Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Hope for Imperfect Moms

Leslie Basham: As a mom, you could learn some important lessons just by listening to yourself. Here’s Missy Schrader.

Missy Schrader: The things that come out of your mouth to your children, I often think, This is exactly what the Lord is saying to me. If I’ll say, “Do you not think I’m going to take care of you? Be patient.” Like, wow. The Lord is probably saying, “Do you not think I’m going to take care of you? Be patient.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday July 18.

Here in July we’re focusing on practical life issues like dealing with depression and bitterness; like cultivating a close marriage. And today, we talk parenting.

Being a mom is challenging, and none of us is truly up for the task. But the Lord can live through you, giving you the strength to serve your kids.

We’re about to hear from a mom named Bobbie Wolgemuth. She entered parenting feeling weak and inadequate. Bobbie and her husband have two daughters, Missy and Julie, who are joining us, as well.

Let’s listen as they talk with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’ve just asked if we could take these moments to talk about how to cultivate a heart for Christ in the hearts of your children.

We have lots of moms writing us at Revive Our Hearts, asking for input and help in this area.

Some of them are moms whose children are still young and impressionable, and they’re saying, “Give us some counsel and wisdom for how we can nurture the faith of our children.” Some of them are moms who are writing us with broken hearts, and grandmoms, saying, “My children are not walking with the Lord. What can we do?”

Of course, the younger the children are, the better and the easier it is to mold their hearts, but we want to give families some hope and some practical suggestions as grandmoms and moms, so we have here a family that has a rich multi-generational legacy from Robert’s parents [Bobbie's husband]. Your grandparents, Bobbie, who influenced your life, although your parents were not believers. Am I right in that?

Bobbie Wolgemuth: That’s right. My grandparents were strong believers. My parents chose to take a season and move away from Jesus. I really don’t know why. I’d love to talk about that, and parenting out of my own woundedness.

Nancy: So you grew up in a home where, though there was the positive godly influence of your grandparents, there was the pull towards the world from what you were seeing in your family origin.

Bobbie: Yes.

Nancy: As I’ve heard you talk about this, I think, in a sense, it’s kind of encouraging for moms who may say, “I don’t have this heritage of great faith. My parents were not, maybe, great believers.” But you’ve demonstrated that it really is possible to get God’s grace and move on.

Bobbie: How incredible the Lord is to give us a chance to start generational habits that are positive and godly. The Lord encouraged me as a young mom. I did have mentors. I had Robert’s mother, and the girls remember watching Little House on the Prairie every week with me. I loved Caroline Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. She read her Bible. She went to church every week. She was kind to her husband. And then the Lord gave me women at church that mentored me and helped me to understand what it looks like to be a godly mother. I really was parenting out of poverty. I didn’t know what a good mom looked like.

My mom passed away twelve years ago, and she did not have the resources to give to me spiritually as a child, to nurture my heart. Maybe that is why I was so desperate to understand and nurture Missy’s and Julie’s hearts, because I really wanted them to know Jesus. I really wanted them to connect with Him, not just with me.

I realized I don’t have to be a perfect mother. I have to be a mom that shows my children where to go to be transformed. I wasn’t a perfect mother, but I did know where to go to be transformed. Maybe that was the starting point, where they saw me struggle. They saw me cry. They saw me desperately try to get up and fit in a quiet time, because I knew that was my lifeline. They sort of grew up with me. I think we were a team, the three of us. We sang together. We prayed together.

I think the whole idea of being a transparent mom, our kids know it. I mean, it’s not any surprise to them, “Oh, Mom’s mad,” or “Mom’s having a bad day.” They see it. I’ve heard Missy say this to her children, “Mommy needs you to forgive. What I just said was unkind.”

Nancy: Do you girls identify with seeing that pattern in your mom’s life as you were children? How were you viewing that processing, that transparency?

Julie Tassy: I think it makes it easier now, as a mom, to be honest with my kids about my shortcomings and to say, “You know what, sweetie, you’re having a hard time with self-control. Mommy has a hard time with self-control. We need to pray together that the Lord will give us His Holy Spirit, because the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. We can’t muster it up, but the Lord can fill us, and then that’s the fruit we see.”

Nancy, you talked a little while ago about cultivating a heart for God in our children. That’s such a perfect word, because we can’t make our children love the Lord.

Last year I thought it would be a really cool experience to plant a garden with my children. Instead of going and buying a tomato plant, we decided we’d start from seed. It is a lot of work. It turned into my project, because the kids were done. The first day we planted the seeds, and they waited, and waited, and then they kind of lost . . .

Nancy: Didn’t have tomatoes by noon, so it was too long of a wait.

Julie: No, they were excited once the fruit came, but that took many months.

Nancy: Isn’t that the way parenting is?

Julie: That’s what parenting is. We’re spreading seed. We’re fertilizing. We’re doing our absolute best, but only God can grow a plant, and only God can make fruit come.

Nancy: It takes time, and you don’t see the fruit for years and years.

Julie: That’s right, and every once in a while I catch a glimpse of fruit.

I took some construction paper and made a tree out of green and brown construction paper and had it laminated and put it up in our kitchen, and when I catch the girls doing something where I see the Lord acting in them, I say, “Oh, I see fruit!” We have these fruit stickers, and they go put a fruit sticker on the tree.

Nancy: Neat.

Julie: They’ve kind of caught on to that, so now they ask, “Can I put some fruit on the tree?” And I say, “Well, I need to see some fruit.” (laughing)

Nancy: “Did you see that humble thing I did? Can I put a piece of fruit up there?” (laughing)

Julie: Ella’s figured it out. She’ll say, “Mommy, I love you. You’re beautiful. Can I put some fruit on the tree?” (laughing)

Nancy: But you’re training them to think in terms of God’s perspective and matters of the heart and not just the external. Fruit is what you see from the heart.

Julie: Yes. And it’s only the Lord’s doing. We can’t be the Holy Spirit for our children.

I remember Missy just weeping and saying, “I want to be my children’s Holy Spirit, and I can’t. Only God can soften their hearts.

Missy: But I can pray.

Julie: We can pray for them, and we can cultivate that. I think that’s just such a powerful word.

Missy: Being a mother is so humbling, because you really see your own sin. I mean, the things that come out of your mouth to your children, I often think, This is exactly what the Lord is saying to me. If I’ll say, “Do you not think I’m going to take care of you? Be patient.” Like, wow. The Lord is probably saying, “Do you not think I’m going to take care of you? Be patient.”

I think in my own desire to control everything around me so that everything is nice and perfectly packaged, I wish I could be the Holy Spirit, but I can’t be. I think where it starts for me is that I have a hunger and a desire to please the Lord, and then that is what I tell my children. “This is what I want to do. I want to be pleasing the Lord, and you know what? I have messed up, so I need to ask for your forgiveness.”

I want to encourage them that their number one goal needs to be to please the Lord.

If a teacher comes to me and says, “They’re struggling with reading,” and in the same breath tells me that they have been a blessing to the teacher in their respect or their listening, I’ll say, “Oh, that is so much more important. We’ll work on the reading, but the most important thing is that you’re pleasing the Lord.”

I think that kind of is my theme that I try to explain to them. “Mommy wants to please the Lord, and my desire is for you to please the Lord. What would that look like?” So we can talk about that. I feel like we have a lot of conversations—our school is twenty minutes away, so we have plenty of time for singing and for conversation and just expressing how we fall short, and we do need the Lord, and we ask Him to give us the strength to please Him.

Nancy: Now, I’ve heard you both, actually all three of you, talk about conversation with your children. It sounds like, Bobbie, when your children were little and now, Missy and Julie, with your children, you do a lot of talking with them. Not just talking to them, but conversation about spiritual things.

Bobbie: I would say I had a real deficit in heart conversation. My husband and his family taught me a lot about conversation. Relationships were not big in my family. I had a full-time nanny, and my mother didn’t spend a lot of time either reading to me or talking to me. So I went into motherhood, really, I’m embarrassed when I think back. I’m more than embarrassed, I’m sad that I didn’t spend more time reading to Missy and Julie when they were little, and more time just talking to them and listening to them.

I find myself even now, as a grandmother, I’m not a very good listener often, and that’s why I feel like staying close to Jesus Christ has transformed who I am. I still make lots of mistakes, which is why those hymns, “At the Cross, at the Cross, Where I First Saw the Light,” or “What Can Wash Away My Sin?” those hymns mean a lot to me.

I constantly am saying, “Lord, I need You to just wash away that attitude that I just displayed in my family, because I was being selfish when I really didn’t want to listen to someone. Put me back on track where I am looking at their eyes, listening to their voices, trying to hear the need underneath the voice." That’s where I want to get. I want to get to the point where I’m saying, “Honey, I heard you say . . . this,” and then really feed back on that. I still have a hard time doing that.

I remember saying to Robert recently, “I wish that I would just be done with my personality flaws.”

Nancy: Don’t we all. “Lord, sanctify me—now.”

Bobbie: Yes. I don’t know why I keep having the same deal, but it’s okay, because that is the point that I know Jesus is meeting me, because I cannot do it on my own.

Missy: I think young moms, and I am included in this, and I know you are, too, Julie, we can so beat ourselves up because we are not perfect at this. Each day is a new day, and we can think, Thank You, Lord, for Your new mercy this morning, and I’m going to go down. I can’t wait to have my quiet time. Then someone wakes up, and as they’re walking down the stairs, they fall and hurt themselves, and then they’re crying, and that wakes somebody else.

I mean, in a moment, you're perfect, “Today is going to be the day where I’m going to have a gentle voice.” It can take one second, and you’ve just totally blown it. I think that is where we can remind one another as moms that, His grace is sufficient.

Our children are so full of grace to forgive us, and what a blessing they are to me in just the way they are quick to forgive. I have asked the Lord many times, despite my shortcomings, to still cultivate a love for the Lord in my children, and still to have them grow to please the Lord and desire more than anything else to please the Lord and find their identity in Him, despite my shortcomings, because I’ve got them. No matter how much I may think, This is going to be the day I’m going to have a gentle spirit, I still fall short every time.

Nancy: Well, it takes us back to the cross, to Christ, back to His grace. Anything that we can do apart from Christ is not of any eternal value or lasting value, and so for your children to see in you your desperate need for Christ, for your children to see that, is a good thing. I think sometimes when we parent or minister or serve or do whatever we do out of our own strengths, we’re really then at our weakest. It’s when we acknowledge our weaknesses that we draw upon His strength to fill us.

Julie: I’ll tell you, as the mom of two young children, my proudest moment is when I see them calling on the Lord.

Ella was trying to break a habit. It was usually when she would get tired, she’d suck her fingers. We had tried everything. “We’ll reward her. We’ll punish her. What are we going to do? We’ve got to break this bad habit.”

We were driving in the van one day, and I see her start to put her fingers in her mouth. She looks at me, and she says, “Mom, pray for me.” She’s three, and she understands that God’s not this mean, hard-to-please policeman that’s going to get her when she’s bad. God loves her and wants to give her Himself and His power and His strength, and she said, “Pray for me.” What a tender, precious moment to see your child calling on the Lord.

My prayer is that they see me doing that. All I want to do is not put myself as the authority on everything, but to say, “Look to Jesus. He is the strength. He is our Redeemer. He is who you need. So I don’t have all your answers. I don’t have everything figured out. All I want you to do is just call on Jesus.”

Missy: I think conversation, interestingly enough, diffuses the naughtiness. For instance, Ella being able to tell her mommy, “Pray for me because I’m sucking my fingers.” Now fast-forward ten or fifteen years when she’s dealing with teenage problems, being able to go to her mom and her dad and say, “I’m really struggling with this,” either an attitude or an action. Talking about some of these things helps to diffuse the mystery that makes kids want to rebel, I think.

Nancy: Did you girls, Missy and Julie, during your teenage years feel the freedom to go and talk with your mom about issues you were struggling with?

Julie: I really did.

Missy: People would say, “You told your mom that?” I can remember that. I love that. I want that for Abby and me. I want her, as my daughter, to come and share with me.

Nancy: What do you think created that sense of freedom and openness in your relationship. I don’t think most people could say that, as teenagers, it’s easy to communicate with their mom, but somehow you did. What gave you that freedom?

Missy: I think there was a safety there that we could. We knew that Mom wasn’t going to just go crazy with what we said, that she was going to be able to handle it. I think that the safety knowing I’ll tell mom something, and even if she maybe later would go and be freaked out with Daddy, she took what we told her and just listened. I wasn’t afraid to tell her.

Julie: When you do make a bad choice, knowing that you can come to your parents for forgiveness and for help . . . I remember my sophomore year in college, I came home—I was home for the summer—and I remember feeling the freedom to go to my dad and say, “Dad, I feel so spiritually dry. I just, I don’t know what’s going on. I just feel very far from the Lord.” What transpired over that summer was so sweet and so rich.

He said, “Well, let’s do something about that. Let’s get together and read the Bible and pray together,” and that’s all we did. He didn’t drill me and say, “Well, what have you done?” He didn’t try to find what sin in my life was causing this distance. He just said, “Let me just bring you in, and let’s go to the Lord together.”

That summer will always be a special memory of ours.

Nancy: How about when it came to guys? When you were teenage girls in high school, when you first started to . . .

Missy: Julie, you can answer that better than I can. (laughing)

Nancy: Julie has a little more experience on this? (laughing)

Missy: No hard feelings.

Nancy: Is that something you were able to talk with your parents about easily?

Julie: Absolutely. I just remember one of the most important things that Mom taught us, Mom was in love with our dad. That was such a powerful thing to look atand I’d think, “I want that.” Mom was honest with us about what was required of us as children of God for purity and for saving ourselves and for caring about what the Lord wanted for our lives. She gave us a really high goal to shoot for as it came to delayed gratification, as it came to waiting for our husband, knowing that God would provide what He had in store for us.

Nancy: When did you start having these kinds of conversations?

Bobbie: I’m going to say five years old, four years old. We prayed every night for Julie and Missy’s husbands when they were little. They really got very involved in the prayer because I remember one night we had . . .

Nancy: You prayed so the girls could hear you?

Bobbie: We prayed with the girls every night at bedtime and prayed for their spouse, wherever he was. That was what we would do. “Wherever Julie’s husband is right now, I pray that he will obey his mom.” So we always tried to say traits at that age that would be appropriate, “He obeys his mommy, is a good student,” whatever. “That he doesn’t eat candy,” maybe was thrown in there.

Julie: For me.

Bobbie: One night we said “Amen,” and Julie said, “I sure hope my husband didn’t fall off his bike today,” because that was where her little mind was.

When they got older, we had a cousin who said, “I made a list of what I want in a husband some day,” and she had a list. It started with: loves Jesus Christ. Number two: is a virgin. Three: loves his mom. Whatever, she made the list. So, I forget how old you girls were, you were probably teenagers, maybe sophomores in high school I’m thinking. So they said, “Oh, that would be fun.” So they both made lists.

It started with: is a man of God. Two: is a virgin. Three: I don’t know, loves his mother.

Nancy: So they were coming up with their own list?

Bobbie: Missy and Julie came up with their own lists, but it always started with, is a man of God. So they made their lists and tucked them away somewhere. It was so interesting. Missy and I, after she had her second baby, I was at her house, and she said, “Look, Mom,” and it was in her desk drawer. Here’s her husband list. One of the things on her list was “loves his mom.” I thought, “Isn’t it interesting that there was some kind of a homing device in the girls where that list set a standard?”

If Julie and Missy dated a guy in high school or college that didn’t meet up to the criteria of a person that cherishes me, a person that loves God with all of his heart, then that person sort of didn’t meet up with that list. Whether it’s spoken or unspoken, and not that that little device was it, I think a lot of times we just talked about people of character and people that we admired that loved Christ with their whole hearts, and that was the kind of person that they were attracted to.

Nancy: It’s one thing for your mom to say, “You want to marry a man who loves the Lord, is a virgin, loves his mom,” whatever, but what gave you a sense of ownership that those were things that you wanted?

Missy: It goes back to Julie saying that we saw Mom and Dad having that. I think Mom encouraged us to desire God’s best. It must have been the Holy Spirit, I guess, that put it there.

Bobbie: Absolutely.

Missy: I can remember reading my list and saying, “Oh, I forgot a few on my list that he has.”

Julie: Even now as a mom, my relationship with my husband can be strained because of the burden of children. I use the word burden carefully because they are such a blessing, but in your relationship with your husband, you can be worn down by all the energy you’ve poured into your children all day, and then you want to have something, a smile, for your husband when he walks through the door.

I remember, I can even now think back on memories. My dad had to work late one night, so mom would take a picnic dinner and take Missy and me to my dad’s office. We’d sit and have a picnic dinner, because otherwise he wouldn’t have seen us that day.

Those memories help me now, as a mom, to humble myself and to not demand my rights, demand that I have some time off. That’s a really hard thing to do.

Bobbie: I think another thing that I always wanted the girls to have was a relationship with their dad. So if they would come to me and say, “Daddy hurt my feelings. He said . . . ” I don’t know, something about her shoes or whatever. I would say, “You need to go to your dad and talk to him about that,” because the best gift I could give my children (speaking of conversation) was their ability to tell a man how they feel and to express their own desires and their own needs. By being able to express who they were and what they needed, I knew that that relationship with their dad would be stronger, and they would not need a boyfriend to validate them.

Leslie: That’s Bobbie Wolgemuth. A very wise, yet imperfect parent. She’s been talking about the weakness she felt when her kids were younger, and the grace of God that allowed her to grow as a mom. We also heard from her daughters, Missy and Julie.

If that last point really got your attention, that young women often feel the need to be validated by a boyfriend, I hope you’ll get a copy of a helpful book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh. It’s called Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.

Nancy and Dannah thoroughly cover the truth that we just heard. For instance, they address lie number nine, “I need a boyfriend,” and lie number twelve, “I can’t handle the loneliness of staying pure.” They cover other lies about relationships, faith, sin, media, and other topics specifically designed for girls thirteen–nineteen years old.

Sharing this book with your daughter is a step you can take toward the kind of purposeful parenting we heard about today.

We’ll send you a copy of Lies Young Women Believe when you make a donation to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Contact us by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for Lies Young Women Believe when you call toll free 1-800-569-5959.

How do you guide your daughters to be modest in a world of immodesty? Nancy and the guests you heard today will be back to talk about it next time. Please be back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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

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