We are limited in our view of time, of God's bigger purposes, of His plans.
We think we know, but if we really could, in faith, believe we serve a God who is so big and so good and has something beyond our imagination planned, that's the bigger picture. That's the why am I here. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.
You can find us at familylifetoday.com. This is Family Life Today. So I've never asked you this question. I just thought of it this morning. Okay. Do you ever struggle with FOMO? Yes.
Fear of missing out? Yes. No, I would say you do not. I totally do.
I'm driving over here thinking, I gotta ask you this. Oh, if somebody's having fun or somebody's, like, you're doing something and all our friends are together and I'm out there, I totally have that. Really? I know you do. For sure you do. I want to be everywhere all the time. I know you do. Yeah. Well, I only want to be where it's fun and people are laughing.
That's what I want to be. So why did I ask you that today? Well, I don't know. You don't know?
No. Because we're going to talk about it. I think we're going to talk about it.
Heather McFadden is with us. I don't know, Heather, are we going to talk about FOMO? It was kind of the start of my journey of figuring some truth out. It was my own struggle because I'm like, Ann, I don't want to miss anything like you. I just, and there's a fear wrapped up in that with that F of the FOMO, that I am missing it. If I'm right here, I'm missing an opportunity.
That's over there. And that consumes my mind. And that's not a very peaceful place to be, to always be unsure of, is this right? Am I, is this it? Is this my purpose? Is this enough?
If by saying yes to this, am I missing out on that over there? And I found out it wasn't just me. And it goes along with your title. The title of your book is- Well, that's why I brought it up, honey. I don't know if you got that connection. I've got that now.
I've got it. But the book is called Right Where You Belong and How to Identify and Fully Occupy Your God-given Space. And your God-given space right now is being a mom. You have four boys. Your podcast is Don't Mom Alone.
Right. So do you struggle with that, with being a mom? I think that it was through that mom ministry that I realized I wasn't the only one who struggled specifically in motherhood. I think there are a lot of amazing, capable women who feel like they have competing purposes and callings with things that they love to do prior to being a mom.
And then you throw in motherhood and they want to go all in and be amazing moms too. And they're like, is this okay? Is it okay that I love to create music or sing? Is it okay that I'm a teacher?
Is it okay? Or they may not have a choice. And so they are working outside the home and wanting to be amazing moms and work outside the home to provide for their family so they can provide the opportunities. And they're feeling that tension. Oh, we all feel that tension.
At the beginning of your book and your introduction, I was so intrigued because Dave and I had had a conversation probably this past month. Uh-oh, I don't even know where you're going. We were talking about finances and our future.
We never talk about finances and our future. I feel like that's a no zone in the marriage. Exactly. And what this looks like. And you talked at the beginning of your book about you and your husband having this same conversation.
Yeah. Tell us about that. It was a very humbling moment where I thought, man, isn't this so great that I'm contributing so much to our financial situation. And I asked him to see a budget and realized, oh no, this was not when you net net, this is not contributing the amount that I thought. And I just balled up in bed crying, feeling like, man, why didn't I stick with my career in speech language pathology? I get texts and emails every day with job offers, six figures. We could be buying that new couch or taking that vacation or, you know, the, all the extras that we think we need because, you know, we compare to that family.
Yes. And thankfully in God's grace, I still chose to get dressed that morning and go to church because the sermon, that pastor that day just spoke a word into my life of God honors those who honor him. And I just needed to be reminded that, that it wasn't about this financial fruit, but it was ripple effects I will never see and being obedient to this ministry of don't mom alone.
And wouldn't you know, I'd like prayed a little prayer, Lord, could you just throw me a bone? Like just a little reminder that this matters and I'm in the right place and I'm in the right place. And a mom walks up to me who she creates amazing documentaries. She was about to have her third baby and she had just started reading my first book, Don't Mom Alone.
And she was just saying how much it meant to her and how thankful she was for the podcast. And I was like, thank you, God, that you see just the smallest parts of our heart that need encouragement and that we, that woman being obedient to say something was the ripple effect in my life that she didn't know, but the one spirit we have knows, you know, that we get to be stewards of God's grace. I came across that phrase a couple times in Peter and in Ephesians, like we're stewards of God's grace. God's grace is everywhere, but we get to be the caretakers of it in our little spaces he's given us to occupy. And are we stewarding it?
Are we listening to him and abiding with him in that? I'm looking at Dave right now. I don't know why you're looking at me. Because after our conversation, as we're looking at like retirement, what's going on, not that we'll ever retire, but financially. No, we will not.
It's not possible. But you were having those same doubts, fears. Should I have ever gone into the ministry? You know, we have these callings and these gifts.
Why don't you just tell the world about my struggle? The vulnerability breeds vulnerability. So you will now have a listener reach in who feels the same way. But sometimes we let financial decisions determine our future. And it's not that we don't look at the finances and make decisions. That is important. But our calling and how God has made us and his passions and the gifts that he's put in us, those should be looked at.
And we need to dive into it. Like I'm super proud of you. For what? That you didn't give up in ministry because God called you to it.
And it hasn't always been the best, the easiest financially. Yeah. And in some ways it's what, you know, your book is about, as I read through it, right where you belong is this theology of calling, really, in a beautiful way. I mean, I've read Oz Guinness and these deep, deep theological ones. And I'm like, I'm lost. And I read yours and I'm like, oh, this is very practical. So help our listener understand. Not that you're not deep, because you're deep too.
No, but if it doesn't take root, then it's pointless. Yeah, exactly. If your theology can't be taught to a three-year-old, then you've over-complicated some things. When you're saying calling and calling to ministry, it was my friend Kat Armstrong, she came on the show and it was super clarifying for me. She said, as believers, we're all given the same calling to go and make disciples. And our assignments are where we do that over the course of our lifetime. And that felt like, oh, then I can have two assignments at the same time. This is important.
Yeah. I can have the assignment of discipling my boys at home. And I can have the assignment of making disciples through my podcast. And I can have the assignment in that cubicle and in that office.
And I can have that assignment at the grocery store. Making a disciple, we over-complicate. It's not necessarily a doing, it's a being. And how are you as you go into the world? That's an assignment. And so to me, that just released the burden that I have to find my great, big calling.
One big thing. Or for me personally, I don't know if you felt this way, I built up motherhood to be this greatest calling. And then you get into it and you're like, this is it? I'm not finding the meaning I thought I would find. These boys aren't giving me the purpose and the feedback that I thought I would get for my greatest calling. I remember saying to myself, like, I have no life.
I have no life anymore. This is not my own. But those that are struggling with fertility issues, they're thinking, you don't even know what you're talking about. But even the idolization of whatever it is, marriage, family, friends of mine, you know, their challenge of single parenting, of whatever your challenge, parenting special needs, we idolize the thing we don't have, as that's when I'll arrive or I missed it. Like we were just talking about the never missing out because I didn't get assigned that ideal. And to find the humility of being okay with what you have been assigned, that is the goal. So many people just heard that the assignment, there's assignment.
How do I know what my assignment is? Yeah. Yeah. And I think that it comes down to looking at what limitations you've been given, which are good. What do you mean by that? The limits? Like, why are we talking about limitations? Limitations feel, you know, we don't want them, but they're also so freeing. Because like we just said in those examples of if I only had these kids instead of the ones I had, and you're always looking to what you don't have, there's a discontent that breeds and joy doesn't have a place to land and gratitude doesn't have a place to go. But if you're like, okay, these are my limits, how do I live within them?
Well, how do I do what I've been given well, empowered by Christ to the Holy Spirit, instead of always wishing to be over, you know, the grass is always greener is what we always say. But I think that those limits are good. We say do with our kids.
We're like, you can play in this yard, but if you go on the street, that's not going to be so great. That's good. Yeah. I think, you know, as you talk about Kat, who said we all have the call for follower Christ to make disciples. I can remember, Anne wasn't there, but I went to my first ever, like, Christian retreat. I didn't come to Christ in my junior year in college. And the guy who led me to Christ said, you got to go to this Christmas conference with Camp True Save for Christ in Chicago during Christmas break. So long story short, and it's a long story, but I've never been to a Christian retreat in my life.
So here I am. And I didn't want to go by myself. So I literally talked my roommate, who's not a Christian, into going. And the reason I did it is I said, I'll pay your way because I was on scholarship.
And so anyway, he goes, my girlfriend goes, which wasn't the end. And the last session was, I'm talking 2,000 kids in a ballroom in Chicago. Bill Bright, the president of CREW, speaks. I didn't know who he was. And I'll never forget, he gets on stage and says, tonight I'm going to share the greatest words ever spoken by the greatest man who ever lived at the greatest moment of his life. Now, we all probably right now go, oh, I know what he's going to say.
I'm sitting there like, who's this? And I was that new and didn't know that he's Jesus. And it was Matthew 28, the great commission, you know, go and make disciples right before he dies. So that's why he says greatest thing. Anyway, I'll try and keep this short.
He says at the end, if you're willing tonight, this is New Year's Eve, by the way, to say to God, I'll go and do anything you want me to do. I want you to stand. And I'm literally in the back row because that's where I was, brand new.
I'm not. And I'm thinking to myself, I wonder if anybody else stand. The whole room basically stood.
It's like, it was this powerful moment. And I'm sitting there and this is my thinking. There's no way you got to be kidding me, go anywhere, do anything. I'll end up a missionary in some God forsaken country. And so I sat. My girlfriend stands up.
She's not a Christian. My roommate stands up. I'm like, what are you guys doing? And all I knew is I thought the calling of God always means you're going somewhere. And it was months later when I got on my knees in my bedroom, when I caught my girlfriend with another guy, literally walked in and I drove home and got on my knees. And I'll never, I'll never forget. I got on my knees.
This is like four months later. I said, okay, God, I didn't stand in a ballroom months ago, but I'm in wherever you want me to go. I'll go, I'll do whatever you want me to do. And when I talk about it now, I always think of this. It's almost like God looked down at me and is like, are you serious?
Because you won't believe what I got for you. We are going to go change the world. Again, I thought it was this calling is going to send me somewhere in your book is exactly right. Right where you are is where God wants to use you.
And I didn't understand that. It's like, God looked at you and me and us and says, what are you passionate about? What are the gifts? What's in your hand? Are you saying what's in your hand?
What's in your heart? You like athletics? Let's go do athletic ministry. So we ended up 30 years in the NFL ministering pro athletes right where we are. Is that the whole idea?
Yeah. I just want to encourage believers particularly, obviously. This is written for believers to settle in and walk with God and abide with him where they are. Because when we've heard the tapestry illustration, but all of the threads is really big right now on the interwebs.
The threads matter. We are limited in our view of time, of God's bigger purposes, of his plans. We think we know, but if we really could, in faith, believe we serve a God who is so big and so good and has something beyond our imagination planned, and it may mean we walk through trials. It's not a Pollyanna existence when you say yes to God and walk with him. The disciples showed that through their martyrdom, but it is the purpose we're seeking. That's the why am I here? That's the bigger picture if you're trying to find like, does this matter what I'm doing?
Does it matter who I am? These experiences like you're saying with athletics, like if we could weave them all together and see that, wow, God has put me here uniquely with my unique DNA, my unique giftings, and this time on the history timeline with these tools that my grandparents didn't have. We were just saying, you know, even learning guitar, like the tools that our kids have to learn and to reach. It's like, wow, that's the humbling.
And it was a tweet I saw from a YouVersion devotional writer. He said, the expanded Hebrew definition of humility is to fully occupy your God-given space. And that felt so freeing to me because that's, okay, then my next goal is what's my God-given space?
And drawing up those boundary lines and those limits and figuring out, am I filling it? It reminds me, I was in the car with four of our grandkids and we were talking about their dad. And I said, you know, your dad's a genius. And they're like, what are you talking about? Our dad is not a genius. Like, no, he really is. And then I said, and when you really think about it through God's eyes, you each are a genius in your own right.
And they're like, Nani, what are you talking about? I said, well, what's a genius? Basically, there has never in the history of the world been someone like you. There's no one like you right now with your DNA, with your passions, with your gifts. They're similar, but there's no one like you and there never will be. So you're a genius at being you. And then what you're saying, Heather, is as you discover that and embrace it, because we all want to be someone else.
And that it stifles the genius in us. So you're saying, who are you? And what is the space you're supposed to occupy? What does that look like for you?
Like, how have you decided that and figured it out? Yeah, I think this concept of, like the subtitle says, God given space, led me to the God given space of Israel, and how he had a chosen people. And he said, I'm going to give you this place to occupy. And in the boring chapter in Joshua, where he lays out all their boundaries, he's like, when you're going to go here, and you're going to go here, and a couple of them said, nah. Each tribe you're talking about. Each tribe of Israel. And two of the tribes are like, nah, I think we'll stay over here.
We'd rather not go into this nice place. I realized, like, he has given me those limits or those boundaries and drawn them up for me in a unique way. And I'm pushing against them. And it's like, when you do a 12 step program, you know, one of the first steps is I'm a limited human being and talk about your limits. And so what I kind of came to were four. One is time. One is place. One is one is your wiring, like we were just talking about, and your experiences. And when I would sit down with a decision on, is that for me?
Is that not for me? And I would bring it before God. I would, in my journal, write out what is unique in this decision about time, boundary. What is unique about the place?
What's unique about my specific wiring in this, my experiences? And am I filling the space? And I would have that dialogue with God. And that's what I want to encourage people. This is not a formula. It's a framework to move on your Derek, your journey, with God. The Hebrew word for journey is Derek. And it's like, he's constantly talking in the Bible about journeying with him, the way. I'll show you the way. That's not the way.
This is the way. And I feel like we each have our unique ways. But in order to know which way to go, it's walking hand in hand with him and inviting him into these bigger and smaller decisions for our families and for us personally.
Now, how do you balance that with family? Because I, you know, I'm sitting over here and I think a lot of us men think calling God's design and what he wants me to do. I often think outside the home, vocation. But obviously it's in the home. It's a big part of men and women. And I'm sitting here with two moms and you guys are diving right into that. But I think often as a husband and dad, often my eyes are out there. And when my real calling is right here, I've got disciples in my home. They're more important than any disciple I try to impact out there, whether it's in the workplace or in a church setting or whatever.
How do you relate that balance? Well, and I almost see it as your family on mission to go and make disciples. So then you as a couple are deciding what are our family values and where are the assignments we as a family are being given?
Is it the soccer sidelines? Is it that public school, that private school? Or is it homeschool? Like these are big decisions we as families make on where our family is going to get plugged in. And I think we don't often consult with God.
We might look around at what the other people are doing or what we think we should do based on, sometimes out of fear. Out of fear we're like, well, we better sign them up for 18 month old soccer because they're never going to go to college if we don't. It's like, well, is 18 month old soccer right for our family?
Is that matching with our goals? It might. It might be a great way to meet other families that you want to disciple and be in community with. You just have to look at your family goals.
And that's why I love it's so bendy. It's a great framework to bend with your family as you decide what God's leading your family into. Instead of, some moms will ask me, is it okay? Is it okay if we, and they're asking me, have you talked to God about it?
Just because it doesn't fit this formula. What would you say when the person says, I ask God, I don't hear anything. I don't know what to do. So my tips for bringing questions to God and listening to him are try it. We are not quiet enough. So just in a time of prayer and whatever for you, if it helps you, you know, get one with the spirit, or maybe you haven't fed the flame of the spirit of your life. You haven't been reading God's word. You haven't been spending time with him. You haven't been confessing in gratitude.
Like your relationship with God is everything. But if you're not, it would be like if you ignored Dave for seven months, and then you just walked in and wanted to hear what he had to say. He may be a little, it may feel like he's silent because you all haven't connected. I have forgotten how to hear his voice.
You forgot. Maybe the sheep knows voice. It's like, well, there is something to that. And so God is speaking. God is listening at all times.
It's our reception of it that is often silted. And if you've been away, he's not like, shame on you. He's like, I'm so happy you're here.
I can't wait to be with you. Totally. He is. I almost picture sometimes he's been sitting in my office hanging out, and I'm running in and out, answering the texts here, in my emails.
He's chilling. But I think, you know, making sure that you're investing in that relationship. But then when you sit with those questions, what comes to mind? And I think if you've been in God's word, and you've been in community, what comes to mind, you will be able to filter out, does that sound like God? Does that sound like his word?
Is it condemning? That it's probably not. And you can discern truth from a lie. But it might surprise you what comes to your mind. That has happened to me more than once. I will ask God something and what comes to my mind, I'm like, really? Or I've never thought of that.
Or that makes a lot of sense. Hmm. You know, even with this book, I signed the two book contract in 2019. Several publishers were like, well, why aren't you writing a Don't Mom Alone book first? Because I pitched this book first. This was what I wrote the book proposal on. Really? Yeah. And they kept asking me in different calls, and I'm like, well, that just feels too obvious.
That's not interesting enough. And finally, I took this framework to God. And I said, God, let's talk about it.
Which one should I write first? And I drew up my boundary lines, time, place, wiring experiences, and am I filling it? And I realized, even though I had at that time, 300 and some podcast episodes, I didn't have a resource I could handle weary mom.
Saying go listen to these 300 episodes is a little overwhelming. So I wrote that book in the middle of the pandemic, because I also didn't know that the world was going to shut down, and the world was going to feel isolation. And so I wrote Don't Mom Alone in that time of isolation. So those are my tips of, you know, check your relationship with God. Try it. Listen.
And see what you do. Now, how does it work when Bruce, your husband, hears something different? Or thinks something different? I think sometimes too there has to be, I don't know, not all of us are in the same spiritual place as our spouses, right? And so when it's a combined decision, I've had that happen where I'm like, have you even asked God? Because I know where he is at spiritually. And he has to admit that he hasn't. And then it's so interesting when I'm feeling led another way, how circumstances change and opportunities go away that I wasn't feeling led for us to do.
He was. And then it just goes away. I'm like, okay, can I even trust God when I'm not aligned with my husband, because my husband's not seeking God with the bigger story of my life. Now, do you ever do the boundary lines together? I haven't.
No. Well, you just said that, you know, you sit down and what's that look like? Yeah, as a family, I would think you, okay, so for us, we're having lots of big decisions coming up when it comes to college. We're gonna have another one. We have to apply for high schools because our middle school ends.
And I am hopeful. I foresee us doing this as a family for some of those decisions for my boys. But I was thinking about our family camp. We've gone to for 10 years. We've gone every summer.
It's a treasured time with our family. Pine Cove. Yeah. If we haven't been, we need to go. Yeah.
Yeah. It was amazing. Taking your grandkids, we did that as like an extended family.
So fun. But my husband really felt like it was the end. My bigger boys felt like it was the end, that we shouldn't go back this summer. And I was bawling my eyes out. I did not feel the same way.
And I did not take the question to God at all. I didn't drop these lines. And I was like, drop these lines. And this was the week that I would be there. And I'm here with you. Wow.
So you can't be in two places. I can't be in Tyler. But here's the bigger story. My oldest son, I always cry.
Remember I cry? Yay. He is in Poland right now. He's serving Ukrainian refugees, leading worship, teaching English, teaching the Bible. My second son is in Bulgaria with his grandparents. He just led a kid's camp.
He's currently right now in Thessalonica, Greece visiting with Paul. Like I didn't know a year ago when we made the choice that this would be where they could be. I would have forced them to be in Tyler, Texas and miserable. Not that Tyler, Texas is miserable, but they were done. They would be the oldest kids at the camp.
It's a lot of little kids at this point. All of their friends weren't coming back. I would have tried to keep that memory alive and strangled the joy out of it. Instead of releasing and realizing there are places God wanted my boys to occupy that were new and to allow that. And I didn't know.
I mean these trips just came together in the last two weeks. What makes you cry thinking about your boys over there? Stop it. Teen years are hard.
They're really hard. And it just reminds me that God is big and He has so many good things for them beyond Dallas, beyond the drama of high school and the challenges. And I just, it's a reminder to me that God sees and He knows when we are at our weakest point.
Yeah. I mean I felt like Moses with Pharaoh when he just kept going and asking to let the people go and it just got worse and another plague and another plague. That's how I felt with parenting teens. And then you read, and God hardened Pharaoh's heart. And I read that and I'm like, what in the world? You know, we've all read that part where we're like, why would God make it harder? And then it hit me.
So when they were set free, it was so clear that God was the one who did it. And I have been hitting my head against the parenting wall and asking and asking and it feels like it's getting harder, but it's so I don't get any glory. The Don't Mom Alone podcast host is not getting any glory in this story. God is going to have to. Yeah.
At this point. And I think as parents too, I do this when I'm fearful of where my kids are, I tend to become more controlling. Oh, 100 P, 100 P. And so sometimes I don't want to go to Jesus because I want to control the situation because I think I know what's best. But every time that we go before him, he hears us, he hears our prayers. And I know that he loves us. And as you said, he knows your kids better and the situation better than you do.
And we can trust him with them. I mean, what would you say to the mom or dad that's in those hard teenage years that you're crying about right now? They're listening, but they're stuck in it and they don't see their son in Thessalonica, you know, someday. They're just, they've lost hope.
It's hard to find the hope. What would you two moms say to them? Well, it was actually a mom who's younger in years than me.
I love mentors who are younger in years. She's a stepmom to two kids in our school. And I told her what was going on. And she said she actually brought up the Pharaoh and Moses story. And I didn't tell her what I was thinking. And she said, it's like the first time Moses went to Pharaoh. And he thought that would be it.
And she said he was just in the prologue. And so I think it's holding on to perspective. I interviewed Sissy Goff and she was talking about how fear needs context. And I think the context of teen years is a really fertile ground of fear growth. And I think it's holding on, talking to other people who have been on the other side to gain that perspective. That this is a moment in their story, reading lots of biographies of men and women who were really hard teens and God used in miraculously great ways for his kingdom work.
Again, because their testimonies prove God is a big God and he does big things. So hold on, hold on to hope. But I think their relationship with God, you, the mom, you, the dad, your relationship with God is where you need to lean in when that fear starts rising up. When fear rises up, personally lean into your relationship with God.
I love that. Don't panic. Don't run away.
Take all of it to the Lord because He can handle it. Such an important thing to remember. I'm Shelby Abbott. You've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Heather McFadyen on Family Life Today. Happy Thanksgiving. If you're listening right now to Family Life Today in your car, or if you're driving someplace, or if you're with your family, or if you're around a bowl of mashed potatoes, or the coffee table playing a board game, I just want to say thank you so much. I am personally so thankful for you, our listener, who makes this show possible, who sends us so much encouragement and love. I want to extend the encouragement and love right back to you.
Happy Thanksgiving today. We've been listening to Heather McFadyen, and she's written a book that I'm certainly thankful for. It's called Right Where You Belong, How to Identify and Fully Occupy Your God-Given Space.
Wow, what a title. This book really advises women to embrace their God-given talents, set boundaries, and then find fulfillment amidst the conflicting messages of productivity and rest in today's culture, which it could be rather confusing, and Heather really helps with that. So if you're interested in that book, you can go to familylifetoday.com in the show notes and get your copy there.
A lot of Christians ask, what is my calling, and how can it change and maybe look different over time from the way I originally thought? Well, Heather McFadyen is going to be back tomorrow with Dave and Ann Wilson to talk about just that. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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