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Rediscovering Your Joy in Motherhood (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
September 7, 2022 6:00 am

Rediscovering Your Joy in Motherhood (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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September 7, 2022 6:00 am

Ashley Willis aims to encourage moms to hold tight to the peace of God through every moment of parenting. She introduces four “peace pirates” that steal joy and how to effectively combat them. (Part 2 of 2)

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Today, on Focus on the Family, we'll explore how to find God's peace when you're struggling to find joy in motherhood. But really, I think that we have to take an assessment of what kind of expectations do we have for our children, and also what kind of expectations are we allowing to be placed on us.

And this is where that definition, that real definition of God's peace shalom comes in, because I think sometimes we allow ourselves to be ruled by expectations. Well, some great thoughts from our guest today, Ashley Willis, and your host as Focus president and author, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us.

I'm John Fuller. John, I'm so glad we're continuing the conversation with Ashley. We covered so many important topics yesterday about motherhood. I love the idea of peace pirates that we talked about. Ashley explained that these pirates represent things in your life that can easily steal joy from you, specifically in parenting. And one of the biggest peace pirates that I think all parents have struggled with is control. So often we want to manage our kids' behavior. Jean and I did this. We were guilty of it too. Every parent has had that moment in the grocery store where their kid just won't stop crying and you feel so embarrassed.

What can I do? I got to get out of this situation. Yeah, and there's nothing wrong with wanting good behavior, but we really want their hearts to want to be good, right? Yeah, that's the journey, right? We don't want our kids to have surface level character. We want it to go deep, and that's what's going to take them forward into adulthood and be successful. Another peace pirate we covered yesterday was expectations.

Boy, we're hitting all the big ones. Every parent has expectations for their children, but also for themselves, pretty high standards. And they can so easily become unhealthy expectations. We can't let those expectations rule over us. We need to have them, but we also need to evaluate what's controlling us.

It can so easily steal the joy and peace that God is giving us. And our guest today is going to help us rediscover that joy that we often lose sight of. Yeah, we've got Ashley Willis again, and she's going to help us understand how we can find God's peace in parenting. Ashley is an author and mom to four boys. We can tell you more about Ashley and her book, Peace Pirates, when you call 800, the letter A in the word family.

That's 800-232-6459, or check the program notes for more. And Jim, here's how you began the conversation with Ashley on Focus on the Family. Let me ask you something, and I've seen this, you know, typically when we have moms and we're interviewing moms, women have such a capacity to put the guilt on themselves. You know, I didn't do enough.

I'm the shortfall here. It's my fault, whatever. Men, I think our egos block that a bit. We're like, it's the other guy's problem, right?

It's that person. But women just do have this capacity to say, you know what? I need to own up to it. Talk to that, because to a degree that can be really healthy. In the Christian walk, that seems very laudable, but when it goes to extreme, it becomes unhealthy. So help women understand that balance of taking on that guilt trip. Man, I can relate to this so much. And I do talk a lot about this in the book because we really need to pay attention to what we're believing, like our own self-talk. And I know for me personally, I've had a lot of years where I just had negative self-talk. I allowed the enemy to really get a foothold and convinced me that I was completely missing this whole motherhood thing. And maybe even, I mean, in the beginning, I even believed just, I didn't have like the proper motherhood instincts. And so therefore I wasn't going to really be that great of a mom.

And I was just kind of sloughing along here, just trying to figure this out, even reading every book I could get my hands on. And I think that I would speak to the mom who constantly feels like she's missing it. I would challenge her to really every day think of one thing she got right. And that's not necessarily to be conceited or anything like that, but just to look for the positive, because we do have to really be careful of really looking at ourselves and saying, am I self-assessing or am I self-condemning? Because there's such a difference there and it's good to self-assess. It's good to go to the Lord and say, Lord, you know, where am I doing well? I need to continue.

And where are their blind spots? Because we all happen. We're human beings.

Where can I improve as a mom? But if you're constantly believing lies and hearing yourself kind of beat yourself up saying, well, you miss that again, or I guess you let them play games too much and that's why they're not on this certain reading level, or you know what, it's because of you that he's not potty training when everybody else is potty training or whatever it is, we do really take that on. And if that's what we're doing, it's constantly just degrading ourselves. That's not good.

We need to start flipping it around and thinking about where can we improve, but also what are we doing right? Because I guarantee you every single one of us has at least one thing we're doing right. Maybe it's bringing laughter to the family. Maybe it's that you're great at keeping the house organized. Maybe, you know, I mean, that's something that keeping the trains run, keep it right.

I don't even think our boys notice this. And then they were staying somewhere else where it wasn't as organized. And they have since been like, Mom, you do so much to keep our house organized. Thank you. And that just meant the world to me. And I thought, well, I guess that isn't a waste of time. I guess that does help our family kind of keep effort that's recognized.

Exactly. So we all we all have those things. But we do need to think of those things. And I would even say to spouses listening, especially husbands, commend your wife on what she's doing, right?

I can't underestimate that. Like, it's just it means the world when you point out that we're a good mom, like it means the world and in the same way, wife should do the same for their husbands. It's so true.

That's a good way to go. I want to put a little emphasis on moms and control. And partly because I saw this firsthand with my wonderful wife, Jean. I mean, having two boys, that was one of the things that as they became teenagers, it became a battle. You know, they're trying to kind of expand their wings. And she's trying to keep them kind of hemmed in a little bit.

And we would have, you know, discussions about that. And you know, maybe time we need to back up a little bit. And to her credit, she really did let go in the proper way. Not totally. But it changed everything. It changed her relationship with our boys, it changed her relationship with me. I mean, and most importantly, it brought her more peace, more Shalom. Right. And I could see it.

Yes. So speak to that mom that is still in that battle. And what Jean would say is, I just wish I would have understood that earlier.

Oh, I echo what she said. Because I, we always, you know, my husband, I was teased and say, we are such different parents with our fourth as opposed to our first. Because we don't let the little things bother us as much. And we do give a little more, you know.

And with the first, I feel like I was so just, you know, trying to keep a tight ship and feeling like I'm failing miserably. But I would say to the mom who feels, you know, just like things are, you know, they're with those teenagers specifically, and maybe it's not even a teen. This can happen earlier, especially if they're a strong willed child.

And we have several of those. And they really just, you know, they have such a strong mind that really sees things a certain way and leadership qualities, because it's not all bad. I mean, people, you know, it's hard raising strong willed kids, but that can serve them well in life. But I think it's really giving them choices when you can give them choices really helps go a long way. I think too, remembering to choose your battles.

I mean, my goodness, how many times I've had to learn that the hard way. Like, is this really worth the fight? Because if it, does this have to do with life altering things? Or is this just details? Because if it's just details, it's not going to alter their life.

Maybe it's not worth, you know, us all losing sleep over it and having arguments. That's really helped me with teenagers. That's true.

I remember I would say mountain or mohill. Just to help trigger a little different thinking in that regard. You actually now I'm sorry, just put all of your mommy failures on display, but you wrote it in the book. But you talked about this potato chip incident in your car.

Give us that one. That was funny in this control orientation. Oh my goodness.

Again, I didn't set myself up necessarily. So a dear friend of mine, Lana, uh, she was visiting town and she was, we were wanting to do something fun with the kids. I think Dave was out of town on business and I was like, well, let's take all four kids.

And at the time I want to say my youngest was probably one year old, you know, I mean, he's just a baby and my oldest was maybe in early middle school just to give kind of a frame of reference. We're all hopping in the minivan. I got my snacks together, including chips. Okay.

And I'm like, let's go two hours to stone mountain Georgia, which is this really cool state, you know, park where you get to see some really cool things and there's an amusement park. So we're making our way there. I didn't have enough gas. We had to stop. And of course as we go along and we did not have one of those vans that has movies in it. Okay.

So I'm also like, it's going to be just listening to music. Right. And as we go along, the kids were just getting more and more disgruntled and we had to have a couple of stops there for bathroom and bottles and all this different kind of thing. And it just progressively was getting worse and worse. And I remember at one point there was this bag of chips.

Now I should have known, I should have just put it in little like Ziploc bags. Individually hindsight is 20, 20. Right. And I had this big bag of like Doritos and they were all kind of shifting the chips around, but I had made this comment that you know, you only got chips if you were behaving and meeting a certain criteria, reward chip reward, right? Which, you know, these, yes, tokens usually work.

This didn't necessarily work. So there was one point where our third child who I think was probably three at the time really wanted these chips, but he hadn't done whatever it was that I said the kids had to do. And so our oldest, uh, Cooper starts pulling at the chips and he's like, no, Chandler, you can't have him. You weren't, you weren't doing what mom said. And mom said, oh, way to go first born. Yes, I know. I know. And he's like, that's not what you said, mom. You said, and I'm like, you know what? We're just trying to get here.

We're just trying to get here. You know, mom, mom did say that he is a lot younger than you. We're going to talk about this when we get home, but given the chips. And he's like, but no, mom, you said we are holding to these rules and you said, and I was like, just give him the chips. And he's like, but mom, you are not holding tight. And the whole time my friends like looking at me like, and literally by the end I'm like, give him the chips. Like, and I think I was growling or something like they said it was crazy. But anyway, I had lots of these, I call it the mom stirred.

You get at the mom stir like monster, but a mom, that's what it was. But, um, I ended up saying, give him the chips like loudly and very, like with some angst on it. And, uh, he gives it over to them and he's like, Oh my gosh. So we all kind of pause for a moment. And I think we finally got to the park in that moment. And all of a sudden, like we're all looking around and it, and they all said, like, I think one of them goes, that was so funny.

Mom said, give him the chip Darth Vader. And so anyway, we ended up being able again to laugh about it. I apologize for losing my temper, but I also had a good lesson about, but you know, Cooper, I'm glad that you wanted to keep the standard, but sometimes, you know, moms and dads have to adjust based on different scenarios and things. So it was a learning thing for all of us.

There you go. Teaching the first born a little flexibility. Relate to first John four 18, where it says there's no fear and love, but perfect love casts out fear. This should speak to a mom's heart.

It does. And I love this. I talk a lot about fear in the book because I do think a lot of our decisions as mothers, or even the feelings of failure, or even trying to control or having excessive expectations, it comes back to this deep seated fear that we're missing it, that we're not going to do right by our kids and that they're going to eventually not lead the lives that they could have led because of us. And what I found kind of in, in just the research I did for this book and also my own journey as a mother is that we really can't lead and can't parent from a place of fear. And it goes back to this verse, how there's no fear and love, but perfect love casts out fear, meaning that when we leave from a place of love, that fear dissipates. And that's really leaning on the Lord because he, you know, when we trust in him again, it goes back to trusting the Lord, knowing he loves these kids even more than we do. And he sees the bigger picture. He's not just seeing this one day where we feel like we're missing it.

He sees it all. And that when we can really, really lean into love and really cast fear aside, because fear is something where it's not always bad necessarily. It can warn us against things.

And that's, so that's a good thing. But when we are constantly in that place of fear, we let fear kind of set up, you know, a home in our heart, so to speak, then there's not room for that love. And so then we're not going to be as nice to our kids. We're going to constantly be snapping at them because we're afraid that, that we're not teaching them right. They're going to embarrass us.

Things are going to go wildly wrong down the road. Yeah. And then, you know, of course, that idea that that fear actually is also leading to anxiety. Oh, for sure. I mean, there's, there is an epidemic of anxiety, especially among mothers. I myself, that's a big part of my testimony. And a lot of it, you know, that I experienced was in the parenting years of just those deep seated anxieties of failing miserably. And I think a lot of it comes from the weight we feel of being a mother of knowing that this is a gift that we don't want to take it for granted. And that's a good thing.

We do need to know, like, God gave us these kids. It's a big role that we're filling. But I think when we allow that to just rule in our hearts where love is supposed to rule, then we're missing it. We're missing the joy that's in it. And, you know, I'm reminded of this by Mary. I love Mary's story in carrying Jesus. I mean, she is carrying the savior of the world.

I mean, you talk about having anxiety or having fear of missing it. Don't mess it up. Don't mess it up, Mary, you know, and doing and then having to do a lot of going through a lot of hardship in her journey. And I'm reminded of this because I think about, you know, after she delivered Jesus, you know, having no place to deliver him except around the animals. The first visitors, you know, are shepherds.

People shouldn't even know. And they're probably stinky. I mean, I'm a person who's very like, I have a strong sense of smell. And I think about the animal smells and like the shepherds and all the stuff. And here she's trying to give birth and it's really not ideal. And I think about all the things that she could be anxious about.

She could be worrying about the germs. She could be worrying about the future, whatever it is, you know, it not going perfectly because she's carrying Jesus. But it says that, you know, Mary treasured up all these things that she looked at all this. She treasured up all these things in her heart and she pondered them often. And she actually in the Bible, she's recorded of doing this twice. The second time she does this is after they lost Jesus for three days and then find him among the scribes. And it says that she looked at her son learning, you know, probably her first glimpse of his ministry, of seeing him become the man, you know, the man he's becoming. And it says she treasured up all these things in her heart and pondered them often.

So two very stressful moments. And I just I look at that as a mother and I think we can really, really learn a lot from Mary because she must have understood God's peace. She understood that yes, there's chaos in this life. Yes, there's imperfections in this life. But really, when we surrender it all to God, when we trust that God is really still in control, and he has, you know, our our best in his heart, like he wants good things for us, and he doesn't waste our pain, that we can have his peace that we know we're in good hands, and we can treasure it up. I love that term, treasure it up, because that's what we need to do.

You know, even in our failures, when we can laugh about it, and we can look back and be like, man, that was that was a really tense moment, and treasure it up or the little the little glimpses of our kids becoming the person, you know that God has created them to be just treasuring up those moments is so important. Ashley, one of the things it must be the journey, the voyage of the peace pirates changes a little bit with age. So when you were the preschool mom, that had to be a little different from the teen mom. So describe that as a mom of preschoolers. What are some of those peace pirates?

What do they look like? Oh, my goodness, it is so different, because you're facing different trials and issues. And you know, as a mom of toddlers, I think that a lot of the peace pirates come down to just being exhausted. I mean, they're just exhausted. And this is where I do see mommy martyrdom come in a lot, because it just requires, they require so much of our time.

Right. And it just it just takes all of that time. And then you just kind of wither into bed. You do.

I just need some sleep. And you're like, I don't even know what day it is. And you're walking around and you have something nasty on your shoulder from feeding and you didn't even know it. You know, you're just kind of like, I'm just in the trenches. Especially bad when you're at the grocery store and that happens. What is that? I've had that happen.

Gene had that happen. Oh, my goodness, too many times. And you have no idea. And you're like, did someone not see this?

Could they just kindly tell me? And, you know, in the teenage years, it looks a little different. I think for me personally, I really struggled with excessive expectations. Like just not, you know, especially that first teen not knowing what is this supposed to look like?

You know, I and every every child is so different, but just really trying to get down to what are those what are healthy expectations both for my child and for myself? Yeah. And I think I think some of those become even deeper issues with teens.

Obviously, the culture is pulling at them. And you're trying to protect and do all the things spyware, whatever it might be. Right. Trying to be that perfect parent. Right. And it's harder and harder, I think, to be that protective parent. We need to do it.

Right. But you're inevitably, I think you're going to lose some of those battles. And then it's how do you repair the damage that's done and love them and make sure they're, they know that you love them, even though they may have failed, which is so critical.

That absolutely is critical. You know, I think it was James Dobson, who said rules without relationship equal rebellion. And that that is something that I've held on to, because I don't want my kids to rebel against me.

And even more so, I want to have a good relationship with them. And so I've had to remind myself of this a lot as a parent, and especially with teens, be there to lovingly guide them along this because we all make mistakes. Yeah, it's so true. You urge moms to follow the advice in Philippians 4-8. And again, what's good about this discussion, I think, is applying it, applying the scripture to a mom's role.

So how does 4-8 do that? Yes, I love that verse because it talks about what we should focus on. You know, we talked earlier about what we allow to kind of set up shop in our minds, so to speak, the lies we're believing, the truths we're believing. And so in Philippians 4-8, just to remind all those listeners, it says to focus on what's true, noble, right, pure and lovely. And you know, I equate this in the book to this being gold. It's gold that is from God that can fill our heart and mind and also pass it on to others. And I think the more that we allow, you know, allow God to remind us of these things and fill our mind with these things that are worthy of praise, with the good moments of motherhood, then we are more likely to really have that outpouring into our kids and into our spouse because we're not just full of fear and we're not just full of condemnation, you know, that we bring on ourselves. And so we do need to look for those golden nuggets, you know, and that's kind of what I call it.

And I know, again, it's another pirate reference, but there is so much gold. And I think, you know, for me, if there's something I've learned along the way is that I just, I need to remind myself constantly to look for it. And you know, with teenagers especially, there's been a lot of times where it is, it can be really tense because you're like, man, you know, in a year, you're going to be in college or you're going to be in your own job. And I want to make sure you understand this thing. But I think that when you can focus on, well, what is something they've been doing really right? Like, where do I see the gold with this kid? When you call it out, it's so good for your mom heart and for your dad heart, but it's also really good for the kid because I don't know who said this, but I've held onto this for many years, but praised behavior is repeated behavior. And that's, I mean, that goes for adults too, but with children, especially when we can point out those golden moments and say, man, like with Connor, I shared the story earlier about him praising his friend and being excited for his friend getting an award, even though he himself really didn't get a true award, or at least that he was expecting. I commended him.

I said, you know what, Connor, this is a golden moment because you were such a nice friend and you had joy enjoying the accolades of others. And I just feel like that's such that just shows your character. And that's a wonderful, godly trait. And, and he's held onto that and he continues to do that. And so as parents, we do have to look for it.

I mean, sometimes we're really wading through a lot like literally wading through a lot of to find that gold nugget. Yeah, no, I get it. Yes, I get it. You know, right at the end, I want to have you express this story that really caught my heart. It's a heartbreaking story about a good friend of yours who lost her young daughter. Yes, after a two year battle with cancer.

What, you know, it sounds even awkward to say it this way. But what did that awful situation teach you? Man, I'll share briefly of the story. So she, my friend Katie Ann, her young daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer, they did everything that every parent would do, you know, getting the best medical help and many surgeries. And by the time she was four years old, the doctors came to her and they said, I am so sorry, but we've done everything we can do in this tumor keeps on growing. And they said, we can either try some other treatments that may actually debilitate her further, or you can go home and just love your daughter and just enjoy the years.

It's a horrible choice for a parent to have to make. But Katie and her husband Billy in that moment, they looked at each other, they pray, they're very strong Christian people. And they said, we feel like we need to go home. You know, we've spent all this time at the hospital and at the Ronald McDonald house. And you know, where they house people who are, you know, their children are going through treatments about chaos.

And it is, I mean, complete and total chaos, feeling completely out of control and just your heartbreaking every day. So they went home. And in that time of going home, Katie Ann and her husband felt this burden to prepare their daughter for heaven.

And it was just, it's hard for me not to get choked up sharing this. And so Katie Ann would often talk about heaven and her daughter Bennett is her name would ask her questions. And she'd say, well, mom, do you think there'll be dogs in heaven?

You know, what are the angels like? And you know, she'd ask all these questions and Katie Ann would just graciously talk to her about it. So not, she didn't want her to fear passing away. And there was one day where Bennett was talking to her mom and she said, mom, do you think when I go to heaven that I can send you flowers from heaven? And Katie Ann kind of paused for a moment, I'm sure holding back tears. And she said, absolutely. I bet there's going to be so many flowers in heaven, flowers you've never even seen.

And I would love for you to send me some. And and she kind of filed that back to memory, really hard, sweet, hard and sweet moment all at the same time. Well, tragically, about two months after they took Bennett home, she did pass away peacefully. And Katie Ann did say she says peacefully, she talked about this on her CaringBridge account. And she so beautifully wrote that it didn't make sense.

It's that peace that goes beyond our understanding that the Word talks about. And she said, you know, they're never going to be the same. You can never feel that void of losing a child. And she said, but it was just this unexplainable piece of knowing that she's not in pain anymore. There's no surgeries, there's no wires hooked to her anymore. She's with Jesus.

One day we'll see her again. Well, about two months later, Katie Ann and her husband decided that they probably should move from the home where she passed away. It was just too heavy. And so they were rolling up a rug and just preparing to move. And as they rolled up this rug in the very middle, like of where the middle of the rug would be on the back of it, there was something stuck there.

And they go to pick it up. And it turned out it was a puzzle piece. And Katie Ann said that was very weird, because they hate puzzles, like nobody in their family likes puzzles. And she's like, how could this end up in the middle of this rug when we don't even like puzzles? And her husband was like, Yeah, that's weird. And she turned it over. And she said, when she turned over that puzzle piece, literally, she almost fell down.

And she just got cold chills all over her body. Because on that puzzle piece was one single flower. And she said, for her, it was what she referred to as like a God wink of just him saying, I see you, here's your flower from heaven.

And, you know, you can take that a lot of different ways. But for Katie, and she holds on to that puzzle piece, because she said, how fitting that that flower was on a puzzle piece, because when you're in the midst of something like watching your child battle cancer and pass away, it's a bunch of puzzle pieces that don't fit. It doesn't make sense. It's not something we can ever understand this side of heaven. But we do know that when we trust God with the pieces of our life, the pieces that don't make sense, that is actually where we find his peace. And so I was just so challenged by my friend, choosing to look for God's peace, to look for little God winks in her life that could say, you know, that from God, just kind of reminding her, hey, you can still have my peace even after this tragic loss. It just showed me, man, if she can find peace, I can find peace. And it's so powerful. It's what Jesus was saying.

Guess what, everybody? It's not about this life. Exactly. It's about what's going to come. It is. And I think we struggle being human.

Yes, we do. Understanding that. But, you know, that's what the Lord is here to unfold for us. There's something bigger, something better. And what a beautiful story.

What a way to end this. I think, Ashley, you have hit it out of the park, man. You just so wonderful. And what you've experienced in your walk with the Lord is just so illustrative and helpful to all of us as parents. Thank you for this great book, Peace Pirates.

Don't let the pirates steal your peace, basically. And I think everybody should want a copy of this and that we couldn't even cover all the content in here. And I hope you'll get in touch with us and get a copy of this book. If you can make a gift to focus for any amount, we'll send it to you.

If you can't afford it, we're going to trust others. We'll cover that. So just call us and we'll get this into your hands. It is one of those resources I think every parent, every mom should have. And as you can make a monthly pledge to focus on the family, we'll send this book to you. We have a website full of great resources for you. And if you're facing something really that we haven't covered today, but you need some help with, give us a call.

We're just a phone call away. Our number's 800, the letter A and the word family. Details about the book, how you can donate and other help is all captured there in the episode notes. One of those tools that we have is a free parenting assessment. It is a great little investment of your time. It'll take five or six minutes and you'll get results that show kind of what your strengths are as a mom or a dad and maybe an area or two needing some attention. And we'll follow up with additional encouragement for you in that.

Look for that parenting assessment on our website. Ashley, again, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you all so much.

It's truly my pleasure to be here. Next time, Dan Seaborn offers a very transparent message on how to be a husband who nurtures his wife. But I want you to know I am just like you.

I struggle just like you. That's what I want you to see. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. At Focus on the Family, we know you want to see your grandchildren follow Christ. Here's how you do that. The Legacy Grandparenting Summit, the only national conference on Christian grandparenting, coming to over 100 locations on October 20th and 21st. You'll find wisdom, direction and inspiration from speakers including Anne Graham Lotz and Miles McPherson. Register now for the Legacy Grandparenting Summit at slash summit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-27 22:05:46 / 2023-02-27 22:19:10 / 13

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