Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Picture Your Home

Leslie Basham: Donna Otto understands how much we really need each other.

Donna Otto: I am who I am because older women took the time to reach down into my life, not waiting for me to ask, not looking around saying, “Which deserves it most?” because I didn’t. They reached down into my life and had an effect on me. I can tell you woman after woman from the seventh grade straight through till my life right now who did that.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, May 9th.Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Our guest this week is Donna Otto, a speaker and an author and the founder of an organization we’ll talk more about called Homemakers by Choice. I love the title of that organization, and we want to hear Donna share some more about that.

But most recently she’s written a book called Finding Your Purpose as a Mom. The subtitle is How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground.

I want to tell you this, Donna. I’m not a mom. I’m not even a wife. I’m a single woman; but early in this book you said that there are things here that apply to women in every season of life, and I found that to be the case.

So let me say to our listeners, even if you aren’t a mom, there’s some really rich material here about living a life that’s orderly and peaceful, and creating a climate in your relationships that’s conducive to pointing people to God, pointing people to Christ and to His ways.

So Donna, thank you for writing this book. Thank you for your heart for home. And thank you for being on Revive Our Hearts with us this week.

Donna: Thank you. It’s fun to be here. It’s good to be with you.

Nancy: Donna, most of our listeners can’t see you. We do have an audience of women here with us today, but most who are listening to us by radio can’t see you. They can’t see that your hands are always moving and you’re very animated and dynamic, and when you talk about home, your eyes sparkle. You have a love for home that comes out of your love for the Lord.

You also have a vision for home being something more than what we read about in the magazines. We have a lot of emphasis in our culture about beautiful homes and Martha Stewart. But you’re saying home is a lot more than that.

Donna: Yes, I am. And I think you’re right. We have channels on television—you know television, the important role it plays in the lives of Americans 24/7—embroidered sheets and gourmet meals. But when I talk to women face-to-face, they are not doing that, for sure!

Nancy: That’s not where most of us live.

Donna: They’re barely keeping it in order and their family fed and the clothes done! So let’s narrow that gap a little bit and be realistic while we’re talking about embroidered sheets and Martha Stewart.

I think we have to come back to the Scriptures and say, “What does God call us to?” I believe that the woman’s role in the home is very significant in setting the tone and atmosphere.

So, who am I? Where am I coming from? I shared a little bit about my history and my past. I think I would have to come into that and say, from that I want to harvest wisdom.

Nancy: For those of our listeners who didn’t hear our last program, you shared that you came out of a very broken and barren home.

It wasn’t until you got into a local evangelical church that you saw family as God intended it to be. You began to see that you wanted something for your own family that was different than what you had grown up with.

Donna: Absolutely. I craved it, almost. I know that God knew then what I was going to do now. I know that.

Nancy: He really was preparing you for that.

Donna: He was, but at the same time I think there’s a bridge between my past and my present. I believe that bridge came from what I said earlier: Be realistic about where you’re headed. Look at the past, know what you’re bringing into the present, be realistic about it, and then harvest wisdom from it. Harvest wisdom from the past.

So, one of the things I did, somewhat subconsciously but also quite consciously, was say, “What do I want my home to look like?”

Nancy: Did you ask that question before you got married or as a young wife?

Donna: Well, I think I asked that question internally before I was married. It was after I was married . . . I had a really interesting experience that I want to tell you about because it was the place where I actually put it on paper.

I love to put things on paper. It sort of records things; it holds me accountable when I see it written down. I know statistically that the success rate goes from 20% for the person who says, “I have a goal” and hasn’t written it down to 80% for the person who says, “I have a goal; I have written it down, and I’m going to go about doing it.” Eighty percent. That’s a huge difference.

Nancy: When did you write it down?

Donna: I wrote it down when we were early married. I wrote it down as a result of going to an event. This is a wild story, but someone invited me to go to a meeting, an opportunistic meeting.

So I got there, and this man had an eight-foot utility table in the front. As we came into the room, he said, “Go down in front, and you’re going to find some piles. In those piles are magazine articles, pictures, photographs; they’re all categorized, and I want you to pick those pictures that most appeal to you from each pile.”

So I went down there; and what I found, to my wondering eyes, was jewelry, home accessories, yachts . . .

Nancy: Pictures of all these things.

Donna: . . . piled, categorized in piles. Well, I was thumbing through them, and I picked the biggest diamond I could find and the biggest boat I could find. I never had a boat, never won a boat. Big car, big everything.

Then we were sent back to our chairs, and there was a poster with some Scotch tape on each chair and a pair of scissors. “Cut those pictures out; put them on the poster and wait.”

Then the speaker began to speak, and he said, “These things you have put on your poster—aren’t they wonderful?” And he began to incite and inspire everyone in this room to get this stuff.

Nancy: And here’s how.

Donna: And here’s how. “If you join me, you’ll make enough money to do this.”

But what he said which was most significant to me was, “Take it home. Put it on your refrigerator, because this is going to help you see it every day and strive for it. And you can make it.”

So that was life changing for me. This poor guy has no idea that years later I’m telling this story.

Nancy: Not in the sense that you set out to get the boat and the diamond.

Donna: Not materialistic things. So I think that was a part of inciting me with the need to get a plan.

The second part was to take some time to find out about yourself. So in harvesting wisdom from my past, I have to look at how those things affect my now. I have to take them and learn the truth from them, as to how they would look in my preparing of a new home.

Nancy: Give us an illustration of that. What did you harvest from your past that has helped you?

Donna: Okay; the relationship with my father, for example. I wanted so desperately to have a relationship with my father that I pretended that all of the things my father had done—including conceiving me before my parents were married, not knowing I was born for the first three years, not treating my mother with honor, not treating me with honor, ditching us for other women—all of the things that my father did were facts I pretended weren’t there. I put a cover over them.

But then they would pop out in my married life and in my parenting life. So I think it’s really important that we stop long enough and say, “When I harvest wisdom, I don’t want to be stuck there. I don’t want to be stuck there.”

I think if you’ve got something in your life that’s impeding your determination to be a godly wife and a godly mother and to create a home that glorifies God, pause long enough to do that.

Well, then I took a piece of paper, literally, and made an A-frame house with sides; and I put a little door on it and even a little chimney. If I were a technologically sound person (and I’m not), I probably would create that on my computer, and then along the outside of it I would have icons that would represent what I want to drag into the interior of our home.

I did that, and David and I talked about it. And that began to be the piece that hung on our refrigerator to remind us . . .

Nancy: . . . of where you’re headed.

So what were some of those pieces on the outside, the things that you wanted to be true in your life?

Donna: Well, one of the things I wanted, and it’s a silly thing that comes to my mind first, but I wanted celebrations. We celebrated nothing in my growing up time, and what we did celebrate was under duress.

So I wanted to have celebrations in our home—the small things and the large things. We put peace into our home. That’s one of the things that David and I both . . . he came from a very difficult home life, so we put peace.

And what does the Scripture say? He brings peace not as the world brings peace, but a different kind of peace.

Nancy: What else was on your picture that you wanted to have in your home?

Donna: Well, there were children—there were six children. But I only had one. I wanted six children. It actually took me a very long time to get over the fact that God had only given us one. It was many years later when I realized the effect of the older women in my life.

I can never say this without emotion, because I am who I am because older women took the time to reach down into my life, not waiting for me to ask, not looking around saying, “Which deserves it most?” because I didn’t.

They reached down into my life and had an effect on me. I can tell you woman after woman from the seventh grade straight through till my life right now who did that—some names you’d know and some names you’ve never heard of.

So the effect of the mentoring relationship in my life. . . . When I was 35 years old a woman came to me and said, “Could we have lunch? I’ve been watching you.”

Nancy: Was she an older woman or a younger woman?

Donna: Younger woman. We had lunch and she said, “I’ve been watching you carry that big Bible.” She said, “I’ve always been embarrassed to carry my Bible. I’ve been watching you.” And I realized, whether I liked it or not, someone was watching me. And that’s true for all of us.

Nancy: Although it was in your plan and on your picture to have six children, God only gave you one biological child. But as you’ve become a mentor to younger women, God has given you a lot of spiritual children, hasn’t He?

Donna: Yes, He has.

Nancy: So the takeaway is: What’s your picture for your home? No matter what your home of origin, you can learn from it; you can grow from it. But what is God’s vision for your home? What are the characteristics, the qualities?

Not so much how many children will God give you, because you don’t know the answer to that. But what qualities, what evidences of God’s heart and His character—celebration, peace, relationship, hospitality, conversation—what are the things that you want to be true of your home?

Ask God to give you His vision for your home and then to show you through His Word and through life experiences and through mentoring relationships how that picture in God’s time can become reality.

Leslie Basham: I think we all need to spend some time thinking about the picture we’re creating for our homes. Maybe it would be helpful to have your own picture to fill in, just like Donna Otto did.

If you’d like to do that, we have it on our website. You can download it for free by visiting www. ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also visit the site to order a copy of Donna’s book, Finding Your Purpose as a Mom. It’s our way of saying thank you for a donation of $20 or more.

When you order you’ll get a free bookmark that displays “Otto’s Mottos.” These are wise, practical sayings that Donna has been collecting over the years.

You can get the book and bookmark by visiting our website. If you’d rather call, ask for the book Finding Your Purpose as a Mom when you call 800-569-5959.

Do you ever feel like you’re always rushed? Do you face piles of paper that need your attention wherever you look? Donna Otto will offer some practical help tomorrow on these kinds of issues. I hope you’ll be with us for Revive Our Hearts .

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

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