Revive Our Hearts Podcast

One Word . . .

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Dannah Gresh: If you could use one word to honor your mother, what word would you choose, Nancy?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Wow! Well, lots of words come to mind, but I guess if I had to choose one right now, Dannah, I would say my mother was “persevering.”

Dannah: Hmm, beautiful word! And your husband, Robert, is with us today. Robert, what word would you use to describe your mother? 

Robert Wolgemuth: Oh, Dannah, that is so easy! Why? Because on August 30, 1916, her parents named her, “Grace!”

Dannah: Ahh, precious! And my mother . . . I would need two words: “prayer warrior!” This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth, authors of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for May 7, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy: As Mother’s Day approaches, I have a question for all of us: How well are we doing at passing on the truth about Jesus Christ to the next generation? And even if you don’t have children, what are you doing to invest in the lives of those coming behind us?

There’s a verse in the New Testament that’s been on my heart as we think about this matter of passing on truth from one generation to the next. It’s found in 2 Timothy chapter 1, and it’s verse 5. It’s where the apostle Paul writes to Timothy, his son in the faith. Now the name, “Timothy” means, “one who honors God.” Where did Timothy get that name? Where did he get a heart to honor God?

Well, Paul tells us in 2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 5. He says, 

“I am reminded of your sincere faith [Timothy], a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 

So Timothy’s mother and his grandmother both had a genuine, unhypocritical faith. And that’s the faith they passed on to their son and grandson, Timothy. I’m so thankful to have that kind of legacy in my own life, a sincere faith that was passed on to me from my mother and even—as you’ll hear later—one of my great-grandmothers!

Dannah, I’m so thankful that my precious husband, Robert, is able to join us on the program today and tomorrow to share with us something of the godly legacy that he received from his mother. And let me just say, for our listeners, that we’re actually recording in unusual circumstances today. 

Dannah, we’re connected by a Zoom call and I’m looking at you in Pennsylvania, and you don’t look like you’re in a studio! 

Dannah: I am not! I am in my guest bedroom closet!

Nancy: I see behind you some children’s clothes. Tell me about that, because I know your children are all grown.

Dannah: Yes, oh my grown babies, yes! This is Robbie’s NASA costume from when he was five years old and thought he was going to be an astronaut, and Lexi’s little princess dress. I’ve got it all here . . . memories in the closet.

Nancy: Recording in the closet . . . And, Robert, you and I are recording in our basement in our guest room. 

Robert: In our home, yes. It’s so fancy! I just wish your listeners could see this. 

Nancy: And the reason being, that we’re all still in semi-quarantine with the COVID stuff, and so we’ve had to do some unusual set-ups here. 

You know what that’s like, because you’ve been doing unusual set-ups in your life and your family over the past weeks.

And actually, our engineer—whom you never get to hear from—is sitting just across the room from Robert and me today. And, Phil, since you’re here today, I know you have a godly mom as well.

Phil: Right!

Nancy: If you had to choose a word to honor your mom, what might you say?

Phil: My mom is joyful! She’s a joyful woman, in spite of a lot of health issues she’s had over the years, she’s very joyful! 

Nancy: I love that, because Psalm 113, Dannah, talks about a woman being “a joyful mother of children!” We all realize that there are circumstances related to mothering that aren’t necessarily joyful circumstances, but I love somebody reflecting back on their mom and saying she was a joyful woman. 

Isn’t that what every woman wants to aspire to be, whether she has children of her own or not? And in addition to celebrating Mother’s Day just around the corner this weekend, today is also the National Day of Prayer.

Dannah, you mentioned that your mom is a prayer warrior, and that’s how you remember her. Do you have some childhood memories of your mom praying—or knowing that she was praying for you?

Dannah: Absolutely, Nancy! For many years she was actually a volunteer for the National Day of Prayer, organizing the events in our community. But for as long as I can remember, I woke up to my mother praying and reading her Bible. I have such sweet memories of the intimate conversation she had with Jesus!

It was as if she was talking to Him all day! Everywhere she went, she had this intimate friendship with Him, and she planted that desire to be a praying woman in my heart. I’m so grateful for that! 

Nancy: And now you’re that praying mom for your grown kids. And now your twin little granddaughters are benefitting from yourmom’s prayers and your prayers as well!

You mentioned your mother being involved with the National Day of Prayer. That’s something that we’re blessed to observe officially here in the United States on the first Thursday of every May. As we’re recording this, we don’t know how free we will or won’t be to congregate in groups for prayer on this National Day of Prayer. 

But this is just a reminder of what we need to remember every day, that whether you call the United States of America your home, or Mexico or South Africa or Italy or wherever it is you call home, we’re commanded in God’s Word to pray for our country, to pray for our leaders and those who have authority over us. So I’m so grateful for that reminder today! 

Dannah: I am, too, Nancy. What a rich legacy in my life the National Day of Prayer has been! And I’m thinking of a Scripture verse that the National Day of Prayer has frequently encouraged us to remember on this day. 

Now, I’m going to paraphrase, but it says [from 2 Chronicles 7:14], “If my people . . .” My people! Not everybody, not the whole nation . . . “my people.” “If my people . . . will humble themselves and pray . . . and seek my face . . . then I will hear from heaven and will heal their land.”

I am believing the Lord for an unprecedented turnout—whether it’s digital or live—for this National Day of Prayer!

Nancy: Yes, and I’m so thankful for moms who really do pray for their families. Each of us Dannah, you and Robert, sitting here at my side, and myself, we are all products of praying mothers. Robert, your mother has been with the Lord now for many years, but you remember her as a woman of prayer.

Robert: I do. My mother was a spontaneous pray-er. She prayed in the morning before we woke up, but if something came to my mother’s mind . . . if she got a phone call from a friend and that friend revealed that she was in trouble one way or another, her husband had revealed something awful . . . my mother would just put her hands in the air and just pray—just call out to the Lord!

Nancy: Out loud!

Robert: Absolutely, yes! So, I grew up . . . Actually, one of my early prayers was at four years old at the back of an auditorium. They had just shown a movie called Mr. Texas: The Story of Red Harper.

Nancy: This was a Christian movie.

Robert: Yes, exactly, that’s right. People talk about praying at their mother’s knee. I really did. I received Jesus as my Savior at my mother’s knee when I was four years old.

Dannah: Precious!

Nancy: Robert, you and I were talking to my mother on the phone just a few days ago, and were recalling about my dad’s grandmother. My dad grew up in a Greek family. He and his cousins all lived in the same home; there were two families that lived together. And the Greek grandmother—they called her Giagia (pronounced Yaw Yaw)—lived with them.

My dad’s cousin, Ted, shared a bedroom with Yaw Yaw. Ted is now with the Lord. I remember hearing him tell how sometimes at night, he would go to bed, and Yaw Yaw would be on her knees praying in her Turkish language—that was her native language—praying for her family, for her children, for her grandchildren.

And he said sometimes he would wake up in the morning and Yaw Yaw was still there on her knees, having prayed through the night. 

Dannah: Wow!

Nancy: Now, the part of that story that is particularly amazing to me is, my dad (who was the cousin of Ted who shared that bedroom with Yaw Yaw) was a rabble-rouser and a prodigal, a rebel, until he was in his mid-twenties. Yaw Yaw did not live to see Art DeMoss, her grandson, come to faith in Christ. But think of how those prayers of that praying Yaw Yaw were sowing seeds that produced fruit, a harvest, years later!

And now, I’m her great-granddaughter, and my nieces and nephews are the great-great-grandchildren. I mean, just the multiple generations that that woman’s prayers influenced, when she couldn’t see the fruit of her prayers!

I hope that’s an encouragement for a mom or grandmom today who is praying, and you’re not seeing the fruit of what you’re praying and longing for. Know that God is hearing and answering those prayers!

Dannah: Yes, you know, Nancy I frequently say that the prayers my mother has prayed are the reason that I have a heart for ministry today. And those prayers go before me and they’ve ushered me into the love of Bible study, the love of nurturing young girls in their relationship with Christ, the love of prayer . . . all of those things are from a praying mother!

At the beginning of the program, we each used a word; we chose one that would honor our mothers. Robert, you used your mother’s name: Grace. Tell us why.

Robert: Yes, I did. In fact, I had the joy of delivering her eulogy. She stepped into heaven in 2010. My siblings and I had the privilege of giving eulogies, and I said, “Her parents named her ‘Grace.’ How did they know?”

As a boy going through awkward years and so forth, my mother cheered for me. I knew that she was in my corner pulling for me, praying for me, believing in me. In fact, I have something in common with the U.S. President who wrote, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Do you know who said that, honey?

Nancy: Well, I know because you told me this morning. Do you know, Dannah?

Dannah: I don’t know. Who was it?

Robert: Abraham Lincoln. Isn’t that wonderful? “Honest Abe” and I have something in common: we had amazing mothers. I can remember over the years . . . In fact, I had friends who I was convinced were my friend because they got to come over to my house. 

When they walked in our front door, my mother hugged them, every one. It didn’t matter who it was, what he looked like—from high school, junior high, or grade school. My mother embraced them, every single one.

Nancy: And, Honey, I’ve heard you tell about how she wore glasses, the kind of hung around her neck.

Robert: Yes. One of her best friends was the eye doctor in town because she continued to crush her glasses between the hugs from my friends . . . and that’s the truth! 

Dannah: How beautiful! I resonate with that. I feel like as I was growing up, my memory is that my friends were coming over to see my mom. I don’t know if they were really coming to see me, because she just loved them so very much!

Nancy: And, Honey, I’m so looking forward someday to meeting Grace. I so wish I’d had the chance to know her. I’ve heard you talk a lot about her, because she did make such an incredible impression in your life. One of the things I’ve heard you say is how attentive and responsive she was. Like when you would walk in a room . . . just describe that sense.

Robert: I remember from a very early age, when I would walk into the kitchen or wherever she was when I’d wake up, she’d stop whatever she was doing and she would welcome me into the kitchen (or wherever she was or when I’d come home from school).

When I was a little boy and I’d bring home some underwater seascape done with finger painting—remember those on crinkly paper? She would stop what she was doing, she’d get down on one knee so that she was my height, and she would look at my painting.

She would hug me. She made me believe that I was worthy of that kind of love, even when I was a little boy. So when I invited Jesus into my heart at age four, at her knee, I knew what God’s grace looked like . . . in the form of my mother! 

Dannah: Beautiful!

Nancy: Wow, I love that, Honey! And isn’t that what it should be like for all of us as, whether our own children or others that we’re investing in, that they see the love of God in us? It reminds me of what the apostle Paul said to Timothy (going back to that passage we looked at earlier). He says to Timothy, 

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14–15). 

So he says to Timothy, “You had a mother, you had a grandmother, who modeled to you faith in Jesus Christ, and who made sure that you knew the Scripture. They acquainted you with the sacred writings, which then are what pointed you to faith in Jesus Christ.” 

And, Honey, your mother really loved the Scripture. She was faithful in passing it on—not only to you and your siblings, but to her grandchildren as well!

Robert: Yes, that’s right. In fact, my mother had thirty grandchildren, and two of them were Missy and Julie (Bobbie and my daughters). One time Bobbie and I walked into the kitchen. My mother said to us, “Julie has a surprise for you!”

So we thought, Okay, maybe she made a little raft out of popsicle sticks, or something that children make when they’re little, to surprise their parents. So Julie stood in the kitchen, looking up at us and said, “A: All we like sheep have gone astray. B: Be ye kind one to another. C: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.”

And she quoted twenty-six Bible verses, each beginning with a letter of the alphabet. Now, the amazing thing was, this was July . . . and in October would Julie turn three. So she did this when she was two years old! My mother decided that this was important enough to pour into our daughters the Word of God.

In fact, when my mother stepped into heaven in 2010, all of her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren—which, at the time were about forty kids—stood in front of the church, and they quoted all these twenty-six Bible verses. Starting with, “All we like sheep have gone astray,” and ending with, “Zaccheaus, you come down; I’m going to your house for dinner.”

Nancy: Wow, what a beautiful picture of a modern-day “Lois” and “Eunice,” a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to those generations, who now, as Paul said to Timothy, can, “continue in what [they] have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom [they] learned it and how from childhood [they] have been acquainted with the sacred writings [the Scriptures], which are able to make [them] wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14–15). 

And, Honey, it’s been an incredible thing for me to come into this family and see how many of those children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of your mother, Grace, are walking in a sincere faith today because of that seed of the Word that was implanted in their hearts!

Robert: In fact, you know Sweetheart, one of the things that I’ve said so many times to you: “Oh, I wish . . .” And you’ve said, “In heaven we’ll meet . . .” But I so wish you could have met my mother! You and I started dating in 2015. She stepped into heaven in 2010, so you never got a chance to meet her.

Nancy: And yet, I feel like I’ve come to know something of her heart, just by seeing how it’s reflected in you and your tenderness, your gentle spirit. There are qualities in your life that you attribute to each of your parents, but it seems like that tenderness—that gentleness—really came from your mother’s heart.

Robert: That’s an honor that you would say that.

Dannah: I’m sitting here thinking that, Robert, you make me feel that way. I think you make many people feel that way. When they walk into a room you are attentive, and you make us feel like we’re worth that attention.

I’m saying that because, what our mothers have done is exemplify character qualities of God for us to pass on and exemplify to others.

Robert: That’s right!

Nancy: I’m sure that those mothers—your mother, Dannah; Robert, your mother Grace, my mother, who is also named Nancy—I’m sure when we were all kids . . . I’m one of seven children. Robert you’re one of six. So there was a lot going on in our households. 

I’m sure those moms, when they stopped to ask questions or say, “How was your day?” or to pay attention to us, they weren’t thinking, We’re building greatness here, or We’re planting seeds for eternity. Probably they weren’t thinking those kind of lofty things.

Dannah: They were thinking, I need to do the laundry!

Nancy: “I just need to get through this day!” And yet, now we look back ,we thank God for the details of the ways our moms loved us and cared for us—not perfectly—but the lasting things have been, sometimes, those little things that have made a big difference in our lives.

I say that as a word of encouragement to a mom listening today who is wondering if what you’re doing really matters or if it makes a difference. Scripture talks in Proverbs 31 about the day coming when, “Her children rise up and call her blessed” (v. 28).

Your children may not be doing that when they’re eight or eighteen or even twenty-eight! But as you’re sowing those seeds of love and compassion and tenderness and selflessness, those are things that will reap a harvest and will bear fruit in your children’s lives in time to come.

Dannah: That’s true, Nancy. You used the word “persevering” to describe your mother, to honor her. Tell us a little bit about why that word came to your mind.

Nancy: Well, lots of words came to mind! But I think of my mother as persevering. You know, she was widowed unexpectedly at the age of forty. My dad dropped dead of a heart attack, September 1, 1979. My dad was fifty-three; he was thirteen years older than my mother.

She was widowed with no notice. He was gone just instantly! She had at that time seven children ages eight to twenty-one—so very much still informative life stages, making decisions. This was just no warning. This was a huge blow!

But I’ve watched my mother persevere through that season, now more than forty years as a widow—and now as a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She’s in her eighties now, still alive, still praying for us. Robert and I talk to her every Sunday—and often more frequently than that. But at least we’re her “Sunday caller,” and we pray for her, but she also prays for us. 

I watched her through suffering, through loss. Not many years after my dad’s homegoing in 1979, in 1986 our number six sibling, David, who was a twenty-two year-old college student at the time (my youngest brother), was killed in an automobile wreck. Some people call it an “accident,” but there are no accidents with God. 

But I watched. You know, for a parent to lose a child . . . there’s nothing like that! Here she was as a young-ish widow, losing this very vibrant, loving, compassionate son, David. I watched her persevere through hard times, through hard places.

Going back to before my dad’s death . . . My mother was nineteen when she married my dad, who was thirty-two. She was, at that time, an extremely gifted singer, a classically trained vocalist. She had a promising career ahead of her. When she and my dad got married, their plan was that she would continue that plan for about five years, and then they would have children.

Well, within those first five years, they had six children! So God’s plan was different than their original plan! But, as I look back, I think about how she embraced the gift of children. She had six children ages five and under. I’m the oldest; I was born nine months and four days after they got married. 

Dannah: A honeymoon baby!

Nancy: A honeymoon baby. I watched her embrace the calling of having young children, I watched her sacrifice her career in music . . . though I don’t think she ever would have considered it a sacrifice. 

And speaking of her singing, Honey, do you remember when we were dating and we were riding in your car somewhere. I had a CD and I said, “I want you to hear a song.” I popped the CD in the player.

Robert: Right.

Nancy: And I played a little bit of this song. And then I said to you, “Do you know who that is singing?”

Robert: And I said, “No, I have no idea!” It was a very-trained mezzo soprano voice. 

Nancy: Operatic. 

Robert: Operatic, yes, and so you handed me the case, the box that the CD came in, and it said, “Nancy DeMoss.” And I said, “What? No way!” And then you smiled and said, “It’s actually my mother, Nancy DeMoss.” 

Nancy: Not to be confused with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. 

Robert: Exactly!

Nancy: So I grew up in a home where my mom sang these beautiful sacred classics. In fact, as I was little and learning the piano, I accompanied my mother. The first time, I think, I was like six years old. I was accompanying her on the piano with just very simple accompaniment. But as I got older, she would sing in church, and I would play for her.

It’s the type of voice that kids would kind of laugh at if your mother sang this way. It wasn’t a popular voice at all, but I grew up thinking this music was just beautiful! 

In fact, that CD which is an Easter CD called Life Eternally Yours, as well as a Thanksgiving CD that she made decades ago (recorded in London), we’re making them available at ReviveOurHearts.com to our listeners who’d like to listen to some really old-time, beautiful, sacred music. Those are available for a free download, for somebody who’d like to hear more of that.

Robert: I dare you to put on the promotions, “This is Nancy DeMoss singing.” I dare you to say that! 

Nancy: Well, if anybody hears me sing, they will know that it is another Nancy DeMoss! But that was a part of my mother’s legacy. To this day, every Thanksgiving I pull out that Thanksgiving CD (it’s not a CD anymore now; it’s on my phone), and I play that Thanksgiving album.

And every Easter, including just several weeks ago this past Easter, I pull out that Easter album and play that. It just blesses me! It’s a part of my heritage—a mother who loved gospel music, loved to sing, loved to make music to the Lord, and blessed our family with that music. So that was a joy of mine growing up!

Dannah: Beautiful, Nancy. You wouldn’t want to hear me or my mom sing! But we had lots of parties, slumber parties, where we got out our “hairbrush microphones!” and sang at the top of our lungs!

My mom just made everything fun, approachable. and. You know what? That ushered me into trusting her when she led me into deeper things, like reading my Bible when I was eight years old or praying. I remember my mom as such a lover of the Word and a prayer warrior.

And, Nancy, here’s the thing: she was the first believer in our family, so she did not have the gift of that legacy of faith being passed to her. In a lot of ways she didn’t know how to be a Christian mom. She had a good mom. She had a mom who was hardworking.

Like your mother, my mother’s mother was widowed at a young age and had three children to raise. She did that with faithfulness and perseverance, but she didn’t do it with faith. And so, my mom didn’t have all of the tools that I have been given to be a godly mother. And yet, she learned how to be that by being in the Word and by asking the Lord every day, “Lord, teach me to be a godly mother!”

Nancy: What a beautiful thing to see, how God used her to start a whole new family line! And now you’re passing that on to your daughters and your granddaughters; little as they are, you have a role in their lives already.

I know that some listening to us, when they think of their mom or their grandmom, they don’t think of a legacy of godliness, of gentleness, of kindness, of goodness. Maybe feel like they are inadequate, don’t have the tools. Maybe even thinking about mothering is painful, because of the legacy they have inherited. 

But what a sweet thing to see how God can rewrite our family line and give us grace and wisdom through His Word, to be transformed by the power of that Word!

Dannah: I think of a verse of Scripture that says, “Though the mother forgets the baby at her breast, I will not forget you” (Isa. 49:15 paraphrased). You may have a legacy where your mom has neglected you or forgotten you or not been able to nurture you because she wasn’t nurtured.

But the Lord will not forget you, and the Lord will teach you. He will give you those gifts—that love, that compassion, that kindness, that gentleness. He has not left!

Nancy: Yes, Dannah, thanks for that word of encouragement. I think that’s going to bring hope to moms or grandmoms who may be feeling like such a failure or so overwhelmed or so inadequate. Who are saying, “God’s grace is sufficient for me to do and be who He’s called me to be today.”

I thank the Lord for the gift of our mothers, the influence they’ve had in our lives, and for the grace of God that also overcomes their shortcomings, their failures . . . and who does the same for us! 

We’re going to continue this conversation tomorrow with Dannah and Robert, and we’re going to talk about the next generation. Robert, your daughters—who are beautiful moms themselves now—are going to give a tribute to their mom, your late wife Bobbie. You’ll want to be sure to join us tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts to hear that tribute and some others as well.

And don’t forget to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and pull up that page called A Mother’s Legacy, that will give you some resources for yourself and for other moms. You’ll find links to some past Revive Our Hearts blogs and videos on motherhood.

And there’s also a download there to an album that you’ll hear some from tomorrow . . . and that’s an album, Honey, that you and Bobbie, your late wife, and Julie and Missy—your daughters—and Abby, your granddaughter, made.

Robert: Yes, and she called it Music to a Mother’s Ear. I’m eager for our listeners to be able to hear that!

Nancy: That’s available also at that page, A Mother’s Legacy, at ReviveOurHearts.com

Dannah: So what word would you use to honor your mother? Think about that, pray about that. If your mother is still here on this earth, take some time, write her a note of very meaningful encouragement and honor her!

Nancy: Thank you, Dannah, for that really important reminder! I’d love to close today’s program by playing for you just a little bit of another song on my mother’s Easter album, the much-beloved “How Great Thou Art.” 

Whether your mother recorded with a whole orchestra—or not—Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to inspire you to honor your mother. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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