This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Heidi Franz Host 00:00
Is there ever a season where we can say, “I’m going to put God on the back burner because I just need to focus on other priorities right now?” We all know the Sunday school answer. “Well, of course not. We never put God on the back burner.” Yet, if you have been a mom for just a few weeks, I am sure you can relate to what Emily shared with us.
“What if you have no spare time? What if I’m just living moment to moment, trying to do what I need to do? Does God understand or does he hold me to make time, no matter what? I know he knows my heart, but does he expect more than I believe I can give? I struggle with this daily.”
Welcome back to Parenting to Impress, your go-to podcast to learn practical ways to love God and love others and impress this on the hearts of your children. I am your host Heidi Franz, and I am joined by my dear friend, Melanie Simpson. Two moms who have made a lot of mistakes but have found grace and truth along the way. Melanie, can you relate to this question?
Melanie Simpson Co-host 01:04
Yes, I can relate to this, Heidi. There are seasons, particularly with small children, where sleep is hard to come by. There are seasons when you have teenagers and sleep is hard to come by. Seasons where you’ve lost a loved one or you have illness. It can be a challenge.
Heidi Franz Host 01:23
The question is what do we do with God during those challenging times?
Melanie Simpson Co-host 01:29
I think it’s easy to understand Emily’s question, because God can feel elusive, whereas the immediate need of my infant is an immediate need. If I don’t take care of my infant and screaming will ensue. It’s easy just to forget about Him.
Heidi Franz Host 01:43
Yes, and I think that idea of I can always come back to God. When things slow down, then I’ll put God as a priority again.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 01:53
We rely on his grace and love to never leave us nor forsake us, which is 100% true. So, we must unwind, unravel the lie that we are tempted to believe, which is that it doesn’t matter.
Heidi Franz Host 02:07
So, let’s break this down. I think the social norm right now is God understands, and I think there are two sides to it, so let’s talk about the truth of “God understands”.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 02:19
Okay, He does. He absolutely understands. He is sovereign over our lives. He knows our circumstances. He knows exactly what is happening under your roof and with your children, with your family. He knows your heart. He knows our motives and our thoughts before we even think of them. So, he is eternally omniscient and omnipotent, and that just simply means he knows all, and he is in control of everything.
Heidi Franz Host 02:44
Isaiah 40, verse 11, said,” He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms, he carries them close to his heart, he gently leads those that have young.” There is so much peace in knowing he specifically talks about these and in this case it’s the sheep, the lambs, but he’s specifically careful about those mamas. He understands it’s hard.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 03:15
And the Psalms are filled with verses about being under the protection of wings and hiding in shelter of His wings and finding God as a hiding place and a shelter, so there is evidence in the scriptures that he is where we find our rest and that warm embrace, like you said, of a mother. You want to crawl up in your mom’s lap and just rest.
Heidi Franz Host 03:37
Right and he understands that. But I think on the flip side is the abuse of that. It becomes an excuse instead of it being just a fact.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 03:52
What do they say? Two sides of the same coin. God is sovereign, which means he knows your circumstances, he knows the intimate details, but the other part of that is that we are not passive recipients of faith. Once you become a believer, you’re called to participate, to be a co-laborer, and you’re not relinquished of that responsibility, even in difficult circumstances.
Heidi Franz Host 04:15
That’s right, we think about Romans, where it talks about how we do not take grace for granted. We do not abuse that grace that God has given us. Yes, he understands our circumstances, but we don’t use our circumstances as an excuse. And I think about this in a situation where a child has special needs, that child does need extra, but it’s not an excuse for them not to do what they’re supposed to do. And it’s the same way we need extra help, we need extra grace in the years of parenting, but we don’t use that as an excuse. So, if this is not an excuse and this is something that we truly do need to make out a priority- why?
Melanie Simpson Co-host 05:11
Oh, that’s a great question. Once you have come under the conviction of sin and you know that Jesus is the only way to move forward, Jesus is the only one who can save us from that sin, you enter a beautiful family of God. You are adopted into that family and with that comes the understanding that I’m no longer a victim of my circumstances and my whole being has changed. I mean that’s why we call it a rebirth. That’s why you’re baptized, to demonstrate rebirth. You are a new creation in Christ. That affects your mind, your body, your spirit, and that means that you now have the privilege of approaching the throne of God. You get to talk to God, you get to learn about Him, and I think that it’s easy to forget that we have this awesome privilege to open a Bible and to get to know the creator of the universe, to understand more about who he is and then, in that, understand what we are called to do.
Heidi Franz Host 06:11
Yes, exactly, and you hit that so well. I think one of the biggest struggles in motherhood is losing our true purpose. It’s so easy to see the little ones on the floor in front of you as your purpose. You know you’re making meals, you’re changing diapers, you’re driving them to this and that you’re caring for them in the middle of the night, and it becomes your identity and that’s all you know. Yet God says, “Your children are not your purpose. Motherhood is not your purpose. Your purpose is to bring me glory.” Now, out of that purpose, your care for your children, and you do love them, and you care for your husband as well, but it’s not your reason for existing.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 07:04
When we think about how we are to be image bearers and reflect God’s glory. You’re right, the expressions of that is serving our families, loving the nitty gritty, diapers and meals and dishes, oh my. But if we focus on that and I think this kind of is what Emily’s hinting at is we’re drained. Right, there is no life giving abundant, flourishing life when we focus on the tasks and we forget about the one capital, O–n-e who empowers and equips us to do these tasks with a kingdom-minded purpose.
Heidi Franz Host 07:44
Oh yeah, I love that. With a kingdom-minded purpose, it changes everything. But if our purpose is truly a relationship with God, then our behavior during the day, our choices with our time must change.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 08:04
The next step, then, is let’s get practical, let’s put some skin on this, because we’re not trying to be dismissive of the exhaustion and the fatigue that comes with these seasons. That is not what we’re trying to say at all, and we’re not being flippant and saying, oh, just put on your big girl panties and make a way, because that’s not biblical either. So, what’s the first step, Heidi?
Heidi Franz Host 08:27
The first step is to figure out exactly how you’re spending your time. I remember when I was in high school, and I felt so overwhelmed. I was taking college classes, I was working, I was doing all these things. I told my cousin I don’t have time to do something. And she looked at me and she said, ” you have the same 24 hours that everybody else does. It’s how you use that time, and I’ve never forgotten that because it’s true, we all have the same 24 hours. It’s how we choose to spend those 24 hours. And you can say, well, all I do is just serve my kids. Then we need to step back and go okay, are we serving in ways that we’re enabling, or are we serving in ways that we’re training? There are two different things there. Enabling means we’re doing for the kids that they can do for themselves. Serving and training means that we are working ourselves out of a job.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 09:33
And I think hand in hand with that is, once you have done a time review. You truly know how you’re spending your time from sunup to sundown. So as Heidi talked about maybe you have children with special needs, or you have a houseful of kids and very little outside help. That’s fine, but I think the other lie that we need to refute is that time for God must be this very specific thing it has to be an hour with your coffee and your favorite chair like an Instagram picture.
We do a disservice by using the term “quiet” to describe our time with God. And so, once you’ve done your time edit get real with yourself. I am guilty of scrolling, I am guilty of trying to check out with a movie instead of making a better choice. So, once you’ve done that, then get real with yourself. How can I have time with God, prayer, bible reading in the confines of my life, right?
Heidi Franz Host 10:46
It’s not going to look the same for every person, and the idea that quiet time needs to be on the back porch with the stream running through and your coffee and your cream is shaped in a heart. You know what I mean.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 11:00
I do and I’m thinking that sounds good.
Heidi Franz Host 11:03
It does. We all want that, but that is not a reality. At least it’s not realistic.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 11:09
No, how many times do you have interruptions during your time with God?
Heidi Franz Host 11:12
All the time. And I have trained my kids and even in the training there are still interruptions. I say to my kiddos, “My quiet time journal is open. I need you to turn around and fix the problem.”
Melanie Simpson Co-host 11:26
Saying, “I’ll be with you shortly, but for now, take care of this because this is my time with God.”
Heidi Franz Host 11:32
It’s become a joke around here. “Do you want me to help you, or do you want me to spend time with God?”
Melanie Simpson Co-host 11:37
Because we all know which one’s going to be better for us later in the day.
It comes back to obeying and trusting God’s good for us, which we know is spending time with him. It’s good regardless of our circumstances, and that’s where faith comes in. Do you trust that God is going to be faithful in this moment because of my obedience? And it’s just this beautiful cycle, right? Hebrews 11:6 say, “And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” So having an earnest heart to seek him will always be a blessing to the Lord and to us in turn.
Heidi Franz Host 12:26
There is conviction and there is condemnation. Conviction is – I am watching a movie when I haven’t had my quiet time. I need to pause this and go spend time with God, or I’m scrolling on Instagram. Whatever it is, reading a book. It can be a slew of things, and it can be good things.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 12:54
That’s the hard part too. When you look at your schedule and you think, “But these are all good things.”
Heidi Franz Host 12:59
Okay, so what about doing the dishes?
Melanie Simpson Co-host 13:01
There were seasons when I had my time with the Lord in the carpool line. My time with the Lord was spent right before I went to bed, at lunchtime at the dinner table. Again, the training aspect being able to train my mind to focus in the moment, but also training my children. When I say five more minutes, I just need five more minutes.
Heidi Franz Host 13:20
Then truly be done in five minutes. Because an issue is that we tell our kids an amount of time and what we train our kids to not trust us.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 13:35
That’s a great point.
Heidi Franz Host 13:37
They keep coming back to us and keep coming back to us because they don’t believe it when we say we are almost done, that we will truly are almost done.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 13:44
Heidi Franz Host 13:46
And I think there’s also nothing wrong with putting our Bibles down for five minutes to deal with the issue.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 13:57
Heidi Franz Host 13:58
Or to get our kiddos playing, to pull out that next set of blocks. I think that’s what this verse is talking about. He’s gentle with those who have young. God understands. I always think of when I had a little one come in and say, “Mommy, I need to go potty,” yet I have my Bible open. Of course, I’m gonna set my Bible down and I’m gonna to help them. It may be that then I come back to my Bible. I take my Bible with me, and I read the scripture that I am working on for that time, and I read it with my child, and I include my child in that time with God.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 14:46
Heidi Franz Host 14:47
Then we’re training on a whole other level.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 15:07
Going back to the original question, does God understand? And I think that the other part of this is does God expect more than I believe I can give. I would say the answer to that question will always be yes, and not because He is unkind, unloving, unjust, or unmerciful, but He is kind, He is just, He is loving, He is merciful.
Heidi Franz Host 15:39
As I read Emily’s questions, there is nothing that I read that shows me that she feels she is flourishing, that she is joyful. And boy, there’s no condemnation from me on that. I understand completely. But looking back on what God has taught me, I was lonely, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, hopeless, and that was because I was trying to parent in my own ability, and I couldn’t.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 16:17
And scripture speaks to the idea of human fatigue, of weariness. But there are two kinds of weariness. There is the weariness that comes from just living life, doing the things, just persevering, but doing it in a way that is still God honoring, that seeks out the Lord. Then there’s the weariness that I think is what you were talking about which is the hopelessness, the listlessness, like flying wherever the wind carries you. That’s not what God’s best for us. It’s not what He desires for us.
Heidi Franz Host 16:48
Right, you go to bed exhausted and, quite frankly, you wake up exhausted. I share in my e-book, “A Quiet Time Worth the Time,” that my husband one day said. “God took Heidi to a place in her life where it wasn’t an option anymore not to have a quiet time”. I had to function and make it through the day and while that was a very low spot in my life, there was so much joy, there was a lot of release, there was so much hope because I finally realized that God was gonna get me through, God was gonna supply, God was going to be my all and I had to put Him as my focus, not my four children.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 17:39
Yeah, I don’t want this to come across as dismissive or just trying to tell somebody to buck up, because that’s not it at all.
Heidi Franz Host 17:51
I think it’s absolutely the opposite.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 17:53
Truly coming to a place where you realize I have nothing to give, without acknowledging that I’m dependent on the Lord.
Heidi Franz Host 18:02
Absolutely. For me, it was the point where I hit bottom Right. I finally let go and, as an Enneagram #1, my fists are continually in this tight grasp, trying to control everything, and God took me to the point that he said let go you can’t.
So, there’s one more thing that I kind of want to hit on here which is the issue of needs versus wants. We talked about it a few minutes ago, but I want to hit on it again Because I think, as moms, that’s our struggle. We see that our kids have needs, wants, desires, but we’re torn with the issue that our relationship with God has needs. How do we balance that as moms?
Melanie Simpson Co-host 19:04
One of the things that I love was God revealed to me that I could worship him in the daily grind. When I was folding baby clothes, I was able to say thank you, Lord, for these little onesies, thank you for the healthy baby that goes in these onesies. I was reminded that without Christ I wouldn’t have the gift of discipling these children, of parenting them with an eternal focus. So, it was Spirit led that those things would come into my mind. Certainly not things I was thinking of because I was thinking about my exhaustion and wondering what we would have for dinner. It’s a posture of surrender and humility and utter dependence on the Lord. It’s also, honestly, it’s a place where I modeled time and time again asking for forgiveness Because in my home, in my household, fatigue led to crankiness, anger, criticism. I was very short-tempered. I can’t even count the number of times that I had to apologize to my kids.
Heidi Franz Host 20:09
As I was listening to you talk about that, I think one of the things with so much media in the world is we rarely get silent. We always have a podcast going, we always have a CD or a movie or something is always going on in the background. And to hear the Holy Spirit, we must be silent, we must slow down and so, using those times of dishes, folding clothes and to see the joy, to use that time to pray over our children.
We have a digital download of 31 Characteristics to Pray Over Your Children. We’ll put a link in the show notes that you can use while you’re doing these. I think also talking about the needs and the wants is realizing that our purpose is to bring God glory and out of our purpose we are raising children who also understand their purpose of bringing God glory. And it’s so easy, as moms, because we desire to be needed, that we make our purpose to be needed instead of pointing our children to need God. And if we don’t need God and don’t spend time with Him and show our need of Him, our children are not going to need Him.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 21:49
Instead, they’re going to need us and then we become their lower case g – god.
Heidi Franz Host 21:53
That’s exactly right.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 21:54
I mean, we make an idol out of motherhood and our children make an idol out of us. That is so wise, Heidi. I’m grateful that you pointed that out because it will plague you and then your children for the rest of their lives, until they are hopefully able to break that cycle. Also, it is a gift that we give our children when we help them understand what a true need is and what is something that can wait. This leads to dependence on God. Needing God often leads to the wanting God more.
Heidi Franz Host 22:28
It’s contagious, yes, it’s more. It’s addictive. You want more and more.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 22:34
You said this earlier that every situation is different. We all have different temperaments, different personalities. Kids are different, they have different needs, our home lives are different, but the constant is God. He never changes. Then it’s me who must change. Asking, inviting God into that conversation of help me change, “Lord, help me see you as better than anything else in my life.”
Heidi Franz Host 23:12
Well, and I think, Melanie, as a mom, I made an excuse of not having time, so I didn’t have to deal with some issues.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 23:21
Right, because that would mean you’d have to change.
Heidi Franz Host 23:24
Exactly, and it’s much easier to blame my situation, my season, than must actually look at the dark spots of my life where God’s saying, “Hey, Heidi, that needs to be sanded off. You need to release that.”
Melanie Simpson Co-host 23:47
Kind of telescoping back out, what are the things that we can do to help this situation beyond obviously praying and seeking the Lord? When we consider how we’re using our time, it’s just making a change of like – I’m not going to listen to this popular radio station and said I’m going to play hymns. Begin filling your home with the things that are going to help you reach your goal. If social media is a distraction, offload it from your phone so that you must keep putting it back on your phone every time you want to look at it. Close the TV cabinet. Put a blanket over the TV.
Heidi Franz Host 24:25
That is a prime example of if we truly desire to have time with God, we will make it happen. I can say that in my own life when I get lazy and I go, oh well, you know, I don’t really have time this morning, it’s not a priority, it doesn’t happen. Melanie, we have other podcasts talking about how to have a quiet time. We have podcasts about lies that we believe, and I’m going to put all of those in the show notes. So, I encourage you to further this learning, further your understanding of this. I want to close with this verse 1 Chronicles 16:11, “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually.” Melanie, would you close this in prayer, please?
Melanie Simpson Co-host 25:15
Heavenly Father, you love us so well. You shower us with your abundant grace. You let us live within the boundaries that are flourishing in abundant life. So, Father, we give you all the praise and glory for that. But, God, we come to you today just praying for the weary mamas, the weary caregivers. Lord, would you speak to them so specifically that they might know that you are listening to them, that you do know their hearts, you do know their situations. But, Lord, would you also remind them, by your grace, that you have something different for them. You have a life of joy and peace, a life sustained by your empowering love, by your equipping mercy. Father, we just give you all the praise and glory because you are the one who gives us a new life in Christ. We love you, lord, and we pray all these things in your precious son Jesus, Christ’s name, amen.
Heidi Franz Host 26:20
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