Want more marriage encouragement? Hear about different ways to connect, grow together, and enjoy marriage the way God intended with the Loving Well Podcast. Listen at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash LovingWell or wherever you get your podcasts. That's Kirsten Watson, and she joins us today on Focus on the Family.
Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, I want to say it so clear. Mothers are incredible people.
Oh, indeed. I had a great mom, single-parent mom, and she did such a wonderful job raising us. I only had her for nine years, but she gave me my sense of humor. She did so much to pour into me, even in nine short years, and it gives me a deep appreciation for moms.
They're just incredible. And while motherhood is rewarding, it can certainly have its challenges. Sometimes you just need to step back, close your eyes, say a little prayer, and take a deep breath. And here at Focus on the Family, we are here for you particularly. A majority of our listeners are you moms, and we love you. We're here for you.
Know it. Call us if you need help. We're like a 911 for the family, so don't hold back.
You're never going to surprise us. And I'm looking forward to today's conversation because we're going to talk with Kirsten Watson, wife of NFL veteran and a good friend of Focus, both of you, Benjamin Watson. And they are exceptionally wonderful people with an exceptionally large family of seven children. And in addition to being CEO of a large family, Kirsten writes, she's the executive editor of Mom Life Today. She co-hosts the podcast with Benjamin.
I've heard that. It's good. And our conversation today is going to center around a book she's written called Sis, Take a Breath, encouragement for the woman who's trying to live and love well, but secretly just wants to take a nap.
We've got copies of that book here at the ministry. Click the link in the show notes or call 800, the letter A in the word family. Kirsten, welcome to Focus. Thank you for having me. Benjamin's been on a few times.
Yes, he has. This is the first time, and we're so glad that you're here. I'm so happy to be here.
It should be a lot of fun. You know, Benjamin, you guys must have had, I mean, you've been married how many years now? Seventeen years. And you have seven kids. Yes. That's awesome. I think it's so great when I see big families, like at the airport, I tend to want to jump in and help because you don't have enough hands. What's one more? Come on. You have got to be, like, experientially, you've got to be, I mean, one of the best moms in the world, seven kids managing, balancing all those balls.
How do you do it? I don't know. Day by day and minute by minute, I think that's a question that I do get often because we do have a lot of kids and we do move a lot, and Benjamin was in the spotlight, so to speak, for such a long time. And I think when you're in it, you just kind of hunker down and you're like, we got to get things done. We got to get to this place. But look, it's funny because looking back, I realize how much, like, God was in all of it. Yeah.
Ordering my steps and picking me up and giving me patience. You know, it's kind of funny because we talked about this before coming on the air. Benjamin's back home with all the kids.
He is. I thought maybe flying a couple of nannies to help. No way.
You guys are so down to earth. I love it. Like, no, Benjamin's back there making the meals for the kids. I'm like, listen, if I do it when you're gone, you can do it when I'm gone. Payback.
Right? There's a guy who was pampered for 15 years in the NFL, and now he's flipping pancakes. Listen, I love it.
And it's just such a good thing to see with the kids, too, because, you know, as I said earlier, he does it differently, and that's okay. Let's talk about the love story. How did you and Benjamin meet?
What happened? Yes, we met at the University of Georgia. It happened to be the year that he transferred from Duke and came to Georgia, and it was my sophomore year, and I had just been asked to come on as a walk-on at the University of Georgia softball. So you were playing softball? I was playing softball. And he was playing football.
He was playing football. And by the way, Georgia is number one right now. Just saying. Just saying.
He would love for me to say go, dogs. But, yeah, we met at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, actually. Great organization. Great organization, and we were talking about having a godly dating relationship. And the side story is that people kept telling me that I needed to meet this guy named Ben Watson. And I was like, I don't want to date a football player.
I don't need to know a football player. I'm good. And we were talking about dating relationships, and Benjamin gets up, and he says, my dad always told me that your relationship needs to be like a triangle. You're on one side of the triangle, she's on the other side of the triangle, and God's in the middle. The only way you can get close is if you're individually seeking the Lord.
And that moves you kind of up the triangle towards the point. And I remember looking at my friend, and I said, what's his name? That's the guy I was telling you about.
I was like, oh, now I want to know who this Ben Watson is. And so that was my first impression of Benjamin. Yeah, that's great, though. Now, you guys agreed, which is great, by the way, statistically, to do premarital counseling. We've actually got something here at Focus for those couples and for pastors who are doing it. But if you get something like 10 hours of premarital counseling, your likelihood of marital success is 85%, so people should do it. You and Benjamin did do it. But you learned some interesting things about each other, which is the whole point.
The whole point, exactly. Are we compatible? Are we right for each other? But what did you learn about each other? We learned a lot. I mean, Benjamin and I, you may not know this by looking at us now, but we argued a lot.
I couldn't imagine that. Firstborn, always right. So when we get together, it's a battle over the color of the sky or it could be anything. So in premarital counseling, our counselor, it was great because he sat us down. He said, I want you all to know that even after we go through this, if I don't feel that you all are ready for marriage, I will not marry you. And I remember looking at Benjamin like, this is serious.
And it was serious to him, which made it serious for us. And I remember one of the first times I looked at Benjamin sideways was when we talked about having kids. And we both said we wanted four children. And then the pastor said, well, what would the family look like once you have kids?
Here I was, a marketing major, Spanish minor, ready to conquer the world, have my own business. And Benjamin said, well, my hope is that Kirsten would stay at home once we started having kids. And I was like, what?
Are you serious? Like, we'd never discussed it. I'd never knew his hopes and dreams for that. And I was thinking, you know who you're marrying, right?
A girl who's about to set the world ablaze with our businesses. And I just remember thinking, wow, I would have never known that until maybe we had our first child. That was his expectation. And it was so nice to have that be brought up by the pastor and for us to have continuing conversations about it once that meeting was over. Well, it's clarifying, isn't it?
And I think, you know, let me ask that question. It may not have been directly in the book, but women really are struggling. Christian women are really struggling with this right now because they're perceiving that they get greater identity out of vocational efforts when at the end, I mean, even some of those early feminists in the 60s have said now that they regret not marrying and having children, that childbearing is something sacred. I mean, that's amazing. And let me give you that opportunity to punch that even though you went to school, you're this marketing genius and ready to set the world ablaze. But in the days are long, you know, cleaning up both ends of a baby's body is not really.
But man, I'm telling you, when they are launching and getting into their 20s and 30s and you see that, it's an incredible experience. But speak to that for the moms that are saying, I'm kind of back where you were, Kirsten. Help me get a better perspective. Yes, I think that finding our identity in anything but God is very dangerous. And so I think when we graduate from school or we have these ideas, these hopes and dreams, our identity really is in that.
And the hope is that God will join our plan. And so when our lives look different, I remember after having five kids being in Baltimore and I was homeschooling and everyone was crying and I was crying over not teaching math and they were crying over not getting math. You're a marketing major. And I'm like, God, I was made for more than this.
Like, I have a degree. I sing Wheels on the Bus, goes round and round all day. Is this it? And I just remember like, it's funny, it was through a VeggieTales that it was a story of David. And I remember God showing me through that saying, you know, David was just a shepherd, Kirsten. And everything he was learning, everything he was doing on the day to day may not have been what he wanted to do and may not have been what he thought he should be doing because his brothers were doing something that was very exciting. But everything that he was doing was preparing him for what I had for him.
And so I remember thinking, OK, Lord, I release it like this is it. And this is five kids in, guys. This is not like my first year of marriage.
This is several years in of me just battling like, when am I going to go to work? When am I going to do this? Is this all I have? And I remember thinking, God, you're preparing me for something and I'm going to trust you. And I know that through the stories in the Bible, you don't waste anything. You don't waste any of our experiences. You don't waste what we do on a day to day.
And if we're giving glory to you, that's what's important. And that changed everything. I let go of a lot of what I thought I should be doing. And I said yes to what God had placed in front of me. And that was the difference. And I look now at this book I never wanted to write.
I liked writing, but writing a book was like number 1000 on my list of things to do. And here I think, you know, God used all of that and he didn't waste it. So my encouragement to moms who are out there thinking I should be doing something else, my encouragement is that God has you right where you're supposed to be.
And lean in and surrender because what he has for you will blow your mind. Right. And I love that. I think it was Irma Baumbach who said, you know, to the adage, the grass is greener on the other side.
She said, no, the grass is greener where you water it. So for the moms and for the dads, I mean, that's the season. It's a season. And it's the highest calling that God can give you to raise the next generation. That's awesome. Well, we've kind of set up the title of the book, Sis, Take a Breath. And you mentioned in the book how Pilates class got you to understand breath. Yes, it did. I had worked out. I was an athlete in high school. I was an athlete in college. I worked out after all of our kids. So I knew how to work out. But it wasn't until after our fifth and I was working out with a trainer.
She was observing me. And after the workout, which I thought I totally nailed. Of course. I did everything.
I'm not competitive. I'm like, I did 10 pushups. That's all you want. And so after I was like, so are we ready to get started? I just want to tell you that you're breathing incorrectly. And I was like, excuse me, ma'am. It's like insert eye roll. I'm like, I appreciate your observation, but I think you're wrong. I'm an expert in breathing.
Exactly. I do it every day. And she's like, you really you're muscling through things and you're not really using the strength that you really have on doing the exercise. And I remember thinking, huh, that's interesting. And then the next meeting in our every week we would meet and I realized that I had been doing it wrong. And it related really to my life of how I was just doing life, like pushing it like, you know, struggling and, you know, forcing and just muscling it rather than using the breath that God gave me to really look at the situation, get perspective and find strength in moving forward. And so it's kind of crazy that Pilates did that because I'm not a huge fan.
You know, I like more of the weights, but it was through Pilates that made me realize that my strength, I'm a lot stronger than I think I am. And I think in life, what I'm realizing now, I'm trying to learn more is that the more I breathe in God's word, the more peace I have. I love this story you had in the book. At a brave moment as a mom, you asked your kids, you know, kind of how am I doing? I did that with a report card for my boys. It had a little daring response. I think the lowest grade I had was a C, but I'm not a C student.
I like to be an A student. But it was the same concept. What did your kid say when you offered for them to give you some improvement tips? Well, they had a lot to say.
That's not good. Actually, at first they didn't because they thought it was a trap. They're like, yeah, right. You want us to tell you what you're doing wrong?
This is totally a setup. But really it was a practice of being able to tell the truth tactfully and honestly and thinking about how it comes across. I mean, you don't say, mom, this was an awful dinner. But you could say it differently.
What would that sound like? So the idea of like creating around our table the idea that truth can happen, honesty can happen. Maybe our feelings get hurt. But really, how do we practice telling the truth? The same way I want them to tell them the truth about the Lord. There's a way that you say what God said in the Bible.
And that has to be practiced. And so in this, I got one of the funniest ones was, mommy, I don't like cereal. And you make us eat cereal. Because I'm like, dude, that's not changing.
Not changing. I am not a morning person. I am not making biscuits for you every morning from scratch. So that was, some of them were funny. But other ones were like, I just want more time.
I wish I had more time. Or at one time we were kind of potty training one of our kids. It was like, I feel like you're mad at me when I call you to come help me in the bathroom. And I'm like, baby, I'm not mad. Normally it's right when I'm in the middle of doing something else. And so it feels like, I didn't say this in my head.
It feels like I don't want to help you, but I do. So it helped me to get perspective from their point of view. So a lot of it was really good. Some of it was funny.
But ultimately it was really good. Yeah, and what's so good about that is opening up that dialogue. And then they understand a little bit more about how you're thinking and feeling and how you know how they're thinking and feeling. That's great.
I think it's really awesome. As adults we get old and sometimes we don't have the opportunity to tell our parents some of the things they may have said that hurt us or some of the things that they wish they would have been different. And I really am trying, we are trying to create an atmosphere where our kids can come to us and say, you know, when you said that it really hurt my feelings. And then I don't take it, you know, get super defensive, but I have an opportunity to say I'm sorry.
That's not what I meant. So it's opening the conversation. I so related to this next question kind of through Jean, who became kind of the homeroom mom.
You know what she pointed out to me? There's like two or three moms in a given class that end up, I mean, they're with the kids all the time, K through 12. We went through to a charter school, so the kids went K through 12. And it started early, like in kindergarten.
The three same moms did first grade, second grade, third grade. And it was a class snack. So what did you learn through the class snack experience?
You know, I learned a lot through doing these class snacks that, you know, just the good old box of whatever you get off the shelf is not good enough if you're talking about whatever you're talking Roman Empire, Greek mythology, if you're doing something on a certain country. How does that connect though? Well, it connects because I thought I was just saying yes to a snack on a class project, and I was thinking this will be easy.
Let me say a good yes. But then it became, well, we needed to be this and we needed to not be this. Themed.
Themed, themed, what type of food, what was allowed, what wasn't allowed. And I was like, this has gotten to be too much. It's extra.
And I say, you know, that's what I call it in the book. Like I don't need extra. And I realized my extra was directly connected to my yes and my no's. And when people ask me to do things, I say yes. But do I really mean yes? Is it a good yes? Or is it a yes to make someone think highly of me? Is it a yes to make me look good?
Because when that happens and then other subsequent questions come, all of a sudden I'm angry because now I'm doing too much. Yeah, so it's a yes to them but to your heart. Right. Yes, but. You know what this means for me? Right, exactly.
Yeah. And when I say I don't need extra and people ask me to do things, I really consider all of the things that I'm saying yes to. Let's talk about the perfect Thanksgiving that you had planned. This is funny because, again, we all relate to this.
Yeah, it's funny and sad at the very same time. What was your perfect plan and how did it turn out? Yeah, well, we were going to do Thanksgiving somewhere else. And the idea was that we were going to go to this place and we were going to have Thanksgiving as a family somewhere else that the kids had never been.
And so I was going to cook all of the food at home and then bring it with us so that way on Thanksgiving I wouldn't have to cook. And so what ended up happening is I'm trying to do all the things, we're getting ready to leave, but the kids are at school at home online. And one of my sons is like, Mommy, can you come here? And I'm like, Dude, I'm trying to do a million things.
Like, what do you need? He's like, Mom, just come here, please. And I'm like, Babe, I can't because I'm like taking stuff in and out of the oven. I'm like trying to create this perfect Thanksgiving.
I'm making dressing. Come on, don't you want this, you know? And he's like, finally, out of desperation, he's like, Mommy, please, can you just come here? And so I close the oven, I put stuff down, and I walk over to his seat and I see all of these little faces on the Zoom and the teacher goes, Everybody ready?
Has everyone gotten the one thing that they're thankful for? And I'm like, Tears on the Zoom. My son had been asked to get the one thing that he was thankful for or something that he was thankful for and bring it to the Zoom meeting. And he was persistent. And it makes me want to cry thinking about it. To get me to come and sit next to him. I was like, In that moment, I could have missed it.
Wow. Could have missed what I thought was important, what I thought I was planning for this perfect day. And in the moment, something very special was happening. And so, I mean, it still brings tears to my eyes that he was just so sweet. And I was fussing and it was a really sweet moment afterwards to be like, But I'm sorry. I'm so sorry that I thought this was more important than that. And it was just a great reminder of like, You know, Kirsten, you have to have perspective. And you could miss out if you are too busy doing something that's not that important. It's a great reminder. Let me, in the next few minutes here, just ask those really critical questions. Why is a relationship with God so important for a mom?
You cover it in the book. It seems elementary, like this is 101, spiritual class 101. But we get so distracted, men and women. But for the mom, why is it so important? Yeah, I think it's important.
I think we touched on it a little bit earlier around identity. And I think when we get our identity, even from our kids, like that is scary. Because, I mean, I can in one day give myself a gold star for how I've been momming.
And then the other day feel like I have totally ruined their entire life. Well, even the scorekeeper. I mean, seriously.
It's so bad. And so God's like, Listen, I am firm. I am true. I do not lie. I am holy. I am all the things that God says He is.
He's like, This is why I want your identity to be in me and in nothing else. Because I do not change. And so for moms, I think we get busy. And it's very important work. And I tell my, it's a season. Like, I remember people saying, Oh, I had some time with the Lord. Or I talk about it in the book. I say, Benjamin will say, I was in the hot tub today at work.
Because he's a football player. And he's like, and I was reading through. And I'm like, Oh, really? You were reading in the Bible?
Like by yourself in the hot tub? Oh, that's so nice of you. And I think there's moments where as moms and we're at home and we're working, that we feel like we don't have time with the Lord. And my encouragement is always, God is always talking. So whether it's through a song you're listening to, something that you're doing with your kids, like it's important to know and have your identity in Christ and to know what God says in His Word.
What did your daughter Naomi teach you about listening to God? You know, it's step by step. So the story is we were at a zoo and there's this big huge tree. In New Orleans, they have these huge trees that are like hundreds of years old with these huge branches and the kids can walk on them. And there was this kind of walking tree in the zoo. And so the kids climb, the branch comes down to the ground. They literally can get on in the ground.
They walk up and then they can jump down once they get to the branch. That sounds like fun. It's a lot of fun. And there's like a line.
It's amazing. And I remember my daughter Naomi got onto the branch and she got to the point where she was like, you can't hold my hand anymore. I'm too high up and I want to get down. And she couldn't because that meant she would have to jump into my arms, which would have been a lot. But then there's also a line of kids behind her. And so they were all like, come on, you know, like telling her to hurry up. I was like, Naomi.
She was like, Mommy, just let me drop. I was like, no, you're going to finish. You're going to finish. It's not that far away.
But just listen to me. I was like, come on, one more step. She's stepping.
It's uneven ground or uneven on the branch. There's parts where she has to kind of get down. But she finally makes it to the part where she grabs on and she jumps down. And there's huge smiles on her face because like I did it.
And I look at my friend who is there at the zoo with us and there are just tears streaming down her face. And she says, Kirsten, at that moment, she was only listening to your voice. Like nothing else was mattering.
Nothing else was. Like she was just keyed into your voice step by step. And that is how we should be with the Lord. It's scary. It's uneven.
It's not straight. It feels like we can't do it. It's too high. And there's a lot of voices telling us what we should do. But God says, listen to me. Take another step. Take another step. Reach here. Go there.
And I think that's just how I have tried to live my life is listening to what he has to say and say, no, do this. Don't do that. But go here. Say that. Open this door.
Smile to this person. It's like that continuous talk with the spirit of like, what do I do next? And probably that final kind of limb coaching, if I call it that, for the mom listening who's rung out. Man, everybody's been pulling on her, the kids, her husband. She has nothing left in the tank. She doesn't have time for quiet time. She's just rung out. What's that coaching as she's walking on that limb? What are the words that you would say to her that the Lord said to you?
Yeah. First of all, I've been there. And the encouragement is you got this. This season will be a season, but God will not waste it.
He will not waste it for the kingdom. And my encouragement is to do what you're doing. Like get up. And my prayer every morning, like, Lord, I don't have what it takes. I only have these amount of fish and this amount of bread. You're going to have to make a miracle. And Lord, I just need what I need for today because I'm already worried about tomorrow, but you told me not to. So just give me enough for today. And so I think when we posture ourselves as it's not up to me, like I can't do everything.
Like, Lord, tell me what's important. My encouragement to that mom is that you got this. Take a breath and find some other women. Yeah. We can't do this alone. We cannot do this alone. We were not meant to do it alone.
We cannot do it alone. And so those women that will be with you in those times that will pray for you, that will lift your arms up when you have nothing else to hold them up with. And those women are the reasons why I'm able to say, I know how you feel. And they are the ones praying for me.
They are the ones that like brought me dinner for my kids because I was like, I have nothing else. Right, I'm done. Yeah.
So that would be my encouragement. We're out of cereal. Yeah, what are we going to do?
Because these people want biscuits made from scratch. Kirsten, this has been so good. A mother of seven.
Let's just start there for your experience. And author of the book, Sis, Take a Breath. What a great resource. And I encourage moms to get a copy of this so they can put sanity back in place of insanity and chaos. Thank you so much for being with us. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. Boy, for the listener, for the viewer, this is a great resource, man, and you need it. And husbands, you might want to pick this up a little clandestinely and then give this to your wife to encourage her and to help her through that daily grind.
And what a great statement that would be. And maybe offer to do something special at the same time to get some of the load off her shoulders. But send us a gift for any amount. Be part of the ministry. Help us help others. And we'll send you a copy of Kirsten's book as our way of saying thank you for being with us. Yeah, join the partner team today. Make a donation as you can and make videos, podcasts, and broadcasts like this available to encourage moms.
Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. And we'll have details about donating and getting a copy of this book in the show notes. We'll plan to join us next time as we hear from Deborah Faleta. She'll be with us sharing great insight and wisdom about your dating relationships. When you shift your beliefs about yourself, it shifts how you do relationships as well, because now I'm not looking to earn love in relationships. And so changing your understanding, changing your identity changes everything. Right. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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