Revive Our Hearts Podcast

You’ll Like Mom Math

Leslie Basham: Erin Davis says every mom can be a missionary.

Erin Davis: Your children are an unreached people group. They come to earth without an understanding of God. They don’t automatically know Him as their Savior. Someone has to teach them. Someone has to train them. They’re your mission field. They’re a little flock of people who don’t know about Jesus unless you tell them. And so how can that be a small thing?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, July 11, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In the month of July, you’re hearing about authors in the True Woman line of booksRevive Our Hearts has launched True Woman books with titles that match our heart, our mission, and our message.  

Nancy, it’s been a joy to see the Lord raise up a number of women to create resources that help us live out God’s calling on our lives.

We're very excited here at Revive Our Hearts to be in the process of launching a new line of books with a True Woman imprint. We’re working currently with Moody Publishers on a number of books that are consistent with our heart, our mission, our message, and it’s really a joy to see God raising up a number of women, younger and older, to put out resources that are helpful to women who want to be true women of God.

I’m especially excited about a new book by my friend and our coworker, fellow servant, Erin Davis. It’s a book called Beyond Bath Time, and the subtitle is: “Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role.”

Erin is a part of the Revive Our Hearts team; her husband is our marketing manager. We've served together in a lot of roles over the years. Erin, I want to say personally, "I love having younger women in my life." You're not going to be young for very much longer, so enjoy that. I don't mean that unkindly, because I love getting older. I getting into deep trouble here. But I love your enthusiasm and eagerness. Women like you help keep me young-hearted.

God's given you so much wisdom and gifts to communicate His heart. You love the Scripture; you love Him; you love your husband; you love your children. I love to see God multiplying what He's doing through you.

I’m so thrilled to see the journey God’s had you on because I’ve followed this some over the years in terms of your heart for motherhood. It reminds me of what we say in the True Woman Manifesto that one of the things we pledge ourselves to as true women of God is to "receive children as a blessing from the Lord, seeking to train them to love and follow Christ and to consecrate their lives for the sake of His gospel and kingdom."

Well, that makes motherhood sound like it’s really . . .

Erin: Glamorous.

Nancy: Glamorous. It’s, you know, magnificent. It’s cosmic in its implications. But, again, the world and even the church don’t always quite see it that way. In fact, I’m thinking over the years about commissioning services I’ve seen. We’ve done them at my church where we have people who are going on a mission trip, or they’re going to be commissioned to gospel ministry, or they’re going to be a pastor. People pray, they give money, and this is considered really ministry.

Erin: Right.

Nancy: But then we think about motherhood, and it doesn’t seem quite like such a big deal.

Erin: So imagine that service, or I can imagine at youth camps I’ve been to. The last night we’re around the bonfire, and someone says, “God has stirred me to go into student ministry.” Yeah! We cheer; we applaud; we pray. “God has called me to be a foreign missionary.” Yeah! We cheer; we applaud; we pray.

And then one girl stands up and says, “I feel called to be a mom.” I think we could hear crickets chirping. I’m not sure anybody would know how to react in that situation. And there’s not that same sense of . . .

Nancy: That this is a high calling.

Erin: A high calling.

Nancy: Yes.

Erin: Of God’s anointing, of it being a mighty work for the kingdom in the life of someone who sees motherhood, or fatherhood, as their primary mission field for a season.

Nancy: And yet, in the context of God’s redemptive mission in this world, He’s made us a body, and there are many different parts. Some are visible and obvious, and you know you can’t do without this part, and then other parts are more hidden from view, not so obvious, not everybody knows the name of that part. All those parts are needed. And the call to motherhood is one of those really important parts to keep the whole church going.

Erin: The vision that God gives us of the body in the Word is of a unified body and of all the parts working together and all of them being important. Listen, if you’re a mom, nobody is going to put you up on their missionary bulletin board. Nobody is going to write you a check every month. Nobody is going to ask you for a Power Point presentation or a monthly newsletter.

So if you’re a mom, you can start to feel like you’re the least important member of the body and that nobody notices you and that you’re not contributing to the greater functioning of what God is using your church to do.

I think that's because motherhood is made up of a lot of little things. We drive them around in our minivans. We wash their tiny clothes. We take them on little trips to school, little trips to soccer practice, little trips to church. For moms with young children, we think in the smallest increments of time—two-minute time outs and thirty-second showers and five more minutes of sleep. So all that littleness can reduce motherhood to make it feel like something small. And I think we often think of small things as insignificant things.

Nancy: And yet you look in the Scripture, and you see that God chooses and uses so often things that are tiny.

Erin: There are so many examples of that in Scripture. One of them I found when writing this book that came to life to me in a new way that. I just loved. It was the story of the little boy with the loaves and the fishes.

The story is that a boy comes to hear Jesus teach, and he has the barley loaves and the fish. We know the disciples find him and Jesus multiplies them, but, can I make an assumption? A mom packed that lunch. I think it’s very likely that a conversation went down where the little boy was getting ready to leave, and the mom said, “Oh, wait. Let me pack you a lunch. You won’t be able to hear or learn on an empty stomach.”

So if we trace that little lunch all the way through, that seemed like a little thing—mom packs a lunch; boy carries the lunch; disciples recognize the lunch; Jesus multiplies the lunch, and thousands of people are fed. But it doesn’t stop there. I mean, that story’s been told and retold and retold as an example of what a powerful God that we serve, as an example of the fact that Jesus was divine. He was able to take this small thing and multiply and multiply and multiply it to the point that they had baskets left over.

Nancy: Not to speak of being a parable of Himself, that He is Himself the bread of life, so it all points to Him.

Erin: Right. It's an example of who Jesus is and what He can mean to our lives. And it all gets traced back to that little lunch. So God’s very much in the business of taking little things and multiplying them. I like to call it “Mom Math.” I’m not very good at the normal kind of math, but I like mom math—this idea that my small mom offerings, God’s going to multiply them exponentially to do big things.

Nancy: And you really have to exercise faith when you’re in the middle of "momming"—motherhood, and doing those little things because you can’t see the exponential outcome of it when you’re in the middle of it.

Erin: Right. Jesus gives us such a great example. Jesus loved to meet the physical needs of people before meeting the spiritual needs of people. That’s what you’re doing with your little flock. It gets redundant, and it gets boring, and it feels like a lot of little things, but you have to know that God’s going to multiply those little things.

You loving those little ones well day after day after day after day gives you a foundation to speak life and truth about who God is to you, who He can be to them, and that’s why motherhood really can be a ministry.

We talked in an earlier program about how a lot of young women now think, I can’t have kids. I want to have a ministry. Well, loving your children well is a ministry.

We think back to that commissioning service. “I’m going to reach unreached people groups in Africa.” We would applaud. We would cheer. And rightfully so, but your children are an unreached people group. They come to earth without an understanding of God. They don’t automatically know Him as their Savior. Someone has to teach them. Someone has to train them. They’re your mission field. They’re a little flock of people who don’t know about Jesus unless you tell them, and so how can that be a small thing?

Nancy: You have to envision down the road what God will do with those seeds that are planted, with that lunch that is packed.

I’m sitting here, Erin, thinking of your mother, who I’ve not had the privilege of meeting, but just thinking there was a day when she was packing lunches and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and changing diapers and cleaning up messes and chauffeuring to soccer practice or whatever, and maybe feeling very small about all of that.

But I’m wondering if she envisioned the day when her daughter, Erin Davis, would be introducing her children to Christ and ministering to teenagers on the Lies Young Women Believe blog and writing a book for moms and shaping the lives of her children.

It has to be so gratifying to your mom now to see the mom-math that God has multiplied the investment of her life in the ways that you’re serving Him today.

Erin: This book was dedicated to her. I say in that dedication that hers are the shoulders on which all of us rest, and that is so true. My mom doesn’t have any sort of grand ministry that the church would recognize as being something spectacular, but she raised three kids well, and many of those years she was single while doing it. She always depended on Jesus for her strength. She always prayed for us. I am moved to think about how much credit she deserves. But for every family it impacts, my mom deserves the credit for that.

So for every mom and husband and little flock of children, my mom made little offerings of little things like just faithfully praying and packing lunches and speaking about Jesus and things that aren’t glamorous. Now the number of families and children and homes that’s going to impact is—I can’t even count it all.

So mom-math has certainly multiplied in her influence. That’s how it’ll be with all moms who decide to see motherhood as a ministry instead of focusing on the mundane parts of motherhood.

Nancy: And your husband has been a good cheerleader as well. It’s been fun to see Jason really take seriously and value the role of motherhood and be an encourager to you. It seems like at some just really special moments, he’s come alongside and said (and you thank God for husbands who will do this), “I really value what you’re doing.” I know that picks you up at some difficult spots.

Erin: He is my greatest cheerleader, and he is a great dad. He has taken it seriously from the beginning. He was trying to figure out how to swaddle the baby doll before we actually brought the baby home and all those things. It wasn’t because he wanted to learn how to swaddle. It was because he’s had an eternal perspective.

In fact, there was a day when I was feeling the mundaneness of motherhood. There was nothing exciting happening in my world. I think that day I had washed laundry, dried laundry, and folded laundry, and that was probably the extent of what I’d done with my day. I looked in my inbox, and there was an email from my husband Jason along with a picture of our youngest son Nobel. Nobel was just a little bit older than a baby. He was sitting in a canoe and smiling so cute. Jason wrote these words to go with it:

In case you were wondering why you work so hard, why you hit the ground running, and why each day is full of tasks that seem to never completely get done, here is a photo of why you do it. You do it to make his life better. You do it to show him what a life spent for Jesus looks like. And you do it so he knows Jesus is more important than he is, but nothing else is. You do it so he can learn important things and avoid learning things he doesn’t need to. You do it for me, and you do it for Nobel. You do it for Eli, and you do it for Jesus. I’m proud of you.

If I was doing laundry to show Nobel eternal things, if I was making little peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, again, to show Eli what parental love looks like, what unconditional love looks like, and to have those opportunities to talk to him about more important things down the line, then suddenly it wasn’t mundane. It was ministry.

Nancy: By the way, let me just put in a good word for husbands who write those kinds of emails.

Erin: You can steal those words—just straight from him.

Nancy: And not just husbands but older moms, sisters, aunts and uncles—just look around and find a young mom who looks like she needs some words of encouragement, looks like she needs to be reminded that what she’s doing matters in the big picture and in the long run but may have lost sight of that. Encourage her. Send an email. Give a call. When you see them at church just say, “I am so thankful for how you’re being faithful at fulfilling this calling of motherhood.”

I think we need to help each other realize that it’s not just motherhood for motherhood sake. It’s motherhood for the eternal sake of how we can, by God’s grace, impact generations to come and reach those unreached people groups with the gospel by means of inculcating the gospel into the next generation.

So I think it’s important for all of us to value that and to make sure that those moms know they’re not alone, that what they’re doing really is significant.

Erin: Those words might be just what she needs for you to speak to her to keep doing the mundane and to see it as ministry. I don’t know how to erase the mundane tasks from motherhood. There’s no way to do it. But if you can get the bigger picture, if you can help a mom have a panoramic view of the role instead of so having tunnel vision over the small stuff, I think you can move mountains—of laundry and other kinds of mountains in life.

Nancy: And I know that’s true in every calling of life.

Erin: Sure.

Nancy: I don’t have any biological children—I’m single—and have a different kind of ministry calling, but my life, as with anybody who’s listening to our voices today, has a lot of mundane aspects about it. I’m burning the candle at both ends right now editing a book, trying to get the word count just right, and it feels very mundane as I’m trying to get to the right number of characters and slicing syllables. Nobody’s seeing. Nobody’s applauding. When the book comes out, nobody will realize the hours and hours and hours and hours that went into it behind the scenes.

And it does feel tedious, monotonous, a lot of routine, not a lot of excitement or glamour, but I have to keep reminding myself what you have to keep reminding yourself, and that is: This is done for the glory of God, with a glad heart as a servant of Christ, then it has value. It has meaning. It is an act of worship. It is worthwhile. And God in His time and in His way will make it fruitful and productive.

Erin: It’s not our job to tell Him what to do with the offering.

Nancy: That’s right.

Erin: It’s our job to give the offering, and the good news is that He’s going to multiply it in ways you never dreamed. But if you’re doing it for Him and for His glory, make it your offering, and then sit back and watch and see what He does.

Nancy: I think we have to keep in mind, too, that it’s not just about the impact of mothering on the lives of your children or the impact of my mundane tasks on the lives of others. It’s also about how God is using faithfulness in those mundane acts to sanctify us, to mold and shape us, and make us more like Christ.

Erin: This idea that our children is a mission field, I think, is going to be profound to a lot of women. But there’s a flip side in that you are a mission field. Their hearts aren’t the only ones in need of the message of the gospel. Your heart needs the gospel, too.

I have learned that my children play such a key role in reminding me of my need for the gospel. In my sanctification I am not a woman who has self-control on my own. They make that really, really obvious to me.

As I’m teaching them about the principles of faith, of obedience, of self-control, of speaking with kindness, of loving your neighbor as yourself, as they’re learning these things—they’re not intuitively known . . . They don’t know why they need a church family. It’s my job to teach them that. They don’t know God’s principles on money or marriage. It’s my job to teach them that. And as I’m teaching those lessons, I’m learning them.

I used to be a teacher, and my teaching mantra was, “Whoever’s doing the work is doing the learning,” and that’s true in motherhood. Whoever is doing the work is doing the learning. As I’m doing the work to teach them those things, I’m learning, but also, their disobedience shows me the ugliness of my disobedience.

Nancy: They’re kind of like little mirrors, really.

Erin: That’s so true. But you know what? They also pray for me. My son Elisha is a great prayer. I said something the other day about having a headache, and he said, “I’m going to talk to Jesus about that later.” 

Nancy: You can talk to Him now.

Erin: Yes. That’s what I said. I said, “You don’t have to wait.”

I’m his mission field. I’m the one he’s praying for. I’ve seen him and heard him pray for me and for his daddy on numerous occasions.

So your role is to point your children toward Christ, and their role is to make you more like Him. So you’re working together on an important mission field indeed.

Nancy: And with that we come full circle to where we started out in this program. We talked about a campfire service or a commissioning service where we were rejoicing with people who’ve been called to different kinds of ministries. And I just kind of imagine, Erin, that there are a lot of moms listening to us today who maybe need a sense of being freshly commissioned to their calling as mothers.

I wonder if you would just maybe issue that word of encouragement, challenge, and commission some moms right now about what God has called them to do.

Erin: I would love to. In fact, I would love to use, it’s actually a commissioning prayer from the Book of Common Prayers. Its words were originally written to those going into Christian leadership, those roles we’ve talked about earlier that are really official ministries. But I’ve adapted it for moms, and I want to just commission you moms today.

May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you; that in this, and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of the kingdom of His Christ. In the name of this congregation of mothers, I commend you to the work and pledge you our prayers, our encouragement, and our support.

Almighty God, look with favor on this mom who has now reaffirmed her commitment to follow Christ and to serve in His name. Give her courage, patience, and vision. Strengthen us all in our Christian vocation of witness to the world and of service to others, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

Nancy: Amen. Oh Lord, how I pray that You would call out and commission to Your service moms to see the sacred, holy calling of being bearers and nurturers of life. Do give them courage. Do give them faith. Do give them a sense of the value and the significance of what You have called them to do.

And in the midst of the dailyness, the mundaneness of many of the tasks that are part of that calling, would You encourage them? Would You give them joy? Would You help them to embrace what is involved in this season of life and to see beyond that to the lives that You are shaping, the way the gospel is going out, the way their home is a mission field?

And I pray that in these homes that are represented by listeners today that You would raise up sons and daughters to be followers of Christ, to take the gospel to the next generation. I pray that You would bind the evil one in every attempt to steal the seed that is being sown, the seed of Your Word, in those homes, and that You would bind his attempts to deceive and destroy and defile those young people.

And, oh God, we pray that You would raise up a new generation of Christ lovers, Christ followers, and that moms would have the joy, the fruit of the work of their hands because they have done it for Christ’s sake, in whose holy name we pray, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Erin Davis, author of the book, Beyond Bath Time. When you get a copy of that book, you’ll be able to see the email from Jason Davis that Nancy and Erin talked about.

We’d like to send you the book when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size.

Ask for Erin’s book, Beyond Bath Time, when you call with your gift to 1–800–569–5959, or if you’d rather give online, just visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. We’d love to send one book per household. It’s the final day we’re making this offer, so let us hear from you.

Today, you have a chance to interact with our guest Erin Davis. She’ll be part of the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, click on today’s transcript, scroll to the end, and leave your comment about today’s program. Erin will be answering questions and adding comments of her own. Again, that’s at ReviveOurHearts.com.

On Monday, you’ll continue hearing from authors in the True Woman line of books. Mary Kassian and Susan Hunt will show you how to pass on biblical truth to the next generation.

Please be back 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.