Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Fruit of Joy in Motherhood

Dannah Gresh: Moms sometimes carry heavy burdens for their children. Laura Booz says we need to get our eyes on the Lord.

Laura Booz: A lot of times we feel guilty. We feel like their well-being is entirely on our shoulders; when in fact, it’s on His very capable, competent shoulders. He will see them through.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for October 19, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I don’t want to start off negative for anything, but do you ever become discouraged with the endless routine and the daily demands that seem to hound us in every season of life? If so, today’s program is for you.

Now, I found that moms probably battle that sense as much as anyone. There’s always more diapers to change, more piles of laundry to wash and dry and fold and put away . . . and repeat, more meals to prepare, and more anxious thoughts about their children. And then you add to that the fact that a lot of people today don’t put much value on the high and holy calling of raising little human beings made in the image of God.

So, if you’re a mom, I want to remind you that what you’re doing is worthwhile. The investment you’re making in the next generation matters, and it’s pleasing to the Lord. I know it’s often thankless, but let me pause right now and say, “Thank you. Thank you for serving the Lord. Thank you for serving those little ones. Don’t give up. The fruit of your labors is not always going to be seen today, but it will be seen down the road through your faithfulness.”

And if you’re not in the motherhood season of life right now, why don’t you think of someone who is that you could share today’s episode with.

Today we’re going to hear from two moms. Dannah Gresh is a mom and a grandmom, and I’ll let her introduce our guest mom today.

Dannah: Laura Booz is back with us today, and you are not going to want to miss a moment. She was with us yesterday. If you didn’t hear that interview, you need to go back and listen to how God invited her as a busy mom to dive into His Word.

Now, I want to tell you a little bit about Laura. She is a prolific writer, a podcaster and a blogger, and she’s just written her first book, Expect Something Beautiful. And the subtitle of that book is, Finding God’s Good Gifts in Motherhood.

Laura, yesterday’s program was amazing. My soul was nourished. I hope yours was, too, as we visited together.

Laura: Yes. It was so good to talk about those things and, honestly, to bring them back to mind. We need them fresh every day.

Dannah: Yes. Me, too. I need to be reminded every day that I need to be in God’s Word. In fact, when I wake up in the morning, I feel very much as if I had been sleeping and not been in God’s Word. I have this need, though I didn’t know for years it was a need to get into God’s Word. I just know I feel the chaos of the day, the busyness of the day, the weight of the to-do list, the weight of any relationships that are in tension, and I feel that very heavily in the morning until I go to God’s Word.

Now, I didn’t used to do that. I used to go get busy fixing things. But when I go to God’s Word, whether it’s my children I’m worried about, or my work that I’m worried about, or my marriage, or a friendship, I feel His peace.

Laura: Yes. I totally agree. I’m actually in a season right now where I notice this every morning. When I wake up, my six children are on my heart. And it’s almost like this sinking feeling because there’s a concern, or I feel like I’m dropping the ball, or I’m letting them down, or overlooking something. Right away I wake up, and boom . . . they’re on my mind.

And you’re right. I could go immediately to worry, anxiety, or a lot of mom guilt, or trying to fix it right off the bat. Like, “Okay, how can I knuckle down and fix this problem?” But lately, I really have had the luxury—and it is a luxury because I love to journal, but I haven’t journaled for almost fifteen years because I’ve always had a baby, and I feel like journaling. To me, just takes a little extra time and space to focus.

But now my children are at such an age where I have this little pocket of time, and I can open my journal, and I start to write out my prayer about that child for what felt like anxiety or what felt like a concern that I thought, Oh, no! This is going to be terrible. You know . . . when they’re only four, but you can project down the road, and you see them at twenty-nine, and you’re like, “Oh, no! It’s going to be terrible if I let this go one more day!”

I’m able to write it out in prayer, and that’s the game changer. Through that, the Lord, the Holy Spirit ministers to my heart. He reminds me of a Scripture, or He reminds me of His character, of His promise, and He puts me at peace in a way that nothing else could.

So that has been a wonderful gift to me in this season—a necessary gift because I keep feeling these concerns from day to day.

Dannah: Okay, so, what we’re challenging you to do is wake up early. Maybe you didn’t do it today. Maybe you did hit the snooze button this morning, and you didn’t get into God’s Word, or you got busy about your day, and you’re still feeling not a lot of peace, a lot of frustration. Tomorrow is a new day. His mercies are new every morning. Get up and get in the Word.

Of course, that’s not easy. Laura, do you ever hit the snooze button?

Laura: So, my dad gave me an alarm clock when I was fifteen years old. It was awesome! I didn’t know how the snooze feature worked—no idea—until I met my wonderful snoozing husband. He knows how to snooze! I didn’t know.

So then, when I became a mom, and we brought our newborn home, I thought, Okay, I’m going to set my alarm, because I have to get up to feed this precious little baby. Then I was, like, “Wait, I’m going to sleep a little bit longer”—because I was up the whole night feeding that precious little baby! So the alarm would go off, and I’d be, “I’m going to try out this snooze button.”

And then, two days into that I’m, like, “Okay, this is just ridiculous. I don’t need this alarm clock anymore. I’ve got a living alarm clock—it is my child—and there is no snooze feature on a child.”

So, yes, sleep patterns and having the energy, and that concept of waking up early to meet with the Lord, it all changed.

Dannah: Yes. So, you didn’t really have a great temptation to use the snooze button until you were a mother.

Laura: Right.

Dannah: Well, we’ve been talking about finding the gifts in motherhood. That’s what we discussed yesterday on the program. And today I want to talk about: what are some of those practical gifts? Because I feel like those gifts of motherhood are what gets us through those snooze-button moments, and that exhaustion, and that, “Oh, I have a living alarm clock, and it seems to go off quite a lot more than one my father gave me when I was fifteen!”

Laura: Right.

Dannah: Understanding the gifts of motherhood gets us through. So, tell us what those gifts are? Tell us one of them.

Laura: Oh, there’s so many. But I think we can begin by thinking about the fruit of the Spirit. The primary gift of motherhood is that Jesus literally pulls us up close to His side, like it says in Isaiah 40:11. “He (as in Jesus) will tend His flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom and gently lead those that are with young.”

We can know that the Holy Spirit is with us. Jesus’ Spirit is with us in our everyday life. And the fruit of that, the fruit of the work that He is doing in us will be: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and so many others

Dannah: You just did that from memory. I’m so impressed!

Laura: Well, my kids have this song, it’s like, “For the fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” and I just slow it down to my brain when I have to whisk them off. That’s really what’s going on behind the scenes here. (That’s found in Galatians.) And those gifts, I feel like you don’t see them pop out in some glorious way every day of motherhood, but if you know that that’s what the Lord is up to, you have your eyes opened to them and your heart warmed to them so that you do see.

Even on a hard day, you reflect back. When you’re just about beating yourself up and thinking that you failed in a million ways, and things just aren’t going the way that you wished they would, you can look back and see, “Oh, God was, first of all, being each one of those beautiful virtues in my life. He was being love. He was being joy and patience and kindness.”

And, secondly, you can see how, “Oh, yes. I can see how He was working that out in me and helping me to grow in it—slowly, gradually—but in a glorious way.”

Dannah: Yes. So, motherhood is a bit of a training ground for us to develop the fruits of the Spirit, embrace the fruits of the Spirit, and maybe even lean into the Spirit to empower us to carry them because they are fruits of Him. We can’t do them on our own.

Laura: Right.

Dannah: Which one, as you look at this list of fruits of the Spirit, do you think Satan really tries to steal from us as mothers?

Laura: Oh, all of them, for sure, but the one that comes to mind, the one that resonates with me today, and I think I hear a lot in what my friends are saying, and other moms, is joy. I think we want joy so much, but it’s that one thing that it seems like Satan can steal from us. It seems like the thing we forfeit easily. So I do think that joy is one of the most precious fruits and also a hard one.

Dannah: Yes. Let’s talk about how Satan tries to steal that from us so that maybe a mom can take inventory and say, “Oh, that’s the fruit that’s present in my life.”

One of the things I can think of right away because I hear moms talk about it all the time . . . Tell me if this could be stealing our joy: mom guilt.

Laura: Oh, yes! So, mom guilt I feel so quickly turns into mom shame. We’re just like, “Shame on ourselves.” It could be the smallest thing, like, I forgot to bring the snack. And poof, “I’m the worst mom ever. I’m ruining my child!” We just shut down and feel the shame of that. It’s very, very powerful. And the two are incompatible—mom guilt and joy. Incompatible. Don’t exist in the same room.

So, yes, that steals our joy. I think what we have to do is we have to come to the Lord with it, first of all, and lay it at His feet. Like, “Lord, I have this burden of mom guilt.” For whatever reason, I think it’s helpful to actually look at it and say, “Here’s why.” And when we can see the reason, sometimes, first of all, that puts it in perspective.

But secondly, to trust Him with it, to trust Him with our child because a lot of times we feel guilty. We feel like their well-being is entirely on our shoulders when in fact, it’s on His—His very capable, competent shoulders. And He will see them through. The road will be rocky. We live in a fallen world. We deal with one another’s sin, and we disappoint one another constantly. But to lay it at His feet and say, “I’m trusting You with my child so that no longer is it all on me.”

And also, if it was a sin that we feel guilty about, ask Him for forgiveness because He forgives. Oh my goodness, what verses come into my mind.

First John 1:9 this is one of my most favorite verses. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

That can just, like a crowbar, pry mom guilt right out as we say, “Thank You for forgiving me, Lord,” and move on.

Dannah: Yes. And confessing it to the Lord. And you know, it’s okay to confess to your child. If you’ve been short-tempered, if you’ve been ignoring them, if you’ve been preoccupied with other things while you knew they needed your heart and your mind, if you’ve spoken harshly with them . . . It’s okay to ask your child, “Hey, Mommy needs to ask your forgiveness. The words I just used weren’t kind words, and I’m sorry.”

Laura: Thank you for saying that. I think that’s a beautiful portrayal of the gospel in our homes. Day to day we could be living like that.

Dannah: And that can restore the joy—something that simple. What are some other things that steal our joy as mothers?

Laura: Well, for me, comparison. I know that comparison can be very healthy, and comparison can be helpful. I mean, we are to compare ourselves with God and see that we fall short of His glory, and that will drive us to repentance and drive us to salvation—put all our trust in Christ.

Comparison can help us to make better choices. If we see, “Oh, I really like how that other mom is speaking to her child so kindly. I’m going to do it.” Okay, go for it.

But too many times, for me anyway, comparison . . . I can take my kids to the park. We can have a play date—smiling, laughing, doing all the things. We get in the van, and all of the comparisons start rolling in my head. I’m comparing myself with all the other moms I saw there. I’m comparing my kids with their kids. I’m seeing all the ways we fall short—right?—and beating myself up. And then, of course, I take that out on my kids. And it’s just a disaster.

Dannah: We can put pressure on our kids, too, “Why can’t you be like that other mom’s kid?”

Laura: Right.

Dannah: Oh, it’s awful. “Why can’t you represent me well?”

Laura: Exactly. There is no joy. That is a thief of joy.

Dannah: I learned something interesting about comparison this week. Bob and I met with some friends who are going through some really big marriage problems. And I would never, first of all, guess that they were having marriage problems. So I’m so thankful that they were brave enough to share it with us.

But that night as they shared some specific things happening with their teenage daughter and what was going on in their life, I went back to their social media feed, and I was, like, “Wow! Their lives look so picture perfect here on social media, and yet, behind the scenes, things are falling apart so dreadfully.”

And so, sometimes we’re not even comparing ourselves to something that’s real and authentic. We’re comparing ourselves to the picture-perfect version of who we think somebody is. And how crazy is it that a lie would be the thief of our joy?

Laura: Yes. Not right.

Dannah: What else do you think steals our joy as moms, Laura?

Laura: One thing that often steals my joy is a lack of gratitude. Sometimes I just feel entitled. I feel like the world revolves around me. It’s a common struggle. And when I have to sacrifice, which all moms do on the daily, I can get whiney about it. When I forget that my children are literally a gift and a blessing from God Himself, and I’m not even in the zone of gratitude at all, I do not have joy as a mom. That kind of infiltrates into everything. It’s like bad air in our home when I have a lack of gratitude.

Sometimes it’s worse when we’re on vacation because I go into it with some kind of expectation, like, “This is going to be some kind of vacation for me. This is going to be, “I am going to get a chance to put my feet up. I am going to have a chance to read or do the fun thing.” And there are lots of times when I do, but what I kind of focus in on is, “Oh, I’m the one who has to stay back with the napping baby. Of course, yes, I’ll do it.” Or, “I’m the one who has to remember all the snacks and pack all the bags and wash all the stuff. This is supposed to be vacation—right?” Isn’t this ugly?

Dannah: No, it’s so real. I need a vacation from my vacation after it’s the whole family that goes. Even still, as a mother of adult children and two grandbabies, I have learned that quickly creeps in. I can forget to be so grateful that I have this opportunity to be with them and spend time with them because now I don’t have Bob and I to feed and care for and organize our day—I have everybody to do that for, and it’s far from a vacation.

But instead of going into gratitude for this newness and this experience that I’m having with them, I grumble about the fact that it can be a lot of work to go on vacation.

Laura: Yes, I know. Just this past year, we were on a vacation, and I was just in the knot—k-n-o-t—the knot of having a lack of gratitude. It was just getting tighter and tighter, and I was getting crankier and crankier. I needed twenty minutes—I needed twenty minutes with the Lord. And I listed my legitimate complaints. I was, like, “Lord, here it is. This is hard being the person who . . . It’s just hard being the one who’s serving in these ways at this time.”

And I feel like He can take that. He can hear it because it is part of the sacrifice of being a mom; it’s laying your life down. But then, within those twenty minutes, and sometimes it takes a whole lot longer than that, but thankfully He brought me around to remember that this in itself was a blessing, to be able to serve my family, to see all of the luxuries around me. I mean, the fact that we were on vacation is a luxury, and my children were all healthy and thriving. My husband was there with me. Like, blessing upon blessing upon blessing.

So, just to sit down and have that mindset change was so good for me. And, those are the times when you see the fruit of the Spirit. You see Him, “Oh, look at the Holy Spirit produce joy right now when there was none. Look at Him produce patience when I literally had nothing to do with that. It’s amazing, so amazing to see Him work.

Dannah: And there’s going to be a fruit. It’s either going to be the fruit of the Spirit, or it’s going to be something ugly that comes out of us. Right? And so, I’d rather have it be the fruit. Laura, one of the things that’s really helped me as a mom, in terms of joy, is just to recognize that joy is not happiness.

Laura: Right.

Dannah: Joy is not delight. Joy is actually the presence of hardship, but understanding that, in the presence of that hardship, God is in control. And I can be content in that place. Joy is different than happiness.

Laura: Yes. It does not exist without Jesus. It’s like seeing Him and His gifts in the rest of life, in the world around us, in His Word. And that pleasure that we get when we see that, that’s joy.

Dannah: Yes. And Jesus is the perfect example of joy.

Let me read to you a verse that I cling to quite often. Hebrews 12:1 and 2. It says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin [and we could say, "Every piece of ugly fruit in our hearts when we get frustrated and tired and overwhelmed,’"let us lay aside those things] and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

And listen to the example of Jesus in verse 2: 

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

It was the joy in enduring the cross. Our cross to bear as moms is packing the snacks, and it is the alarm clock that goes off—the living alarm clock that goes off throughout the night. And all those little things are a dying of ourselves so that the Holy Spirit can produce in us from that death this life-giving fruit, one of them being joy.

Laura: Yes.

Dannah: Tell me why it’s so important that we do not fail to nurture the joy of the Spirit in our motherhood. What happens when we become joyless?

Laura: Well, have you ever seen that refrigerator magnet that says, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? (laughter.)

Dannah: Yes. I’ve seen it.

Laura: That’s what happens. We have such a blessing from God to create the whole atmosphere in our home. I notice when I am off kilter, when I am broody, when I am miserable, and I’m just letting the sin fester. It affects my children. And it affects my husband, quite frankly.

But when I am walking with the Spirit, and His fruit is coming out in my life, even despite my sinfulness, it’s coming out through repentance—right? Then I notice it affects my children. Their biographies are shaped by my attitude. I don’t necessarily want that to be true. I wish it weren’t true, but it is the way God designed things to be.

So the sooner I can accept it, embrace it, even see it as a delight and say, “Okay, Lord. This is what You’ve called me to do. Let’s do it.” The sooner I can just accept that it’s a reality and move forward with it, the better we’ll all be, and the happier I will be because He’s created me to have that good work to do and to rise to the occasion.

I mean, it is a calling full of dignity, if you think about it. It’s very queenly to have this wonderful influence over my little nation at home and to have them looking to me for, “What are we like, Mom? What’s the mood today?” You wake up wondering what the mood is, and you get the call from your mom.

And so it’s such an amazing gift that God is here by our side saying, “I’m with you. The moment you wake up, I’m by your side. Let Me set the tone for you just by My presence. I’ll walk with you through this day.”

So for me, joy on the outside looks like singing, humming. It looks like putting music on when I’m unable to sing to the Lord—to set that tone and to set our minds on the Lord. It really is those little decisions.

I feel like sometimes I stress over the big moves we make—like education and our dietary choices and extra-curricular activities. But honestly, sometimes—most times—it comes down to my smile, my countenance when I look at them. It comes down to my tone of voice. And those things . . . you can’t fake them, kids know.

It’s like this forced transparency. “Okay, I’m not genuinely joyful, so I know who I have to go to. I must run to my Savior and get my joy from Him.”

Nancy: Well, whether you’ve got children in the house or no children in the house, we all need to run to Jesus when we’re running out of joy. “In God’s presence,” Psalm 16 tells us, “there is fullness of joy; at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

We’ve been listening to wisdom from two moms: our guest Laura Booz and the cohost of Revive Our Hearts, Dannah Gresh.

Dannah mentioned Laura’s brand new book, Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God’s Good Gifts in Motherhood. It’s a beautiful book with beautiful writing. And this week that book is our thank-you to you for your donation of any size in support of Revive Our Hearts.

And if you’re thinking, Well, I’m not a mom, so there’s no way I could use this. Oh, yes, you could! This would be a sweet gift to some mom that you know who needs encouragement and joy that can be found from the heart of God.

And let me say, “Thank you for your support of this ministry.” We’re all about leading women to experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ, whether they’re moms or not—women in every season of life. But we can’t do that without friends like you stepping up and coming alongside of us in prayer and in financial support.

So if the Lord is putting it on your heart to send a gift at this time, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. When you give, be sure to ask about Laura’s book, Expect Something Beautiful

So, a question for any mom in earshot: do you sometimes struggle with being kind to your children? Or maybe you’re not a mom, but you struggle with being kind to the people within the four walls of your own home. Laura and Dannah will be back to talk about that tomorrow. Be sure and join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, calling you to freedom in Christ, fullness of joy in Christ, and fruitfulness in Christ.

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About the Hosts

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

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 for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Guest

Laura Booz

Laura Booz

Laura Booz is the author of Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God's Good Gifts in Motherhood and the host of the Expect Something Beautiful podcast with Revive Our Hearts. She'll cheer you on, share practical ideas, and point out the beautiful ways God is working in your life. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan, and their six children. Meet her at LauraBooz.com.