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Redefining Motherhood

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
September 30, 2020 2:00 am

Redefining Motherhood

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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September 30, 2020 2:00 am

Author Heather DeJesus Yates always dreamed of having a large family. But when infertility closed that door, would she still trust God? After several disappointing years, she and her husband were thrilled to become the adoptive parents of a beautiful baby girl. Would one child be enough to fill her heart? Yates tells how a visit to see her brother's family and their new baby brought her unexpected peace. Through an unassuming little succulent plant called a "Mother of Thousands," Heather came to realize that she, like this little barren plant, could still live a fruitful and productive life investing in the next generation.

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The Bible says that sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. In her journey of infertility and adoption, Heather DeJesus-Yates has realized just how true that is. and poured out the honest places of grief and discouragement with him and sat in the company of other women who could say, yeah, this is hard. This is heavy.

This is really heavy. Had I not had that experience, I would not be on this side with laughter and joy. This is Family Life Today. Our hosts are Dave and Anne Wilson.

I'm Bob Lapine. You can find us online at familylifetoday.com. We'll hear today from Heather DeJesus-Yates about her vision for her life and the bigger vision God had for her. Stay with us. And welcome to Family Life Today. Thanks for joining us. There's a word that is, we find it in the Bible, and it's a word that we just don't use very much because I think it's such a hard, harsh, ugly sounding word.

Oh boy, this sounds like a fun broadcast, Bob. It's in the theme of what we're talking about this week. It's the word barren, barrenness.

I mean, just saying the word, it's almost like you don't want to say it out loud because the idea carries with it such an emptiness, a loss of hope and ugliness. How can we serve the God who is the God over all things, and how can barrenness be a part of our experience or a part of our existence? And yet, for a lot of families, for a lot of husbands and wives who have longed to have children, barrenness has been part of their story, and they've had to enter into that and go, how do I meet God in this place? And grandparents. I know that one of our sons and his wife had three miscarriages, and it was their first three babies.

And there was a grieving, not only for our son and his wife, but for us as well. And I think people feel that or know someone who has gone through it, and it's devastating. Yeah, I think one of the worst things about that word is it's out of your hands. You can't just like, oh, I'm going to make myself, what's the word, unbarren? You can't fix it.

You can't. I mean, I was thinking it's like defeat, but defeat, sometimes I can find victory. I can win this game, but barren is like it's out of your hands, and you have to struggle through.

And it's so interesting that so many times we see it in the Bible, and some of our great forefathers were born out of, at first, barrenness. We've got Heather DeJesus-Yates joining us this week to talk about all of this. Heather, welcome back to Family Life Today.

Thank you very much. Heather, she's a mother. She is a wife. She lives in East Tennessee, and as we've already heard this week, she drives a 53 pickup truck. She's just cool and talented and amazing. She's an attorney, and she's a writer.

She's written a book called A Mother of Thousands, and tell our listeners about the title of that book. There's a horticultural connection there, right? Yeah, the irony, because I kill plants like it's my job. I am terrible when it comes to gardening or planting it off. I buy a plant, my husband's like, I'm so sorry.

You've got such a short shelf life. Well, when we were going through infertility, adoption, fostering, we had hit a point in our journey where we'd even had some failed adoptions. We were expecting twin boys for a short time, and then that kind of fell through, and we were facing a question of whether or not we wanted to pick up with another international situation that was looking very different than what we had first considered and was going to lead us down a path that was so involved. We had already been through so much. We're still managing quite a few challenging dynamics with our adoption story.

We just didn't know if that was something we needed to say yes to. We didn't know if we were done with growing our family in quantity, and it was just time to enjoy our family as a little crew of three. And so we left actually ironically to go to Athens, Georgia, where my brother and his wife live. They were expecting a baby, and they were actually expecting a baby the very night we were supposed to go pick up the twin boys, and we were waiting for the call. And as I was walking on the driveway and I was praying for my sister-in-law, any minute now she's going to go into labor, and any minute now we could get the call to go pick up the boys.

Isn't this the craziest life we're living? And we got our call, and it went a different direction, and we got our call from my sister-in-law, and she had the baby. And those are always wonderful little gut checks that Hebrews 12, 15, be careful that no bitter root forms in there, and that's such a danger I think in this journey for women is to have those bitter roots form. And I felt like God gave us that trip immediately to go to Athens to hold that baby, to keep no bitter root from forming in my heart. So we went down there and prayed the whole way down there and got there and got to love on my new little niece, got to play with my other niece and see my little girl toddler around with her cousin and had a busy, hectic, crazy, full house of fun for the whole day. And then my husband and I just collapsed in the bed in the guest room, and as I was laying there, I just had this peace wash over me. It wasn't just this exhaustion from being with a newborn thinking, yeah, we don't want another baby, we're done. It wasn't that at all because there was so much joy, and there was so much sweetness. It wasn't, you know, I just now I really know we want to, I want to pursue again because I want another newborn feel. It wasn't any of that. It was this soul calm, and I leaned over to my husband and I said, you know what?

I think I'm good. And he just took this deep breath and his chest just swelled up and then came back down and he said, good. And that he had been carrying this sense of perseverance.

I need to persevere to grow because my wife wants another baby. And I already feel like we have fought so hard and I am doing all I can to hold the line for our health and our emotional health and our marital health and our daughter's safety and wellbeing to throw us into another complex situation. I think he was carrying this tension of not knowing. So for me to have this peace wash in, it was just this opportunity for both of us to just rest in where we were and not pursue anymore and just be a family and enjoy where we were. And so we went to sleep that night and I woke up one eye at a time thinking, am I grieving? Am I grieving that we just aren't going to pursue anymore children?

Is this the end of something? And I was okay. I didn't feel a lot of heavy emotion and so he'd already woken up. So I got out of the bed and I clamored out to the kitchen. I was getting my coffee and my brother is going on and on about these plants that he bought his wife for her birthday.

And again, I am a plant killer, hashtag plant killer, and it's my picture. And so he's telling me about this and I'm not paying a whole lot of attention and he's taking me on a tour through the house to see them all. And he ends with this one sitting on this counter and he said, now this is one of my favorites. He said, look at the ends of it and it looked kind of like a cactus-like succulent. And he said, on all the edges of these branches, wherever this plant reaches out, these tiny little baby plantlets form. And I looked and there were these adorable little plantlets on the edges of this plant.

I'd never seen anything like it before. And he said, the nursery guy, he said, be careful where you plant her because she'll take over the yard. All these baby plantlets get heavy and they drop to the ground and they reproduce the same kind of plant.

And he's like, so we've got her contained in this pot in the house. And he said, the cool thing is, is she doesn't bear seed of her own. And immediately I felt like the Holy Spirit just woke me up to this vision and this joy. And I ran to the bathroom because I started to weep because I thought that plant is a picture for me of the hope that I have that even though I bear no seed of my own, that if you were to plant me like God has planted me in his kingdom and I root deep in who I am in him, he will bear life and it can be revolutionary. We can change the landscape by just being faithful with God and him planting us. And as we plant by faith into the hearts and the soils of those around us, we root deep with them in God's word and his presence with us that he will bear life.

And it can be way beyond anything that I could have ever birthed biologically. You know, listen to that story. I didn't know all the backstory, how you ended up at your brother's house. I thought there are so many people that would have canceled that trip. Yeah, I was tempted. I mean, the courage you had. I know people that said, I can't be near another woman that has a baby.

I just can't, I can't. And in some ways you understand, I get it. And yet you had the courage to say, I'm going to step into a really hard place. And if you hadn't made that trip, who knows if you get that word from God about your future? There are a lot of layers in that week that had they gone any differently, a lot of things would have been different with where we're at today, whether it was with those twin boys being placed in our home, we wouldn't have gone on that trip, you know, had we gotten our way, had we gotten the plans that I had planned, if we had had those two little boys in our home, which we later found out like a week later, a lot of dynamics that would have been devastating for our family. So God protected us. He pulled the curtain back and let us see behind the scenes, which he doesn't always do. But he did for us, I think to heal us quicker and to trust him more deeply, which was a real gift. But that plant was called a mother of thousands. And so to have that picture coming back from that vacation, from that trip of seeing that baby, and thank you for affirming that as courage, it felt kind of a little obligatory. As a sister, I'd love to be more noble than that. But I do see that God was faithful to us to guard against bitterness and to guard against self-pity and to go into that deep place of poor us, that God would hold out from us, but be good to other people.

I think he gave that as a gift to protect us from that danger. Because I did fall for that in other dynamics. For sure, I struggled when I would see other women getting pregnant. And I did take a season where I didn't go to baby showers and I didn't, you know, go where they could sing songs to a hurting heart. And I encourage other women, too, to take a break. You don't have to do everything for everyone in every season.

It's okay to grieve for a while. What I hear you expressing here is that biological birth, motherhood, is one expression of the life-giving that God calls a woman to. It's a profound and powerful expression, maybe the dominant expression of that, but it's not the exclusive expression of that, and that every woman is called to be a nurturer, a life-giver, a carer of souls. And that, for most wives, is going to look like being a biological mom. But for every wife, whether you're a biological mom or not, there's a broader expression of what that means and how you can live that out.

Right. And I go so far as to say a mother, because you look at the definition of what it means to be a mother, and it's to birth, to raise up, to care affectionately, to be a woman of authority. And there is this place for every woman in the kingdom of God to step in and say, I have life in me. In Christ, I have life, and it is unstoppable life. And He has called me to bear fruit and multiply and fill the earth.

This is something that we've been made to do, and it's not unique to women. It is a calling to the believer. If we have conceived of faith and the gospel is implanted within us, we have the ability to reproduce faith.

The church is multiplying because of the unstoppable nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is something that I would have missed, I think, had God not closed my womb. I think I would have missed the bigger story and the bigger opportunity here, and I'm not diminishing biological motherhood. I'm not. Would I rejoice if I found out we were expecting?

Of course. And not because, oh, finally, I can be content. No, I am fully content right now. In fact, we thought I was expecting before the book launched, and I went, no! For the first time in over a decade, I didn't want to be pregnant because I wanted street cred.

I wanted to be able to look inside the eyes of a sister who was grieving and would maybe never conceive because I don't promise you that you'll conceive. This isn't a how to get God to do what you want Him to do. He cannot be controlled, but He's good. He is good, and He will be with us all the way through.

And so I wanted that street cred to be able to look at her and say, you can have joy, you can have peace, you can be content even when your world is not going the way you wanted it, even when things don't look like the way that you had scripted for yourself. It's interesting, too, Heather, as I hear you speak, Jesus and God are all over your language. He's a part of you. He's oozing out of everything in you. He is your life.

He is my life. I became a Christian kind of in a bit of a radical situation. I was 10 years old, almost 11, and I share some of my faith.

My whole faith journey is actually in my first book, All the Wild Pearls, but I had been exposed to quite a few destructive things in my early childhood, very, very difficult, painful situations for anyone, especially for a child. So when I was 10 or 11 years old in that area, my mom dropped me off at our church, and I wasn't used to being around my peers. I was always wanting to be around my grandparents or older people, and so I was very uncomfortable in this space. And thankfully, the lights were down. I was just sitting on the edge, and I already had my exit plan.

I would go sit in the stall in the bathroom. And by that age, I had already been exposed to pornography and sexual assault and other things, and so I felt about myself generally that I was dirty. And church, I didn't understand a lot of it. I had a lot of questions about it, and the whole process of salvation and justification and sanctification, it all was just very confusing to me. But this youth pastor that night, he was sharing the gospel, and at the end, he looked in the audience, and he said, If any of you out there feel dirty tonight, Jesus can make you clean.

And that was the only thing I understood. I understood dirty and clean, and I had tried to make myself clean in all my good works and being a good kid and good student, doing everything right, and nothing was taking away that sense of dirty in the middle of my being. And so when the lights went up, I ran like a four-legged girl down to the front of the altar to pray and find out, How can this Jesus make me clean? And I found out that it was his blood and his sacrifice on a cross for me, that he conquered sin and death. He died and he rose again from the grave, and that resurrection made all the difference, that I was clean because he resurrected. And so in my faith journey, I knew this was a major rescue.

I have no business being in this kingdom, in this family. He has adopted me in the biggest way, and my life has really been just one big thank you card back to him for that rescue. And yet you've had broken dreams. And I think everyone has broken dreams. I know when I gave my life to Jesus, I thought, He's going to make my life amazing, and I'm going to marry someone rich, and I'm going to have this lifestyle. And then it didn't turn out like that.

Right. I have another book idea. The title is God is a Great Plan for Your Life, and the artwork is of Stephen the martyr being stoned to death. I don't know if my followers are going to go for it.

I don't think it's going to sell well, but that is something that is really hard to grasp as a believer. But I thought that when God's got a great plan for my life, excuse me, Jeremiah 29 and 11, that that meant that these things are going to go the way. And here I was, a Christian woman, I was like, I've done all the right things. We've waited for our spouses. We've checked the boxes. We've worked in ministry. We've tithed all of our life. We go to weekend to remember. Surely we should have a baby.

This baby will be amazing. I'll leave it at the temple like Hannah did. So, yeah, we thought, you know, isn't this how God works? But He's not a vending machine. He started out with a plan. He's going to be faithful to the plan. And it's so much better.

It's better. I had no idea that to become a pastor's wife, to live in Detroit, if God would have painted that out to me, I would have thought, that sounds terrible. And yet it's been the most— And you just looked at me, a bald pastor. It has been the most amazing ride that I could ever imagine and hope for because when we follow Him, we don't know what's around the next corner. But when we keep our eyes on Him, it becomes the most joy-filled journey that impacts other people.

And when we can allow our pain to help other people get through their own pain, there is real meaning and purpose in that. Yeah, I will say that there was most certainly in the middle of the journey of infertility, there was no joy. That was not a place of joy.

There was no singing of songs. God's plan for me is better than my plan for me. No, I was not seeing that at all. I don't think any of us see it in the midst of it. No, and I think what you make such a good point is that this is a journey and that a lot of the times it's through the pain when we don't see God with us and being good to us, that we're tested in that place to trust Him in the midst of the suffering, with us in the suffering, in the valley, the shadow of death. I will fear no evil.

Why? Because you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they're going to comfort me. And it is a one step at a time comfort. It is not a, oh, I've got all this great theology and I've got all this faith in God. He's going to gloriously make this into such a beautiful redemption story.

Well, yes, because He is faithful, but you don't get there very quickly. You need to be honest with where you're at along the way in order to have that sincere place of rejoicing and contentment. Because had I not wept bitterly, had I not poured out my anger and my discontentment and my mistrust of God, had I not buckled over in my driveway and yelled like David and poured out the honest places of grief and discouragement with Him and sat in the company of other women who could say, yeah, this is hard. This is hard. This is heavy. This is really heavy. Had I not had that experience, I would not be on this side with laughter and joy.

I would still be eating all the French fries. So it's a Roman's road. You know, you've got to go through the pain of the curse before you can come into the redemption joy of the cross. And that is true from the beginning when God set everything up and we had this beautiful experience with God. We had all of this true nature of God, goodness, just absolute abundance and beauty and, man, this is what I want. This is the most amazing life.

It still wasn't enough. And bringing in the curse on the earth and us moving through the curse and having to wait and wait and wait for the joy of redemption, I really feel like infertility is that picture. It is that picture of I feel the garden. I feel the curse. Baroness was associated with curse and when you are in that place and you cannot bear life and you feel that longing within you, you know, Old Testament hints at the things that are never satisfied and one of them is a barren womb and there is something in us that wants to create life. We are made in the image of a creator who creates life and that is written on our very nature to want to create life. So, when you feel your nature hit the curse and you feel that inability to create life in your body, you have to walk through that curse and see what God did to it. He redeemed it with a cross and it's that journey for me that I can't imagine going through infertility without the hope of the cross, without resurrection, without that other symbol that you're expecting, that symbol of life that He showed me. Yes, you get the positive sign on a pregnancy test, but it's the same sign that gives me hope that I have life within me.

It's the cross. Do you ever find yourself, go back, I mean, you're at a place now, sounds like, and you wrote about, you've got perspective, you've been through that journey, seems like a valley and you're sort of out of it. Do you ever find yourself laying in bed at night or in a quiet moment of regret or going back to the pit? Just wondering if that ever happens and if your mind starts to go there, what do you do? Because I'm thinking a lot of people probably struggle.

I'm over here now, but... Well, I look down at my hand and I still have skin, so I do. I still have struggles and I'll still go back there and I think I always will. Again, the barren womb will always long, it'll always cry out. And so there are times, you know, we have an adoption story and that means there are complex dynamics in our story that are permanent.

They're just etched now into our story and God says it's good. And sometimes I just have to trust Him that that's good because sometimes it doesn't feel good. And it's a reminder to me, oh yeah, I didn't give birth to my little girl. And it takes me back to some of that pain of sorrow, of really, you know, saying, man, God, sometimes I wish I could just shove her in my belly and like do this over and take some factors out of our story. And I come back with those open hands again and surrender that when you say you work all things together for good, you work all kinds of not good things that don't taste or feel very good on their own and you will move them in some mysterious way together to where all together they will work out to be this good thing, good for me, good for you, good for the body, good for the bigger story that you're telling.

I know that when I saw your book title, I had no idea about this plant because I don't know anything about plants. But I had this thought and then as I read to the end where you talk about our destiny, I'm like, oh, there it is. Because when I saw Mother of Thousands, I thought I'm actually called to be a father of thousands.

And we're all called, whether we have biological children or not, we can, as you said, plant small, root deep, bear life because of Christ in us. And what a beautiful picture of the destiny and the call and the mission of every Christ follower. Well, you look at Sarah and Abraham's story and I identify so well with her and her grief and her frustration and the tension it created in their marriage.

And I just, you know, and I put in the book just some flesh around Sarah because I just, I can't wait to sit with her and say, tell me the truth, what happened? When I look at her story and I see what God did, God gave them a promise of destiny by faith. His descendants, it wasn't so much about their biology, it was about the faith. They were going to be a mother and father of the faith. The kingdom of God was going to be built by faith. I mean, this was a game changer.

This is a huge paradigm shift. You know, the Hebrews, they were all about lineage and genetics and kingdom of heaven. Genetics are just not going to be a big deal, you know, when we move into that new season of life. And so that was a game changer for me when I realized the big story God was wanting to tell was one of faith.

That they were going to become father of many nations, mother of thousands, that this was going to be about faith. And if I keep my head buried in this little story and I stay consumed in my own grief and all my own pain, I may miss the most amazing story that God could ever tell in my life. So I don't want to do that. Lord, you write the story.

You write the script. I'll go where you go. You promise to never leave me, no matter where we go. And that ultimately is what I want.

I want to stay connected to Him. I love your subtitle, From Baron to Revolutionary. I got pushback on that. You did?

I did. The publishing and the sales team and the marketing, they kept, multiple times they came back and said, this word revolutionary, I don't know, I don't think women are going to understand it. From barren to fruitful, that's what we need it to be. It needs to be fruitful. And I was like, well, it's biblical. I know where you're coming from with that. And it is, you know, it's in Galatians.

But this isn't about just bearing fruit. This is about a complete paradigm shift. This is about joining God and changing His world.

That's why I liked it. I like the revolutionary because that resonates with my heart. Like, I want to change the world.

I want to send this back to the sales team. Thank you. I fought for it.

I look at you and I think you are a revolutionary. Well, we're redefining motherhood. One soul talk shared with another teenage girl or a woman across the table at a time, and I even created a little t-shirt for our book launch that defines motherhood, is the state of being a woman who shows up to the next generation, trusting God to build His family through her. Will you pray for other women? We need your prayer. Father God, we thank you that we have direct access to talk to you about all the things of our hearts, thanks to your son Jesus' sacrifice on a cross for us. Father, we also thank you that we don't call you adoptive, Father.

We just call you daddy because there is no distinguishment between us and your son Jesus. We are co-heirs to you. We are all your children now. You have paid for us. You have bought us.

And you chose us because it was your delight to choose us. And so, Father, in this secure place as your children, we ask for you to bless the wombs of your children and not just the physical ones. Father, we pray that you would open the eyes of the blind to see the stories that you are telling in these marriages, that, Father, where they are struggling in these stories of barrenness, of miscarriage, of broken dreams. Father, we pray that you would help them to see your resurrection, help them to put their hope in the only place that's secure.

It's in your plan and your faithfulness and your character as good. Father, we thank you that the work that you've begun in them, you are going to finish it. And that, Father, if it is your will for them to bear children biologically, thank you, thank you that you will see that through. Father, if it's not, we pray that they would be free from consumption of these small stories and that their eyes would be lifted up to look around to see the world that you've given them. Father, we pray that they would be fruitful and multiply, that they would show up to the next generation trusting you will build your family through them. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

Amen. Heather, thank you for being on Family Life Today. Thanks for being here and sharing with us. Thank you. And let me say to our listeners, we would love to send you a copy of Heather's book.

The book is called A Mother of Thousands, From Barren to Revolutionary. We're making it available this week to any of you who can support the work of Family Life Today. If you have a desire to invest in the marriages and the families of hundreds of thousands of people every day all around the world by investing in the work of Family Life Today, we'd love to have you join the team and we'd love to bless you with a copy of Heather's book. Family Life Today exists to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe godly marriages and families can change the world one home at a time. So we want to encourage you to be a part of the team that makes Family Life Today available in your community and online on our mobile app through all the channels where Family Life Today can be heard. Help make that happen by making a donation today.

Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to donate or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation and be sure to ask for your copy of the book A Mother of Thousands, From Barren to Revolutionary by Heather DeJesus-Yates when you make your donation. Thanks in advance for joining with us and we hope you enjoy the book. And we hope you can be with us again tomorrow when we're going to talk about how a wife should respond when her husband just won't take initiative, won't lead, when he's passive. We'll have that conversation tomorrow.

I hope you can join us for that. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life of Little Rock, Arkansas. A crew ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-25 16:38:07 / 2024-02-25 16:50:47 / 13

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