Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Missional Mothering, Day 4

Episode Resources

Read "Praying for Your Little Prince."

Read "Praying for Your Little Princess."

Leslie Basham: Proverbs says the children of a godly woman will rise up and call her blessed. Before we hear from our guest, Jani Ortlund, we're giving her children that opportunity.

Son 1: My mom makes me look really bad as a parent! I'm joking when I say that, but one struggle for me as a parent . . . I'm a pretty shy, quiet guy. Leave me alone in a room and lock the door and give me books and I'll be totally happy all day!

I have two truly wonderful, amazing kids whom I love very deeply, who are both very talkative and very social. The way my mother pays attention to them, the way she is gracious with me in not being a third parent—I don't know, it's hard to put into words.

Christa: She's always intentional to bring gifts, or when we come to her she has little gifts for our children that are age-appropriate. When we were with them for Thanksgiving, she had made a little bed for each of them that felt really inviting and safe and personal to them.

I think that's something they'll understand, probably, more deeply later in life—that their heavenly Father is reaching out to them in that warm invitation from their Mamie. So I think offering gifts, bringing gifts has a way of expressing intentionality and meaning to somebody. As much as my children are able, I think they're picking that up from her.

Son 2: My kids around my mother are like flowers blossoming when the sun comes out. We spent two or two-and-a-half weeks with them in their home for summer vacation a couple of years ago, and I could tell the kids had taken a developmental step over that two-and-half weeks.

We had family devotions; my mom had this great thing on the Ten Commandments that was geared for kids and we did it after dinner every night. I could tell my kids had taken a step forward developmentally with her attention and her care and her willingness to play games with them or goof off or tell jokes.

It's hard living in Canada, because I want my kids to be exposed to my mother just as much as possible.

Son 1: My mom is willing to come and visit when we have a baby born into the family, and we have a baby coming up in about a month. She's flying out her to help, to be supportive. Her heart in that is to serve. It's not just, "I want to see my granddaughter." It's, "I want to serve, I want to be there."

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Forgiveness, for Thursday, July 13, 2017.

This week we've heard from mom and grandmother Jani Ortlund in a series called "Missional Mothering." We'll pick back up on the conversation as Nancy clarifies, "What do your grandchildren call you?"

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: So is it "Mamie" to all your eleven grandchildren?

Jani: Yes, my maternal grandmother was "Mamie," and I'm Mamie to all eleven grandchildren.

Nancy: And they are far flung.

Jani: They're very far. As your listeners may know, I live in Nashville with my husband Ray who is a pastor. Our oldest boy is in Saskatchewan, Canada, and then we have two outside of Chicago in Wheaton, and then our youngest boy is in Sierra Madre, California. So those are long distances between us, Nancy. I don't like it!

Nancy: And I suspect they'd like to see you more often, and I know you want a relationship with those grandchildren [Jani agrees], but the Lord has got you in different places, geographically.

Talk to us about this whole new season that's different from parenting. How does it change when the children are grown or gone and have their own children? How does your role change as a mom in your kids' lives once they have children?

Jani: I think my role has changed, to the greatest degree, in being an encouragement to my children rather than a guide. I've been very hesitant, as a grandmother, to do anything but encourage them. They're doing such a great job! It's not like they need a lot of guidance, but just to say, "Oh, I love how you're doing this. How can I help you? What do you need from me? Do you need a weekend away with your wife? Could I come watch the kids?"

To step into that parent's life and say, "There is someone who loves you, who knows you intimately, who will be vulnerable with you, who will do anything for these little ones that you've brought into the world. Let me encourage you." Provide that backup.

Now, Ray and I live far away from our kids, so we have to be very intentional with our budget. A big part of our budget goes toward visits with our children. We've made it our goal to see each family at least once a year. That's not very much, and sometimes we can see them more frequently.

But when we go, we really invest. One of the trade-offs of having grandchildren who live far away is that, when they come, you get them 24/7! They sleep in your home; they eat in your home; you get to live with them—do life-on-life for several days. If they were in the same town, as I've heard from some of my friends who are grandmas of children who live near, it's wonderful but sometimes you have to organize a dinner to get together. So I'm trying to be thankful to the Lord for this stage He has us in now.

Nancy: Talk to us about this "Mamie Camp," when the children came and you did this thing on the Ten Commandments.

Jani: Oh! I asked our oldest boy, that was Eric, how he would feel. I've written a book called His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy. It's on living and giving the Ten Commandments to the coming generation—living it before them and giving it to them.

I said, "Eric, I've done this with other kids; I've never done this with our kids. How would you feel about me taking Will and Kate through the Ten Commandments while you're here?"

He said, "Go for it, Mom." So, they'd gather 'round, and I'd lead. We went through the Ten Commandments together over a period of ten days. It was wonderful!

In fact, Kate, who is now ten, drew a picture in church and Eric sent it to me. It was of remembering the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. And she wrote the commandment, and he said, "Mom, I know this is because she heard it from your lips this summer."

Nancy: So what are some ways that grandparents—grandmoms, Mamies—can minister into their grandchildren's lives that are not replacing the parents, not competing with the parents, but enhancing and reinforcing and encouraging the parents? How can a grandmom invest in her grandkids' lives?

Jani: I think enjoyment is the purest form of love. It's the most easily accepted. Someone can tell me they love me . . . Perhaps some of your listeners have had this happen before, where someone will come and say to them, "I love you . . . and we need to have a talk. I'm going to speak the truth in love to you." That doesn't feel like love to me. Enjoyment is what feels like love to me. When Ray enjoys me, I feel loved.

And, in fact, in the Westminster Confession, what's the chief end of man? "To glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Enjoyment is an important part of our souls and of our relationships. So, I think the most important thing I can do for each new grandchild, as he or she comes into the world, is purely enjoy them. Just love them . . . ooh and aah over them . . . relate to them as an individual.

So that they know, in the span of this large family, "There is another person beyond my mom and dad who loves me and who loves Jesus and who thinks I'm okay and who isn't always trying to change me to get me to do better and to do something different. She just likes me."

So my chief goal is to have my grandkids know that I enjoy them.

Nancy: You're on your way from our recording today to spend a few days with two of your children and their families. What are some things that might happen during that couple day period?

Jani: We have two children who live in Wheaton, Illinois. They live close (about a mile apart), so I alternate where I spend the night, because you want to get up with the grandchildren.

Nancy: And they want to get up with you.

Jani: So there are different things. With this visit, I'll get up early and have my quiet time. If the grandchildren come down, they've been taught both in Dane's home and in Christa's home that early morning is the quiet time where we read books. I've seen the youngest (twelve, thirteen months old) get a book and just sit sucking the thumb while turning the pages.

So we'll read together at first, and then I'll try to help someone . . . maybe Zachary, who makes his own breakfast now. He's eight. "Oh, would you like me to make Mamie's French toast for you today so you don't have to get your own breakfast?" And his eyes will light up.

Or, "Nathan, I heard mom ask you to make your bed. Could I help you?" Or, the baby's crying and Stacey needs to get something. "Can I take the baby for you Stacey? Let me just walk her downstairs for a little bit." Entering in with joy and gladness so there's an extra set of hands to help this busy household of four little ones.

And then, during the day, I will just try to enter in to them. I try to keep my computer closed. I keep my phone on in case an emergency comes up relating to some situations that are time sensitive right now. But I try to not make my grandchildren have to ask me to come away from my phone. I'll turn it on to take pictures, and they get that now.

They're favorite words are, "Me see? Me see me, Mamie?" I try to stay off technology as much as possible.

The final thing I try to do is to treat the mom to something. "Could we order in tonight? Could I cook for you? Do you need time out with a friend? Can I babysit? How can I love you? How can this feel good in your home, not an intrusion?"

Nancy: I see a lot of my peers who are grandparents wrestling with ways their grown children (who may know and love the Lord) are parenting differently in certain areas than the grandparents parented them. When you see those differences . . . I assume your children don't all parent exactly the way that you and Ray did.

Jani: That is a correct assumption!

Nancy: When you see those things, or if you see things from an outsider point of view and you think, I don't know if they're catching this, or they may not be thinking about how this is going to play out down the road . . . If you have concerns or observations, how quick or slow are you to share those? Do you share them at all? How do you think through that?

Jani: After making a mistake, I'm very slow now. I had a little grandson who I felt needed a certain form of discipline, and I asked my daughter-in-law if I could exert that discipline, and she said and she was fine with it, but there was a catch in my spirit.

It seemed the Lord was saying to me, "Jani, you had your chance, you had your time, and you learned from the mistakes you made. It is now your children's time. Support them, encourage them in what's right. If they ask specifically be ready with an answer from the Word."

"If you feel you need to talk to them, Jani, come to Me first and talk to Me about it! I might open up a different way!" So, Nancy, after making a mistake (and my daughter-in-law has graciously forgiven me), I now pray about it if I see something that's a little bit what I don't feel comfortable about and different—as long it's not a direct sin. I think if was a direct sin, then as a grandmother I could say something.

Nancy: Well, they're your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jani: That's right, it's part of priority two—the body of Christ, how we relate to one another. But as far as parenting technique, we all have different emotional energy levels, spiritual depth. We're at different places psychologically, educationally, and in our family backgrounds. We all come to it from a different area.

So God put those grandchildren with that child and child-in-law for a specific reason. It's not for Mamie to come in and rule the roost and make it perfect, but for them to learn. If they have a question, I'll enter in to it very carefully. And I have had some good discussions. There have been some questions raised.

I thank the Lord for that. All of the in-laws (our four in-laws) love the Lord Jesus and care for me. In fact, each of my three daughters-in-law have asked me to come at the birth of each of their babies and care for them and work with them then—such an honor!

So I have good relationships with them, and when a question comes I'll be glad to answer it, but until then I pray and pray and pray. How much better for the Lord to speak to them than good old Jani.

Nancy: As the Lord has spoken to you, in your journey, and to give them the freedom to grow in their relationship with the Lord, to find Him to be their Wonderful Counselor is a great gift.

Jani: Yes, and He is faithful to each generation.

Nancy: It's interesting to hear one of your sons say you're not a third parent, and yet to so value your relationship with the children. I think that's a beautiful balance that the Lord seems to be showing you and Ray how to have: How to be available, how to care, but to not come in and do the job God has now entrusted to those parents.

Jani: I thank the Lord for that, Nancy. It is His grace. Oh, to be a grandma is such a joy, and it is such a responsibility!

Nancy: Talk about the responsibility.

Jani: Well, I have to bring it back to prayer, and the reason is this: I'm so far from them. I don't know what their days look like. As you know, Nancy, I read through the Bible every year in my quiet times (I've been doing that for years now). When I come across a verse that I love for my children's sake, I write it down in the back of my Bible.

I just have pages back here for our children—verses I'm praying for our children. In my prayer notebook I keep a page for each grandchild with pictures of them at different stages in their life. When I see one of these verses, I write it down. Our daughter-in-law Erin, who's married to Eric, I know won't mind me sharing this. Their little boy, Will, has just had a hard time trying new foods.

All children have sensitive taste buds, but some just have a real hard time with trying new vegetables or meats or whatever, so that's been a prayer concern in here. I pray about it daily. I was just up there a while ago, and Will was so proud. He said, "Mamie, I know you're praying about this, and I can eat cauliflower now!"

I said, "Will! How did you learn to eat cauliflower?"

And he said, "Well, Mrs. (his neighbor's mom) said I could have one of her cookies if I tried a piece of cauliflower, and I wanted that cookie!" So he ate the cauliflower, and I took a video and sent it to "Boppa" and we rejoiced.

Well, I'd been praying about it for a while. I'd put it down on the prayer page. I pray Scripture into their lives. Psalms 78: "The wonders we have seen (we can't keep them to ourselves). We're to tell them to the coming generation and the generations yet unborn, the wonders of the Lord and the glories He has done. Then they will arise and tell them to their children and they will set their hope on God."

So, as we pray for our kids, I put that on the prayer page, Psalm 78: "Lord, give me wonders to talk about, wonders about You, when I'm with the kids, as I'm going to travel to be with them. Give me a story to tell of how you've been working in my life. Let me bring You into the conversation, Jesus, so the kids can see that my love for them comes from Jesus . . . because Jesus made them and He has a great plan in what He's doing in our family and in their lives."

And so I want to pray for them; I want to pray specific Scriptures. When I read about David, how he was artistic, he was talented, he had a warrior's heart, he was well-spoken . . . I list those characteristics on the prayer page.

I say, "Lord, give this child (Kate or Lizzie or Micah Ray) a talent to use for you. Make him or her a warrior for You. Make them like a David or a Daniel or a Samuel." So as I pray through the Bible over and over again, I find a verse, and I put it on the prayer page and I pray it.

Nancy: What an incredible gift that is to your children, to your grandchildren. I've shared often on Revive Our Hearts how my dad, who did not come to know the Lord until he was a young adult after years of wild rebellion and did not come from a mostly Christian home, but had a praying Greek grandmother. Ya-ya didn't speak English, and I never knew my great-grandmother, but I've heard the stories about how she was a praying woman.

There were two sets of cousins, and the two families grew up in the same house. One of my dad's cousins told the story of how he actually shared a bedroom with Ya-ya when he was a little boy. He would go to bed at night. At times she would be on her knees praying for the children and for the grandchildren. Then he would wake up in the morning and she would still be on her knees, having prayed through the night.

Now, I'm sure that didn't happen every night, but that was a memory he had. My dad was so far from the Lord, and Ya-ya didn't live to see my dad's conversion, to see him come to faith. But I look at the spiritual giant, the man of God that my dad became that I knew as my dad, and I think of Ya-ya's prayers sowed decades before he actually came to faith . . . and then how those prayers took root and produced fruit, and are now producing fruit in my life.

Jani: We thank the Lord for Ya-ya's prayers, because of you, Nancy. We love and honor you so much, and she was praying for you—to the children yet unborn (Psalm 78), so we thank her. We'll thank her up in heaven someday.

Nancy: Right. What an incredible legacy! Can't wait to meet her. Jani, you've written two posts for the True Woman blog, one on praying for your little princess and one on praying for your little prince. We're going to make those available. If you'll go to ReviveOurHearts.com, we've got links there to those two posts. Tell us how those came about.

Jani: I think sometimes you struggle as a mom or grandmother, "How do I pray for this child? I'm coming up empty, Lord!" And that's where I say you, "Pray Scripture." You put your child or grandchild's name into that verse. You pray and pray and pray Scripture over them, saying,

Oh, Lord, you tell us that the children of your offspring will dwell secure. Secure my offspring in You. Make this verse true.

You tell me that their offspring will be established before the Lord. I want that for these kids! I want the whole world to hear about Jesus through these kids and these grandkids! I pray that not one of them would divorce, not one of them would struggle with sexual identity. I pray that all of them would come to a clear and saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Ray and I are actually praying to the tenth generation—we're using that in our prayers right now. We're asking the Lord that to the tenth generation this family would spread out across the earth in revival and renewal and that Jesus' Name would be lifted high.

So, in praying for our little prince, in praying for each little princess, I take Scripture, specific Scripture. I can give you an example. Here's Lizzie, O dear Lizzie, she's six years old. I prayed from Psalm 22:9 and 10:

Lord, help her to trust in you from infancy. I'm asking for a godly husband. Grab hold of her heart early. Help her to recognize Your voice.

From Zechariah 10:12, make her strong in the Lord; make her walk in Your Name. I pray from 1 Chronicles 29:18 and 19 that she would have a whole heart, that You would direct her heart toward You. [And on and on it goes. There's one verse, "Make them a prince in all the earth."] I pray that Lizzie would be a princess in all the earth; that when people look at her they will say, "There's something regal about her!" [Well, it's the Lord Jesus Christ. She's serving the King of Universe.] And that God would make her a princess in all the earth . . . corner pillars established.

So, as we pray for our little prince and our little princess, we use God's words and we hold Him to His promises.

Nancy: And you've written out some of those prayers, ones for little boys, ones for little girls, along with Scriptures that go with them. I suppose these came out of your prayer notebook and you put them into blog posts so moms, grandmoms, single women who pray for the families of others—here are some very practical, wise prayers you can offer to the Lord.

You're praying Scripture to Him, so you know this is the will of God for those children and those grandchildren. Those written prayers are available at ReviveOurHearts.com. Thank you for putting those down so that we can pray those. And oh, what an incredible privilege and responsibility it is, for us as older believers, to not just be retiring to enjoy our own happiness and season of life, but to be actively engaged in doing spiritual battle and spiritual investment on behalf of the next generation and the next.

I confess, I haven't prayed for ten generations. That's a challenge. To think, here's Jani . . . You didn't come from a family who knew the Lord when you were little, but God brought your parents to faith and brought you to faith and brought your children to faith. And now it's those eleven grandchildren that you're praying for.

Just imagine what the multiplying effect could be for generations to come, in the nations of the world, for Christ to be glorified because of God's grace through a loving, engaged, praying Mamie. And maybe God's putting that burden on your heart.

You say, "My family's so messed up. It's so dysfunctional; it's so chaotic." Listen, God can start a whole new family line. It won't be perfect. If you go to Matthew 1 and read the family line of Jesus, it was way far from perfect. There were very questionable characters and scoundrels in that family line, but God redeemed that line, and through that genealogy came the Son of God, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ!

Only God knows what plans He may have, what He might, in His redeeming grace, want to accomplish and give to this world through your prayers, your faith, your waiting on the Lord. I think sometimes we think that the greatest influences in the Christian world are speakers and authors and people who run ministries. If that's God's calling, that's a great gift.

But there is no higher calling, there is no greater influence, than to be a woman, to be a mother, to be a grandmother of your own children and grandchildren or a spiritual mom, spiritual grandmom of other people's children that you pray for, you invest in, you believe God for, you wait on the Lord for. You get on your knees for them and believe God to turn their hearts, to capture their hearts and make them flourishing and fruitful for God's glory. There's no greater influence in the world than to be that kind of woman!

Leslie: That's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She's been talking with our guest, Jani Ortlund, about being a mission-minded mom and grandmom. That conversation is part of the series "Missional Mothering." If you missed any of it, you can hear them on ReviveOurHearts.com.

This week's program is a great example of one main emphasis on Revive Our Hearts. Here's Nancy to explain.

Nancy: Well, if you've listened to this program for any length of time, you've often heard me refer to Titus 2, which tells older women to teach younger women the ways of God. I'm so thankful for Jani Ortlund, who serves as one of those Titus 2 women who invests in my life.

In fact, we had a sweet phone call just a few days ago, and I was so thankful for some ways she was able to encourage me in my walk with the Lord. I'm thankful that through Revive Our Hearts, godly speakers and teachers can serve as older women, teaching you God's ways.

One woman named Krisi wrote to tell us how God is using the speakers she's heard on Revive Our Hearts in her life. Krisi grew up in the church but not knowing what Scripture really says. Here's what she wrote:

Your teaching and sound biblical doctrine has impacted and transformed my life! I had no idea how I needed an older woman to show me how to love my husband children.

Thank you so much for this radio ministry. God has used your biblical teaching to change my life. I really appreciate your past radio programs that you keep on your website. I look those up daily. Thank you for the True Woman materials—that has been the missing puzzle pieces to my womanhood. I'm pretty sure that I'm your biggest fan. I have read Lies Women Believe about six times, plus Seeking Him, and every book you've published!

Well, that's such an encouragement, to hear from Krisi, and to see how God is using these resources to revive women's hearts and to help them become more like Jesus. And that's an example of older women teaching younger women, in this case, through a radio program and printed resources.

We couldn't take this God-given opportunity to speak into the lives of women without the support of our listeners. 

Leslie: And Nancy, we have a gift for listeners who give this week. It’s a book by Erin Davis—a good friend to this ministry. The book is called Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role. It will help moms of younger kids use everyday opportunities to teach kids biblical truth. This would be a great gift to any mom you know who has younger kids at home.

Ask for Beyond Bath Time when you call with your donation. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or you can donate and get the book at ReviveOurHearts.com.

As a mother and grandmother, Jani Ortlund believes in compound interest. She’ll explain more tomorrow. Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts. 

Now let's get to the bonus podcast material. Jani's given us some practical detail on how she's prays for her grandkids.

Sue: Do you use the same verses for each grandchild, or do you use different verses and how do you cover them all? Eleven is a lot to cover. Is it a daily thing?

Jani: I try to make it a daily thing. I didn't pray for each of them this morning, but I try to, and I don't pray through the whole prayer page. This is Lizzie's right here, she is three. So you see it's not huge. But sometimes I will pray Isaiah 54:13, "All your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be the peace of your children."

I've put that down and I pray that, if I don't know what to pray for them: "Lord, teach them and give them Your peace. Make them restless until they establish themselves in the peace of God." So there are some verses I pray for each one of them, and then there are other, specific.

One child, I'm praying about a little bit of a deceitful nature. Sometimes a grandparent sees something a parent misses because the parent's not in the room, and yet it's not one of those things you want to tell the parent about or tattle on. What's the parent going to say? "Well, Mamie saw you do this, now you're in big trouble!"

Nancy: So instead, you tell God.

Jani: Right! But sometimes if I just mention their names, "Lord, You know Micah Ray's needs for you today. Fill his heart, draw very near to him." Then I'll go on: "Oh Lord, little Naomi's going to be born in three weeks. Knit her together in that way, and let her know You from the moment she's born." Does that answer?

Helen: Going back to what you were talking about, praying and not saying. Somebody told me, "Pray, don't say," and I can remember that. It's a hard lesson to learn, and I'm still working on it.

Tammy: And there's got to be balance, because my daughter-in-law maybe two weeks ago said to me, "I sure hope you will tell me if I'm doing something wrong." And I thought, Oh, my goodness, how am I supposed to know when to say something?

She was referring to some mutual friends that she feels nobody has given the input, or when people do they don't listen. I'm sitting there saying, "I'll do what I can," but it's hard to know when to say something and when not to. I'm thankful both my parents and Tim's parents were very careful not to be intrusive, but they were always there to support, encourage, pray. And if we asked for it, they gave us input.

Nancy: I think that's an important point you're making, Tammy. I would say to younger women, ask for it. Proverbs says over and over and over again, the wise person asks for counsel. If there's one thing my dad drilled into us successfully, it was, be humble enough to ask for wise counsel. Always be looking for it.

To this day, I'm often looking for people who've walked in places I haven't, to ask questions, to ask for wisdom, but especially I'd like to say to these younger women, your parents or your parents-in-law may not even be believers, or may not be the most mature people on the planet, but there's still wisdom for life that they can give.

And I think you can, as younger women, create an atmosphere that is conducive to growth and learning. That doesn't mean you have to agree with everything they say, it doesn't mean you have to do everything they say, but to have a learner's spirit. That's true for all of us . . . not just when it comes to parenting, but just for life, to have a teachable spirit and a learner's heart. So as grandparents, you want to sense what is the desire here, what's the readiness, what's the openness to input?

And then also realize that God uses other people in your children's and grandchildren's lives as well. You're not the only fount of wisdom available to them, and that's maybe a prayer.

If the communication isn't such that you feel the freedom to speak into that situation, then I would sure be praying, "Lord, bring somebody else who does have the kind of relationship and freedom to address those areas." God is so great and so big that He could do that.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to invest in you so you can invest in the generations to follow. This program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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