About the Guest
Children are a blessing from the Lord. Do you really believe that? Erin Davis, founder of Graffiti Ministries, tells how the Lord changed her heart about motherhood. Erin and her husband had decided not to have children in order to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in youth ministry. But when she found out she was pregnant, and told at 12 weeks that the baby may not survive, she began to discover God's heart for children and the valuable role that mothers have.
Children are a blessing from the Lord. Do you really believe that?
Bob: A lot of young girls used to grow up playing with baby dolls, dreaming perhaps of the day when they would be a mommy. Erin Davis says that dream doesn’t happen so much anymore.
Erin: Do you know why young women, middle school girls, don’t want to be moms? Same reason they don’t want to be married—because they haven’t seen it work. They don’t hear women with small kids saying that it’s a mission field and that it’s something they’re doing for God’s glory. They hear those moms complaining, and yelling at their kids, and being stressed to the max. The majority of young women that I interact with—through speaking, and teaching, and through my church—say, “I don’t want to be a mom.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, August 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Whatever happened to the idea that children are a blessing from the Lord? We’ll explore that today with Erin Davis. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I don’t know that you know this about me, but I’m something of an expert on young—
Dennis: Yes, I do know that! [Laughter]
Bob: I’m anything I want to be; right?
Dennis: A self-proclaimed expert!
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: Why do you even need to tell our listeners that? They already know!
Bob: Let me get to the subject that I’m an expert on.
Dennis: Okay—this week! [Laughter]
Bob: It is—it is young children’s literature. I am something of an expert on—I have read—
Dennis: Goodnight Moon?
Bob: Well, I’m going a little beyond Goodnight Moon. I have read just about everything written by Louisa May Alcott—the Little Men, Little Women—all of that.
Bob: I have read all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series.
Dennis: Has all this been recently, Bob? [Laughter]
Bob: No. No, it’s been years ago; and it was a chapter a day—
Dennis: [Laughing] I’m concerned about you. Is what I’m—
Bob: —and it was at bedtime. I have to tell you my favorite—and probably my daughter, Amy’s, favorite, too. The favorite would be The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—the whole Chronicles series; right?
Dennis: Of course.
Bob: But Amy really loved the Betsy-Tacy and Tib series of stories, which I’m sure you’ve never heard of—but wonderful stories about a girl growing up in Minnesota, at the turn of the last century. It’s a great series of books. I could converse for hours with you about Maud Hart Lovelace, the author, in Mankato, Minnesota. If you’d like to have the conversation, we can do that.
Dennis: I want to see if our guest, Erin Davis—
Bob: If she’s heard of any of these.
Dennis: Any of them. Erin, welcome to the broadcast. Have you heard of all these series that Bob’s rattling off about?
Erin: Thank you for having me. I’ve heard of The Little House on the Prairie. I aspire to be Ma, but she makes it looks so easy—all the canning and the prairie life—and it is not that easy. But I don’t know about—
Bob: Any of the rest of these?
Erin: No, I don’t!
Bob: I need to give you a list.
Erin: But Goodnight Moon I know.
Dennis: There you go.
Erin: The Very Hungry Caterpillar I know.
Dennis: There you go.
Bob: How about The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear? Do you know that one?
Erin: Yes, I do!
Bob: Oh, now we’re getting down—
Erin: And If You Give a Moose a Muffin.
Dennis: Yes. And The No-Good—
Erin: And A Horse, a Cookie—I don’t know how they go, but there are several of those. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, Erin is a mom of two. That’s part of what we’re talking about here today. She is founder of Graffiti Ministries, and has written a number of books, and lives back near my hometown of Ozark, Missouri—lives in Springfield, Missouri.
Bob: In fact, isn’t there a Laura Ingalls Wilder connection in that part of the country?
Erin: There is. It’s right there in—her childhood home is very close to where I live.
Bob: That’s what I thought.
Dennis: She has just completed a book called Beyond Bath Time. It’s a book about motherhood. One of the statistics that you had in the book that really was alarming to me—it was a survey done of Christians. It said that 47 percent of Christian women said that marriage and motherhood should not be talked about or explained among women.
Erin: And that they should not be emphasized in the church. That’s right. I think that opinion has been listened to. I don’t think that we’re talking about it in the church, women-to-women, from the pulpit, and all the ways that the church communicates in the ways that would really be helpful to moms.
Bob: Why don’t women want people talking in church about motherhood; do you think?
Erin: Well, I think the concept—the basic core concept about motherhood being a really wonderful use of a woman’s life, of her talents, of her abilities, of her dreams—seems so old-fashioned right now. That even those of us who are moms, and we love our kids, and we love being moms, we think, “Well, yes; but should we really be emphasizing that? Really, is that where our efforts should be focused? Should we really be spending our time talking about that or should we be talking about something that seems more important?” I think there’s just a fear to really emphasize the roles of wife and mother in our current cultural climate.
Dennis: You were in the 12th week of pregnancy when you found out there was a problem.
Dennis: And you, of course, had embraced being a mom, and this child, and you were all excited about it; right?
Erin: Well, I wasn’t! The way that I broke the news to my husband that we were having our first child was by sitting on the edge of our bed and sobbing. Poor man, he was just trying to get dressed and go to work. His crazy wife comes in and says [distressed], “We’re having a baby!”
Dennis: Was he surprised at your response?
Erin: He went to work very quickly after that. [Laughter]
Dennis: “I gotta go!”
Erin: “I think I have a meeting.” [Laughter] I think he was shocked by the news. Also, we were really reeling. We had spent many years saying that we were not going to be parents—
Bob: At all.
Erin: At all. It’s funny. Since this book has come out, I can’t tell you how many old friends have called me and said, “I told you so! How many times did I tell you motherhood was important?” It took us a little while to catch on to that notion. The reason why we said we weren’t going to be parents was because we wanted to have a ministry. We wanted to pour our whole lives into student ministry, into teenagers. We couldn’t fathom that God could work out the logistics of us doing both, which seems silly now, in hindsight.
Dennis: So here’s what I want to ask you, “Here you are—you’re evidently both very serious followers of Jesus Christ—
Erin: We are.
Dennis: —You have the same Bible I’ve got—
Dennis: —and there’s a verse in Psalm 127 that says, ‘Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them.’ Now did you believe the Scriptures?”
Erin: I’m not sure that I—I don’t have any recollection of reading that verse.
Bob: Oh, you sound like you’re taking the Fifth on this. [Laughter]
Erin: I have no memory of anyone preaching on that verse. I grew up in the church—in Bible-preaching churches—but I understand that pastors are preaching to congregations that are all not married couples. They’re trying to teach to the common denominator. Maybe I had heard it, but it certainly had never sunk in.
I think I had this, “Yes, children are a blessing—and warrior and quiver, and other people’s children are a blessing. We like kids. Everybody likes kids—they’re cute,” but I’m not sure I applied the deeper message that children are always a blessing. That’s so clear in Scripture. When I went looking for it, it became so clear to me that children were a blessing; but I guess I thought that life according to my schedule was a bigger blessing.
Dennis: This is not a multiple choice quiz, but had you not also ever heard of Genesis 1? I’m not trying to put you down, at this point—
Dennis: —I’m really wanting to understand—
Erin: “I want you to get to the bottom of it.”
Dennis: Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,’” and so forth.
Erin: I was on a mission trip to Jamaica, with my husband. We brought a group of about 30 students. We also brought some friends of ours, who were also in youth ministry, and yet had four children. I remember the husband saying—we were having this discussion, you know, “When are you going to have kids?” —which everyone starts asking right after the rice is thrown; right?
At this point, months and years had gone by; and we still didn’t have kids. We were doing that conversation, “When are you going to have kids?” I’m doing my, “We’re not going to have kids because we’re going to have a ministry.” He cites that verse to me, “What about the ‘be fruitful and multiply’?’” I said, “That is not a mandate to all people. That’s what God said to Adam and Eve because, if Adam and Eve had not been fruitful and multiplied, it would have been a very short human race.”
That was my logic for that verse—was that that was not something that applied to my life. That was the story of Adam and Eve. Of course, Adam and Eve had to be fruitful and multiply; but I could be fruitful and multiply in other ways, without having children. It’s so clear now, as we’re talking about it, the holes in that thinking. It’s very clear to me, looking back. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is clear to a lot of non-moms. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but by and large, most Christian young women have zero desire to be married and are very vocal about it; but even the women—
Bob: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Most Christian young women have zero desire to be married and are vocal about it?
Erin: The desires of Christian young women to be married and have children are absolutely in the toilet. I could cite you some numbers; but they wouldn’t be as interesting as the stories of the young women that I encounter, who love the Lord, passionately love the Lord. I’ll say, “What do you want to do with your life?”
“I want to have a ministry!” which to them, looks like something very official—in some sort of ministry box. I’ll say, “Do you want to be married?” They’ll say, “Well, if God brings me a husband, I’d be open to that,” —which you guys know—you talk about marriage numbers all the time. Those of us who are married—as adults, we are very close to becoming the minority for the first time in history. Imagine that trajectory, just ten years down the road, when the teenagers at my church are of marrying age; and the number of married adults just continues to go down.
But the number that continues to go up is married couples who choose childlessness—not couples whose childlessness chooses them, not people who are not yet married—but Christian couples, who assume can get pregnant, but choose not to get pregnant. I would say the majority of young women that I interact with—through speaking, and teaching, and through my church—say, “I don’t want to be a mom. I don’t want to be a mom, ever.” The number one rival for that is that they want to have a career.
Dennis: I want to rewind a statement. I want to be careful about placing all the blame on the church and on preachers for not preaching messages about children being a blessing. I want to go all the way back to the moms and dads, and the singles, and those who aspire to be married or someday think they will be married—and just talk straight with them and say, “You know what? The place where there ought to be the genesis of the concept of children being a privilege and a blessing ought to be in the home,” —
Dennis: — “ought to be in the family that you’re establishing. The value of human life—the value of sending a message to the next generation through a child who you imprint with the Scriptures and with the life of Jesus Christ, and you share with them the truth of God’s Word, and you share with them the idea that they’re to be on a mission.” You talk about it in your book. The Muslims are producing like mad. The Mormons are growing 40 percent a year, just through their families alone.
Erin: The Muslims are projected to be one-fourth of the world’s population very soon. The Population Reference Bureau, which is a secular—it’s just a monitoring organization—when they are pressed on why Muslims will soon be one-fourth of the world’s population, they said, “Because of higher fertility rates.” In other words, Muslims are having children and non-Muslims are not having as many children.
Mormonism is the same way. It’s growing leaps and bounds due to their large families. I’m so glad you called me on that because the blame doesn’t rest on pastors. You know why young women, middle school girls, don’t want to be moms? Same reason they don’t want to be married—because they haven’t seen it work. They haven’t seen it in the examples of either in their own home or people that they really appreciate.
They don’t hear women with small kids saying that it’s a mission field and that it’s something they’re doing for God’s glory. They hear those moms complaining, and being stressed to the max, and yelling at their kids, and all of those kinds of things. Absolutely, the responsibility rests with those of us who are parents to show an example of parenthood as ministry—that others can really latch onto.
Bob: I’m flashing back, as you’re talking about this, to the first years of my marriage. Mary Ann grew up in a tough family situation—some tough family dynamics going on there. If there had been somebody who might have been predisposed, by example, to not want to get married and not want to have kids, she would have been a candidate for that; but after we got married, she was ready.
I remember being on a trip with her one time. It had been about a year, and we had not conceived. She was weeping in the car, wondering aloud, “Why would God give me this desire and not give me children?” I’m a young husband who doesn’t have a good answer for that one; you know?
Bob: But I’m thinking to myself, “So isn’t that something that’s birthed in the heart of most girls?” Where was it—why wasn’t that in your heart? Why didn’t you want to make babies as soon as you got married?
Erin: I grew up with very loving parents who divorced when I was ten. Any of us who know children of divorce know that causes a fracture in a worldview. That probably played a role. But I have a twin sister; and while she was playing house, I think I was probably playing with a briefcase. I just always—some people are Type A. I think I was born Type Double-A, maybe Type-Triple-A.
Teachers would see that from very young—counselors, people of influence in my life—and say, “You’ve got something, Erin. You need to go to college. You need to go to graduate school. You need to pursue a career.” Very few people—I don’t remember anyone saying to me, “A great use of your creativity, a great use of your energy, would be to raise a family for the Lord.” I don’t remember ever hearing that. That’s really the game-changer—is to believe that God can really use it for Kingdom work.
Dennis: I just want to unpack this just a little more. When you say that being a mom is engaging in a mission field—it really is one of the most powerful missions efforts that a woman can invest herself—and a father, as well.
Erin: The impact is huge. Now, my husband and I have done student ministry for 12 years. I believe that there’s been some good fruit, and I believe that that ministry mattered. So those of you who are listening, who are in student ministry, or children’s ministry, or any kind of ministry, don’t mis-hear what I’m about to say next.
What we did in student ministry pales in comparison to raising a family of children who love the Lord, who go on to raise children who love the Lord, who go on to raise children who love the Lord. Equipping these children, who have different spiritual gifts than I, and helping them figure out how God is going to use that—that really excites me. I can catch the bigger vision for loaves and fishes, and how the Lord can really divide that in really, really exciting ways. It’s not just about raising good kids who get good grades. It’s about so much more than that. That makes kind of the mundane things of motherhood a lot more bearable.
Dennis: It’s about raising children who have a sense of mission, too—that they were put here for a purpose—to honor God, to glorify Him, but to also be a part of His work on this planet. One of the things I fear, Erin—you don’t know this about me, but Bob has heard me get on my soapbox more than once on this broadcast and begin to pound the table. I am really concerned about Christian families today and the way they’re raising their children to be more consumers rather than on a journey—on a mission, in a war, a fellow warrior—to have a mindset that they’re raising their kids to go into battle. There’s a reason why, in Psalm 127, it talks about “like arrows in the hands of a warrior”.
Erin: Because they’re the ammo for the battle.
Dennis: They are! If Christian families don’t own that, then Korea is going to be sending missionaries to America.
Dennis: China is going to be—
Erin: Well, countries already are.
Dennis: Yes. They’re going to be evangelizing America because those of us in the church don’t own the generational mandate to raise children: A) who know Jesus Christ and who embrace Him; but secondly) engage their lives in a mission of serving Him.
Erin: Right. If we continue reading in Psalm 128, it talks about like children are olive shoots around the table. Well, most of us get our olives from cans, right? So that word picture might get lost on us; but I looked it up, and olive trees are often surrounded by a band—a grouping of immature olive trees surround that mother olive tree. Do they take the mother’s nutrients from the soil? Yes. Does she have to share her water and her sunlight? Yes. But ultimately those olive trees become a healthy band of successors. When that mother olive tree dies, the growth that she started continues on.
I think a lot of us really want to do important things for the Lord. That’s great, and we do it; but if I invested my life for 30 years in student ministry and never had children of my own, they would have given me a plaque, they would have thrown me a lovely luncheon, and I would have gone on my way. But now, I’m raising children who I can pass the baton on to and can continue the mission. I can only assume that God is going to give us a mission as a family and a passion to minister as a family. Yes, they do require much of me, but they’re really the only way that battle can continue to go on.
Bob: You have two, right now?
Erin: Two, right now. Yes.
Bob: Any more on—?
Erin: Yes. Not immediately on the way, but yes. You’ll never hear me say a number because I feel like those people who say a number didn’t make it—
Bob: They’re just setting themselves up for—
Erin: Yes, they are just setting themselves up. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, I’ve read two passages or three of Scripture here today. I want to read another one. Proverbs, Chapter 31, verse 28—actually 27 and 28, “She looks well to the ways of her household.” This is speaking of the Proverbs 31 woman. “She does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also, and he praises her.”
You know, not that you just don’t want the praises of your husband—but if God gives you the privilege, as a woman, of not only being married, but of being fertile—and I know there is a number of listeners, about 12 percent, I understand, who are permanently infertile—but if God does give you that great, great privilege to hear the words of children, “I praise you, Mom, for giving your life and investing in me,” —that’s got to be music to the soul.
Erin: I’d say that’s as good as it gets.
Bob: Yes. And it’s not that it’s not challenging. It’s not that there aren’t nights when you’d like a little more sleep, or days when you’d like a little more peace and quiet; but the investment—is a noble investment. As you start to look at the long-term, it’s a significant investment; and one that ought to be celebrated. You really do celebrate it well in the book, Beyond Bath Time, which we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. The subtitle: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role.
It may be that you know somebody who just had a baby. This would be a great gift to pass on to them, Erin Davis’ book, Beyond Bath Time. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on how to get a copy. FamilyLifeToday.com is our website; or call, toll-free, 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
We also have here, at FamilyLife, a blog for moms, called MomLife Today™. There’s a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com if you’d like to get on the blog list and be alerted when there are new blog posts. The person who heads up that blog, Tracey Eyster, has a brand-new book out called Be the Mom. There’s more information about Tracey’s book at FamilyLifeToday.com, as well. Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us, toll-free, if you have any questions. 1-800-FL-TODAY is our toll-free number.
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We just want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who have already gotten in touch with us and ask those of you who haven’t yet, “Would you consider making a first-time donation to FamilyLife Today?” Again, we’ll send you the movie, October Baby. If your donation is $100 or more, we’ll send you a Weekend to Remember gift certificate. We’re grateful for your support—always nice to hear from new friends. I know some of you have been long-time listeners—so thanks for getting in touch with us and letting us know you’re out there.
And we hope you’ll be back with us again tomorrow. Erin Davis is going to be here again. We’re going to continue talking about the joys and the challenges of being a mom. Hope you’ll be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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