Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Motherhood as an Act of Worship

Episode Resources

Learn more about the Risen Motherhood podcast.

Dannah Gresh: Today on Revive Our Hearts: potty training . . .

Laura Wifler: What we realize is that, yes, the Lord does care about potty training very much!

Dannah: . . . worship . . .

Laura: Every moment can be a moment of worship!

Dannah: . . . and what the gospel has to do with diapers.

Emily Jensen: Every little, minute thing in motherhood can feel like this gigantic bucket of pressure. But when her hope is tethered in the gospel, rather than in her diaper choices, the gospel does change everything!

Dannah: We’ll hear about Risen Motherhood from Laura Wifler and Emily Jensen.

Leslie Basham: It’s November 4, 2019. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: Here’s Nancy in a new series called “Risen Motherhood.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: One of the things I am so thrilled to see in recent years is how God is raising up a number of younger women who love Jesus, love His Word, love the gospel, and are effective communicators—blogging, podcasting, writing books—just out of their life experience, but connecting it to the Word of God.

I don’t know that there’s been any time in my lifetime when we’ve had the number of younger women with such wisdom and courage and humility and faith that I see coming up today. I’m really thrilled to introduce you today to . . . well, maybe I don’t need to introduce you to them. You may already know them!

But they were kind of new to me, and these are the women of Risen Motherhood (we’ll be telling you more about that): Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler. I’ve had the chance to get to know them recently, and you are going to love these young women! So, Emily and Laura, welcome to Revive Our Hearts.

Laura: Thank you so much for having us. Those were so many kind words from you. I’m so grateful to be able to be here, and it is a gift and a joy to get to talk to you today.

Emily: Yes, totally a gift and a joy. Thanks for having us!

Nancy: We had dinner together last night at our home. Robert grilled some steaks for us and some veggies, and we had just a sweet time of conversation. You ladies kept saying things that were so rich and insightful, and I kept saying, “Save it, save it! We want to talk about this when we record tomorrow!” We could have just recorded our dinner conversation and had some great programs!

It was such a great conversation, and I know that our listeners are going to enjoy just pulling up a chair to the table and sitting with us today. We’re going to talk a lot about moms—and young moms—because you are both young moms. We’re going to let you tell us a little bit about your background, your story, your family in just a moment.

I want to start by saying, if you are a mom—a younger mom or an older mom—or you know somebody who’s a mom, you need to listen to this series as we talk with Emily and Laura this week. You may say, “I’m not in that season of life.” Listen, I don’t have any biological children, myself (lots of kind-of adopted ones, everywhere), but this message we’re talking about for young moms is so important! And it applies to all of us in every season of life in different ways. 

I’m especially burdened for younger moms who are battling the influence, the weight, the tidal wave of cultural messages today, and how we can resource and equip and motivate those younger women to think biblically instead of thinking as the world thinks. And, Emily and Laura, you are doing a great job of calling women to think biblically. You’re very much in process yourselves. You’re on your own journey, so we’re going to talk about that.

I posted a photo last night of us together at our home and put it on Instagram, and all kinds of people popped up saying, “I’m so glad you guys connected!” They know that we have a similar heart, the same DNA, even though we represent two different generations.

This is the joy of, as women, growing in our faith to become older women who can encourage and model faithful Christianity to the younger women. And now you are doing that. We’re going to talk in this series about some of the older women God has used in your lives. I’m so excited to think, in years to come, how you will one day be training women who are the age you are now, and resourcing them!

So this is a continual line, a relay race, where we’re passing the baton of faith from one generation to the next. And no one has greater responsibility for doing that than moms! So, Emily, you didn’t grow up as a believer. You came to know the Lord a little later. Just give us a snapshot of your story, and then your family today.

Emily: Yes, it’s interesting. My parents were very, very faithful to bring me to church every Sunday, where I definitely encountered the basic message of the gospel. And so I can remember always believing in God and believing that the Bible was true and yet, as I got older, I saw my own sin, and I wasn’t really sure what to do with that. I wasn’t prepared to submit my life to God and what He had for me.

And so, definitely as I became a teenager and just influenced by the world around me . . . I would go to church, or go through some of those motions, but internally my life and my heart were very, very far from God. I just remember trying to find purpose in all of the things around me—in relationships and maybe looking a certain way and having certain achievements.

So probably the world would have said, “Oh, you’re doing good! Your life looks good!” But inside, my heart was just really empty. I remember coming to a place when I was twenty where a lot of those things that I built my identity in just started to crumble around me, and I just cried out to the Lord for help.

I cried out for the first time, really, from a place of just knowing that I couldn’t make anything purposeful of my own life, but God could. I couldn’t pick myself up and make it better. I think there were many times in my life where I thought, Okay, I just need to get my act together a little bit better. I need to try this new tip. Or, I need to get out of this relationship and start something different

And just to realize, Only the Lord can use my life for something that matters, for eternity. Yeah, He just allowed me to see the gospel for what it really was.

Nancy: And of course, you had to see your need first. 

Emily: Yes!

Nancy: The brokenness, the crumbling part, was what led you to know you needed a Savior.

Emily: Absolutely! And so then, that message just became so glorious. I remember being in awe that I could start fresh, that God had new mercies for my life, and that He could make my whole life new! So I started that process when I was twenty and, yeah, that was thirteen/fourteen years ago now. It’s just been a whirlwind ever since of just a joy to follow the Lord and grow with Him.

Nancy: And you were married not too long after you came to know Jesus . . . what, a couple years?

Emily: Yes. Two or three years later I met a man who grew up very faithfully following the Lord. I think I was the first person he’d ever dated, like his only girlfriend. We got married and we’ve been married for just over ten years . . . and now we have five children.

Nancy: And they’re still pretty young, right? 

Emily: Yes, they’re young. They range from seven years old to two years old, so we had five kids in five years.

Nancy: A set of twins thrown in there!

Emily: Yes, a set of twins. That’s how that math works out, when you see them staggered there. So, it’s very, very busy in our house, and there’s a lot of noise in our home, is what I always say.

Nancy: A lot of need for the gospel!

Emily: Oh, so much need. And need for my heart, too. I think that’s one of the biggest things I see on a daily basis when chaos is coming up like a cloud around me in the house. We have four boys, and so there’s a lot of running from one end of the house to the other. 

I’ve just seen so much in my own heart of my need to depend on the Lord and continually just repent of my sin and depend on Him for all the fruit of the Spirit in everything that I do each day. Because my tendency is to get impatient or be frustrated or to not respond to them with kindness and to do whatever the quick fix is for their behavior. 

But God has just been really, really gracious to humble me, and continues to do so, and I just pray that that helps my children see Jesus!

Nancy: And I know they are, day after day. I want to go to Laura in just a moment, but, you shared with me last night—it was so sweet and encouraging—-that early in your Christian life (maybe early in your married life) the Lord used Revive Our Hearts as an influence in your young Christian life.

Emily: Yes, absolutely! I remember, my husband and I lived in this little apartment. I didn’t have a job at the time (it was kind of in the recession), so I had a lot of time on my hands, and I remember coming across Revive Our Hearts.

At that point I hadn’t yet gotten a good anchor into some solid Bible teaching and just kind of layering on top of that foundation day after day. So I would listen to your program every day, and then I would start to go back through the archives. I was telling Laura last night I think I listened through almost all of your programs! I did that for years and years.

In fact, we moved, so this would have been several years later. I remember standing in my kitchen, listening, and hearing an interview. I can’t remember the exact interview, but someone was on just talking about the joy and the gift of children. 

And that was one of the things that God used in my heart when my husband and I had conversation about, “Hey, what is the season of having children going to look like?” And I really felt like the Lord used it to help open my hands to be prepared for whatever He would give us—and there were a lot of little kids to come, so I’m very thankful for that!

I have heard a lot of programs over the years that have really impacted me and really drawn me to the Lord—I think that’s the main thing.

Nancy: And what’s so sweet to me about that, Emily, is that when we were recording those programs, I wouldn’t have imagined that a woman in her mid-twenties would be sitting in that house, that apartment, and listening and one day we’d be sitting here talking with a woman with a fruitful ministry and a growing, God-fearing, Christ-loving family.

And I want to pause here. The reason we were able to air that broadcast (now the podcast) back in those years, and were able to have those archives available, the websites, all of that is because of partnership with listeners like you who are friends of this ministry. You care about this message; you care about investing in others. 

You’re hearing, this week, some of the fruit of your investment in this ministry. So I just want to say “thank you”! If you’ve supported Revive Our Hearts, if you’ve prayed for this ministry, if you’ve prayed for me (I know many do), I’m thrilled and I hope it encourages you to see that your investment has made a difference! And your investment in this season is now speaking into women of all different ages, all different seasons of life, and now women around the world! I mean, how precious is that!?

To think, I don’t know, fifteen years from now, who may be listening today who’s maybe a young believer or a young mom who may have a growing family and then children who are going to walk with Christ. It just continues and continues! 

So a little plug there for our Ministry Partners and those who support this ministry in various ways. I know they’ll be encouraged by your testimony! Well, that’s Emily Jensen, and her sister-in-law, Laura Wifler, is the other part of this duo with the Risen Motherhood team. 

And Laura, your journey has been different, but it’s the same gospel, the same Christ that is the commonality we have. Tell us just a little bit of your story, and tell us about your family.

Laura: Of course. Yes, I was thinking the same thing, that Emily’s and my story may look different on paper, but ultimately it’s very, very similar. It’s the same gospel, the same God drawing me to Himself, the same sin issues, the same problems, the same need for the Lord.

So, I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home. I can look back and I think I don’t ever knew a day without Jesus. That is a true gift and a blessing. At one point I thought my testimony was boring and I wished it was more cool. I had all these amazing moments, but as I’ve matured and grown, I’ve just been so grateful to the Lord—knowing that that’s really and truly a gift.

My parents modeled the gospel for me day-in and day-out. They were just really very, very faithful to show me God’s Word, what it meant, how it could change my life. But I would say, too, that I was very self-reliant. I was certainly good at being a Christian, and there were a lot of areas where my heart wasn’t soft to the Lord and I was more pharisaical or more proud. 

I was able to do the right things as a Christian and know the right answers and have the Bible knowledge. I think it was around high school and towards college, just a series of events in my own life where the Lord broke down my heart and helped me to see my need for Him, that all of that self-reliance is going to fail me.

I may be able to walk along for a little while, but eventually I will fall. And so, I think that especially happened in motherhood. That was where my sin was really revealed for the first time in a way that I had never even known I was capable of.

Nancy: And every mother is nodding her head right now, saying, “Yes, I get that!” (laughter)

Laura: Yes, yes, it kind of presses down on every . . .

Nancy: If marriage doesn’t do it, motherhood will!

Laura: That’s right! I met my husband in college, and we now have three children; they are ages two to six. And, yeah, just going back to that motherhood showing all of my weakness, that was where, I think, a lot of growth happened for me of recognizing my need for the Lord and just how much I needed to depend on Him—not just in hard moments, but—in every moment of my life.

Nancy: And the Lord has brought you two together. You lived in different states for awhile. We’ll talk about how this ministry, Risen Motherhood, came to be. That’s one of the things we want to do at Revive Our Hearts, is point women to other resources and ministries that can encourage them in their walk with the Lord.

And this is one we recommend, we endorse: the podcast, the website, the Risen Motherhood community. We want to get our listeners—many of whom are kind-of your mother’s age—getting their daughters connected, not only to Revive Our Hearts, but to ministries like Risen Motherhood. 

There are some saying, “How in the world can these guys talk about motherhood, because they’re just getting started?!” I was with some friends in a group recently, and there was a young family who’ve got five young ones. They’re exhausted! They were just talking about all the things they have going on right now and how stretching it is for them as parents. 

Then the grandpa in the room—who has five kids who are now grown and married and have kids of their own—said, “You’re in the easy part right now!” This doesn’t really encourage the younger parents, but we all laughed, because those who are beyond the season that you’re in, chronologically, are saying, “You guys don’t know that you’re just getting started!” 

You do know. But what I love about you is, there is no attempt to suggest that you are experts at being mothers. 

Emily and Laura: No, there is not!

Nancy: In fact, the very opposite! I see this in this wonderful book you’ve written called Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments

We’re making that available to our listeners this week. When you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we would love to send you a copy of Emily and Laura’s book.

You ladies start out in the book by saying, “We don’t know what we’re doing! We are just getting started, and that’s why we need Jesus!” In fact, the birthing of what became Risen Motherhood ministry and this Risen Motherhood book started when you both were in the first stages of potty training. 

Laura and Emily: That’s right, yes!

Nancy: What did that do? What happened in your hearts and in your relationship to point you in the direction of, now, some of the things you’re teaching and the resources you’re sharing with women?

Laura: Yes, at the time, Emily and I were living about five hours apart. I was living in the Chicago area, and Emily was in Iowa. We were both potty training children. And potty training has this way of revealing, I think, your areas of need and weakness . . .because you just want it so bad for your child!

And I remember, Emily and I were talking on the phone. We were chatting about, “Okay, tips and tricks and all the practical strategies, right? “Did you do the three-day ‘boot camp?’” or “Did you do a one-day thing? Did they wear their underwear?” And all that stuff.

And then we started getting a little bit deeper and talking about the frustrations that we felt, and how we felt like, “What do we do when they just can’t get it?” and “Where do we turn?” and “Are we failures as moms if we can’t get them to get it?” And we just dug a little bit deeper into that as our conversations progressed.

And what we realized is that, yes, the Lord does care about potty training very much, but even more than that, He cares about our hearts in the process! And so as we were talking about, “Well, what does the Bible say about this? What does the gospel have to do with just something as mundane as potty training?”

That just really transformed our hearts and our perspective and our ability to persevere, our ability to remain patient, our ability to just have joy in the midst of what sometimes can be a very messy thing. And what happened was, we realized we were having these conversations with all sorts of other women. 

Other young moms that were talking about everything from potty training--of course--to, “What are you feeding your family?” And how frustrating it can be to have to keep cleaning the bathroom or unload the dishes or, you know, how do you make education decisions? Like, just the gamut of young things that we’re facing.

And everyone was asking not only, “What are the practicals?” but “What does the Bible say about this?” and “Does He really see us? Does He really care about what’s going on?” 

And that, for us, was what Risen Motherhood was born out of. It was a desire to help show other moms, but mostly ourselves, how to connect the gospel to our everyday lives.

Nancy: I think, whatever stage of life we’re in, the disconnect we often feel from everyday life and challenges—whether it’s young child issues or teenage child issues or widowhood issues—we have those different seasons of life.

And the tendency is to think, Well, here’s this box of my life today and the things I’ve got to solve and figure out. And then, Here’s my Christian life over here. But you started realizing as young moms that the gospel and the Scripture really do inform everything—including potty training! Like, who would have thought?

Emily: Yes. I think we realized early on, especially as you’re busy, you’re up a lot of times in the night, maybe you do try to wake up early and read your Bible, but there’s somebody standing beside your bed: “Mommy, Mommy! I’m so hungry!!” 

Those are real moments. So if our time with the Lord and our devotion to Him is only limited to our ability to sit in a chair quietly with the Word open . . .

Nancy: . . . for uninterrupted hours . . .

Emily: Right!

Nancy: It’s not going to happen!

Emily: What hope do moms have to have this vibrant flourishing relationship with their heavenly Father? So that was one of our heartbeats, learning to just discover and to communicate with other moms. Every moment can be a moment of worship, because it matters who our hearts are devoted to, what types of things are going on in our minds, what our bigger purpose is.

We realize that we’re swept up not into just a story from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., but we’re swept up into an ancient story and something that God’s been planning before the foundation of the world. And He has good works that He’s already planned and prepared for me to do today, and I’m going to be doing things that are going to matter forever.

And when that is our mindset of our day, there are still a lot of hard things, and we’re still very tired, and there are still challenges. 

Nancy: So it doesn’t make your problems vanish. 

Emily: No. It definitely doesn’t. In fact, it can kind of make them feel, I think, even more intense when you really look at it from the right perspective. But there’s also help, and there’s hope. Not everything is riding and resting on how you did in that moment. Your relationship with the Lord, I think, can really grow, and you can make deposits that matter, and they add up.

And so, we just really appreciated that that’s true of the gospel; it’s true of the Word. It’s not just confined to a small moment of our day when we have our Bible open (that is so important!), but it’s something that we can carry with us throughout the whole day every day.

Laura: I think what you said there, about having hope and that there is an anchor for your soul . . . We kind of talk about the circumstances around a mom (and really, anyone). They just feel ever-changing, and it feels like you cannot . . . If you know anything, you know that you cannot control everything. 

Nancy: And some days, you feel like can’t control anything!

Laura: That’s correct! Yes! I think that so often, as a young mom, I felt like my value and my worth really rested in whether or not I found success. And that could be anything, from, “Did I feel my kids well?”

Nancy: “Did I feed my kids at all!?” 

Laura: Yes, “Did I feed my kids at all?! Did I show them the right amount of screen time; was that too much? Did I get them to the doctor on time? Did I select the right school for them? Did I make the right choices for what kind of diapers we put on them?” I mean, the pressures are . . .

Every little minute thing in motherhood can feel like this gigantic bucket of pressure and burden that rests on a mom. But when her hope is tethered in the gospel rather than in her diaper choices, I think that there is just an enormous change in that mom’s ability to exhibit and display kindness and longsuffering and patience toward her family. 

That is truly something that you know, “This is only something the Holy Spirit could do! This is not even me!” And I think that was something that when it rooted down so deep in my bones is when I realized that the gospel does change everything, and it is the only place that I can go to for hope and for help. Like, my perspective on all of life changed. 

I stopped trying to control my outward circumstances as much and I really focused on just trusting the Lord, that He would provide. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to reorganize the toy closet, or I don’t want to make sure that my baby doesn’t get a rash from the diaper rash cream that we select.

But I think it does mean that, if it didn’t work out, I’m not crushed and I’m not lashing out. I’m not displaying anger to my family or feeling like a total failure as a person. I know that I’m always loved and accepted in Christ, no matter what!

Emily: I think there’s this guilt cycle that a lot of moms go through. At the end of the day you lay down in bed and you’re just rehearsing, “Aw, I shouldn’t have responded to my child that way when they threw a toy at their sibling,” or “Oh, man, I feel like I went out to the park with my friends, and I couldn’t wrangle all my kids in the stroller, and I was so embarrassed! Man, I just need to pack better so that I look good when I get to the park!” 

Whatever all those things are, I think, what is our answer for that, and how are we going to live with ourselves? I mean, that’s a really stressful place to be day after day, and it can really spiral into a long season for a mom of just not really knowing how to cope with that, right?

Maybe it’s food that we’re eating, or our social media consumption is going up, or there are other things we throw our lives into because we’re just not sure how we’re going to quiet this guilt. 

I think one thing that the gospel allows us to do is to look at and to examine, “What’s going on there?” And to ask, “Is this really something that God in His Word has shown that I need to repent and turn to Him?” There’s freedom there if we do that. 

Or, “Is this something that God isn’t putting this burden on me? This isn’t a pressure that is from the Word. This is actually from culture, this is self-imposed, this is something I’ve seen around me.” So I think we’ve just seen so much freedom for moms when they’re willing to not just stuff that guilt down and try to ignore it or avoid it or self-medicate it, but to really say, “No matter what, if you examine this, there’s freedom on the other side! There’s freedom in Christ, or there’s freedom from the messages that the world is giving me.” There is freedom when we take it to the Lord!

Dannah: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Laura Wifler and Emily Jensen. I wish I’d heard this conversation when I was a new mom. I’m going to make sure that my daughter-in-law, who’s a brand-new mom, will hear it! There is so much for her and other new moms to think about. There’s a lot of false guilt that can plague our minds. 

Our guests have written a book to help moms take everything to the foot of the cross. We’d like to send you a copy as our way of saying thanks for supporting Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size right now. We’re able to bring you these practical discussions, thanks to listeners who give. 

And when you donate online, you’ll see the place to request the book Risen Motherhood. Our web address is ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also just call us at 1–800–569–5959. Now, I want you

to do me a favor: raise your hand if your home is Pinterest-perfect!

Now, this is a podcast, so we can’t see, but I kn-o-o-ow hardly anyone raised their hand! Tomorrow our guests will be back to speak to every mom who is less than perfect . . . and to trust Jesus to be our perfection. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

At Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, we love encouraging the next generation! It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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