womb, they process amniotic fluid through their plumbing and that is how their lungs develop. If my baby was unable to process his amniotic fluid, then he would be unable to develop his lungs.

We had a really difficult prayerful weekend, and that Monday we went and saw a specialist and had another ultrasound. She barged into the room with a clipboard in her hand (I was actually laying on the ultrasound table still), my husband was there beside me and our moms were in the room.

This doctor said, with no bedside manner at all, “Your baby probably isn’t going to survive this pregnancy. If he does, he’s going to be very handicapped. I suggest you abort him.” The room sort of went fuzzy, and I remember just deferring to my husband to handle her questions from there. I was really stunned.

Nancy: And how did your husband handle the question?

Erin: Calmly and wisely. I’m not sure how he avoided expressing how angry he must have felt. He just calmly said, “We won’t be aborting this baby, so you need to tell us what our other options are." So I had a series of tests in the doctor’s office that day and continued to have tests the whole pregnancy.

I went every week for an ultrasound, and so that meant seven months of ultrasounds. As I look back on that season, I remember that we were never undone. We were calm . . . and that baby we were going to name Truett.

One day my husband said, "I’ve changed the baby’s name.”

“The baby’s name that’s in my tummy? You’ve changed his name?”

And he said, "I want to name him Elisha because it means 'God saves,' or 'God is my salvation.'"

At that point, it was so uncertain. I said, “Honey, God might not save him.”

And Jason said, “That’s okay. God still saves. So I want his name to be a testimony of that.”

So, from then on the baby in my belly became Elisha. And from early on we were able to use that trial to testify . . . and those passages about God being your strength when you’re weak and being able to depend on Him. They were life; they were bread to us during that season, as I continued to carry that baby in my tummy and wait to see what was going to happen.

Nancy: I want to step back a minute and talk about some of the things that led up to that pregnancy, but for those who are holding their breath, wanting to know what happened to Elisha, tell us.

Erin: Elisha is the cutest, rowdiest, funniest four-year-old boy I’ve ever been around in a long time. He loves baseball, and he loves cowboy things, and he’s totally fine.

We had an ultrasound every week, and his little bladder was just a little black spot. It got bigger and bigger with every ultrasound because his plumbing clogged, and it was filling with fluid.

The day he was born, we were still having ultrasounds, and his bladder filled his entire abdomen. There was a specialist team waiting in the wings to whisk him away to emergency surgery. We were prepared. We delivered in a different city from our home. We were prepared to live there for weeks while he was recovering from whatever they needed to do him.

Let me just say, it was clear to everyone in the room that his plumbing was working just fine. The surgeon who was waiting to take him laughed and said, “You just bought yourself a ticket out of the NICU.” He never went to the NICU; he never had surgery . . . he’s a healthy boy.

He has a little bit of residual hydronephrosis in his plumbing, and he has one kidney that’s a little bit small. I continue to pray that he would be fully healed, but he was healed on the day of his birth. He’s happy and does great.

Nancy: Elisha . . .

Erin: Elisha.

Nancy: God saves . . .

Erin: God saves, that’s right.

Nancy: Let me back up to when you found out you were expecting your first child, this child we’re talking about. I’ve heard you say that the stick turned pink sooner than you expected.

Erin: That’s right. You’d have to get a little bit of background on who I am and who I was at that point. I had everything that the world told me a young woman should have. I’d gone to college and then graduate school. I always like to refer to myself as Type Double A. I got undergraduate school done in under three years and then went on to graduate school. I had the husband, had the house, had the career, and getting pregnant was the next thing on the list on the script that the world had written for me.

So we decided, okay, that’s the next thing. But yes, the stick turned pink much sooner than we expected, and I broke the news to my husband, Jason, that a baby was on the way by sitting on our bed in my bathrobe and sobbing uncontrollably. I just felt like a bomb had gone off in my life.

Nancy: Not because you were not going to, at some point, have children in your thinking . . . so what made it so traumatic at the moment?

Erin: I think that I planned to have children because that was on the to-do list, but when children were suddenly a reality, I was very, very aware of all the ways it was going to interrupt the life that I wanted for myself. I couldn’t fathom how I could continue down the career path that I wanted and be a mom. I couldn’t fathom how I could continue to have the marriage I wanted and be a mom . . . to have the friendships, and even the ministry.

My husband and I have been student ministers for twelve years, and I just didn’t know how we could continue to pour our lives into teenagers and have a baby around. So when it was real, I suddenly realized all the ways it was going to disrupt my life, and that was unpleasant to me.

Nancy: So were you feeling, “I just don’t have time to be a mom?”

Erin: Absolutely. My feeling was, “I don’t know how a baby will fit into any of the corners of my life,” and I had every corner of my life well mapped out.

Nancy: So in that sense, were you viewing children as more of a burden than a blessing?

Erin: Absolutely. I think the burden or blessing question is where so many women, moms included, are still really hung up. I have a really good friend, and she’s quoted often in the book, and she says how she feels our culture has a real split personality toward mothers.

We go to their baby showers and we think Oh, isn’t that cute? and we admire their pregnant tummies. But inside we feel sorry for them and we think, Oh, man, what is she is getting ready to have to go through? So we sort of love the idea of pregnancy, motherhood, families, but in reality we think of it as drudgery.

That is certainly the way that I felt about motherhood, and the way I sometimes still feel about motherhood. I still very much have to fight an inner battle to believe what God says, which is that children are a blessing, rather than to believe what my flesh says, which is they’re a burden. I have to resist the urge to sometimes call my, two children now, “speed bumps,” because they’re slowing me down from so many things. That’s really a choice, to see them as either a blessing or a burden.

Nancy: It’s a choice that a lot of women in our culture are being faced with, and our culture hasn’t really helped people to see those children as a blessing.

Erin: Our culture is very anti-mom in a lot of ways. You want proof? Buy a minivan. People will feel so sorry for you if you tell them you’re getting a minivan. It’s as if you’re trading away any semblance of a normal life for cruise control and built-in DVD players. That is like the ultimate,“your life is over,” if you have a minivan.  

"Mom jeans" is another example. Every fashion show you ever are going to watch, before and after, in the “after” it’s, “She used to wear mom jeans.” It is the ultimate fashion faux pas. So you might be a mom, but you’d better not look like one. And you’d better not drive a car that says you’re a mom. You should somehow manage to keep this image of a non-mom life, because “children are a burden.”

Nancy: Then you were holding in your hands that precious little Elisha, who was a gift from God, a miracle child that God healed in the womb. Did you just instantly, once you held that little bundle of life, immediately embrace motherhood as this great calling?

Erin: No, I did not. Of course I loved him, and the miracle of it all was not lost on me, but it wasn’t as natural as I thought. I think that’s true with a lot of things in motherhood. I know a lot of friends who have something similar to post-traumatic stress over breastfeeding. They can’t figure it out, and they’re traumatized about it for years after their baby is well grown.

There are a lot of areas of motherhood like that. We think discipline is going to happen naturally, and it doesn’t. We think the bond is going to be natural or always there, and it isn’t. We think our marriages are going to know how to adapt to children, and they don’t easily.

That was true with me and Elisha. I loved him very, very much from the moment saw him, but motherhood did not come naturally. My first year as a mom was really, really difficult.

Nancy: Tell me more.

Erin: I just didn’t adjust well for all of the reasons that I told you. I was afraid to become a mom. Those were real concerns, and they really happened. Suddenly, my whole life revolved around this little thing who had no concept of a schedule. He didn’t know night from day, and whenever he was hungry or sleepy or whatever he needed, I had to adapt to it.

I stayed home with him and I really isolated myself at first because I didn’t have any mom friends. All of my friends were in the same season of life that I was, before baby, and I suddenly realized I hadn’t diversified my friendships very well because unless it was a woman that was in the exact same season of life as I was, I didn’t have a lot in common . . . scheduling became really difficult.

I was home with this baby who had no semblance of a schedule and was extremely needy and my work life got put on hold, and it was hard on my marriage—just as I suspected.

We couldn’t go have sushi anytime we wanted. When they say having a baby changes everything, that’s not just a cute Hallmark card notion. Having a baby changes everything, and I didn’t have a biblical framework to understand it.

I didn’t understand that it was more than changing a gajillion diapers every day. I didn’t understand that it was more than just establishing a sleeping pattern. To me, the mundane-ness of it all, the boredom of it all, the repetition of it all . . . I didn’t have any framework from God or from the Bible because I hadn’t studied it to have a bigger picture.

So I got really caught up in the small things, and it was a difficult year.

Nancy: We’re going to talk more about your journey and what God has taught you since having that first child, and we’re going to look at God’s Word and get some, what I think will be liberating and encouraging insights for moms and those who encourage moms, but give us a glimpse. What is something that God used early on in your parenting to give you a sense of hope or joy or purpose, to help you persevere through that first year?

Erin: I think the story that’s been most impactful from the Word comes from the book of Nehemiah. They were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and Nehemiah said to the Israelites, “I want you to fight with your families, and fight for your families.” The enemies of Israel had come to see what was going on, and Nehemiah’s charge was, “Stand side by side.”

So there’s this description in the Bible, husbands, wives, children, with sword in one hand, shovel in the other hand, and they’re building their wall. And they built the wall miraculously quickly, and the enemies of God were very afraid. (see Neh. 4:13–14)

When I started to see motherhood as more than endless feedings, diaper changes, discipline, all of the things, the routine . . . and as my part of building the wall, as doing something for my family and doing something with my family because I couldn’t do it any other way, I started toget that bigger vision of family and kingdom work and that God could use me as a mom to do kingdom work. (I felt really sidelined from kingdom work as a mom, from what I thought kingdom work was.)

When God started to use that passage in Nehemiah to help me understand that building the kingdom with my family and for my family was something that would make the enemies of God afraid, that’s something that really began to re-cast my vision of motherhood and ministry, and what God wanted to do through me and my children.

Leslie: Erin Davis and Nancy Leigh DeMoss are talking about the huge influence moms have when they invest in their children. Nancy will tell you how to get a copy of Erin’s book, Beyond Bath Time,in just a minute.

What did you think about today’s program? You can let us and Erin Davis know by visiting theRevive Our Hearts listener blog. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com and scroll to the end of the transcript. You can ask a question or leave a comment there.

We’re able to bring you the radio program, transcript and listener blog, thanks to listeners who support Revive Our Hearts. Your support will be multiplied as it changes women who need to hear it. Nancy’s here with an example.

Nancy: When God speaks to women through His Word, it not only affects them, it also affects their children and the generations that follow. That’s why I loved getting an email from a woman who described much of what God is doing in her life. She says,

Revive Our Hearts has been a major blessing to me. The past few weeks I’ve been going through a re-programming season. I grew up in a family with unsaved parents and never had an example of what biblical womanhood looked like. Since I’ve become an adult and gotten married I’ve struggled to find what a godly woman should be.

Thanks be to God, my parents have come to Christ in the past few years. However, it’s been difficult mentoring my own mother. I wasn’t the perfect picture of biblical womanhood, and I had no model or mentor to show me.

She goes on to describe being exhausted after she and her husband took on some intense ministry opportunities. Then she said,

I heard about Revive Our Hearts through the Internet. Revive Our Hearts was exactly what my tired, hungry heart needed. Your teaching is helping me to re-learn what it means to be a godly woman. I thank God for His grace and for using you to help me. Thank you forbeing obedient to the Father’s work.

This listener has two small children at home. Imagine the impact that God’s Word is having on those little ones, as they grow up with a mother who is committed to learning how to be a woman of God.

Leslie: And you can be part of the influence Nancy’s talking about. When you support Revive Our Hearts, you’re helping women everywhere discover God’s calling on their lives and pass His truth to the next generation.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’d like to say "thanks" by sending you Erin’s book, Beyond Bath Time.

Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Do you ever feel like you have to delay motherhood because you’re too busy in ministry? Erin Davis felt that way.

Erin: We chose childlessness for seven years of marriage, and many people pressed us on it in those seven years. Our response was that we didn’t want to have children because we felt so passionate about student ministry. We felt like that was part of the sacrifice we needed to make to be great student ministers.

I think we came up with that idea from lots of different sources. I think we were wrong, but I feel like there are a lot of young people who feel like it’s the right thing to do to not have children so that they can have a ministry. That was really the tug-of-war in my heart. I didn’t want to have children because I didn’t want to give up a ministry.

What I didn’t understand is that having children is a ministry. I wasn’t giving up doing something important for the Lord by having children.

Leslie: Find out why she changed her mind, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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