Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Power of a Parent’s Example

Leslie Basham: Here’s the author of the new book, Lies Girls Believe, Dannah Gresh.

Dannah Gresh: Carla was a single mom I met at one of the focus groups conducted for Lies Girls Believe. Her story stands out to me as the single, most-powerful, impactful story I’d heard while I was on the road. I was in tears, and they were tears of sadness for what she’d experienced. But tears mostly for hope because her story, I think, is a powerful message that every mom, no matter how old her daughter may be, needs to hear.

Carla: So many of the things my daughter struggles with goes back to watching me live my life and learning from my actions. She doesn’t follow directions or obey easily because she saw me live in rebellion.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for February 5, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Are you the mother of a daughter? Today’s Revive Our Hearts program is going to remind you that whatever mistakes you’ve made, whatever lies you may have believed, God’s Truth really can set you free. As you experience freedom as a mother or a grandmom, you’re going to become a tool in God’s hand to help set your daughter or granddaughter free.

Carla was one of the Christian women who attended nationwide focus groups that my friend, Dannah Gresh, facilitated as she was preparing to write Lies Girls Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, along with the companion book, A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe.

Those are the latest editions in the series of “Lies” books, beginning with Lies Women Believe, then Lies Young Women Believe and then Lies Men Believe and now Lies Girls Believe and that Mom’s Guide. I’m holding a copy of each of these books in my hand. They are beautiful. We’re so thrilled to be releasing those this week with our friends at Moody Publishers.

And, Dannah, you finished Lies Girls Believe—that people had been long expecting, long hoping for, eagerly asking for—you finished it well over a year ago.

But we decided that it couldn’t be released until we also had this Mom’s Guide done to go with it.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: Why did you feel it was so important for us to have both?

Dannah: Well, the truth of the matter is, I finished one deadline—and on time. (laughter) Have you ever been there? And the other, not so much. And we had discussion about releasing them separately, but the publisher, Moody Publisher, said, “No, no, no, no.” Sometimes a book that you write comes out with kind of . . . It’s an entrée, and there’s a side-dish book, a study guide for example. This is not that. This is two entrées. You need both of them together.

When I thought about that, that was a powerful visual imagery for me. I realized it’s true because I can’t shape your daughter’s or your granddaughter’s or the tween girls’ in your churches spiritual lives. Only God can ultimately do that. But I’m not the best tool—the mom is, the grandma is, the small-group leader, the Sunday school class leader.

Nancy: Somebody who’s doing life with them.

Dannah: Yes. Somebody who’s doing life with them, that can disciple them and help them through this. So we wanted to make sure these books were released together, and we really want to encourage moms and grandmothers to use them together, not just to buy the Lies Girls Believe for their tween and set them loose.

Nancy: Well, as you did these focus groups, you realized that, as mothers were living out the truth, their daughters were more likely to do the same. Was there a particular story that kind of made that fact really clear to you?

Dannah: Oh, definitely. There was one focus group, right here in Michigan, as a matter of fact. This mom had driven quite some distance to come participate in the focus group. It was very important for her.

She was a single mom. In the book, her name appears as Carla. That’s not her real name. Her story is real, and it’s riveting.

Carla: I had my daughter when I was just seventeen. We basically grew up together. In high school, I was dating a very good Christian guy. He treated me with love and respect, but I ran from him. I didn’t think I deserved to be treated that way.

I got pregnant with another guy’s baby. My Christian boyfriend still offered to marry me, but my heart was crushed, and I ran again.

Dannah: Now, before we get too far, I should tell you that the silver lining, Nancy, is that she chose to keep her baby, her precious baby girl. But as that sweet girl grew up, she began to see evidence that her daughter was believing lies, and she realized that they were lies that she herself had planted as a mother.

Carla: I was boy crazy, yet I didn’t want my daughter to find her identity in boys the way I did. She did not submit or obey. And it all goes back to watching my life and learning from my actions. At school, she excelled. But the only thing the teacher ever talked to me about was obedience and submission.

Dannah: So this sweet girl—like many—was struggling with submitting, obeying, making good choices in her life. But it wasn’t until Carla hit a really dark moment in her life, in the aftermath of a particularly bad relationship, this mom finally cried out to God for help.

Carla: When you’re in the darkest place, God shines the brightest.

Dannah: In that dark pit, in that loneliness, in that despair, God sent a pastor to Carla, a pastor and his wife, and they introduced her to Christ. She made a decision to follow Him, but she told them, “Listen, I’m pretty off the rails here. I’m complicated.”

That pastor and his wife invited Carla and her daughter to move in with them, and they began a process of retraining her heart and her mind to believe truth instead of the lies that had been directing her behavior almost all of her life.

They didn’t just say, “Hey, no boys,” although that was part of it, “no more this, no more that.” They said, “No, no. The first thing you need is for your heart to be filled with truth.” And slowly that began to transform Carla’s mind, and it was basically Scripture verse by Scripture verse, as this mom told me.

And as her heart was transformed, she began to see how her lifestyle had impacted her daughter.

Carla: Even though she had seen me date in the past, I made a decision to stop dating entirely so that I could be an example for her.

I was a full-time cosmetologist and the sole breadwinner for my family. But I felt like I had to get into her classroom to reinforce the need for her to respect authority and submit. I took a job with a cosmetic sales company so that I could work from home and volunteer at her school.

Dannah: So this mom took some radical actions. She decided to stop dating, even though in her heart, she wanted to be married. She wanted a father for her daughter. But she felt like she needed to demonstrate a different lifestyle and pattern.

She quit her job. She managed to be the breadwinner for her family by having a job at home, primarily so she could go into her daughter’s school, volunteer, and help her with that submission and obedience problem.

Nancy: These are really radical steps she was taking. It was her radical obedience and desire to pursue Christ and truth passionately that were necessary in order for her to see God do a work in her daughter’s life.

Dannah: Yes, absolutely, and she knew that. These weren’t decisions made out of legalism. They were truly, “I need You to rescue my daughter, God, and I’m going to go with You to rescue her.”

Nancy: She needed her own heart rescued, and that’s what God was doing. So the focus wasn’t just on, “What do I do to rescue my daughter?” but “What is God doing to rescue me?”

Dannah: Yes, exactly. And He was at work in both of their lives.

While that sweet single mom was not dating anyone, that Christian boy whom she’d dated in high school heard that Carla had come to know Christ and that her life was changing. He took a great risk, and he corresponded with her and said, “I’ve loved you forever. I still love you. Is there any chance that this could . . .”

They began to correspond. The pastor and his wife were carefully mentoring. There were lots of decisions about, “Is this good for my daughter? Is it the right time?”

And here’s what blew me away, Nancy, this is why the story stands out to me: Carla was getting married that coming Saturday, but she was sitting with me at a focus group to talk about lies girls believe. And I said, “What are you doing here?”

And this is what she told me: “Because I’m free.”

Carla: I’m totally free from the sin that had a hold on my life, and I want other moms to know that they can be free, too. It may take some drastic decisions, but they can be free. And their freedom will dramatically increase their daughter’s ability to walk in truth.

Nancy: Wow. I think we need to be quick to say that not every story has that kind of fairy-tale ending—although, that was a long journey and process that God had her on. We look at the ending, and we say, “Wow! That turned out really well.”

But that mom had to make some tough decisions. She had to not just focus on her daughter’s obedience and following Christ, but saying, “What is God saying to me?” And the change that came about in her daughter’s life, ultimately, was the fruit of the change that God brought about in her own life.

Dannah: Beautiful. Yes. And that sweet girl I met, she wasn’t boy crazy. She was God crazy. I couldn’t imagine this sweet, compliant girl being disobedient and having troubles with submission. And Carla said, “Listen, you’re witnessing, you’re seeing a miracle. This is not the little girl I had a few years ago.”

Nancy: This is how God intends us to pass truth on from one generation to the next—not just telling them what’s true, but us living out truth and obedience to God’s Word and walking with Him. That then creates a hunger, a thirst, an appetite in the lives of those that we’re responsible to lead.

So, Mom, you’re leading your daughter to truth. You’re not just telling her the truth. You’re modeling truth—or believing lies.

Dannah: And modeling that.

Nancy: And modeling that.

Dannah: In many ways, don’t you think, Nancy, truth is better caught than taught?

Nancy: Absolutely. We see it. And I’ll tell you this: Those who follow us, they sense when we’re saying something that’s different than what we’re living. Even if they may not know the words to this, they’re looking for integrity. They’re looking for authenticity. They’re looking for our lives to match our message.

Dannah: I think children are little lie detectors. (laughter)

Nancy: Yes. Right.

Dannah: They really are, and they know when what you’re telling them is not what you truly believe.

That’s why I felt like it was so important in AMom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe to outline what I think are the three most common lies the focus groups revealed that moms were believing. And I have to confess that I was a little convicted when I was beginning to see them manifest in women. While I was pointing my finger at them, I realized there’s a whole bunch of fingers pointing back at me.

Nancy: So let’s dive into one of those lies that, Dannah, you found commonly believed by moms—and there are actually two sides of this lie. Some tend to believe more one side, and some tend to believe more the other side. You might say it this way: “I can control how my kids turn out. If I do this right, if I teach them this, if I have the right formula, then my kids are going to believe the right things; they’re going to turn out right.”

Now, an opposite side of that lie would be: The kids turn out in a way that’s disappointing, and you say, “I have no control over that. I can’t influence. I have nothing to do with the way my kids turn out.”

I think the enemy can get us trapped and discouraged if we go in either one of those directions.

Dannah: Oh, yes. And some moms might believe one or the other. But I felt like a ping pong ball in a ping pong match sometimes going back and forth between them.

There were times when I felt like I deserved a “Mother-of-the-Year” award for what a great Christian mom I was. And I’m doing all the things—the Awana, the Bible memory, the plant the truth, plant the truth. And I had it all together.

And then, at times, I was comatose. I literally felt comatose when my children would face a dilemma or make a decision that I knew was not in alignment with Scripture, especially as they became tweens and teens—this sense that, “I can’t do anything about that. There’s nothing I can do to stop it, and I can’t change it.”

The word “comatose” is actually interesting because that’s how I would describe how I felt, and that word “comatose” is actually interesting because that’s the best word I could use to describe how I felt. And that word kept coming up in these focus groups as moms were describing their experiences.

Nancy: I think it’s interesting—both of those come out of a sense of self-protection and pride. Feeling, first of all, “If I’m doing this and this and this, then I’m going to have a certain guaranteed outcome. If my kids turn out great, then I can take any credit for it.” We wouldn’t say that, but it’s feeling the sense of self-satisfaction that we did something right, and it turned out okay.

But then you experience that frustration, that sense of helplessness, that, “No matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to influence the outcome.”

And when it comes down to it, this is for moms, dads, grandparents, this is a walk of humility. It’s a walk of faith.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: You realize there’s no formula. There’s no one-to-one correspondence. You have in the Scriptures illustrations of godly parents who had ungodly children. You have ungodly parents who had godly children. And we can all think of illustrations of those. Scripture doesn’t always tell us, “This is why. They did this wrong, so their kids turned out bad,” or “They did this right, so their kids turned out right.”

It’s all, all grace, and it’s Christ.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: The goal of parenting . . . and you’ve taught me so much about this, Dannah, as I’ve watched you walk through things with your kids. The goal isn’t that we do this perfectly. The goal is that we show the gospel to our kids and to those who are learning from us. We show them we do blow it. We don’t do it perfectly. We’re not God. We’re not the Savior. We do sin. And we need grace. And we need the gospel.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: I think it’s more impacting on these kids to see their parents fail and get to the cross in humility, to get God’s grace, than it is to say, “Oh, my parents never blew it.”

Dannah: Oh, yes. Bob and I sure could never say we never blew it as parents. We were very mindful of how broken we were.

What comes to my mind is how God didn’t control Adam and Eve. He didn’t choose to control them. He gave them the choice so that the behavioral decisions they made were real. They were from deep inside of them.

Nancy: He could have. He wanted to be loved. And He didn’t want paid lovers, or forced lovers.

Dannah: He could have built a moat around that tree. Right?

Nancy: Sure.

Dannah: Or He could have made it not bear fruit. He wanted to direct them, or He wouldn’t have told them, “Hey, don’t eat from that tree because you will surely die the minute you do.” So there were boundaries, and yet He gave them the choice to obey and submit or not to.

And when we act as moms, “Oh, I’m in control.” Wow! We’re better than God because He gave them the opportunity to choose to walk with Him.

Nancy: Or to walk away.

Dannah: Or to walk away.

When I think about parents and children, controlling or not controlling, and walking away, I think of Eli the priest.

Nancy: Yes.

Dannah: His children were out of control. They weren’t under anybody’s control—not even, I think, their own self-discipline. God isn’t angry at Eli because his children weren’t perfect. He is, it seems in Scripture, addressing the fact that Eli didn’t try to do anything to address their sin and ill behavior.

Nancy: It seems like he was complacent as a parent. He had his walk with God, but he didn’t, Scripture says, discipline his children. He didn’t rein them in. He didn’t challenge them or confront them when they sinned. So the point wasn’t that he couldn’t make his children godly. The point was that he was being complacent and not providing the leadership they needed.

So really, we’re just stressing the importance of parents being intentional.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: Of parents saying, “This is not a formula. I’m not determining how my kids turn out one way or the other, but I still need to model godliness to them.”

Dannah: That’s right.

Nancy: And, as mothers—biological, adoptive, spiritual moms—we can’t be prideful, thinking, If we do it this way then we’re going to have great kids.

And we can’t be complacent saying, “They’re going to turn out the way they’re going to turn out.”

We need to be intentional about planting truth in their hearts. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that—and, Dannah, you and I have talked about this. I am mystified at times as I watch parents who seem to be not intentional about establishing any boundaries around their children. I’ve watched some of the choices their kids are making—and I’m talking girls, young teens, not adult kids. That’s a different set of circumstances.

But I’m thinking, Does that mom, does that dad realize that they may be setting their child up for failure and hurt and pain by a lack of establishing boundaries that that child needs, that child that doesn’t have the maturity, the wisdom to establish on their own?

Dannah: Yes. We see that modeled in the Garden where God gives Adam and Eve those boundaries. It’s a healthy thing. The opposite of this lie is that, “I can’t control. I’m not in control.” The opposite isn’t, “Yes, you should control them or you shouldn’t try.” You should set boundaries. You should establish boundaries, godly boundaries that help protect them, help them learn to live inside of truth.

But, ultimately, it’s God who’s in control of those children, and it’s your children who have been given the choice.

Nancy: The Spirit of God has to open their eyes and make them desire Christ as the supreme treasure, the One they want to follow. And that’s why, maybe a mom’s greatest ministry in her daughter’s life is prayer. “Lord, would You move by Your Spirit in her heart.”

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: Earlier today you and I were interacting on social media with a woman who was expressing concern about a sixteen-year-old girl who was engaged in some really dangerous, destructive behavior. And the mom wanted to know, “What book can I give her to read?”

And we said, “Let’s start by praying. Let’s turn to the Lord who is the only One who can really open this girl’s eyes and give her a sense of the preciousness of Christ and the desirability of Christ and can bring her out of the lies and deception.”

Dannah: A book might outline rules and boundaries, but what that girl really needs is relationship.

The Bible tells us that God walked with Adam and Eve. Can you imagine? God walked with them in the cool of the garden.

Nancy: That’s what you’re inviting moms to do with their daughters as you wrote Lies Girls Believe for tween girls, ages eight to twelve, but then this Mom’s Guide. You’re helping moms to fulfill their responsibility to plant seeds of truth in their children without feeling the weight and the burden of, “It’s all up to me how my kids turn out.”

Dannah: Yes, or, “I can’t help it.”

I think the goal in there is not restraining their behavior but having relationship with them that helps them understand what the truth is. That’s what we see modeled in the Garden of Eden. God walked with them. He had relationship. He did not restrain them. He told them what the boundaries were, but He walked with them so they understood His love and the relationship they could have with them.

Nancy: He asked them questions. He listened to their answers. And I think this is what is sometimes hard in the whole parenting thing, to know when is the time to just give directive—do this or don’t do that. Sometimes that needs to happen.

Dannah: Sometimes that’s real efficient. “Don’t do that. You’re going to die. Don’t walk across this eighteen-lane highway. You’re going to die.”

We want to do that same urgent thing with some of these moral issues that our kids are facing today because we know the danger. But if you don’t take time to explain to that toddler what will happen while you’re telling them, “Don’t run across the road,” they’re never going to, ultimately, not run across the road when you’re not around. We have to do the same things with moral boundaries: Why. What’s the danger. What’s going to happen. But then set them free, with God’s Spirit to choose to walk with Him.

Nancy: Oh, Dannah, I think moms, and ultimately their daughters, are going to be so helped by these two resources that you’ve written. I had the joy of being involved in the editorial process with them, so I’m very familiar with them. And you piggybacked off of the things that we taught in Lies Women Believe and Lies Young Women Believe that we co-authored.

So now this new resource is available, Lies Girls Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, and A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe, and this week we’re releasing and offering both of those, that set of books, as our way of saying “thank you” when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts. For $30 or more, we would be glad to send that to you.

In order to make that donation of $30 or more, visit us at, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Now, you may say, “I don’t have a daughter,” or “My daughter’s all grown,” or “I don’t have a tween girl.” Well, you know somebody who does, and I can’t think of a greater investment that you could make in the life of that mom and that girl than to say, “Here’s something I heard about today. I want to make it available to you.” You’re going to be helping to plant seeds of truth in those girls that are going to produce fruit for generations to come.

So I want to encourage you to get a hold of those resources, if not for yourself, then for somebody you know that can be blessed by them.

Dannah, we mentioned yesterday that the ministry you’ve been doing for tween girls and their moms for years, which has been called Secret Keeper Girl, is going through a name change.

Dannah: Yes. I’m so excited. After fifteen years, we are changing our name to True Girl to formalize what’s already been kind of a natural partnership between Revive Our Hearts and True Woman. You’ve blessed our ministry so much.

Nancy: And now Revive Our Hearts is going to be partnering with you and your ministry to promote those True Girl events all across the country—fifty to eighty of them a year in different cities—beginning under the True Girl brand this coming fall. So be looking for those. You’ll be able to get the schedule at

And, oh, I don’t know that we can imagine the fruit that we will see for generations to come as moms bring their tween girls to those True Girl events and those true girls become, in time, true women of God. What a joy that’s going to be.

Dannah: Oh, I can’t wait to see it all unfold.

Nancy: Now, when you think about topics like sex, gender identity, eating disorders, depression, social media, how do you know when it’s the right time to introduce those subjects to your girls? And you may be thinking, I think eight- to twelve-year-olds are a little young to be talking about some of those topics.”

Well, we’re going to discuss that challenging question on the next Revive Our Hearts when we explore the lies moms believe and the truth that sets them free.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping women of all ages be set free. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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