• “It is not the place where we are, or the work that we do or cannot do that matters, it is something else. It is the fire within that burns and shines, whatever be our circumstances.” – Amy Carmichael

A Bigger Vision of Motherhood Part 1 – Nancy Leigh DeMoss with Erin Davis

From the radio series: Beyond Bath Time, with Erin Davis
Leslie Basham: Erin Davis says we live in a world that puts pressures
on mothers.

Erin Davis: You’d better not look like one, and you’d better not drive
a car that says you’re a mom. You should somehow manage to keep this
image of a non-mom life because “children are a burden.”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for
Monday, May 7.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the great joys we’re experiencing at Revive
Our Hearts is seeing God raising up a whole generation of younger
women who are enthusiastically embracing God’s calling on their lives
as women. That looks different for different women in different stages
and seasons of life.

I’m really delighted to welcome to Revive Our Hearts today, again, a
dear friend of mine. You’ve heard her before on Revive Our Hearts, and
now she’s written a new book. We’re going to be talking about that
book and her life and God’s calling, especially for moms. Erin Davis
is with us, and Erin, welcome to Revive Our Hearts. Thanks so much for
being a part of this series.

Erin: Thanks for having me back.

Nancy: Erin’s husband, Jason, is the marketing manager for Revive Our
Hearts—that’s news since the last time we were together in this
studio—a former youth pastor. We’re really delighted for your
family to now be a part of team “ROH.”

Erin: We’re pretty excited, too.

Nancy: And I love this new book that you’ve written. We’ll talk about
that in a moment, but first let me reference several other books that
you’ve written. Your first one, Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in
Ourselves is a book on beauty and body image, targeting teenage girls
in particular. And you were involved in helping to write the Lies
Young Women Believe study guide, companion guide, along with Dannah
Gresh and myself, and—Wow!—how God is using that resource
in so many young women’s lives. You see that because you are the
primary blogger at the Lies Young Women Believe blog. So you’re
getting to see a lot of glimpses into the lives of those young women.

Erin: God continues to use the content from that book to expose lies
and replace them with God’s truth. Yes, I get to see it every day, and
it’s pretty exciting to see how He’s still working through that book.

Nancy: And you’ve been so brave to step into those topics “where
angels fear to tread” with those young women. There are some really
raw, difficult subjects you’ve dealing with on that blog. Some
subjects, some stations would really not even want us to deal with on
the air. But those young girls are dealing with some really rough and
raw issues, and you’ve jumped right into the fray on that.

Erin: And our prayer, those of us in leadership for that blog, has
been that that blog would become a beacon of truth online. So we do
tend to draw in some pretty gritty questions, thoughts from some girls
in pretty dire situations, and we don’t shy away from them. We use
God’s truth as our sword, and it’s been really exciting to see how
He’s been changing the lives of young women across the country and
really, around the world.

Nancy: I love your heart for mentoring and discipling those young
women as you’ve been mentored and discipled by older women. It’s just
neat to see that baton of truth being passed down to you, and from
you, to the next generation. And now you’ve stepped into another
subject, which is really not all that different, because it’s still
about discipleship and mentoring. Your newest book is called Beyond
Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role.

Erin: I feared to write a motherhood book, because those who know me
and know my family know that I don’t have motherhood all figured out.
I’m not a perfect mom raising perfect kids.

Nancy: So you did not write this as an expert?

Erin: I did not write this as a mothering expert—certainly not!
I wrote it through my own journey and what the Lord is using
motherhood to teach me, and there’s a lot to be learned through the
journey of motherhood.

Nancy: And your book is a huge encouragement to mothers to think
beyond the details—the nuts and bolts—of getting kids
clothed and fed, and to piano lessons, or whatever the season of life
is. You’re saying there is a mission and a vision beyond that for
women to embrace.

Erin: There is a lot of nitty-gritty that comes with motherhood, no
matter what age your kids are. If you get so focused on that nitty-
gritty and can’t see the big picture, it can sure feel burdensome. But
if you can turn to God’s Word for a bigger vision of motherhood,
you’re still going to have to make a lot of peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches, but you can find more purpose in it. It makes it a whole
lot more bearable, and a whole lot more fun, because you’re doing a
really important job.

Nancy: What I love about you, Erin, is that you’re so honest and
transparent. In this book you share a lot about your own journey and
the fact that motherhood wasn’t something you just fell into
naturally, or easily, or joyfully initially, but God used an incident
when you were twelve weeks pregnant with your first child to really
start a whole paradigm shift in your life.

That’s the point where you got the news from your doctor that this
baby you were carrying probably wouldn’t survive the pregnancy and
that doctor had some counsel that you probably weren’t really ready to

Erin: That’s right. I wasn’t very far along in my pregnancy and we
decided to have an ultrasound. The doctor called me. I was getting
ready to leave for a three-week business trip. She said, “I’ve seen
your ultrasound results, and there’s a problem with your pregnancy.” I
said, “Well, it’s going to have to wait; I’m getting ready to go on a
business trip,” which is sort of indicative of where my heart was
before all of this happened.

She said, “You’re going to have to make a decision about this
pregnancy before three weeks is up.

I said, “A decision about this pregnancy? I decided. I got pregnant,
that’s what I already decided.” But she was subtly trying to tell me
that the situation was dire.

My little boy, I didn’t know it was a boy at the time, had a blockage
in his bladder. That really doesn’t sound all that serious, except
that babies when they’re in the womb, they process amniotic fluid
through their plumbing and that is how their lungs develop. If my baby
was unable to process his amniotic fluid, then he would be unable to
develop his lungs.

We had a really difficult prayerful weekend, and that Monday we went
and saw a specialist and had another ultrasound. She barged into the
room with a clipboard in her hand (I was actually laying on the
ultrasound table still), my husband was there beside me and our moms
were in the room.

This doctor said, with no bedside manner at all, “Your baby probably
isn’t going to survive this pregnancy. If he does, he’s going to be
very handicapped. I suggest you abort him.” The room sort of went
fuzzy, and I remember just deferring to my husband to handle her
questions from there. I was really stunned.

Nancy: And how did your husband handle the question?

Erin: Calmly and wisely. I’m not sure how he avoided expressing how
angry he must have felt. He just calmly said, “We won’t be aborting
this baby, so you need to tell us what our other options are.” So I
had a series of tests in the doctor’s office that day and continued to
have tests the whole pregnancy.

I went every week for an ultrasound, and so that meant seven months of
ultrasounds. As I look back on that season, I remember that we were
never undone. We were calm . . . and that baby we were going to name

One day my husband said, “I’ve changed the baby’s name.”

“The baby’s name that’s in my tummy? You’ve changed his name?”

And he said, “I want to name him Elisha because it means ‘God saves,’
or ‘God is my salvation.'”

At that point, it was so uncertain. I said, “Honey, God might not save

And Jason said, “That’s okay. God still saves. So I want his name to
be a testimony of that.”

So, from then on the baby in my belly became Elisha. And from early on
we were able to use that trial to testify . . . and those passages
about God being your strength when you’re weak and being able to
depend on Him. They were life; they were bread to us during that
season, as I continued to carry that baby in my tummy and wait to see
what was going to happen.

Nancy: I want to step back a minute and talk about some of the things
that led up to that pregnancy, but for those who are holding their
breath, wanting to know what happened to Elisha, tell us.

Erin: Elisha is the cutest, rowdiest, funniest four-year-old boy I’ve
ever been around in a long time. He loves baseball, and he loves
cowboy things, and he’s totally fine.

We had an ultrasound every week, and his little bladder was just a
little black spot. It got bigger and bigger with every ultrasound
because his plumbing flawed, and it was filling with fluid.

The day he was born, we were still having ultrasounds, and his bladder
filled his entire abdomen. There was a specialist team waiting in the
wings to whisk him away to emergency surgery. We were prepared. We
delivered in a different city from our home. We were prepared to live
there for weeks while he was recovering from whatever they needed to
do him.

Let me just say, it was clear to everyone in the room that his
plumbing was working just fine. The surgeon who was waiting to take
him laughed and said, “You just bought yourself a ticket out of the
NICU.” He never went to the NICU; he never had surgery . . . he’s a
healthy boy.

He has a little bit of residual hydronephrosis in his plumbing, and he
has one kidney that’s a little bit small. I continue to pray that he
would be fully healed, but he was healed on the day of his birth. He’s
happy and does great.

Nancy: Elisha . . .

Erin: Elisha.

Nancy: God saves . . .

Erin: God saves, that’s right.

Nancy: Let me back up to when you found out you were expecting your
first child, this child we’re talking about. I’ve heard you say that
the stick turned pink sooner than you expected.

Erin: That’s right. You’d have to get a little bit of background on
who I am and who I was at that point. I had everything that the world
told me a young woman should have. I’d gone to college and then
graduate school. I always like to refer to myself as “type double A.”
I got undergraduate school done in under three years and then went on
to graduate school. I had the husband, had the house, had the career,
and getting pregnant was the next thing on the list, the script, that
the world had written for me.

So we decided, okay, that’s the next thing. But yes, the stick turned
pink much sooner than we expected, and I broke the news to my husband,
Jason, that a baby was on the way by sitting on our bed in my bathrobe
and sobbing uncontrollably. I just felt like a bomb had gone off in my

Nancy: Not because you were not going to, at some point, have children
in your thinking . . . so what made it so traumatic at the moment?

Erin: I think that I planned to have children because that was on the
to-do list, but when children were suddenly a reality, I was very,
very aware of all the ways it was going to interrupt the life that I
wanted for myself. I couldn’t fathom how I could continue down the
career path that I wanted and be a mom. I couldn’t fathom how I could
continue to have the marriage I wanted and be a mom . . . to have the
friendships, and even the ministry.

My husband and I have been student ministers for twelve years, and I
just didn’t know how we could continue to pour our lives into
teenagers and have a baby around. So when it was real, I suddenly
realized all the ways it was going to disrupt my life, and that was
unpleasant to me.

Nancy: So were you feeling, “I just don’t have time to be a mom?”

Erin: Absolutely. My feeling was, “I don’t know how a baby will fit
into any of the corners of my life,” and I had every corner of my life
well mapped out.

Nancy: So in that sense, were you viewing children as more of a burden
than a blessing?

Erin: Absolutely. I think the burden or blessing question is where so
many women, moms included, are still really hung up. I have a really
good friend, and she’s quoted often in the book, and she says how she
feels our culture has a real split personality toward mothers.

We go to their baby showers and we think “Oh, isn’t that cute?” and we
admire their pregnant tummies. But inside we feel sorry for them and
we think, “Oh, man, what is she is getting ready to have to go
through?” So we sort of love the idea of pregnancy, motherhood,
families, but in reality we think of it as drudgery.

That is certainly the way that I felt about motherhood, and the way I
sometimes still feel about motherhood. I still very much have to fight
an inner battle to believe what God says, which is that children are a
blessing, rather than to believe what my flesh says, which is they’re
a burden. I have to resist the urge to sometimes call my, two children
now, “speed bumps,” because they’re slowing me down from so many
things. That’s really a choice, to see them as either a blessing or a

Nancy: It’s a choice that a lot of women in our culture are being
faced with, and our culture hasn’t really helped people to see those
children as a blessing.

Erin: Our culture is very anti-mom in a lot of ways. You want proof?
Buy a minivan. People will feel so sorry for you if you tell them
you’re getting a minivan. It’s as if you’re trading away any semblance
of a normal life for cruise control and built-in DVD players. That is
like the ultimate, “your life is over,” if you have a minivan.

“Mom jeans” is another example. Every fashion show you ever are going
to watch, before and after, in the “after” it’s, “She used to wear mom
jeans.” It is the ultimate fashion faux pas. So you might be a mom,
but you’d better not look like one. And you’d better not drive a car
that says you’re a mom. You should somehow manage to keep this image
of a non-mom life, because “children are a burden.”

Nancy: Then you were holding in your hands that precious little
Elisha, who was a gift from God, a miracle child that God healed in
the womb. Did you just instantly, once you held that little bundle of
life, immediately embrace motherhood as this great calling?

Erin: No, I did not. Of course I loved him, and the miracle of it all
was not lost on me, but it wasn’t as natural as I thought. I think
that’s true with a lot of things in motherhood. I know a lot of
friends who have something similar to post-traumatic stress over
breastfeeding. They can’t figure it out, and they’re traumatized about
it for years after their baby is well grown.

There are a lot of areas of motherhood like that. We think discipline
is going to happen naturally, and it doesn’t. We think the bond is
going to be natural or always there, and it isn’t. We think our
marriages are going to know how to adapt to children, and they don’t

That was true with me and Elisha. I loved him very, very much from the
moment saw him, but motherhood did not come naturally. My first year
as a mom was really, really difficult.

Nancy: Tell me more.

Erin: I just didn’t adjust well for all of the reasons that I told
you. I was afraid to become a mom. Those were real concerns, and they
really happened. Suddenly, my whole life revolved around this little
thing who had no concept of a schedule. He didn’t know night from day,
and whenever he was hungry or sleepy or whatever he needed, I had to
adapt to it.

I stayed home with him and I really isolated myself at first because I
didn’t have any mom friends. All of my friends were in the same season
of life that I was, before baby, and I suddenly realized I hadn’t
diversified my friendships very well because unless it was a woman
that was in the exact same season of life as I was, I didn’t have a
lot in common . . . scheduling became really difficult.

I was home with this baby who had no semblance of a schedule and was
extremely needy and my work life got put on hold, and it was hard on
my marriage—just as I suspected.

We couldn’t go have sushi anytime we wanted. When they say having a
baby changes everything, that’s not just a cute Hallmark card notion.
Having a baby changes everything, and I didn’t have a biblical
framework to understand it.

I didn’t understand that it was more than changing a gajillion diapers
every day. I didn’t understand that it was more than just establishing
a sleeping pattern. To me, the mundane-ness of it all, the boredom of
it all, the repetition of it all . . . I didn’t have any framework
from God or from the Bible because I hadn’t studied it to have a
bigger picture.

So I got really caught up in the small things, and it was a difficult

Nancy: We’re going to talk more about your journey and what God has
taught you since having that first child, and we’re going to look at
God’s Word and get some, what I think will be liberating and
encouraging insights for moms and those who encourage moms, but give
us a glimpse. What is something that God used early on in your
parenting to give you a sense of hope or joy or purpose, to help you
persevere through that first year?

Erin: I think the story that’s been most impactful from the Word comes
from the book of Nehemiah. They were rebuilding the walls of
Jerusalem, and Nehemiah said to the Israelites, “I want you to fight
with your families, and fight for your families.” The enemies of
Israel had come to see what was going on, and Nehemiah’s charge was,
“Stand side by side.”

So there’s this description in the Bible, husbands, wives, children,
with sword in one hand, shovel in the other hand, and they’re building
their wall. And they built the wall miraculously quickly, and the
enemies of God were very afraid. (see Neh. 4:13-14)

When I started to see motherhood as more than endless feedings, diaper
changes, discipline, all of the things, the routine . . . and as my
part of building the wall, as doing something for my family and doing
something with my family because I couldn’t do it any other way, I
started to get that bigger vision of family and kingdom work and that
God could use me as a mom to do kingdom work. (I felt really sidelined
from kingdom work as a mom, from what I thought kingdom work was.)

When God started to use that passage in Nehemiah to help me understand
that building the kingdom with my family and for my family was
something that would make the enemies of God afraid, that’s something
that really began to re-cast my vision of motherhood and ministry, and
what God wanted to do through me and my children.

Leslie: Erin Davis and Nancy Leigh DeMoss are talking about the impact
moms have when they invest in their children. Nancy will tell you how
to get a copy of Erin’s book, Beyond Bath Time, in just a minute.

What did you think about today’s program? You can let us and Erin
Davis know by visiting the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. Just visit
ReviveOurHearts.com and scroll to the end of the transcript. You can
ask a question or leave a comment there.

Erin Davis is participating, so you may get a response from her. We’re
able to bring you the radio program, transcript and listener blog,
thanks to listeners who support Revive Our Hearts. Your support will
be multiplied as it changes women who need to hear it. Nancy’s here
with an example.

Nancy: When God speaks to women through His Word, it not only affects
them, it also affects their children and the generations that follow.
That’s why I loved getting an email from a woman who described much of
what God is doing in her life. She says,

Revive Our Hearts has been a major blessing to me. The past few weeks
I’ve been going through a re-programming season. I grew up in a family
with unsaved parents and never had an example of what biblical
womanhood looked like. Since I’ve become an adult and gotten married
I’ve struggled to find what a godly woman should be.

Thanks be to God, my parents have come to Christ in the past few
years. However, it’s been difficult mentoring my own mother. I wasn’t
the perfect picture of biblical womanhood, and I had no model or
mentor to show me.

She goes on to describe being exhausted after she and her husband took
on some intense ministry opportunities. Then she said,

I heard about Revive Our Hearts through the Internet. Revive Our
Hearts was exactly what my tired, hungry heart needed. Your teaching
is helping me to re-learn what it means to be a godly woman. I thank
God for His grace and for using you to help me. Thank you for being
obedient to the Father’s work.

This listener has two small children at home. Imagine the impact that
God’s Word is having on those little ones, as they grow up with a
mother who is committed to learning how to be a woman of God.

When you support Revive Our Hearts, you’re part of making biblical
teaching available to women like this one. You’re part of impacting
her children, her parents, her friends, generations that follow. If
you’ve never supported Revive Our Hearts before, I want to let you
know that your gift will be doubled this month, as some friends of the
ministry are matching the gift of everyone who’s giving for the first
time, up to a matching challenge amount of $100,000. Meeting or
exceeding this goal will be an important part of meeting our overall
expenses, in May, of $350,000.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we want to
say “thank you” by sending you the book we’ve been hearing about on
today’s program, Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis. Just ask for the book
when you make your donation. If you want to give us a call, the number
is 1-800-569-5959. Or if you wish, visit us online at

Leslie: Do you ever feel like you have to delay motherhood because
you’re too busy in ministry? Erin Davis felt that way.

Erin: We chose childlessness for seven years of marriage, and many
people pressed us on it in those seven years. 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 a lot 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

What I didn’t understand is that having children is a ministry. I
wasn’t giving up doing something important for the Lord by having

Used with Permission. Revive Our Hearts

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  • “I think of the love of God as a great river, pouring through us even as the waters pour through our ravine at floodtime. Nothing can keep this love from pouring through us, except of course our own blocking of the river. Do you sometimes feel that you have got to the end of your love for someone who refuses and repulses you? Such a thought is folly, for one cannot come to the end of what one has not got. We have no store of love at all. We are not jugs, we are riverbeds.” – Amy Carmichael

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Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; — Romans 12:10 (NKJV)

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