From the radio series: Beyond Bath Time, with Erin Davis
Leslie Basham: Erin Davis and her husband delayed having children
while busy in youth ministry.
Erin Davis: I feel like there are lots of young people who feel like
it’s the right thing to do to not have children so that they can have
Leslie: But she’s had a change of heart.
Erin: Having children is a ministry.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday,
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Our guest this week on Revive Our Hearts is my
good friend Erin Davis. She’s been a part of the Revive Our
Hearts/True Woman Movement for a number of years, and she loves the
Lord. She loves her husband. She loves her children. She’s a gifted
writer, and I’m so thrilled she’s written this latest book called,
Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role.
Welcome back to Revive Our Hearts, Erin.
Erin: Thank you.
Nancy: What I love about the way you write about this subject, you’re
doing it as a younger woman speaking into this culture, and you’re
saying the issue isn’t really: Do you have a job? Do you not have a
job? It’s not that those things don’t matter, but you’re asking us to
look at it from a bigger picture and say: What are the motivations?
What are my priorities? What am I living for? And to think in a more
cosmic sense of how my choices today impact my life down the road,
impact others’ lives, and impact generations to come.
Erin: Sure, and the focus of this book is for moms because my friends
are moms, many of them stay-at-home moms. Because they don’t have
God’s vision for motherhood, they’re drowning. They’re in a tailspin.
They are bitter. They are angry. They are stressed. They are sleep
deprived, or they’re sleeping all the time. They are really, really
They are moms, but they don’t understand the kingdom mindset of
motherhood. And so bath time and peanut butter sandwiches and car
pools and chore charts and all of those things are just sucking the
life out of them.
Nancy: You said that you wrote this book because you needed to find
out for yourself why motherhood really matters.
Erin: That’s right. Any book I’ve ever written has been born out of my
own personal experience and the work that God has done in me.
I’m not trying to establish myself as an expert mother. I certainly am
not. But I can say, “Look, I’ve been there, and I was struggling, too,
and I went to the Word, and I said, ‘God, what do You have to
say about motherhood?'”
That well was so much deeper than I ever could have imagined. My
expectation was that I could find the Proverbs 31 woman, and that
would be about all I’d find in the Bible about motherhood, and that is
so not true. He speaks about motherhood over and over and over in
these passages of Scripture where you wouldn’t really expect there to
be a message about motherhood, but God has a heart for motherhood.
He has a heart for mothers. He has a heart for families, and He
doesn’t think it’s little. He thinks it’s really, really big. Go to
the Word and ask Him to show you His vision, His plan for what you’re
doing. I think you’ll be so encouraged, so strengthened for the
Nancy: And it has been a journey for you because the things you’re
saying now, you weren’t talking that way when we first met. In fact, I
was with you when you were expecting that first child, and you were
still a little tentative about . . . You were saying the right things,
but it was a challenge for you to really embrace motherhood as a
In fact, you and Jason made a choice in the early years of your
marriage not to have children. Tell us a little bit about that season.
Erin: We chose childlessness for seven years of marriage, and many
people pressed us on it in those seven years, and our response was
that we didn’t want to have children because we felt so passionate
about student ministry. We felt like that was part of the sacrifice we
needed to make to be great student ministers. I think we came up with
that idea from lots of different sources. I think we were wrong, but I
feel like there are lots of young people who feel like it’s the right
thing to do to not have children so that they can have a ministry.
That was really the tug-of-war in my heart. I didn’t want to have
children because I didn’t want to give up a ministry. What I didn’t
understand is that having children is a ministry, and I wasn’t giving
up doing something important for the Lord by having children.
Nancy: I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve had women
come up to me and say, “I want to have a ministry. I want to have a
ministry like yours. I want to be teaching. I want to be writing,”
just different things that are on their hearts to do.
I think many of those desires may have been placed there by God, but
what I’ve really tried to help them understand is what you are doing
in that home as a helper to your husband, as a mom to your kids, that
is nothing less than ministry. It’s a huge ministry, and be careful
not to just put that in a box, like, “That’s my family, but then, I’m,
like, dying for the day when I can get free to really do ministry.”
There is no greater higher calling to ministry, in the will and timing
of God, than what you’re doing right now with those two little ones
God’s put in your home.
Erin: And that’s the lesson I’ve learned. My husband and I have been
student pastors for a really long time, and I have a writing and
speaking ministry, and teenagers were my ministry. So I’ve impacted, I
hope, hundreds of teenagers over the years. But none of that even
holds a candle to these children who I pour into day in and day out.
If those children—my children—go on to raise Christian
children, and my grandchildren go on to share faith with their
children, that impact is so much greater than a girl who is impacted
by a lesson I give at a retreat or someone who reads a book that I
wrote. It impacts their thinking for a little while. It certainly is a
ministry, but motherhood is counter-cultural, and not a lot of people
are saying that.
Nancy: And the thing with motherhood is you don’t see the fruit and
the rewards or the gain of it right away.
Erin: That’s right. Right.
Nancy: You’re still tied up with bath time and peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches. You have to be in it for the long haul and have a vision
for the long haul to see it as being really purposeful.
Erin: And I think, those things that are common, we assume are not
holy or are not sacred or are not of God or not blessed by God. So
it’s very easy for mothers to feel like they are the lowest rung in
the church because they are not doing something new, innovative,
exciting. But that’s not true.
I think of the hall of faith in Hebrews and those people who are
listed and commended for their great faith. I love at the end of that
long list it talks about how they persevered without seeing their
fruits. They just had great faith.
Motherhood is like that. It’s definitely like that. There’s not a lot
of fruit for a really long time, but just because motherhood is common
doesn’t mean God isn’t using it.
Nancy: Don’t you think it’s like the enemy to want to dismantle and
undermine the whole concept of motherhood, which is so involved in
passing the baton of faith from one generation to the next. I can see
how, if Satan were just masterminding how to take over a culture, how
to stop the gospel from going forward, one big weapon in his arsenal
would be to make people think that motherhood is insignificant.
Erin: Absolutely. I mean, Satan is crafty, but he’s not all that
original. This is very similar to the original lie that he whispered
to Eve: “Did God really say that you can’t do that? Did God really say
that?” The undertone is, “Who you are is not enough. You need to be
something else, girl. You need to be doing something else with your
life. He’s holding back from you.”
It’s the same lie that mothers are chewing on left and right:
Motherhood isn’t enough. I’m not enough if I’m just a mom.
I can’t tell you how many people that I’m around, when they are asked,
“What do you?” Reply, “Oh, I’m just a mom.” As if they’re apologizing
for it. It’s huge, so absolutely, it’s under attack by the enemy. And
we know that if Satan can undermine families, then he’s winning a lot
of battles on a lot of fronts. And if he can undermine motherhood, he
can undermine a lot of families.
Nancy: Even the way that Eve got her name is a really gracious and
precious tribute to the value of motherhood.
Erin: That’s right.
Nancy: You think of Adam and Eve sinning, making the wrong choice to
eat the forbidden fruit, and then God comes to the garden and gives
them the consequences, to the man, to the woman, to the serpent, and
clothed them. You go through this whole scene of grace back there with
the fallen man and woman.
And then comes that point at the end of Genesis 3 where Adam actually
names his wife. Just talk about the selection of the name in that
Erin: This was my favorite thing that I discovered in Scripture when I
was researching this concept of motherhood. The curse had just been
handed out, and Adam’s first words out of his mouth are to rename his
wife Eve because she would be the mother of many; she would give life
So at first it’s like, “What? She just blew it big time, and you’re
going to rename her Life Giver?” But Adam knew that there would be
some redemption. Yes, she sinned, but she was going to be the mother
of all the living.
As I continued to study that, I said that sin is one song we should be
singing about Eve, but her children were her opus because she went on
to have children after that. We know the story of Cain and Abel. We
know that it wasn’t perfect. But at the birth of those children, Eve
every time says, “With the help of God, I have brought forth a man.”
You can hear the wonder in her voice. “Yes, I sinned, but God is
helping me to give birth to a child.”
And after the birth of Seth it says that “at that time, the people of
earth came to call on the name of the Lord.” So yes, Eve sinned, but
Eve also talked about the Lord with her children. There were no
Vacation Bible Schools. There were no youth pastors, no outreach
events. Adam and Eve were responsible to teach their children about
God, and because of that, because they faithfully told their children
about God and told the stories of God and shared the importance of
following God, the people of earth began to call on the name of the
She made a mistake, but her name, Life Giver, is a reminder. She lost
so much in the garden, but she didn’t lose her husband, and she didn’t
lose her children, and she didn’t lose God. So there’s some redemption
there in that role of being a life giver.
Nancy: And it’s grace restoring what Satan intended to strip away.
Nancy: I think he intended to leave her without any of that.
Nancy: He would have wanted to trash her marriage, trash her whole
life, and trash everybody else’s life from that point on.
Nancy: But this where grace comes in, and part of that gracious
redeeming provision right there in the garden is the fact that she is
still called and enabled by God to be a bearer and nurturer of life.
Erin: And it didn’t come easy for Eve. Part of the curse for Eve was
that child bearing would come with pain. And her toddlers probably
acted a lot like my toddlers. And so child rearing probably came with
its own share of frustrations. But every little face was a reminder
that redemption was possible and that God had a plan for redemption.
Everything didn’t stop there in the garden with that bite of the
apple, her family would go on.
And we’re still talking about Eve today. For generations and
generations and generations, her story is still being told. Why?
Because she sinned? Yes. But also because she gave life.
Nancy: Not to speak of the fact that through that line of her third
child Seth ultimately came Christ . . .
Erin: That’s right.
Nancy: . . . the Messiah, the one who would deal a fatal wound to the
serpent and purchase our salvation.
So it was through her willingness to give life, to embrace that
calling of motherhood, that ultimately, we’re sitting here today being
followers and lovers of Christ. It is through that line that God made
a provision for salvation in the Person of Christ.
Erin: And that’s how it is with motherhood. I think so many moms think
the goal of motherhood is just to raise kids who are good, who behave
well. If you have that close-up view of motherhood, I got news for
you: They’re not always going to behave well, and that doesn’t mean
you’re a failure as a mother. You’re not always going to behalf well,
and that doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a mother. You’ve got to have
a long-range vision.
What will happen if your kids call on the name of the Lord? And then
what will happen if their kids call on the name of the Lord? And what
will happen if their kids call on the name of the Lord? How many
people will be impacted by all of those children that you’ve poured
wisdom into, that you’ve been a life giver to, and they go on to be
salt and light in this dark world?
You can’t just think of it as: “Can I get through the day without
losing my cool?” You have to think of it as: “What is my long-term
ministry potential?” That’s what Eve was able to do, and it is a
really beautiful story of redemption and restoration and the beauty of
Nancy: And yet it’s not an over-romanticized story.
Nancy: Because, as you pointed out, early on there in Genesis we see
the pain of child bearing, child rearing, and know that motherhood
does involve suffering.
Erin: Eve was the first woman to ever bury her child. So Eve knew the
pain of motherhood that many of us will not know. To a greater degree,
Eve knew the pain of motherhood, but the story doesn’t stop there.
Nancy: And I think it’s also a reminder that, even when motherhood is
not that traumatic, that it’s still difficult, and that it doesn’t
come naturally to fallen human creatures. It reminds me of the passage
in Titus chapter 2 that says that part of the mentoring, discipling
process of older women to younger women, is to teach the younger women
to love their children. Now that implies to me that it doesn’t come
naturally, that it’s something that has to be learned and can be
Erin: I take so much comfort in that passage. In fact, I lead a mom’s
group at my church, and we have been focusing on that passage now for
months and months and months.
I was so relieved to learn, “Oh, this is supposed to be taught to me?
I’m not just supposed to know how to love my children? I’m not just
supposed to know how to love my husband?”
It also says to be happy at home. I’m not just supposed to leave the
hospital and suddenly know how to be happy about everything that’s
happening in my world. Those are things I should be taught.
And what should be my curriculum? The Word of God through older women
who are willing to teach it to me.
This is a tremendous relief, that I’m not just supposed to
automatically know how to be a great mom, how to feel wonderful about
it, how to maintain my marriage during motherhood, but that those are
things that can be taught to me through God’s Word.
Nancy: And what are some of the things that God has used in your early
mothering experience (and your book really focuses especially on moms
with little ones), what are some of the things God has used to
encourage and give you grace in that journey and to help you embrace
motherhood as a sacred calling?
Erin: Well, I got involved almost immediately with MOPS, which is an
acronym for Mothers of Preschoolers. It’s a national ministry that
really focuses on training and equipping moms. And I got really
plugged in there, and those women have made a huge in my life. Also, I
started a mom’s group at my own church, and those women have really
been a huge influence in my life.
But also, having children made me realize my need to spend time with
people who are not just like me. I love to spend time with my mom
friends, pushing our strollers around, but we all have the same
issues, and none of us are any further down the path. So I’ve been
really intentional about spending time with moms whose kids are a
little bit older, and then also inviting moms whose kids are a little
bit younger, to come to my home.
One of my favorite things to do is to invite a family over to our
house for pancakes on any given morning—”Come in your
jammies”—and we just spend time. So it’s really deepened my
relationships in a lot of ways.
Now, it’s taken effort on my part because those things don’t happen as
naturally now as maybe they did a few generations ago when moms and
grandmas and aunts and cousins were all in close proximity. I have to
make the effort.
I literally got online and googled moms’ groups, found several of
them, called them, and that takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of
work to maintain friendships and to start new friendships and all of
that. But it’s been my life raft in these mothering seasons to just
spend time with other people who are also mothering and to glean
whatever I can from them.
Nancy: So I’m thinking about a young mom who’s listening to this
program, and she’s thinking, “Okay, I’m not a speaker. I’m not a
writer. I’m not as talented or bright or something as Erin—she
must be superwoman. I’m here drowning. I’m struggling. I’m sleep
deprived. I can hardly remember my name. The thought of getting up and
getting out and doing one more thing in that intensive—labor
intensive season of mothering—just seems overwhelming.”
Erin: Sure, it does.
Nancy: Help her out. Encourage her.
Erin: She has to put one foot in front of the other, and she has to
find a way to connect with—maybe it’s just one other
mom—but, absolutely, it takes effort. When you’re in the little
years, just getting out of the house is a lot of effort. It’s a lot of
effort for my family, but it is worth it.
Mothering can be very, very isolating. There’s that season when the
baby is first born, when people drop off casseroles, and then that all
kind of goes away, and you’re on your own. Our culture tends to think,
“That baby business is so private that we should not call, we should
give them their space, and we should not intrude.” So the mom is going
to have to do it.
So she needs to find one step that she can take. Maybe it’s calling
one friend. Maybe it is joining a moms group at a local church, asking
a friend if you can get together and walk once a week.
But I understand; it takes work. It takes a lot of heavy lifting and a
lot of diaper bag packing and all of that, but you can’t do it well
without having other moms to be connected to.
Nancy: And there’s some ways of getting connected that don’t require
even getting out of the house.
Nancy: And what a use for Facebook, for the phone, for email—do
people still do email?
Erin: Yeah, I do. It’s snail mail we don’t do anymore.
Nancy: Right. And it’s fun for me to watch some of my friends who are
young moms, how they’re encouraging one another on Facebook.
Nancy: Just reminding each other that you’re not doing this alone. You
do have a cheerleader.
Erin: That’s right. And I just encourage moms online to really
communicate, “My children are a blessing.” It’s very easy on Twitter
or your Facebook status, or whatever, to complain about, “Oh, I’m so
tired.” “Ugh, another soccer practice. Oh this, oh that.” But whatever
you’re communicating online, communicate, “My children are a blessing.
My kids . . . look at this, isn’t this cute. Look at what we did in
our family devotions today. We’re going outside. We’re collecting
Communicate the delighting things about motherhood—and they’re
there if you’re willing to look for them—and other moms will
come to you like moths to a flame because they don’t want to talk
about the drudgery anymore. They don’t want to complain about it
anymore, but they don’t really know how to get off the hamster wheel.
So maybe it starts with you.
Used with Permission. Revive Our Hearts