Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here's Melissa Kruger:

Melissa Kruger: God gave families as the building block of all society. So this is a little insulation period where we have these children, and truthfully, they absorb so readily what we put before them.

We show them lots of things. We show them what to eat. We teach them how to walk. We teach them how to dress, how to tie their shoes. But one of the important things we get to teach them is how to be in a relationship with God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Friday, October 16, 2015.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In order to effectively serve others, you need to be filled up yourself. That's true for all of us. And I think moms especially need to learn how to connect with the Lord while so many other demands are pressing in on their time.

Melissa Kruger wants to help moms get to know God through His Word and get filled up with His strength and then engage in their important role with a renewed sense of purpose. She helps guide moms through this process in a Bible study she's written called, "Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood." I'll tell you more about how to get a copy at the end of today's program.

Now, Erin Davis is a mom of three young boys. She talked with Melissa about ways to pull the emergency brake and to set aside time to connect with God in a busy season of life. Erin and Melissa recorded this conversation at the Gospel Coalition's National Conference earlier this year. I know you will be encouraged as we listen.

Erin Davis: So, in your Bible study, "Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood," you just kind of lay it all out, which I appreciate, when you say if we want to have children who take their needs to prayer, we have to be women of prayer. If we want to have thankful children, we have to be thankful Mamas. If we want to have peaceful, kind and compassionate kids, they have to see that in us, which, frankly, sometimes that's a little hard for me to grasp. I kind of want to do the "do as I say, not as I do."

But I think that was brilliant because there are a lot of moms who will not take time to seek the Lord for their own good. But if we can give them the greater vision that you're really doing that for the sake of your children, then maybe they would. Maybe they would be motivated.

So talk to that mom who thinks, "I can't. I can't have a regular rhythm of time with the Lord." Tell her about the impact on her children.

Melissa: That's a great question because, yes, that whole thought process comes from the passage in Deuteronomy, which starts "Love the Lord your God . . . His commandments are to be on your heart . . . Teach them to your children as you go . . ." It talks about going along the road, as you see . . . put it on your gates. . .

Erin: Put it on your forehead.

Melissa: Yes. Put it everywhere.

Erin: For sure.

Melissa: But what he starts with is, "You love the Lord your God." Because what the Lord says is, "Impress them on your children."

I think of wax seals. If you want to make an impression, it has to be sure of the stamp before it can impress on someone else. And I think that's what we want to do as mothers. Children can suss out what we're doing, what we're really about. They know if it's true to us. They are very perceptive, and they see the reality of what's going on in the home.

So, I can't tell my daughter, "Be a woman of the Word. It's the most important thing in your life," if that hasn't been the path of my life. She's probably not really going to believe it because she's not going to see it transforming my life. So she might come to doubt, "Well, that's not really true. I know she said that, but she didn't really believe that."

Our children see what we most truly believe, and I think that's why the Lord calls us, first of all, to an affection for Himself because He understands that it's the love of Christ in our own hearts that will overflow to our children in wonderful ways.

And more than anything else, they need to see our relationship with the Lord. We do want our children to have life and life abundant, and there's no other fount but Jesus.

Erin: Right.

Melissa: And so I have to be drinking from that fount if I want to say, "Come! Come drink with me." So it really is a gift both to ourselves and to our children.

This was really helpful for me as a young mom: we like to make lists, and every day on my list I put "Time with the Lord." Sometimes that was one of the few things that made the list because this was more important for my children than a perfectly decorated home. This is more important for the life of my children than having them in twenty activities.

I really think we have to start with that belief. What's the most important gift I can give to my children? I think to be a mom who loves the Lord with all her heart, soul and strength is the greatest gift any child can receive.

Our world tells us all these different things to do as moms. Pinterest tells me all the ways I'm failing, more than anything else.

Erin: Oh, man, isn't that the truth. We all have mason jar envy, right?

Melissa: Yes! And they all have these cute homes. But I think children are attracted to the warmth of a smile more than a perfectly done birthday party.

Erin: I think you're right.

Melissa: They're just happy to have cake.

Erin: They are. Cake and ice cream, throw in a popsicle--that's a perfect party.

Melissa: Yes. They're happy.

Erin: So, as you're talking about that, I'm thinking . . . I don't know where this idea of our time with the Lord being called "quiet time" came from. I'm not really sure why we say, "You need to have quiet time." I don't know that I see that biblically. I mean, it's good to be still and be quiet before the Lord, but maybe we don't need to be hiding in the bathroom with our Bible and our journal while the little fingers are coming under the door. Has that happened at every mom's house? They're sticking their little fingers under the door!

Maybe we don't need to be up at 4 a.m. when the house is quiet. Maybe they need to see us with our Bibles open. Do you think that?

Melissa: Yes. I actually think that's a really sweet thing. My son gets up earliest of my children. So he'll sit, and he watches me read my Bible. And, you know, kids are really perceptive, and he is okay with me having that time. I'll say, "Mommy just needs to spend some time reading her Bible right now," and he'll quietly go off and do something else.

They really do seem to understand when they see it. "Oh, that's really important. Mommy is talking to God."

Erin: Yes.

Melissa: And I'll tell them, "I'm praying about you. I'm praying all these things for you." It even allows us to talk about it. They get to see it as this pattern of life, not just something we do on Sunday. And I hope, when they are old, they will remember Mommy reading her Bible and Daddy leading us in devotions. I hope those are the memories they have of us, because sometimes I'm scared of assuming it will be the frantic mother who's screaming at everyone to get in the car--which we all have those moments, too.

Erin: Right. Well, one thing I appreciate about my mom is that I know when I call and say, "Mom, will you pray for me?" that she will pray for me, and she will not stop praying until I call off the dogs. And looking back, I know that confidence is from being a little girl and watching her pray. I know she is a woman of prayer because of her telling me, just like you said, that she was praying for me.

So there's that foundation. And when my kids get to be sixteen, I want them to say, "Mom, will you pray for me?" And I think probably that will be as a result of years of them seeing me pray and me telling them that I pray for them. So we're building a foundation.

Melissa: That's right. And, really, it becomes a conversation of your home. It's interesting for me, because I got a text from my daughter saying, "Mommy, I'm praying for you."

So, here's the best thing: Yes, it blesses them. It teaches them the language of prayer. It also blesses us. My daughter is praying for me! How great is that?

Erin: How old is she?

Melissa: She's fourteen.

Erin: That's great!

Melissa: So, it becomes the language of your family.

When my youngest is afraid, we pray, and she feels safe. So you're teaching them how to have a relationship with God by having it with them.

Erin: Yes. So while you're walking with God in your season, you're teaching them how to walk with God in their season.

Melissa: That's right.

Erin: It's as if God had a plan when He created families.

Melissa: That's exactly right!

Erin: That makes me think of two stories. I work with teenagers a lot. A girl just wrote to me and said from little bitty, from her earliest memories, eighteen months to two years, she remembers sitting beside her Daddy. He had his Bible open; she had her little children's Bible open. She couldn't read it, but that was just the kind of discipline in their home. And now she has a voracious appetite for the Word. So I think those seeds get planted really early on.

Melissa: Yes.

Erin: And then something we do in our home, which we're trying to figure out just like everybody else is, but we do have quiet time. So it's household wide. Everybody goes to their room. It's not a punishment. It's not a time-out. But everybody is quiet and still. I want them to have that discipline of being okay with sitting still for ten minutes. It's different for every kid.

I have one kid who's really introverted and kind of likes to be alone. He's like, "Can we have quiet time now?" And I have one kid who's really extroverted, and it can be a little more agitating to him.

But that passage, "Be still and know that I am God," which everybody knows, is almost like, "You have to do it. You have to pull the emergency brake." Nobody is going to say to you, "Why don't you go take a fifteen-minute break and be still before the Lord?" Our job is to be still.

Melissa: That's right.

Erin: So I'm trying to teach my kids the joy of just being still. They don't have to have big prayer time every time. They don't have to read their Bible every time. Just to not get agitated with the stillness.

Melissa: And that's increasingly important in our day when we're beeped and buzzed. If you can't learn it young, we're going to be attached to our phones. And I think all of that gets us thinking about, "What's life about?" And it just keeps us quiet. . . Stillness, I think, is when we really start thinking about God.

Erin: Yes.

Melissa: And so I think it is important. And children from a young age should have just a few minutes to be by themselves and to just learn to be quiet. And that's a really helpful thing as they grow in their walk with the Lord.

Erin: Yes.

You have some verses for moms to memorize in the back and some verses for kids. Do you have some ideas how moms and kids can memorize Scripture or how we can get Scripture into our children's hearts?

Melissa: Yes. That was one thing I loved doing. To be honest, I would only do it in the summers because I felt we had more time when we were all home. Not that we weren't learning Scripture during the year, but that was our favorite time.

I would put up the verse for the week, and what I did in the back of the study was I also asked a few questions. First of all, we'd study a character trait each week. So it might be something like "trust."

The first thing we would do is start out with: "What does that word mean?" Sometimes I forget my children don't know what words mean.

So I may be talking about, "Don't let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth," and they have no idea what we're talking about. What's unwholesome? That's a big word to them.

So we would actually talk about, "You all tell me some not-nice words." And they could readily come up with those. They'll say, "The 'S' word." "What's the 'S' word?" "Stupid."

They'll come up with these words that they know they're not supposed to say and things like that. And then we'll talk about that. Then I'll say, "What are helpful words? What are good words?"

So part of it is defining for them what the verse even means, and we'll spend all week talking about it. Those are the things I would try to ask them and I would look for those to praise them. "Those were such kind words you said to your sister then. Thank you so much. You're living out our verse today." I try to really bring the verse alive and into their world.

And also, I would put a passage of a story that went along with the verse so that they could read it in the context of Jesus talking to one of His disciples and see their interactions.

I think that helped the kids. Yes, they're working on memorizing the verses, but it's not just root memory. We're trying to unpack what the Word actually means.

Erin: Sure.

Melissa: When they're young, I love songs. I think it's Steve Green who has some wonderful verses put to music. There's one about, "Do everything without complaining and without arguing," that would run through my head and convict me as a mom. The kids would just be in the back of the car singing these songs, and they don't even know they're learning Scripture, but I always look at it as a deposit that's going in, and hopefully one day the Lord will use it to bear fruit in their lives.

What you memorize as a young child, you tend to remember the rest of your life. I still can remember poems I memorized in elementary school. And so our hope is that by putting the Word in their hearts, it will bear good fruit later on in life.

Erin: I think that goes back to what we were talking about earlier, which was, What is the intersection between motherhood and my faith? What deposits am I putting in my children? 

I mean, it's certainly important to help them with their academics. That's great. And it's great to help them learn how to kick a soccer ball. But not over ingraining the Word of God into their little hearts.

I find that my children really have quite an aptitude for memorizing Scripture that surprises me.

Melissa: Way more than me.

Erin: Yes.

Melissa: My brain is fuzzy and getting slower every day. And they can just pick it up so quickly.

Erin: Yes.

Melissa: Actually, the grandparents one year asked all of our kids to do something for them for Christmas rather than get a gift.

Erin: Oh, that's nice.

Melissa: So my daughter decided to memorize the whole passage of Romans 8.

Erin: Wow!

Melissa: So on Christmas day, she recited the whole passage.

Erin: Wow!

Melissa: It was her gift to them, but what a gift to her! I don't think I know any passages that long. But their brains can just take it in so well at that young age.

Erin: Yes.

Melissa: It was a delight to see. I think about those words, that they'll always be in her. It won't return void.

Erin: And that Word is hidden in her heart that she might not sin against God. You never know when she's going to be in a situation, and Romans 8 is going to bubble up.

Melissa: That's right.

Erin: I have a goal of them memorizing one verse a month. We just kind of started with The Lord's Prayer, and my oldest two got it in a day. And that's a lengthy passage; that's several verses! I was, like, "Oh! Well, okay, we'll move on."

I'm amazed by how excited they are about memorizing Scripture and their aptitude for picking it up very quickly. So moms can help their kids memorize Scripture.

You say where all moms need to start is this question of What is my purpose? You talked about our purpose in life is to know God, but what is the purpose of motherhood? What was God's design there?

Melissa: Well, I think God gave families as the building block of all society. This is this little insulation period where we have these children. And truthfully, they absorb so readily what we put before them.

They're given to us, and we teach them lots of things. We teach them what to eat. We teach them how to walk. We teach them how to dress, how to tie their shoes. But one of the important things we get to teach them is how to be in a relationship with God and what that means.

I think we teach it in a lot of ways. So often we think we only teach by our positive example. But one thing that really struck me as a hopeful thing is that I can even teach my children by my negative examples. What if I'm a mom that totally messes up?

When I just lose it and I yell at all my children--which has happened--and I realize I felt such a sense of failure when that happens: I'm a bad mom. I failed in my role as a mother. It was like the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit saying, "This is your chance to teach them what to do with your sin."

Because just as I teach my children how to brush their teeth to do away with the plaque, they're going to sin. They're going to have hard relationship struggles. They're going to struggle with their brother and their sister. So the best that I can do, even in my mess-ups, is to teach them. How do I relate to other people? So I went to all of them, and I apologized.

I said, "Mommy was really wrong. You may have been wrong. . .maybe you didn't do the right thing by not listening to me (or something like that), but there is no reason for Mommy to ever yell. I apologize. Will you forgive me?"

And so at that moment, I'm teaching them this is how we get clean in our relationships: We confess. We ask forgiveness.

Erin: That's the gospel. The gospel is: I sinned. Even though I didn't want to act like that, I did. But there's forgiveness, and Jesus wants to forgive me, and then it's gone.

Melissa: Yes.

Erin: My boys know that when they mess up. One of my sons is particularly prone to feeling shame and condemnation. So we taught him that verse about God putting our sins in the bottom of the ocean. So when he messes up and feels that shame, we say, "Where is it?" "It's in the bottom of the ocean." I'm preaching the gospel to him.

Melissa: That's right. And so I think maybe that's the best definition of the purpose of motherhood: Preach the gospel to your children. That's the thing they need the most. And it's not just preached by a perfect life.

Erin: True.

Melissa: They see it in how we deal with our own failure, because they need to see both the pattern of our life, which is hopefully growing to know the Lord more, and what we do when our lives don't reflect rightly what they should.

Erin: Yes.

Melissa: And so that's actually a memory I hope my children will have, too. Yes, I hope they'll remember me sitting before the Word. But I also hope they'll remember me sitting before them and saying, "I'm sorry," so that they won't despair.

Even when my husband and I have an argument, they'll realize when they have an argument with their spouse, that doesn't mean their marriage is terrible. That means there are two human beings trying to relate, and here's what we do: We say, "I'm sorry." We ask for forgiveness.

Erin: Right. Which is walking with God in all seasons. Sometimes I think we think walking with God should look like walking up a mountain into this continual progress. But in every season it's--

Melissa: Stumble, trip, stumble, trip, stumble, trip.

Erin: Yes. That's a great description: Stumble, trip, stumble, trip. So I think you're right for the kids to see us stumble, trip, stumble, trip.

Well, just kind of as a final thought, I would love for you to speak to that mom who's listening to this, and she's tracking, and she's saying, "Yes, I need to drink from the fountain. I need time with the Lord. I need Bible study. I need prayer. But I just have no idea how I can possibly fit that into my day, or how I can find the energy for it."

For that mom who wants to do it but feels like she can't, where does she start?

Melissa: In my own life, one of the first things I do is to plan. Get a study; get something like this study or some study you want to do on a book. Having something that you know you're going to do makes it feel a little less overwhelming.

If I just open up the whole Bible, I'll admit, I don't know where to begin!

Erin: Yes, it's big.

Melissa: I don't know what I'm supposed to get out of this today. It's kind of overwheming. So I would say: Plan what to study.

I would also say: Plan a time. Just put it on your calendar just like you would put, "Meeting with someone for lunch." The best you can, plan a regular time. I think a regular time is really helpful.

Then the third thing I always say is: Persevere. It's not going to all come every day all at once.

I have found this to be true with food. The more I've cooked, the more I like the food better. I used to say, "Oh, I really like that." But I didn't know what was in it. So now, when I taste something, I taste the rosemary or the mint or the almond. I taste it better because I know more.

And so I just encourage her: Persevere. It will taste better the more you taste of it.

And then, the last "P" of all the Ps: We have to purge. There's always going to be something that we have to take off in order to put on. But this is the best "putting on". It's not a call to drudgery. It's a call to a relationship that is a delight.

And so, while it may seem like work, I like to consider it something like this: My husband and I now regularly plan a date night. I've never once looked at him and said, "You're really legalistic in the way you're approaching me." No! I look forward to it, and I really believe our time with the Lord can become something we look forward to, but normally we have to take something off our plates because we have so many things on our plates.

So it's kind of like being Mary and choosing what is best over the many good things that are out there for us.

Erin: That's fantastic. Thanks.

Melissa: Thanks for having me.

Leslie: We've been hearing a very helpful conversation between Erin Davis and Melissa Kruger.

Melissa is the author of a workbook designed for busy moms called, "Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood."

Nancy, I hope we send a lot of copies to moms this week.

Nancy: Yes, Leslie. This workbook will help, especially younger moms, understand their purpose to not just get swept up in this busy season of life, but to live intentionally as a mom.

This workbook will help you live out God's priorities for your life day by day. It will help you handle the busyness and craziness of life and the demands on your time for God's glory. And it will help you recover from what Melissa calls "perfect mom syndrome."

We'd like to send you the workbook, "Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood," when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.

Your donation will help us continue pointing women to God's Word for direction in every area of their lives.

Today's the final day that we'll be telling you about this offer, so give us a call at 1-800-569-5959 or you can visit us online at www.ReviveOurHearts.com. Let us know that you'd like to make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, and ask for the workbook, "Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood."

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

You know, the ministry of Revive Our Hearts is all about seeking God for revival and spiritual awakening in our day. And that's why we've been telling you about a new movie this week. "Woodlawn" tells the story about a high school football team in the 1970s. And maybe it sounds surprising for a women's ministry to talk about football this week, but at the heart of the movie is the story of revival, and that's our heart, too.

So I hope you'll make plans to see "Woodlawn" this weekend. It opens today, and we talked to the director, John Erwin, about what long-term effects this movie might have on viewers.

John Erwin: I hope that "Woodlawn" can be a tool of instigation for ministry, that it can make people crave revival and spiritual awakening in their own lives, and then we can hand them to the local church, so that the movie can begin to just drive people to the local church. That's my goal.

And my goal is that, the biggest win would be an increase in church attendance across America. That a generation would come back. One of the coolest thing we found out is that this mass exodus of a generation leaving the church and this other group, frequent movie goers that are buying the majority of movie tickets, are the same group. It's a statistical match.

And we believe it could be a small part of what God's doing in America, and that revival can come, and it can come now. So that's my hope and my dream, and I think it's going to happen.

Leslie: You can get more information about the movie, "Woodlawn," at our site www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Okay, as you probably know, our host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, has been serving the Lord as a single woman all her life. Well, we have some news to share--big news--about big transitions in Nancy's life. Hear all about it Monday, here on 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.