Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Beautiful Design for Women, Day 38

Leslie Basham: Kim Wagner has some honored guests in her home.

Kim Wagner: My ministry to my children really is for a very short period of time, so during that period of years that I have children in the home, my husband first, and then my children are to be my primary place of ministry.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

Over the last several programs, Nancy’s been looking at two principles from Titus chapter 2: women are called to be workers at home and women are to be kind. Nancy’s shown us why these principles can have such a lasting effect on the generations that follow. Nancy doesn’t have children of her own—just children in the faith. So she’s invited two friends who do have biological children to show us some real world examples of taking kindness home. Nancy’s talking with Kim Wagner and Holly Elliff.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I had a wife come to me today. She’s not been married long, and, with tears in her eyes, and it’s a godly couple, but she said, “Marriage is hard.” I don’t think she was prepared for that. She loves her husband; he loves her; they love the Lord, but she said, “It’s just hard work.”

Parenting is hard work. It’s work. Then to not just do it as a task but with the goal of a marriage that glorifies God and children who glorify God, that has so many other dimensions. It’s not just a matter of checking things off your list. You did it right. But it’s failing and trusting and waiting on the Lord and praying and waiting for His grace to cause it to “click” on so many fronts.

We have no people represented on this program who have “arrived”—marriage or parenting—least of all me. Yet God’s principles do take us through and work us through, walk us through those seasons of life. As we look back on several of the topics we’ve discussed over these last days, the loving of children—we’ve talked a lot about loving husbands, but the loving children and what that looks like—and then a woman as a keeper at home, a homemaker, and how that affects the children, and doing it with kindness. I want us to just interact some, and to hear you moms—wives and moms—talk some about how God has given you a heart for that, and let’s just interact some on this calling for women to be mothers.

We might just want to start by saying that there’s a temptation and a lure that faces us, even as committed Christian women, to say that ministry is really something other than or different than or outside of what happens in the home. So, “I’ve got my family, but I want a ministry, too.” I know that’s something for you women—you have a heart for ministry.

Do you ever feel, or have you ever had to wrestle with how to balance all that, and really having a heart for your marriage and children as God’s primary calling and ministry in your lives?

Kim: I remember having conversations with Holly about this. How do you balance all of those responsibilities? I’m thankful for godly women and friends such as you and Holly that have come around me to give me truth and encouragement and just a learning process of learning what things to say “no” to, and especially getting an understanding of seasons of life. My ministry to my children really is a very short period of time, so during that period of years that I have children in the home, that is my husband first, and then my children are to be my primary place of ministry.

Nancy: And your children are now . . . your last one is just about out of the home.

Kim: Right.

Nancy: So that season is about to change.

Kim: Right.

Nancy: But you have really put a focus during those childbearing and child-rearing years—it’s not the only thing you’ve done, but it has been a really primary focus. I know your son is just finishing his senior year of high school and you have gone to more basketball games and things that you’re not going to have a lot of chance to do in terms of being his cheerleader and encourager in his life in the same way in the days ahead.

Kim: But I will say, and I thank you, that in those early years I did not put (I thought I was), but I did not put the priority on ministering to them as I should have until really when I was faced with that at your conference—to evaluate what priority I was putting on my children and my ministry to them, and it caused me to make some changes in my life.

Holly Elliff: I think, Nancy, this is a really huge issue for moms, being able to balance those different areas of life, and it’s really hard. Kim’s kids are almost grown. They’re going to be out of her home, so her season of mothering, the active part of it, is almost over. I know some of you out there who maybe have multiple children like I do, not multiple in the sense of having eight at once, but I do have eight children, so my season of mothering, actively mothering, has been very long.

Nancy: And is going to continue for some years to come.

Holly: Yes. So I have often had to go to the Lord and say, “God, how do I balance ministry with the demands of my home and even just the maintenance things, the mundane things that we have to do every day, how do I balance that with the needs of my children?” I think there are some practical ways that we have to do that, and one is that we have to know our children well enough to sense when they are needing us more.

I was telling Nancy the other day that Jessica, who’s my eleven-year-old, started coming and climbing up in my lap any time I sat down on the couch. That was just a little signal that Jessica needs some “Mommy” time; she needs some one-on-one time with me. So knowing your children well enough to recognize those symptoms or those signs, not getting so drawn away by other things. Nancy, as you were sharing about Martha in the kitchen earlier, that’s a constant struggle to be able to maintain that balance, to be able to maintain short accounts.

I have an affinity for Martha because I spend so much of my life doing Martha-type things, which would never be my choice, but they have to happen. If you have a house full of people, they have to eat, and the house has to be somewhat in order or nobody can survive. So what I’ve learned about Martha is, she has to learn. If Martha could have kept maybe shorter accounts, then she might not have exploded that day and accosted Christ in her living room. She might have been able to deal with that shorter term. She might have been able to make plans ahead of time so that she could have been able to have time at the feet of Christ. So I have a little bit of sympathy for Martha. I understand being left in the kitchen by yourself.

I do think as women, we do have to keep very, very sensitive hearts toward the needs of those around us, toward the balance between the different aspects of our life, because it’s not just one thing. It is a constant division, that word there that you talked about referring to Martha, can also just mean fragmented. So many times you feel absolutely fragmented as you try to minister to your husband and try to take care of the demands of your home and take care of your children.

So any solidity that we have that keeps us from being fragmented, that keeps us having a sound mind has got to come, I think, from understanding what God’s call is on our life, understanding the bigger picture of why we’re doing it, understanding that it’s about more than just ourselves.

I love Psalm 78 and Deuteronomy 6, where it talks about the fact that what we are doing is not just for this moment, it’s not just for this generation. It is for generations to come.

I love the book A Mother’s Heart by Jeanne Fleming. She has a little section in this book on the call to mothers and what that means. It says this:

In every generation, mothers must answer the call to be what no one else can be, to do what no one else can do for their children. It isn’t that mothers can’t do many other things, but if they refuse to accept their calling as a mother, some child ends up shortchanged, and the empty space that mother leaves echoes for generations. Mothers are neither the cause of all of society’s ills, nor the saviors of the nation. But the future of society does depend in part on what we do with the children under our care. What calling could be more significant or more glorifying to God?

I think that’s a calling that we are responsible to choose to accept. It is not easy, and it is sometimes very, very long.

Nancy: Of course, as I’m hearing you read this, Holly, I’m thinking, “You know, mothers love their children. There’s a natural mother bear sort of protectiveness and care and concern for their children.” And yet there are so many things in our culture, and even within the Christian world, the church, expectations, etc. that pull mothers away from that calling.

There’s an instinct they have, but I look around at so many of the mothers I know, and they’re so busy—not just with their kids. It almost seems as if there’s a bit of a conspiracy, and maybe there is in the spiritual world and the powers of darkness, knowing the impact of moms just being so busy, so distracted, so cluttered in their heads and hearts. I see a lot of these women trying to have a full-time job, trying to meet the needs of their husbands and their children, do church work, and there’s a lot of not being of sound mind, just being exhausted, fragmented. I assume you’re seeing this as you’re ministering to women in your own churches.

Holly: I think it’s pretty rampant among women, particularly younger women who maybe have small children and are trying to accomplish a lot, have a lot of energy to do those things. They love ministry, they love other people, they love being involved in a lot of things. I think that’s part of why we have the example of Martha in Luke 10:41-42, because Christ is saying to Martha, “You’re distracted by so many good things—there are so many things—but Mary has chosen this one that’s the main thing” (paraphrased).

I think sometimes there are so many demands on our time that it’s very, very hard to filter those demands so that we can identify what’s going to matter long term, what’s going to matter eternally. What will matter to my children five years from now, and what won’t matter to my children? I think the tyranny of the urgent—it’s very, very easy to get caught up in the demands of those things, to say “yes” without thought.

Nancy: There’s pressure to have your kids involved in a lot of things that are not only fragmenting the mothers but are fragmenting the kids. “Don’t you see, if they’re going to get in a good college, they’ve got to have all this extra-curricular and sports.” Where’s that pressure coming from?

Holly: I do think there’s a lot of pressure from the world just expecting every family to fit into a mold where your kids have to take piano, and they have to play sports, and they have to be involved in all of the activities at school.

Nancy: This can be true of home schooling moms.

Kim: A drive for success, a drive for accomplishment.

Holly: I think as moms, if we don’t identify those things, allow the Lord to give us a short list of what is going to matter—what do I really want for my child? Do I want him to be the most successful at this area, do I want him to be a straight-A student, do I want him to be a pro football player some day? What matters most? It’s not that those other things are not also good things sometimes.

But if I don’t hear from the Lord, I think, in those moments, like Mary, sitting at His feet, if I don’t hear from the Lord, “This will matter, this won’t,” then I may get so distracted that we’re doing many, many other things that maybe aren’t terribly wrong things, but we’re missing the few things that do matter.

I had a young mom say to me not too long ago, “It’s been four months since our family had dinner together because my boys are involved in sports, so we’re never all home at the same time. My husband has this one at this ball game, and I have this one at this ball game, and this one’s at soccer, and this one’s at karate, and we are never home together.”

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Kim Wagner and Holly Elliff about the long-lasting investments moms make when they love their children. They will be right back with the second half of that conversation.

If you benefit from hearing these kinds of practical discussions on Revive Our Hearts, Nancy’s here to show you how you can be part of making them happen.

Nancy: I love how we can study a passage like Titus 2 together here and then discuss practical ways to live it out like we’re doing today. If you benefit from what you hear on Revive Our Hearts, I'd like to ask if you would you help us with a serious need? Response from listeners has been declining for the past several months, and that, combined with some unexpected increases on the expense side, means we are looking at a budget deficit of around $500,000. Obviously, we can’t continue that direction very long. But you can help turn the situation around.

As radio listenership declines and more people are listening online, we need online listener, like you, to step up and help make this ministry possible.

If you appreciate hearing Revive Our Hearts on your phone, tablet, or computer, would you help us make that ministry possible? Your generous gift at this time would mean so much. You can make a gift of any any amount by calling 1–800–569–5959, or make a donation at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thank you so much for your heart for this ministry and your part for making it possible to continue in the days ahead. 

Leslie: And when you do make a donation of any amount this week, we’ll say thanks by sending you a book about how moms can invest in their children in a powerful way. Carrie Ward has a life message about reading the Bible with her children. You’ll read her story and be inspired to connect with your children over God’s Word when you get the book Together: Growing Appetites for God. We’ll send a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Ask for the book, Together, when you call 1–800–569–5959, pr visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now let’s get back to the conversation between Kim Wagner, Holly Elliff, and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Kim: I took a poll—this has been a couple of years ago—at a Christian high school of just ninth – twelfth graders, asking several things. It was just a little survey sheet to see where they were, what was going on in their lives. One of the questions I asked is, "How often do you have a meal together with your whole family at home? Has it been once in the last week?” I worded the question; I gave them several options. The average amount of time was one night a month out of this large group of students at the Christian high school.

Nancy: That the family was having a meal together?

Kim: Yes.

Nancy: How much does it matter? I believe it does, but why does it matter? If families are running in every direction and aren’t eating together, is that a big deal?

Holly: I think it’s a really big deal, for us it’s a big deal. We have to be very, very intentional.

Nancy: Why?

Holly: Because that’s the moment when we can sit down, I can hear my kids’ hearts. We can turn off the TV; we can focus on how our day has been; we can hear from each other. I’m not saying we do this seven nights a week, but we do intentionally do it as often as we can.

Kim: It’s just an environment for communication, hearing from each other, and even ministering to each other in the meal. Now it’s just my husband and son at home, but they love for me to cook a good meal for them. They’re very thankful for it. I don’t care if it’s just—the other night it was just soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, and they were just thrilled to have that.

Holly: It’s not that it has to be a seven-course dinner. Sometimes it may be a casserole that I picked up at Sam’s and it’s all ready to go and I put it in the oven and that’s all I did, but we are still sitting around the table and able to share and talk. Too, I think it’s very, very important for your kids to have a sense of community about the family, that the only place they get community is not at school or at church . . .

Nancy: . . . or in the youth group . . .

Holly: . . . or in the youth group, but their family is a community. It’s part of where they get nurtured.

Kim: You have then the opportunity to build loyalty to the family. That’s what I was sharing with a woman, a woman I don’t even know. In the beauty shop the other day she said, “My children are so young right now, and there’s so much out there in the world. I’m so concerned about them getting off track and into drugs, and I’m always afraid of that kind of thing.” This woman I’m talking to is not a believer. I’ve talked to her before about spiritual things. So just from a practical standpoint, I’m talking to her about the need to right now build loyalty with your children, right now be involved in their lives, talk to them.

I think that a lot of times we as Christian moms think, “Okay, if I have them reading the Word, I’m teaching them the Word, if I’m doing all the right things and checking all the boxes.” It’s easy to get so hectic and busy that you’re not working at building a relationship of loyalty between you and that child. We as Christian moms want our children to be loyal to God first, primarily, but it’s important to build loyalty within our family. Like you said, Holly, that it should be a community, and how does that take place?

Something just popped into my head. I was cleaning out an old purse a couple of days ago, and pulled out a note. I could tell it was a handwritten note from my son from several years ago.

Nancy: So it’s been a while that you’ve cleaned out that purse, huh?

Kim: It was. It was a closet that needed to be cleaned out. Usually his notes I put away into a special place, so I thought, Why is this note still in this purse? I opened it up to see. I couldn’t even remember it at first. I read this little note that said, “Mom, thank you so much for spending your Valentine’s Day with me. You and Dad coming to my game” (his game happened to be on Valentine’s Day that night). That was important to him; that mattered to him. Now I am seeing payoff from choices like that that I have made. I have other moms and people comment to me about, or even tell me comments that Caleb makes to them about, “I love hanging out with my mom. My mom is one of my favorite people to hang out with,” and of Caleb standing up for me.

That’s loyalty that has been built through years of making choices, sometimes choices to not do maybe what I would have preferred, or have a night out on my own, or of my own choosing, but of maybe surrendering certain things now because you live with that mindset that this time is very short that you have your children in your home. Soon they’ll be out making their own families, so right now you want to invest with the time you have with them now.

Holly: That’s where that generational aspect comes in. It is not just about me raising my personal children, although that is a responsibility I have before God. But it is about me raising up future fathers and mothers who understand how God intended a home to function, not ever perfectly, because ours will never be perfect, and ours is often crazy.

But God does have a big picture purpose for it, and it transcends just our immediate family. It goes way beyond me. My responsibility is to nurture those relationships that I have now with my kids, so that when they leave my home, they understand what that means, to love someone else, to sacrifice for someone else, to do what’s best for someone else rather than myself. There is a responsibility, if you’re a part of a family, towards those other people. To get beyond even just your family and to look to those outside who need to know about Christ. So training our kids to recognize what is going to matter in eternity, I think, is huge.

Nancy: Of course, as we’re talking about this, we’re not just trying to build good families, but we’re reflecting a God who is a family God, and who has, within the Trinity, family relationships and community and loyalty—the things we’ve been talking about—covenant faithfulness, love and mercy, and connectedness, relationships. He’s a relational God, and He’s called us to a family, the family of God. 

In building these husband-wife, parent-child, and sibling relationships, aren’t we really teaching our family members how to have a spiritual family relationship that’s going to be eternal? Marriage isn’t going to be in heaven. These relationships are not going to be the same in heaven, but there is that eternal family relationship, the bride, the brothers and sisters in the family of God, that’s what we’re training these children for.

Holly: Obviously, God ordained the structure for the home. It was His plan. He established it. It matters, and He models it. All through Scripture you see the picture of the Father and the Son. It’s modeled for us, and so it’s important.

Leslie: That’s Holly Elliff talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kim Wagner about the true ministry that takes place inside a home between family members. In that discussion, they alluded to some of the helpful topics Nancy has covered in the series, "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living out Titus 2:1–5."

It has been a series rich in meaning and full in practical ways to glorify God as women. This series has touched on the importance of doctrine, the danger of alcoholism, the value of child-rearing and a whole lot more. Nancy has tied all these practical topics together masterfully. Hear for yourself when you get the series on CD.

Get all the details on this CD set at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Titus 2 lays out God’s priorities for women. Find out how some women are applying those priorities in their lives. That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

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