Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

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Living in Light of Eternity

Dannah Gresh: If you have a child in your house there is a lens through which you view life. Gloria Furman challenges you to see through a different lens.

Gloria Furman: Lord, please stamp eternity on my eyeballs, because if I don't see things through an eternal perspective, I only see the mess.

Dannah: Welcome to Revive Our Hearts Weekend. I'm Dannah Gresh, and it is Mother’s Day weekend. I sure have some precious memories from past Mother's Days. Like the year I was treated to breakfast—cereal and candy—on a tablecloth, on the floor . . . of my GARAGE! Because where else can you hide your surprise for mom but the garage. Well, raising kids, as in all of life, you take the joy with the crazy.

My precious friend Holly Elliff felt the same way. Holly is a frequent guest on Revive Our Hearts. She speaks at conferences and seminars, and she is a mom to, wait for it, eight! And she’s up to over twenty grandkids! She understands crazy!

Holly Elliff: So motherhood is beautiful but also bizarre. I have some things in my house that are also a little bizarre. I have this picture in my kitchen right behind the table that’s a beautiful pastoral scene—green trees, green grass, little dock going out into a pond. And on the dock, there’s a little pig leaping into the water. My husband said, “Why did you like that picture?” I said, “I don’t know, it just kind of feels like my life.” Just the little element of bizarre in there.

I have a sign above my back door that says “Welcome to the zoo.” I have a sign above my stove that says “Motherhood is not for wimps.” And then I have a sign that my husband gave me that says “You can’t scare me. I have kids.”

Well, motherhood is a lifestyle that is an amazing paradox. We’ve laughed about some of the strange components of this calling, but there are a lot of intangible things that I can’t show you. And you know what those are:

  • Thousands of hugs
  • Assorted sticky kisses
  • Toothless smiles
  • Hysterical laughter
  • Years of memories
  • Midnight conversations
  • Hours of prayer
  • Unexplainable love for little creatures that God has put in your life that grow up to be adults in a heartbeat, in the blink of an eye.

My friend, Carolyn McCulley, has written a new book called Radical Womanhood. I love Carolyn, and I love this book. But in this book she tells a story by feminist author, Ann Crittendon. Motherhood has been under attack, been at the center of a controversy that has been echoing in our culture for decades now. Cultural perspectives on mothering have been under assault far longer than we would ever imagine.

Ann Crittendon says this. She was a feminist author/publicist who decided to have children. She said the first thing that surprised her was how creative she had to be, what a huge task it was, and how demanding it was. This was a woman who had spent her life in the secular world, in the workforce, and she was appalled at what was required of her to be a mother to her kids. She says:

The second surprise came when I realized how little my former world seemed to understand or care about the complex reality I was discovering. The dominant culture of which I had been part considered child rearing unskilled labor if it considered child rearing at all. No one was stating the obvious.

If human abilities are the ultimate fount of economic progress, as many economists now agree, and if those abilities are nurtured or stunted in the early years, then mothers and other caregivers of the young are the most important producers in the economy. They do have literally the most important job in the world.

This is a feminist author.

I’ll never forget the moment I realized that almost no one else agreed. It was at a Washington, D.C. cocktail party when someone asked, “What do you do?” I replied that I was a new mother, and they promptly vanished. I was the same person this stranger might have found worthwhile had I said I was a foreign correspondent for Newsweek, a financial reporter for the New York Times, or a Pulitzer prize nominee, all of which had been true. But as a mother, I had shed status like the skin off a snake.

I gradually realized that mothers, and everyone else who spends much time with children, were still in the same boat that women had been in only a few years earlier. After fighting hard to win respect in the workplace, women had yet to win respect for their work at home.

But the moment of truth came a few years after I had resigned from the New York Times in order to have more time for my infant son. I ran into someone who asked, “Didn’t you used to be Ann Crittendon?” That’s when I knew I had to write this book.

The loss of value associated with the role of wife and mother began to occur in our culture a long, long time ago as we shifted into an industrialized society. The home was no longer the center of a focused family partnership. By 1870, it was the first time more men were wage earners than independent sources of their own livelihood.

By the 1900s, wives and mothers were classified simply as dependents without a job by the U.S. Census Bureau. Feminists in the late 1800s used words like parasites, unproductive, or isolated to describe women who chose the path of mothering.

In the early 1900s, a wife and mother of three became the voice of this assault. Her name was Margaret Sanger. With a strong socialistic belief system, she maintained that family size and quality should be controlled, even if that required government intervention.

After ten years of activism, at that point a divorced single, Sanger became increasingly radical in her beliefs. In her book Women and the New Race published in 1920, she penned these words: “The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” And she believed that.

In 1921 Sanger initiated what would eventually become the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America. Her agenda included two major goals. First of all, how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of those who were deemed mentally or physically defective, by her interpretation, including chance and chaotic breeding that had resulted from stupid, cruel sentimentalism. That would be my husband and I choosing to have eight kids.

Her second role was to free women from all sexual restraint and through birth control ensure that the only children born were the result of a voluntary motherhood. She desired to abolish Christian concepts of morality and family.

Carolyn McCulley states, “Understanding Sanger helps us to understand why children are now considered disposable, seen as inconveniences or parasites, instead of being received as gifts from God."

Even the daughter of a first wave feminist has an opinion about the assault on motherhood in this nation. Trailblazing feminist and author Alice Walker, who wrote the book The Color Purple, was a first wave feminist, argued that motherhood was a form of servitude.

One woman didn’t buy into her belief system, and that was her daughter, Rebecca, who is now thirty-eight. Rebecca, although a third wave feminist, believes in motherhood. She describes why she feels blessed to be what Alice Walker, her mother, despised because she has chosen to be a mother. She said this in an open letter that was published in an English publication.

My mom taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a fairytale. My mother’s feminist principles colored every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn’t even allowed to play with dolls or toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct.

It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children, and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, traveling the world, and being independent were what really mattered according to my mother.

A good mother is attentive, sets boundaries, makes the world safe for her child, but my mother did none of these things. Although I was on the pill, something I arranged at thirteen, I fell pregnant at fourteen. I organized an abortion myself. Now I shudder at the memory. I was only a little girl.

She goes on to say, and she is now a mother of a little boy:

I know many women are shocked by my views. They expect the daughter of Alice Walker to deliver a very different message. Yes, feminism has undoubtedly given women opportunities, but what about the problems it has caused for our contemporaries?

I meet women in their forties who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a Ph.D., becoming a partner in a law firm and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement they discounted their biological clocks. They’ve missed the opportunity and they’re bereft. Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness and it is devastating.

Now a few months ago, I had a problem with a tooth on this side of my face. I went to my dentist and he took a new X-ray, but do you know what he did? He took the new X-ray and he overlaid it, superimposed it on the old X-ray to see if there were any changes.

The amazing thing is that if we could take our current belief system even as Christian women and superimpose it on the tenets of feminism, we would be very, very surprised at how much we have been influenced by the beliefs of feminism. I was really shocked when I became a student of this to realize how much of my belief system had been colored by the tenets of feminism.

Ultimately there is only one opinion about motherhood that matters: that of God Himself. God Almighty, who Isaiah 40 says measures the oceans in the palm of His hand, who has weighed the mountains in a balance, who created the stars and calls them all by name. God who sculpted the dry land with His hands. The same God who makes the clouds His chariot and who commands the winds as His messenger, that same God has also created mothers.

Now, if we could for a minute step into the threshold of heaven and look at our mothering from God’s perspective, I think we would be amazed at what God has entrusted us with. Scripture says that the children placed in our lives are beings that God knew before they were ever even conceived. God Himself has already planned the days that they will live on this earth, and He personally crafted and shaped each life just as He shaped mountains and sculpted the dry land.

Acts 17:24-26 says,

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Neither is He served by human hands as though He needed anything, but He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things. He made from one many nations of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitations.

Do you know that if you are a mom at this particular point in history with the particular children that God has entrusted to you, we would have to totally ignore Scripture to believe that that was by accident. Do you agree with that? Do you believe that God in His sovereignty ordained for you to be a mom and ordained the children that you had? It did not come about by chance.

Motherhood is not just a life calling. It is not just a choice. It is a lifelong call to obedience before the Lord. 

Listen to the entire program, "The Beauty of Motherhood." This program was part of the series "Turning the Tide: A Call to Intentional Motherhood."

Dannah: Powerful thoughts to consider on this Mother’s Day weekend. That was Holly Elliff who was speaking to a group of moms. The obedience she is talking about is this: If you are a mom, you’re called to serve the Lord in that role.

Of course, you might be thinking: I’d love to be a mom! My body just won’t cooperate! God hasn’t given me that gift, and I want it so badly.

I feel like I need to stop and acknowledge that Mother’s Day is often sad for some women. And maybe you are that woman or you know someone who longs to be a mom. This is a hard weekend. Or maybe your mom is out of the picture for one reason or another, and this weekend reminds you of a life once lived. 

I hoping that this weekend you can curl up all alone with your heavenly Father and just talk to Him about your hurt. He’d love to listen.

Of course, many young moms find it difficult to balance a life of living out that obedience to God that Holly Elliff was just talking about. It’s so easy to get consumed with changing diapers, 2 a.m. feedings, wiping snotty noses. Gloria Furman wouldn’t say she’s got that balance all figured out, but she’s working on it. 

Erin Davis sat down with Gloria Furman at a women’s conference a few years ago. Gloria is a young mom who inspires other young moms to look differently at their children and their walk with God. She got her inspiration from a well-known theologian.

Gloria: Jonathan Edwards had this really pithy, profound prayer. He said, "Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs." And I've adopted that. "Lord, please stamp eternity on my eyeballs, because if I don't see things through an eternal perspective, I only see the mess, I only see the burdens, I only see the stretch marks, I only see the anxiety of all of these things, instead of seeing them in light of the fact that history's going somewhere, and we get to be a part of that."

God has very specific things for mothers to do in that, in making disciples of all nations and teaching them to obey everything that He's commanded. But the "stamp eternity on my eyeballs" thing has saved me from seeing just the temporary. The temporary is that overwhelming and the painful things can be that overwhelming, and then they can color everything you see.

I've seen fear color everything for mothers—living and parenting out of fear.

Erin: There's no doubt it's terrifying. It doesn't take much to think of all the things that could go wrong with your child, whom you love so much.

Gloria: Right, very real things, and then things do go wrong. And what do we tell that mother when things go wrong, and everything she's ever been taught has been, "Happy, clappy. It's so sweet." But it's painful. Eternity, I think, renders all of our perspective into things we can't see.

So we fix our eyes on things we can't see and cling to Christ in that, instead of clinging to the tangible little things and hoping in only those things that we can hold onto.

Erin: Yes. Practically speaking as a mom, how do you stamp eternity on your eyeballs? How do you fix your eyes on eternity when the temporal just seems to pull so consistently and so strongly?

Gloria: That's a great question. My mind is filled with all these practical things. There are lots of things. I think it starts with the things you choose to put in your mind. "Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs," is a prayerful posture of your heart, that God would answer that prayer.

I know He's delighted to answer prayer requests where we're asking, "Help me see what You see." Filling your mind with things that are true, lovely, of good report—all of those things that are commendable in the sight of God. We are tempted to be gravitationally pulled in to the course of the world, where we're fed the world's values.

One area where I see a temptation for myself is "clicking." The online websites are designed to keep you "clicking" your little mouse. Just keep clicking, and they'll feed you these little "candies." So what I need to do is stop clicking (if I need to cut my finger off, do it) and feed myself the Word of God, because that's only thing that is going to sustain me—no matter how many how many cute panda videos are posted.

Erin: Not blog about the Word of God or post about what other people are experiencing, not that those are bad, but they're not a substitute for getting into the Word of God.

Gloria: So filling your mind with truth shapes your eternal perspective. Good books that will accompany that and help you so that when you're actually reading the Bible, you can see what it is you're seeing. I don't know how many moms I've talked to who say, "I read the Bible, and I don't get it . . . so I just kind of give up."

Erin: What do you say to that mom who says, "I've tried it, or I am trying it, the whole reading the Bible thing, and it just didn't feel living and active (as Hebrews describes)," or "I just didn't understand what I was reading," or "I was so tired and bleary-eyed, I was just muddling through it." What would you say to that mom?

Gloria: I'd say one of the best resources you could give to yourself is to find a good book on biblical theology, even on biblical theology on some kind of topic. Make the commitment to read and digest that book. Understand the big storyline of the Bible, so when you do have those snippets of time in your day as a mom—the five minutes you're waiting for your kid to get out of class, the ten minutes you're folding laundry and listening to the Bible on an audio recording, or the few minutes of silence around the table you have as the children are listening to you read—you'll get so much more out of those small pockets when you understand where it all fits inside the big picture, and you can understand the significance better. That really helps me.

Listen to the entire program "What Is Your Top Priority?" This program was from the series "Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full."

Dannah: Did you hear some of those practical things that Gloria uses to keep her eternal perspective? Use those five minutes. That's a good thought to end on. It reminded me of how much I used to dislike folding laundry until one mom encouraged me to use those five or ten minutes as prayer time, as fighting for my children in prayer as I folded their laundry.

So each time I picked up a shirt for Lexi, I folded it and said a prayer for Lexi. Each time I would pick up Robbie's jeans, I would fold it and say a prayer for Robbie. And when I tucked Autumn's socks into one another, I would lift her up to the Lord. Use those five minutes; use those ten minutes. Don't waste them, Mom.

Well, this year my Mother’s Day won’t look the way it used to. I’ll need to celebrate my amazing mother, Kay Barker, in a new way this year because the sweet historic inn we gathered at each mother’s day did not survive the economic challenges of a worldwide pandemic. I’m a little sad. But we will celebrate motherhood this year.

But I have some special encouragement for you if you’re the mom whose family doesn’t look like you thought it would. Maybe you’re a foster mom or a mom to a special needs child. Life didn’t seem to turn out like your dreams and fantasies, and you long for hope. I’ve got a dose of that for you today.

This week on Revive Our Hearts, Mary Kassian and I sat down with Abigail Dodds sharing about her son Titus. Titus has special needs and has spent a good portion of his first year in doctor’s offices. His brain was too small; he had no muscle tone; he had a fatal condition. There were many sleepless nights in the Dodds' household due to this baby’s condition. Can you imagine the fear in Abigail’s heart and mind? Here’s my friend Abigail Dodds sharing about her journey with Titus and God.

Abigail Dodds: When Titus was fourteen months, we had friends over. Actually, my best friend was visiting with her family from out of state. She had her five children with us. We were having the best time!

Titus was sitting in his high chair. We looked over at him, and it looks like he’s choking. That’s not super uncommon for him, and so I didn’t panic. I went and I got him out very quickly, and he started to vomit some. He very quickly started to turn gray and blue. He was not breathing, and he was not moving, and he was totally limp.

I thought, He’s choked, and he’s dying! That was really what I thought. So my friend is calling 911 and I’m calling 911, and I’ve got Titus, and I run outside. Tom was working from home, but he was outdoors doing something.

I’m like a crazy woman wandering around the front of my driveway screaming Tom’s name, holding Titus. I literally started to think, I will just run down the street to the ambulance so that I can get there as quickly as I can!

The police arrived before the ambulance, and he looks at Titus, who is very gray and doesn’t look good, and after a while he put his finger in Titus’s mouth to see if he was choking (I had already done that). He said, “I think he’s having a seizure; I think this is just a very long seizure.”

And it was, it was a seizure. I had never seen anything like it. My idea of a seizure was jerking, convulsing, but this was a different kind of seizure, and it has a fairly high mortality rate, and it’s very scary. 

So we got in the ambulance, and we got to the hospital. I watched-—I think it was fourteen people—work on my son in the middle of the ER. They put an IV directly into his leg, like right into his bone. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

I just stood there and I thought to myself, Do not break down! It wasn’t because I was trying to be strong. I was just terrified they’d make me leave the room! Tom arrived and we stood there, and they got him intubated.

We went up to the PICU, and they did the EEG and sure enough. It had been just a horrible seizure. He did recover from that, and he’s been on meds ever since. That was when he got his feeding tube, because he was not thriving. They did some swallow studies, and he was aspirating everything.

That was a very pivotal moment of scare and worry and wondering what the Lord would do, wondering if I could survive the loss of a child, and really having to do business with God—that He’s in control; these children aren’t mine, and having to surrender all of that.

What’s so odd about that is, as hard as all that was, as scary as all that was, there was such a flux of help in that moment. The prayer chains are going out, and there are people showing up, and you are being carried on wings, and you get through it. We got through it ,and we came home. Then the sleepless nights continued . . . and continued . . . and continued.

I remember laying in bed one night. Every night Titus would wake up, and I would pray for Titus and I would say, “Dear Lord, please help Titus to go to sleep. Please help his brain to rest. Be with us!” It was kind of this rote prayer that just sort of got ingrained. I would just pray it dozens of times a night.

I remember getting angry and thinking, God, why won’t you answer my prayer? Why won’t You answer this prayer? We’re praying for sleep; we just want to sleep! You say that sleep is good; You say we need it. You say that sleep is an act of humility! I just want to be humble enough to sleep!

And He wasn’t allowing it. After a while, when Titus would wake up, he would turn toward me. He would fling his arm over, and he would say, “Mom, pray! Mom, pray!” And the Lord just flooded my heart at one point with the realization that this unanswered prayer for this sleep was the answer of a much bigger prayer: that my son would talk, that we would ask me to pray! 

Just the kindness of God in that, that He sees, that He may not be answering that prayer that feels so urgent right now, but that He may be answering a much more important one. That was just so precious to me, and reoriented me to His goodness.

Listen to the entire program, "Grace to Walk in Obedience." This program came from the series "(A)Typical Woman."

Dannah: Abigail allowed Titus to teach her. Are you allowing your children to teach you? Rather, I should say, are you allowing God to teach you through your children? Moms, you’ve been given a big job—to nurture, to care for your family. It’s a job that's been given by God. You know what is another big job given to you by God? To find all the lost socks. In fact, did you know that this weekend is also lost sock memorial day.

Remember your mom. Love the mom that you have. Celebrate the fact that you are a mom. Give to God your heart if you aren't yet one. And . . . look for all the lost socks . . . because that's what moms do.

I'm Dannah Gresh with Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Revive Our Hearts Weekend is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teachers

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.

Abigail Dodds

Abigail Dodds

Abigail Dodds is a wife and mother of five. She is a regular contributor at Desiring God and the author of (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ (2019).

Holly Elliff

Holly Elliff

Holly has been married to her high school sweetheart for nearly fifty years. She has been a pastor's wife since she was twenty, has eight married children and twenty-two grandkids that are fourteen and under (and counting). Her life experiences have enabled her to share with women of all ages the reality of God’s sufficient grace for every step of their journey.

Gloria Furman

Gloria Furman

Gloria Furman (MACE, Dallas Theological Seminary) lives in the Middle East where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. She is the author of many books, including Missional MotherhoodTreasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full; and Glimpses of Grace.