Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Episode Resources

Learn more about Risen Motherhood's ministry.

Dannah Gresh: How can a mom stay close to the Lord in a season of busyness? Emily Jensen looks back at the years when her children were little, and she couldn’t have a traditional daily quiet time.

Emily Jensen: It was just a million tiny moments of input that has slowly made these deposits in our lives. “I’m going to try where I can and trust God to be bigger.”

Leslie Basham: Today is November 7, 2019, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: We all know what it’s like to be pulled in lots of different directions all the time. Today Nancy’s going to continue her week-long conversation with Laura Wifler and Emily Jensen. They’ll talk about what we, as moms, can do as we face expectations—our own expectations and the expectations of others. Nancy?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, I have just loved this conversation we’ve been having with Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler. They’re the women of Risen Motherhood. They’re not the only ones, but they’re the founders and the heart, and I want to say, brains, I guess, behind that ministry. But other women have come alongside to work with them.

In fact, I just learned that one of your staff, her in-laws work in our ministry.

Emily/Laura Wifler: Yes!

Nancy: What a small world is that! I just learned that on Instagram this morning.

But talking about the subject of Risen Motherhood, and what mothering, in the context of the gospel and of the resurrection of Christ, means for our lives as women in every season.

I’m not a biological mother, and I’m way past that season of life. But I have been so encouraged and energized and found this conversation thought provoking in my season of life as I think through: What does the gospel look like with busyness, with demands on my schedule that are greater than what I can fulfill on any given day. Am I operating on self-reliance, based on my experience or my natural gifts? Or am I coming to the Lord, which I have to do so often, and say, “Lord, I can’t do this”?

I think when people hear this program, they see this ministry, they see your ministry, they see us in pictures . . . We don’t get pictures taken the way we look first thing in the morning. (laughter) We put on makeup. We do our hair. We think about what we’re going to wear that day. (I thought about the fact that we were having pictures taken today when I got dressed this morning.) So people are seeing the best us, and they’re thinking, She’s so good. She’s so capable.

I think that can make other people feel despairing of themselves being useful, like we are something special. We talked together as we had dinner this week about not only how normal we feel, but how weak and inadequate and needy and sinful and broken and messed up we are, and how we are in need of the gospel. So I love that you help us do that for every season, but I really love that you’re helping moms, and moms with young kids think through: What does the gospel look like for motherhood?

We have a woman on our team who read your book before we came to this interview. She made some notes for me, to tell me the parts that really touched her. She said that when she got to one particular chapter, she sent an email out to three of her nieces and said, “You’ve got to get this book!” She knew how practical it would be for a woman in that season of life.

So you’ve written this book. It’s not only beautifully written, but it’s a beautiful book! I wish all of our listeners could see it. We’re posting pictures on social media. You all are artistic. And Harvest House Publishers worked with you to come up with a beautifully designed book. I love that because there’s a lot of myths to motherhood. But if you look at it in the long haul and in the big picture, there’s a lot of beauty to be seen in the moment and in the long haul.

I have a friend whose social media is “glory in the grime”—that’s her handle. She’s taught herself to see beauty in even the hard places and hard spots. So you’ve done that with this book.

We’re making it available to any of our listeners this week—maybe for themselves, or maybe for them to share with a young mom—when they make a contribution of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. You just let us know that you’d like a copy of this book, and we’d be glad to send it to you. It’s our way of saying, “Thanks for supporting this ministry.”

As we’ve been talking, both of you have young children. You’re in that very full, very busy season because those little kids are . . . they can’t do stuff themselves yet. They need you for so many things. But then there’s your husband. You both have great husbands. They’re understanding. They chip in. They’re servant-hearted. You’re blessed with that, which some of the women listening today don’t have that. So you’re blessed with that.

But a question that I think still comes up in this season is: How do you nurture your marriage?

I remember I had a family living in our home at one point, and they had their first child while they were living in my home (I was single at the time). And we were sitting one day talking, and the mom was just exhausted. She was nursing the baby, and this was all new to her, and she was just so tired. I just remember her husband—a sweet guy—but I just remember him saying, “I want my wife back.” Things had changed so much from living without children, as a couple, to having children.

So you both have walked through that. You do walk through that. Help a mom who’s in that season think through it. How do you think through that season? How do you be the blessing to your husband that he needs without getting under the pile of the law, but living under grace.

Emily: It’s interesting, in a previous show we were talking about all the ideas that culture gives us as a mom about who we’re supposed to be. A lot of us paint this picture, and then we try to emulate that. And one of the things that can be tempting right off the bat for a mom is to create that picture in isolation from her husband. You’ve looked at your friends, you’ve looked at older women, you’ve looked on Instagram, and you’ve created this life of what you think life should look like as a parent, and you’ve kind of left him out of it.

I think we do that without even realizing it because, maybe, you’re the one who was pregnant, you’re the one who’s maybe holding the baby more, and you just feel more like, “This is mine, and I own this.”

Nancy: This thing.

Emily: Yes, this thing—this job that I’m doing—is mine. I think what God really showed me early on—particularly in a season with multiple young kids—is that I desperately need my husband. This is actually something that God has asked us to do together.

It goes all the way back to His creation. Adam and Eve were different. They were different genders, different responsibilities, different roles, but the same mission together: “To cultivate the earth and subdue it and be fruitful and multiply.”

Now we see in the Great Commission that is also our job with our spouse—to be unified and go and make disciples and be fruitful with what God has given us, which is our children. We’re on this mission together.

Our joys are wrapped up together. Our sorrows are wrapped up together. I cannot do this independent of him. God actually made us to do this in this complementary way where we’re unified.

Nancy: You couldn’t have the children apart from being one.

Emily: Oh, for sure! Yes! We’re going to need to shape this addition together and to ask together in prayer how God wants us to live out these truths in our own family.

And that, for me, meant releasing ideals that I maybe had about what I thought this perfect Christian mom looked like and to say, “No, what is me as a wife to Brad and as a mom to these children? What is God calling me to do?” That was a hard lesson.

Laura: Yes, and I think what else is really interesting is to lay down your expectations for what a perfect Christian husband, a perfect Christian father looks like.

I know so often, particularly when I was a first-time mom, my husband sort of became my enemy at the time. It was like what you’re saying: “This is my job. This is the stuff that I need to get done, and I know the best way to do this. I’ve done the Google searches.”

Emily: “You’re not holding the bottle. You’re not changing diapers.”

Laura: Right! “I’ve taken them to the doctor. I’ve done all these things, and you can’t possibly know what I’m going through, how to deal with this. You can’t speak into this situation.”

I had to let down my guard and recognize that I have to bring him with me in parenting, and we needed to—exactly what you’re saying—be on that same page. But we may have different styles. I needed be okay with my husband having a different style of parenting, but recognizing we’re pursuing that same goal, which is to raise our children to know and love the Lord.

The fact that my husband was different doesn’t make him the enemy. It actually makes him the perfect companion to help raise my children because we can complement one another in our different styles and to see that the Lord has gifted him with different strengths and gifted me with different strengths, and we can even out those weaknesses. There are some areas that neither of us are good at, but we can join together as comrades in parenting.

If I see him and view him as in opposition to what I’m trying to do, then we’re only going to spiral downward, and we’re not fulfilling our mandate of showing our children the gospel and to go and make disciples.

So that’s something that was a big mind shift for me, as a young mom, of realizing: What is the role of my husband? What expectations am I placing on him? And how can I, instead of dwelling on all his weaknesses, almost exploit his strengths and figure out ways to make him shine in parenting?

Nancy: And actually, the things that you think are his weaknesses . . . I know he does have weaknesses, any husband does. But sometimes I think the things we think are weaknesses in our husbands are really not so much weaknesses as things we don’t realize how much we need.

Emily: Correct! That couldn’t be more true!

Nancy: Or the pride of our heart that says, “The way I do it is the only right way to do it.”

Laura: That’s right.

Nancy: So what about just nurturing the relationship? It’s so different from when you’re married without children. For my parents, I was born nine months and four days after they got married, so they didn’t have very long to do this couple thing without children. But for however long that is, once the children start coming and the activity level is so great—the tasks are so much greater, the weariness is so much greater, for a season.

How do you get time to even talk about these things and to make sure that you’re on the same page?

Emily: This isn’t always the first answer we want to hear, but we nurture our relationship with our husband by nurturing our relationship with Christ. I think that if we don’t first have all of our expectations—if we don’t feel accepted and loved and cared for and provided for from God, then we’re going to be carrying all of that into a conversation with our husband going, “You need to approve of me. You need to meet all my needs. You need to be these things for me. Why are you not being these things for me?”

So I think that’s really a first step—just taking our hearts to the Lord and recognizing when we’re expecting our husband to do or be something for us that only Christ can be.

Nancy: That’s a burden no husband can bear.

Emily: I know. It’s crushing.

But I think on a more practical level, a couple of quick things, I guess, for our family that has been helpful was: early on we started doing earlier bedtimes for our children and consistent bedtimes. And so in the evenings after they’d go to bed, around 7, we would take time to clean up the house together.

And that sounds very, like, boring.

Nancy: Non-romantic.

Emily: But we would talk during that time. We still do it. The night before we left, I’m sweeping the kitchen floor, and he’s loading the dishwasher, and we’re talking about a business decision he has to make and talking about what this is going to be like and all these things. We talked about how the kids are going to be cared for when I’m gone. I think that sounds not glamorous, but you do that day after day after day for years, and even if you miss nights, it’s still making those good deposits.

I think the other thing would just be to treasure the moments that you have instead of viewing it as, “Oh, this is never enough. I just wish we had another day. I just wish we had this.” But I just often think: “What a treasure this conversation is that we get to have together,” and to really focus on that and build in margin.

When my husband and my’s lives are full of a million church activities and sports and school activities and things, we’ll sometimes go through a season and be, like, “Wow! We haven’t connected with each other.” And so some of it is just being intentional not to fill every evening of the week or every weekend. Is there enough Saturdays? We look for the whole Saturdays where we’re together as a family, and we’re able to work and do things and discuss and see issues come up with our children and parent them together.

So some of that, practically, has looked like being aware of how busy we are.

Laura: I echo all of what you’re saying, Emily, particularly focusing on your own relationship with the Lord first and understanding where your identity lies. And just to add to a couple of those practical tips for any mother who is wanting to connect better with her husband . . . My husband worked a lot of long hours when we were first married and first had young children. We had very little time together, to be honest, especially waking hours.

I think something that the Lord had to change in my heart was to understand that there are times when, sometimes I felt like I couldn’t quite trust that: “Oh, he wants to be home with me, and he wants to be around.” But I could still trust Jesus in those moments.

There were times when I didn’t know what he was thinking or why stuff was happening, but knowing I could rely on the Lord, and that He has placed me in this marriage, that this is where He wants me. Then I can go to my husband, and I can start with believing the best in him and believing that his intentions are true and pure and not starting out with me, with all of my own stuff. When you’re by yourself, you start to think to yourself, and you’re grumbling about that. 

Nancy: It snowballs in your head.

Laura: It snowballs. You’re just going down the drain. Instead of allowing my mind to dwell on all of the bad things, for me to say, “No, I’m going to trust that he wants to be with our family, and he wants a relationship with me.” And if I tell him, “I want to pray with you more,” or “I want to spend more time with you,” that he’s going to receive that well.

So often, if I just came to my husband and I told him all the thoughts that were in my mind, he’s, like, “Yes, I want that, too.” It is an amazing thing to be able to tell your husband, “I’d like to pray with you more often.” What husband that loves Jesus is going to say, “No, we don’t need to do that”? But I needed to come and kind of express those things, instead of harboring bitterness or guilt or just unrealistic expectations for him.

And then also, seeing yourself as on the same side of the table as the things that you’re facing in life and recognizing that we want to sit side-by-side, not, “We don’t know how we’re going to figure out this schedule. We don’t know how we’re going to figure out how to deal with this commitment. We’re not sure what to do with this child that is rebelling right now.” But to say, “Let’s be on the same side.”

Nancy: Be on the same team.

Laura: That’s right, not pitted against one another. We want to walk hand in hand towards this issue. It’s over here, and we’re here, both wanting the same thing. And that was something that I, again, had to grow in and not, going back to what we’ve said previously, assume, “Well, I know the best way. I’m seeing this a little bit more,” or “I have more experience with this,” or “I have a better idea.” But to say, “No. He has value.” And to really believe that the Lord has placed him and given him giftings in wisdom and to submit and lean into that instead of fight it.

Nancy: As I’m listening to you, I’m thinking how important it is not to neglect your husband.

Emily/Laura (jointly): Yes!

Nancy: Because in that season when children need so much from you, the husband can become kind of a non-person.

Laura: Yes! He can take care of himself. He’s sufficient.

Nancy: So the attentiveness. I can imagine, and I’ve seen it happen, where the children get so much of the attention, they need so much and require so much, then the relationship has been neglected over a long haul. You can go a day without having deep heart-to-heart conversation, but you can’t go day after day after day for years and then expect to have a close relationship.

So I think being mindful of . . . It may not be your children. It may be your job that’s demanding. But to know that: “He needs to know that I value him,” that I am attentive to him.

Emily/Laura (jointly): Yes!

Nancy: I found myself the other night as I was getting ready for a recording day and was studying, and I wasn’t ready . . . We were sitting in the same room, but we were each over our own laptop. And I remember just feeling impressed at one point: Close your laptop and say to Robert, “Could we just cuddle for a few minutes?”

Emily/Laura (jointly): Yes!

Nancy: So he knows that I know that he’s in the room. He would not have demanded that. He’s so gracious and precious and loves what I do, but it meant the world to him for me to say, “Could we just talk and be together for a few minutes,” and be willing to put my thing of the moment aside for the moment. It meant a later night for me, but it was so filling for me and for him and for our marriage, which, in the long haul has huge, huge reward.

Emily/Laura (jointly): Yes!

Nancy: So let me come back just for a moment to—you’ve both talked about making sure that you fuel your relationship with the Lord. 

Emily/Laura (jointly): Yes.

Nancy: I hear a lot of moms talk in such a way that you would think that, during the years when you have little children, you’ve got to put your spiritual life and growth on hold or on pause. But you guys think differently than that.

Emily/Laura (jointly): Yes.

Nancy: I’d love for you to just unpack what you’re seeing about your personal spiritual development, your development with your relationship with the Lord during the years that you’re having these little ones.

Laura: One of the questions Emily and I asked one another a few years ago was: “Are these little years, are they the lost years?” We were just thinking, Are these the years where we don’t spend time and invest our relationship with the Lord? Is it—exactly as you’re saying—a season that someday we’ll have quiet times again? Someday we’ll study God’s Word, or we can go to church regularly? Or things like that?

I think every mom goes through those growing pains of trying to figure out: What does it look like to have a deep and vibrant relationship with the Lord when they have young children running around the house?

That’s something that Emily and I look back, and I think the Risen Motherhood ministry really has grown out of the little years. It started when we both had two or three children each. I think we’ve both had subsequent children since then. But to anyone looking on the outside, they’d say, “Oh, they’ve got it all together, and they must have all this time in the world to study.”

But when we look back, we would say . . . We didn’t go to seminary. We didn’t have any true formal theological training. We didn’t have a half-an-hour quiet time every morning at 5 a.m. There was no consistent thing that we did that we could say, “That right there really helped our relationship with the Lord or produced fruit at this ministry.”

But instead, it was just a million tiny moments of input of trying to spend time with God: 

  • of listening to an audio Bible in the car 
  • of trying Scripture memory with our children and memorizing a short verse
  • of having gospel conversations with our friends, and asking questions
  • of being willing to take time to talk about those things 

These have slowly made these deposits in our lives to help us to grow in our relationship with God and to sustain it, really, through these years.

And so, yes, keeping a quiet time is amazing, and we want that for every person on the planet to have time that’s quiet to spend time with the Lord. But to also not negate or say that other moments are not valuable and that God can’t work in the busy season or to say that God isn’t present or isn’t changing or moving or growing your soul in those times when you feel like, “I can barely turn on the audio Bible in the car before my kids start screaming.”

The Spirit works in ways that we don’t understand. We can trust that if we faithfully try to get God’s Word and hide it in our hearts, that it is living and it is active, and it penetrates joints and marrow. It knows, and it can change and transform a mom’s soul even if there’s no formal, “Here’s how I did it, and this is the path that I got to get there.”

We just have such a heartbeat for every mom to say, “I’m going to try where I can and trust God to be bigger.”

Emily: Yes.

Nancy: I don’t sense that the spiritual growth in your lives has come in spite of you having little ones. I think it’s that you having little ones has been the pathway that God has used to get you to Him.

Emily/Laura (jointly): Yes! That’s true!

Nancy: You mentioned, Emily, in an earlier program, that you hit your knees.

Emily: Yes.

Nancy: What makes a woman need God any more than having a lot of little children, that she’s saying, “I can’t do this! I need wisdom. I need grace. I need the mind of Christ.” It’s not like your spiritual growth is something separate from your mothering. It’s happening in the midst of your mothering.

Emily: Yes. I also think the interactions we have with our children . . . again, we don’t have this time with the Lord in the morning, and that’s for us. And then later I’m going to put on my mommy/teacher hat, and I’m going to just, “Communicate truth of the Bible.” That can be an incredible time of devotion for mom.

I know that there have been many times even this summer where I haven’t been able to beat my children to the breakfast table in the morning. They’re up. No matter what time I wake up, I hear somebody downstairs playing before I got up. But guess what? Later in the morning, when we get out the Bible, that can be just as much a time for my heart when I open it.

I can say, “Okay, let’s say the word, ‘sanctification,’ kids.” And they’re, like, “San-fi-ci-nation,”—they can’t say it. (laughter) And we get to think through, “Okay, so what does that mean for our hearts? And what does this Scripture mean?” Sometimes I’m not sure what they’re getting out of it, but even for my own heart, to say, “Yes, this is getting in the Word right now.”

Or later in the day, maybe we’d open up a children’s book or a story Bible, and we’d center it on some of the truths of the gospel, and I’d get a moment to communicate that to my children. That can be as much a reminder for my own heart as well.

Another example, I’ve been trying to exercise some, and I have my phone set to a reminder to listen to a Proverb before I listen to a podcast. And it’s amazing that when I start with that, a lot of times God will draw out just one or two phrases that stick with me throughout the whole day or even a week.

And be in regular Bible study where you can have accountability. Okay, maybe you didn’t do it thirty minutes every day all week, but you spent two hours the day before, and you got it done, and you showed up. God uses that.

So it’s just all these different ways that, if we turn our hearts and our minds towards: all of this is worship. All of this is devotion to the Lord. He really uses that to grow us. It’s just a joy.

Laura: I can’t tell you the number of times that I have lost it in the kitchen as I’ve played worship music for my kids. They want to dance to it, or they want to sing along to a song. And I just start thinking about the words as I’m cleaning up the kitchen and I just start crying.

I’m an emotional person, admittedly, but it’s just amazing how these moments the Lord uses this to remind my heart of truth and to reorient my soul and perspective on Him. I’ve played that for the kids, but God used it in my heart.

Nancy: Yes.

I’m thinking as you’re talking about God’s promises to Joshua. In Joshua, chapter 1 you think, Well, what does his life have in common with ours or yours as a mom? But God says to him, “I will be with you.” He’s getting this huge task. He’s going to have to lead these three million Jews into the Promised Land. There’s going to be battles and enemies. It’s way beyond what he can do. And God says, “I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous.”

And then He says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it, for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

So I’m thinking about that Proverb, Emily. Joshua didn’t have this whole Bible. He had just a very tiny piece of it compared to what we have. But taking the Word of God and depositing it in our hearts, in our minds, and meditating on it, mulling over it, in the ins and outs of daily life, and God says, “If you’ll do that, you will be successful.”

Now, you may not be successful as social media deems success (laughter), but you will be successful as a mom, as a woman, as a child of God, as a wife, in the ways that matter for eternity. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Emily/Laura (jointly): That’s right.

Nancy: I want to encourage you to get a copy of Emily and Laura’s fabulous and beautiful book, Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments. Again, when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts and request that book Risen Motherhood, we’ll send that to you as our way of saying, “Thank you for supporting this ministry to women, moms—many of them—all around the world, women at every season of life who need the encouragement that the gospel can bring to their lives.

Dannah: All right. Let me tell you how to get a copy of the book Nancy’s been telling you about.

It’s our gift to you when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any size. You can support the ministry online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Look for the book Risen Motherhood by our guests, Laura Wifler and Emily Jensen. Or just ask for it when you make a phone call to make your donation. The number is 1–800–569–5959.

Tomorrow we’ll find out why it’s so crucial for moms to connect with other moms in the Body of Christ. Please join us again tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is all about helping you find freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.