Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Missional Mothering, Day 5

Leslie Basham: As a mother and grandmother, Jani Ortlund believes in compound interest.

Jani Ortlund: I think investing in children is a little bit like a retirement account where you continually put deposits in and you try very hard not to move it around a lot, not to withdraw anything unless it's absolutely necessary. You just keep putting in the deposits and eventually it grows and grows and grows and bears fruit.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Forgiveness, for Friday, July 14, 2017.

As moms, we need to hear godly wisdom from other moms who have gone before us. All this week we've experienced that kind of investment from Jani Ortlund. She's talked with Nancy about missional mothering.

A group of friends have joined us in the studio to listen along. Let's listen as they share thoughts and questions with Jani Ortlund. Here's our first guest.

Debbie: I have two boys, and I have two grandsons. One of my sons is married, and they all have deserted us for other areas of this country, like Montana. So I am a long-distance grandma, which is a huge, huge challenge.

And I think after I got done whining to the Lord that my children and grandchildren were gone, He provided someone in our area that her parents or his parents are not there, and so they kind of adopted me as their grandma, and they have four girls. And God has also let me know how grateful I am that I had boys and not girls.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Jani, as I listen to some of these women, I'm thinking of Timothy in the New Testament. He had a similar situation.

Jani: Yes. His mother and grandmother raised him. His dad was not a believer, and there his mother and his grandmother invested in him, and Paul says, "Taught you the Scriptures. You know them because of them." What a profound influence a grandmother can have.

Nancy: And in your own life, when you were younger your mom was more of the spiritual influence.

Jani: That's right, and my local church, Nancy. I grew up in a family that didn't know the Lord. We moved when I was two years old to Minneapolis, Minnesota. That was back in the early fifties. My parents believed, "Well, you just bring your kids to Sunday school, drop them off, and the church will teach them good things."

They did that, and they, by God's grace, brought us to a Bible-believing church. And that church loved the six of us in my family. And over the course of eleven years, each one of us, my oldest brother being the first, my dad being the last, all six of my family came to know Christ through the ministry of that church. And my mother really was much of the impetus there, bringing us after she came to know Christ.

Nancy: So a word of encouragement for moms who are either single moms or spiritually they are single moms . . . either Dad's not there, or there aren't grandparents there, or the dad is not a believer. That doesn't limit how God's grace can come to those children and grandchildren through that mom.

Jani: Yes, that is so true. Never, ever, ever give up. Just keep investing.

I think investing in children is a little bit like a retirement account where you continually put deposits in and you try very hard not to move it around a lot, not to withdraw anything unless it's absolutely necessary. You just keep putting in the deposits and eventually it grows and grows and grows and bears fruit.

That's so true with a child, and spiritually single moms and grandmas can make those eternal deposits that will bear fruit.

Nancy: And you don't always see the fruit right away, so it can get discouraging.

Jani: That's right.

Nancy: Because it doesn't look like there's much happening, but then you look back. I'm so grateful we have here today some women who've been moms and grandmoms for a lot of years, and now you can look back, and you can see that that investment really does pay off.

Jani: Yes.

Joy: I'm not a mom, but I am the oldest of thirteen children and have very godly parents. Watching them raise those children is such a wonderful way to grow up and see. I got to be the guinea pig sometimes. They'd try things on me, "Well, that doesn't work, so . . ."

But I'm so grateful for them, and I've had and will have the opportunity as I'm leaving to Thailand in a week to mentor a lot of young people. I'm praying that the Lord would equip me to be a spiritual mom to whomever He puts in my life.

So I'm really grateful to be here today and hear advice from moms and stories from moms because raising children is a lifelong journey and challenge, but it's such a rewarding blessing, too.

And we've also, in my family, had a prodigal child that wandered and sowed wild oats for several years and we've watched God bring him back. And so many other things that God's done in my family and journeying with my family through those things has been very rewarding. I'm grateful I have their support and can be supporting them as well. So I'm grateful to be here.

Nancy: We don't have many singles with us here today, but as we talk about motherhood and grandmothering sometimes on this program and in this time with Jani, it would be easy for those who aren't married or married women who don't have children or can't have children to think, Well, there's nothing here I can relate to.

But God's called all of us as women to be involved in mothering.

Jani: Yes.

Nancy: Spiritual mothering, if nothing else. We might not have our own physical children or be in a season of life where we're actively engaged in mothering our own children, but there are always, in the body of Christ and around us, children, younger and older, who need encouragement, need input.

I was on the phone last night with a woman who's in her thirties but who's like a daughter to me and involved in some difficult situations right now. I was just sharing, encouraging, praying with her, and mothering.

There are a lot of children in my life. There are a lot of teens in my life. There are a lot of younger women in my life. And I find great, great joy from that and fulfillment because that's a part of what God made us to do, not just to experience His blessings for ourselves, but to always be investing in the next generations.

Carla: I am the mother of four that we have given birth to—all married, Christian, and raising their children. Eleven grandchildren with us and two in heaven. And because I wanted more children than my husband, we have hosted fifteen international exchange students.

Nancy: Not all at once.

Carla: No, not all at once. That would be over twenty-three years.

Nancy: But that's a great ministry, though.

Carla: Yes. And so we have children all over the world, and I have a heart to minister into the lives of children that just don't have the opportunity to hear about Christ.

Nancy: A lot of different kinds of mothering we're hearing about here.

Jani: I think part of that is because God pictures Himself through the prophet Isaiah as a mother. And when we as women are created in the image of God, part of what He gives to us is His spirit of mothering.

I think of Deborah, a mother, in Israel. I think it's so true, Nancy, that every woman on earth is really, as she knows God and is connected to God, is a mother to someone.

Nancy: Designed to be, yes. That's what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2. "We cared for you as a nursing mother cares for her children" (see v. 7).

Jani: Yes, as a nursing mother.

Nancy: So there are a lot of analogies that give us a vision for why mothering matters, why it's so important, and what it looks like.

Jani: Yes. We're bearing the image of God when we mother.

Nancy: And being fruitful, bearing fruit, that's from the very beginning of Genesis. What the couple was put in the garden to do—to be fruitful.

Eve means "life giver." So, as women, we're called to be bearers and nurturers of life—married, single, older, younger. And we're hearing here many different seasons and what that looks like.

Jani: It's wonderful.

Nancy: How many of you, when you were younger moms or had young children, had an older mom, a more experienced mom (your own mom or some other woman) in your life who was helpful in a practical way in those young mom years?

Jani, who did you have in your life?

Jani: Well, I was a young pastor's wife, and our church had many different ages of women. There was an older woman named Jan Miles, and she cared for me, Nancy. She would come and help me at times. She gave me advice. She'd have us over for meals. Her husband helped my husband build a sandbox for the little ones out back. Practical things like that, just encouraging me along the way. I saw her mother her two teenagers. So I got to see a mother down the road.

There was also another pastor's wife, Carolyn Roper, still ministering in Idaho today, and she would love on my little ones for me. She and her husband David, and she would keep our kids for us when we needed to get away for a ministry retreat or something like that. She spoke God's Word to me, and she would give me hope through the Word.

Nancy: Did you find yourself sometimes asking questions of those or other women, you know, "I'm facing this . . . can you give me any input?"

Jani: I needed it so much. I was overwhelmed, and I did need help. I did need to reach out. I needed a voice from without speaking in to the chaos in my little home. And so I thank the Lord for that.

Nancy: So what was most encouraging and helpful to you in that season?

Jani: There were two things that helped the most. First of all, the Word. When I would go to someone, possibly in tears, in fear, in panic, in fatigue . . . I think a young mom's biggest struggle is with fatigue because sleep is so elusive when you have a little one, or two or three or four that you're caring for.

And when people would speak the Word into my life . . . I still remember a friend giving me Isaiah chapter 40, verse 11 when I was really struggling when Dane (number three) when he was tiny. He wasn't sleeping through the night. He was maybe six months, and I hadn't had a full night's sleep in what felt like four years, but in reality that was probably a little bit of an exaggeration in my . . .

Nancy: . . . sleep-deprived state.

Jani: Right. And she gave me Isaiah 40:11, which says (depending on which translation you'll use, I'll use the Jani Living Standard) something like, "The Lord is your Shepherd. He will gently guide those with young. He gathers the lambs and carries them close to His heart."

And I thought, Oh, Lord, if You're carrying my little ones, I don't need to. I can carry them up to You, and You gently lead those with young. Lord Jesus Christ, You get it that it's hard. You get it that I can't work at the pace that I once did before I had children. You understand that those with young need to live life at a different pace. Thank You for that.

The Word coming in. And the second thing that really helped me was just practical help. My husband was one who really helped me. As I said, the first three came in rapid succession, and number three just really did not like sleeping through the night. We lived in a tiny house, 950 square feet, including the front porch.

And so the three babies were in one room. They were three, two, and then Dane was coming up to ten months. He still wasn't sleeping through the night. A young mother would understand this. You go to bed and ask the Lord, "Please now, Lord, he's full, he's dry, he's happy, he's prayed over. Would You give him sleep? You give to Your beloved sleep. I need sleep. You know our needs."

And then long around 12:30 or 1:00, you hear the crying. And you don't want him to wake up the other two little ones, so you go up and get him. I remember one night I was too weak and tired and frustrated to get up. So I started crying with Dane. And my dear husband is a deep sleeper—many husbands of young children are.

Nancy: They call that survival.

Jani: Right. He didn't have ear plugs in. He just didn't wake up as I did. And so I started crying more loudly. And pretty soon I was wailing. He was starting to stir, and then I was starting to shake him. And he woke, and he said, "Honey, what's the matter? What's the matter?"

I remember saying, Nancy, "I can't do this anymore."

He said, "You don't need to. I'm up. What do you need?" And he went and got Dane. We knew Dane didn't need more milk. He was fine. And that next morning Ray called my friend, Jan Miles, and said, "My wife needs six hours of sleep in a row. Could she come use your guest room?"

And he sent me away for a night. I went over after the children had been fed, and Ray said, "I don't want to see you until I need to leave for work at 7:30 tomorrow morning." And I got, I think, ten hours of sleep.

I've never forgotten that helpful suggestion. And it wasn't as if Dane learned to sleep through the night that night, but eventually he did. And he's sleeping through the night fine right now as he's raising his four little ones, and Stacey is getting up with them.

But I thank the Lord for His Word fed to me through godly women and for practical help from friends and family members. We need each other in those early years.

Nancy: Who else found somebody helpful to you when you had young children?

Debbie: I think for me, because of our work schedules, my mom was always . . . I live next to my mom, which I vowed I would never do, but I do. She was there to pick the children up or to come over and watch them while they were napping and I needed to run to the store. Just little things like that.

And now, as someone who doesn't have little children at home, with my friend, I can go over and say, "You know what? Let me pick that one up and take them to this for you."

"Really? Oh, you don't know how much that helps."

I said, "Yes I do. God blessed me with somebody who did that for me, and I want to do that because I do know the little things help," or "You know what? We're going to go for a ride. You take a nap," or "Let me come. I know you've got company coming. Let me help you get your house ready." Those are just the little things, I mean, the very, very practical things that my mom helped me with that now I can do. And because I experienced that need, I know what it means for someone else now.

Nancy: That's great.

Woman: To be honest, one thing that I am learning right now in life is that you have to be humble enough to ask for help because I'm definitely one who, "I don't want to bother that person." Or maybe I don't really feel close enough to someone. My mom lives an hour and a half away, a phone call away, and she can jet up here to see us for a weekend, but there's schedule and distance, so it's not an everyday thing, obviously.

So in our church family, God is bringing people into our lives and just my circle of friends from Life Action. It's a blessing, but I tend to be one, as outgoing as I am compared to my husband who would be more of an introvert . . . The tables are turning because he's the one that's been challenging me, "You need to ask someone for advice," or "Just ask if they could watch our kids. You know that they one time asked us how we were doing."

"No, I don't want to bother them."

And I have had a struggle because of my pride and because of thinking, No, I don't want to bother anyone. I've got to go do it myself. It's my own fault when I struggle. And God has brought some older (within the next generation of whose children are middle school and teenagers) people into our lives.

One couple in particular we invited to go to a Christmas concert with us, and their kids helped watch our kids, and we all went. In fact, he works here. His name is Phil. And he and his kids blessed us so much that night.

I'm just saying that because God brings to my heart and reminds me that He puts people into our lives. I have to be humble enough to reach out and help those that need my help and encouragement in those times but to not have pride in the way to say, "Hey, I'm really struggling," or "What did you do about this?" Or whatever it is and to make connections.

God is using my husband to see how much we need that as well. And he's pushing me out, which I thought would be opposite, but, no, God knows how to work through that. I'm in the middle of finding people that God is putting in my life. So even though I can't say I have one person who I go to for everything, apart from my mom, God is showing me, "This person is here. Remember they said to give them a call if you needed something?"

So I'm learning to come out of my comfort zone and use those people that God is putting in my life.

Helen: I had a mom who was probably five to ten years older than I, and she had seven kids and we had five. And she gave me one piece of advice that was so helpful to me. She said, "Children are a welcome addition but not the center."

Nancy: So children are a welcome addition but not the center. Let's flesh that out a little bit more. Helen or Jani? What might that look like? What does that mean?

Helen: Well, it's really hard to make it actually happen, especially if it's your first baby, because it's all-consuming. But I just see so many young moms and probably myself back then, too, where the kids take priority over everything. Our schedule runs around them. We don't do things that maybe we would want to do because of all the kids. And there just has to be some practicality to that, but if you've got it in your head that they're welcome but they're not the driving force in your family.

Jani: Well, I think, too, it helps for moms and grandmothers to think seasonally. It's much like building a home in my mind. If you are building a home, you lay the foundation, and you get it all together. There's a lot of work there—planning and then decorating and moving in and getting settled. It's not, usually, until the first year around that, "Oh, this is how we do Christmas in this home. This is how the garden grows." That kind of thing.

And with a child, there's such intensity those first twelve months, twelve to eighteen months. But then you begin to catch your breath, and oftentimes another baby's on the way, and you've got that intensity now with another newborn. But if you think of it as a season, not a total-life intensity, that helps.

The child really is, especially those first few months, the center of your schedule because its needs are pre-eminent. Every two, two-and-a-half hours it has a need. And you get that, and it's your responsibility to fill it, and you do. But down the road you say, "All right, I'm not running my life around this child. I'm running my life around the Lord Jesus Christ. He is number one. Mommy and Daddy are number two. And then we have this welcome addition into our family who becomes part of us but does not control us."

Nancy: There are seasons as Jani has said, and God is writing the story. And He's a redeeming God. In our own lives He's been a redeeming God who is overruling and transforming . . . overruling some of the losses caused by our own foolish choices and sins and bringing us to repentance and bringing us to a place of really desiring Him above all us. But He's also doing that work in your children and your grandchildren, and sometimes you just can't fix it. Right?

Jani: That's so true, and I love how you're camping on the word "wait." Think of how often that word is expressed through God's Word. The psalmist in Psalm 130 talks about "I wait on the Lord and in His Word I hope." And we want moms, young moms, moms of teenagers, grandmothers to be encouraged to wait.

The Christian life is one of waiting. From the time we meet the Lord personally until we see Him face to face, it's a walk of waiting and faith. But we have the hope of the Word. And I would encourage moms that if they're in a time of particularly difficult waiting, "Oh Lord, how long? How long?" that they hope in the Lord. They go to His Word and say, "Give me a promise. I need a word from You. I'm waiting, and I want to hope on You. Give me specific ways to hope in You and on You."

It's so important for moms. And for kids to be able to see their moms hoping in God, that everything doesn't have to be perfect, everything doesn't have to be right now. It gives their children an idea of, "Oh, life is waiting at times."

Nancy: And for a mom to be reminded in that season that she's not the Savior. She's not Christ.

Jani: No, that's right. Only Jesus saves.

Nancy: Only Jesus saves. And even God doesn't fix every problem and change every person now.

Jani: Yes.

Nancy: And so to say, "Look, the burden is not on me. There is a burden. There is a huge responsibility of parenting, but the burden isn't on you as a mom to make your kids get grace and the gospel and to have a heart and a hunger for God. You can create an environment that's conducive to their seeing that and desiring that, but ultimately God is the One who has to turn on the light in those kids' hearts and make it real to them.

Jani: That is so true, Nancy. I think that we as moms and grandmothers as well, absorb guilt that is not from the Holy Spirit. I think it might be from the world, it might be from neighbors, from family members, but it's not a specific conviction. "I should have. I could have. Oh, why didn't I?" That perpetual guilt. It's almost like a cloud that follows us at times. I think that's such a good word, Nancy, that you've given us.

Nancy: And there's a line there because we all do sin. We fail. And there are times when repentance is what is needed.

Jani: Yes. And we must be quick to say, "I'm sorry." But the Holy Spirit convicts specifically. Satan covers us with a cloud of guilt.

Nancy: Yes.

Jani: "You bad person, you. If only you would get better, get with it, and understand grace and be able to communicate it and live it." And all of that.

Jesus says, "Today, let Me talk to you about today." And if there's a specific sin, then we can confess it.

But I want to come back for a minute to talking about the outer and the inner child because we as parents really can oftentimes control the outer behavior.

Nancy: Especially when they're little.

Jani: Yes. But only God can change the heart. And that's so true. Pray, pray, pray, and then pray some more and pray some more. Then live it and love Jesus and be that example so you can say, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ." But only God can change their heart. And He does. He loves to. That's why He came, to change hearts.

Leslie: That's Jani Ortlund. She's been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and to members in our studio audience about missional mothering. And now Jani's also moved into the season of missional grandmothering.

At Revive Our Hearts we believe in bringing you practical material you can trust like this. And we're thankful God can use Revive Our Hearts to help women make practical decisions to glorify God in every stage of life.

In fact, we got an encouraging email from a twenty-four-year-old listener in the United Kingdom that shows how God is leading women to take practical steps of obedience. She felt the Lord leading her away from her full-time job to take a less glamorous part-time job. Why? During this season of life the Lord is leading her to invest more time in her home. And even though her extended family doesn't understand, Revive Our Hearts is encouraging her to take the step of obedience. She writes:

Being a homemaker is often looked down on, but today's message on Revive Our Hearts has been encouraging.

And that message was on Jesus glorifying God by working hard for so many years as a carpenter. And that was during the series, "The Incomparable Christ." She goes on:

Also, I've encouraged some of my sister friends to follow along in this series so we can encourage each other. Yes, even in London your ministry is being used as a vessel unto His honor. We are grateful. We're young, and I can't thank God enough for having role models like Nancy who teach me in a Titus 2 model. If I ever get the chance to meet you, words won't suffice. But I pray and hope that you will know at Revive Our Hearts that I am eternally grateful.

Well, the team here is grateful, too. Grateful that the Lord gives us the opportunity to speak practical, trustworthy truth into the life of this young woman. And we're grateful the Lord uses listeners like you to make this kind of connection possible.

The way we're able to continue ministering to women like her is through the support of listeners.

Leslie: When you support Revive Our Hearts, we’d like to send you a book by Erin Davis called Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role. It will help you implement the kind of missional mothering we’ve heard about this week. If you’re a mom of younger children, make sure to get a copy. Or if you know a mom of younger kids, get one for them and make an investment in their family.

Ask for Beyond Bath Time when you call 1–800–569–5959. You can also get a copy and make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com. Do you ever feel like you can’t shake feelings of shame? Next week we’ll show you how to be free from shame. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live purposefully. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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