Hiding the Word in Your Heart
About the Guest
Motherhood is messy, but beautiful. MOPS President Sherry Surratt and MomLife Today founder Tracey Eyster team up to talk about the greatest challenge they've ever faced - being mothers. Together they talk about gaining motherly confidence, finding a mentor, and relying on the Lord to face the day-to-day.
Motherhood is messy, but beautiful. Sherry Surratt and Tracey Eyster talk about gaining motherly confidence, finding a mentor, and relying on the Lord to face the day-to-day.
Bob: Every child needs a mom, but Sherry Surratt says every mom needs to know there are other moms who will help her carry her load.
Sherry: The power of a mentor. The power of a mom who is a little farther down the road from you that you can lean into—that can put her arm around you. Sometimes, on those days when the kids have wiped jelly on the dog and all over the house, you need another mom to be able to put her arm around you and say: “You’re going to be okay. This is going to be alright. I’ve gone through this too. You do not walk this road alone.”
You have—and you need to look for them sometimes—but there are moms around you that can help you and be your manual.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, May 6th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Sherry Surratt joins us today, along with Tracey Eyster, to talk about how important it is for moms to have other moms to lean on. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. It’s movie week, here at FamilyLife.
Dennis: It is indeed. Moms’ Night Out is making its splash. I hope it’s a big one.
Bob: It kicks off Friday in theaters. Of course, tonight in theaters, Focus on the Family® has their Irreplaceable movie. It’s a one-night-only deal. And then this weekend, Moms’ Night Out, which you have seen. I assume our guests have seen it; don’t you imagine?
Dennis: I would imagine they have. Sherry, Tracey, have you guys seen it?
Sherry: Oh, yes. It’s fantastic.
Dennis: How many times?
Sherry: Three now.
Tracey: Oh, I’ve got you beat! I just saw it four over the weekend, and it doesn’t get old; does it? It’s wonderful.
Sherry: No. It is so fun. What a fun real movie.
Dennis: I’m thrilled it’s coming out because moms don’t get enough press. This movie is just a—
Bob: It’s a pro-mom movie.
Dennis: It’s a stinkin’ fun movie—is what it is. I mean, it’s just kind of edgy.
It has some scenes in it that are stinkin’—I’m telling you. [Laughter]
Bob: I can see the movie poster now—with Dennis Rainey’s quote at the bottom—
Dennis: “A stinkin’—
Bob: —“A stinkin’ fun movie.”
Dennis: —“fun movie.” It really is. I watched my daughter, Rebecca, watch the movie. I just thought I’d show her five/seven minutes of it—she just drew right in. And her husband, Jake—they watched it all, and they loved it.
Well, let me introduce our guests; and then I’m going to tell you what we’re about today because we’re going to wave the flag that the cavalry is coming to cheer moms on in what I believe is one of the most important assignments God gives any human being.
Tracey Eyster and Sherry Surratt join us on FamilyLife Today. Sherry, Tracey, welcome to the broadcast.
Tracey: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Sherry: Oh, thank you. It’s an honor.
Dennis: A lot of folks recognize Sherry’s name because she is the President and CEO of MOPS International. She and Jeff have been married since 1982. They have, according to her words, “two brilliant children and two beautiful grandchildren.”
Sherry: —“and brilliant,”—absolutely.
Dennis: —“and brilliant for them too.”
Many also know Tracey, however. They know her as the founder and Executive Director of MomLife Today®, and a MomLife blog that is found on the internet. She and Bill have been married since 1986, two children—thrilled to have you here. You guys have collaborated together to write a book. I think the title, Bob—don’t you think the title fits?
Bob: It hits it right on the head.
Dennis: It fits Mom. The title is Beautiful Mess: Motherhood for Every Moment. It really is a challenge; isn’t it?
Sherry: It really is, yes. There are so many wonderful things about motherhood, and that’s where the “beautiful” comes in. I think moms get that. But sometimes what we don’t talk about is the mess, and sometimes it is just messy!
Dennis: Let’s talk about that for a second because motherhood really can be a challenge. In fact, it can drain the courage—
Sherry: Oh, it absolutely can.
Dennis: —of a woman very quickly. What makes it so challenging today?
Sherry: Tracey and I talk about this in our book—about there are so many areas that make you step back and question, “Am I doing a good job, and how do I know?” There aren’t a lot of people who will just rise up and tell you, “Oh, what a fantastic job you’re doing!” Your children probably aren’t going to do that, being children.
There are so many moments where you think: “I’m failing. I’m ruining this. I’m ruining these children. I’m messing everything up!” There are just opportunities, at every corner, to be able to say that to yourself. Also, you have other set of moms that you look at and compare yourself to—and they always look better than you do.
Dennis: And you always compare from a distance.
Sherry: Oh, you do.
Dennis: I mean, there’s no winning in that comparison battle.
Tracey, as you raised yours, what was the most challenging period of being a mom? You’re about done with the hardest work being a mom.
Bob: Now, don’t go there because this will just make her cry if you go there; won’t it?
You’re about at the last chapter of the first half of your mom life.
Tracey: I sure am because my son is a senior in high school, and we’re so close to graduation. It’s just days away! For me, I guess the hardest is the fact that it always changes. Every time you think maybe there’s a portion that you’re starting to figure out—that you’ve finally figured out how to get that baby to sleep after having the trials of: “How do I do this?” You finally get there, and then there’s something new.
Then, there’s that you’re potty training them, or that they start saying, “Mine, mine, mine,” all the time. Every time you start to feel a little victory, then there’s this other thing. You think: “Wow! Nobody ever told me this was going to be so hard. Nobody ever told me this was going to make me start to question so many different areas of my life.”
I think that’s the beauty of the movie, Moms’ Night Out,—
—because I mentioned I’ve seen it four times. Every audience I saw it with—you would see moms just start to feel affirmed. You’d see nods. You’d see—I know they’re thinking: “That’s me. I do that.” Just knowing that you’re not alone—that other moms go through this, and God has a purpose in it.
Dennis: I have to tell you this story. Barbara and I were with a friend, in the past year, who had waited a while to get pregnant; okay?—put it in that category. She just found out, and we were among the first that she started telling. I have to say, it was fascinating to look at the crisis of confidence at the news that you are going to be a mother. That wasn’t just that young lady; was it? That really occurs from the get-go; doesn’t it?
Sherry: Oh, it absolutely does. I tell a story in the book about that day when it was time to bring my first son, Michael, home from the hospital—my first baby. I remember sitting in the room. It was dark. I was holding him, and looking at him, and thinking: “Oh, he’s so beautiful! He’s just gorgeous. Look what we made!”
And then the thought struck, “Now, I have to take him home”; and the nurses weren’t going to go with me. No one was going to come. I remember, in the wheelchair, being wheeled out—holding my son, thinking: “At any moment, the baby police are going to come around the corner and say: ‘Lady, back away! You do not know what you are doing!’” I would not have been surprised. [Laughter]
Dennis: You were not a trained professional.
Sherry: I was not!
Dennis: There’s a lot about this culture that makes moms feel like they’re not competent to raise children.
Tracey: Yes, there are a lot of “should’s” out there: “You should be doing this, “You should be doing that.” It makes you run around in circles. You find yourself marching to the beat of a million different drummers if you’re not careful. I think that’s what’s so important about this study. It reminds you: “You truly are playing for an audience of One.” This One—our God who made us—designed this whole concept of motherhood. So, He really knows what it’s about.
And He also knows those feelings that are going on in your heart. He also knows that the children that He gave to you, He gave to you because He knows you’re the right mom for those children. So, when you start to doubt, and question, and compare, and see “What she’s doing,” and wonder—God entrusted Samara and Wesley to me. He knows I’m the mom for them. And when I start to doubt, and wonder, and compare, I’m not living in God’s truth—I’m living in what I see all around me.
Bob: Well, here’s the thing. If Mary Ann wants to make spaghetti for dinner, she can either go to the store and buy a jar of the sauce. It’s pretty easy to pour the sauce in, mix a little something else in, and make the spaghetti. If she really wants to get ambitious, she can pull a recipe out of a recipe file and start from scratch. But making spaghetti—we’ve got a formula for that.
To be a mom, and raise your kids, and to know what to do—you have one person who is saying, “You make sure you spank them if they get out of line,” and somebody else says: “Spank them? You’re going to do that?”
Somebody else says, “Well, here’s how we do it”; and somebody else says, “Well, here’s how we do it.” You look around and you go, “Where’s the recipe?” because there’s not one; right?
Sherry: There isn’t one. So many times you kind of want one. That’s why Tracey and I both talk about the power of a mentor—the power of a mom who is a little farther down the road from you that you can lean into—that can put her arm around you. Sometimes, on those days when the kids have wiped jelly on the dog and all over the house, you need another mom to be able to put her arm around you and say: “You’re going to be okay. This is going to be alright. I’ve gone through this too.”
The power of “me too”—which Tracey alluded to a while ago—is so incredibly powerful for a mom. You do not walk this road alone. You have—and you need to look for them sometimes—but there are moms around you that can help you and be your manual.
Bob: Can you describe one of those mentor voices in your life—a person who was that for you? And then how did you get connected with that person?
Because I think a lot of moms are saying, “I would love to have somebody who would be that mentor; but I don’t know where to find them, and I don’t want to impose,” and this, and that. How did it happen for you?
Sherry: For me, her name was Donna. She was one of those moms, who I knew I could call at any time. In fact, she told me that. I found her just through my church. I was working in children’s ministry at the time. She was a mom who had children that were a little bit older than mine. Here’s what I did—I just swallowed my pride and I asked.
And you know, you take a risk when you ask; but what I have found, from most other women, when you are going through something, as a woman or a mom, and you ask for help, most times, moms will say—women will say: “Absolutely. You call me any time.”
Bob: Tracey, what about you?
Tracey: Well, mine was Marilyn. Marilyn was a mom that was ahead of me. Her children are about five to ten years older than mine. I just observed her children.
Her children were amazing, God-loving, fun-filled, just wonderful young people because, at the time, my kids were probably in elementary school. Hers were more middle school/high school.
Bob: Did you go up to her and say, “Can I have coffee with you?” Did you initiate the relationship?
Tracey: I did. I had seen her—I had been around her. I could tell that she loved the Lord. I saw how she handled situations. I think it started with I found out she was part of a Bunco group. At the time, I was relatively new to this community. I’ve learned you can sit back and feel sorry because you don’t have a friend, or because you don’t have one speaking into your life, or you can get proactive.
I just kind of made my way up to Marilyn and started talking: “Aren’t you part of a Bunco group?” “Well, you wouldn’t want to be part of our Bunco group because we’re older.” I’m like, “Oh, yes, I would want to be a part of your Bunco group.” I think that’s a factor—kind of going with what Sherry said.
Sometimes, we think that someone else older than us is too busy for us, or has too much to do in their lives, and “Why would they want to waste time talking to me?” But I find that older women—those Titus 2 women—they want to be able to speak into your life. They just don’t want to impose. So, be a little bold and just go up and ask!
Dennis: Barbara and I had been married about four years when we moved to Dallas. We had one little girl in tow and had our son, Benjamin, there. I remember Barbara—I wouldn’t say she was at the end of her rope, but she was a couple of knots up from the end of her rope. She was just challenged being a mom of two young, young—very young children.
She called a woman there in Dallas that she didn’t know. It’s interesting—this pride thing you talked about. She had to swallow her pride and say, “I really need some coaching here.” What happened was—I remember, on the days she would have coffee and get some time with the woman who was a Titus 2 woman in her life, she had energy. She had life.
That woman was a life-giver to a young mom, just starting out, who needed to be affirmed and needed to know that she was doing the right thing.
Tracey, as you think about your beautiful mess, is there one story that captures the essence of raising Samara and Wesley? That’s a tough assignment to give you, but—
Tracey: I have it. I call it my “stare moment.” Wesley was a baby, and Wesley had colic. I had no clue what colic was until I had a child with colic. He was probably about three months old. Samara was three years old. I was sitting on a stairway. Wesley was screaming his head off in my arms. Samara had her head leaning against my shoulder. She was crying uncontrollably.
[Emotion in voice] I was looking out the window at a blizzard, and I was crying and crying. I remember thinking: “I can’t do this! I can’t do this!
”Nobody explained to me what it was going to be like to feel so responsible for these two little lives.” I didn’t know why they were crying. I couldn’t figure out, “How can I make him stop?” There seemed nothing I could do. It almost seemed sort of symbolic that there’s a blizzard outside, and I was trapped in this little house, and I didn’t know what to do.
I just thought, “Okay, you’ve got to get it together.” Obviously, every mom has that moment. In Moms’ Night Out,it’s in a closet where she realizes what’s going on with her. And you ask moms, “What is your closet moment?” and we all have them.
Bob: It’s interesting to me that that was 15 years ago; right?
Tracey: Well, 18—Wesley’s 18. That was 18 years ago.
Bob: And the emotion is still right there with that moment.
Tracey: Yes. I call it “getting to the end of myself.”
Dennis: Feeling overwhelmed.
Tracey: Feeling overwhelmed—
Dennis: Not knowing where to look.
Tracey: —and ill-equipped.
Dennis: I want you both to comment on this Scripture. At first, it doesn’t sound like it applies to moms who feel overwhelmed; but it really does because I’d have to say this is where Barbara found life. Second Timothy, Chapter 3, verse16: “All Scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God”—or may I add that the woman of God—“may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
I look back at Barbara’s life and the reason why she excelled, as a mom, wasn’t that it was always easy. There were a lot of messes / a lot of tough moments; but she kept drinking deeply from the Scriptures and had an ongoing relationship with Christ. She’d fight for times to get alone with God, and pray, and think it through, and ask God to meet her in those moments.
Would both of you comment on the importance of Scripture to give a mom hope when she’s feeling overwhelmed?
Sherry: Oh, my goodness! I have learned this over my life. I wish I would have learned it earlier—that God has things to say to me, at that moment, when I’m feeling something because God isn’t surprised that I’m feeling it. He knew it was coming. And so long ago—in only the way that God can—He puts those verses in there that speak directly to my heart.
One of the ones that I say over to myself, every single day—even today--as I drive to work is Zephaniah 3:17—that talks about: God is with me wherever I go. He is mighty to save me. Nothing I face is going to be too big for my God who made me. He knows what’s coming in my day. I can walk in confidence, even when I don’t know what’s coming. But then the verse goes on to say that He takes delight in me. He looks down and He’s delighted with what He sees—even when I’m disappointed in what I see when I look in the mirror.
Even when I’m just disgusted with the things that I’ve done or the choices that I have made, God delights in me. In fact, in the version that I was reading, it said, “He dances over me.”
I just want to say that to every mom. Wherever you are right now, that verse is for you too. He’s delighted when He looks at you. He dances over you with joy, no matter what the house looks like, no matter what the pile of dishes is—you know, the dog has pooped on the carpet—all those types of things. God takes delight in you. I say that verse over and over to myself again, and there are so many verses in the Bible. I think you really do have to hide them in your heart for those moments when you don’t know what to do.
Dennis: Tracey, how about you? How have you seen the Scripture equip you as a mom?
Tracey: I remember, when I would be around older women, I would notice that they had a peace and calm.
Every time I would ask a godly woman, “How do you live your day the way you do with such peace and calm?” It would always be that they were constantly in the Word of God. It was part of them. I always thought, when I was a younger mom, “Well, I guess some day I will have time to be able to do that because, just right now, I don’t.”
And then I recognized that you can hide the Word of God in your heart, even if you can’t sit down and have 30 minutes to study Scripture. So, I started writing Scripture on index cards. I would put them on the steering wheel. I would put them on my bathroom mirror. I would put them at the sink—I would put it in places.
Sometimes, when you’re a younger mom, instead of thinking, “I just don’t have time for this,” because, once you do that and you start to read those snippets of Scripture, it makes you long for—and then it makes you find a way to make time for—even if it means getting up earlier in the morning.
I know, just like Sherry, when you hide it in your heart, there are those Scriptures that you say over and over because they are part of who you are and what you need. For me, it’s “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus,”—because, for me, it has always been peace. I’ve always needed the peace that Jesus Christ provides because the world, I feel like, just screams at me constantly what I’m supposed to be doing, and what I should be doing, and what I’m not doing. To me, the antithesis of the chaos is the peace. It’s the peace that I need.
And then the rest of that Scripture goes on—I call them the “whatever’s”—because I’m like, “Well, how am I going to have peace with all this stuff spinning around in my brain?” And it goes on to say, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, think on these things.”
So, if you can push the world away, and all of those doubts and comparisons, and you can just think of the good things and the blessings: “Look at these little people. They are driving me nuts right now! But wow! That overbearing personality in that little person—what is God going to do with that someday? Nobody will ever force my daughter to do anything she does not want to do because she is so strong-willed.”
Dennis: I wonder who she’s related to.
Tracey: I cannot imagine, but I think you know him quite well! [Laughter]
Dennis: Here’s what I want to say to the mom who is identifying with you ladies. I want you to get a copy of Beautiful Mess; and then get a couple of pals—two, three, or four pals—other moms who are in the battle, who look perfect; but trust me, they’re not! They need this maybe more than you do. Get Beautiful Mess and huddle up. Then, after you go through this, then maybe you can do some illegal Bunco groups—stuff like that.
That comes out of Las Vegas, you know—that’s illegal. [Laughter]
Bob: That’s what the book is designed for. Beautiful Mess is a six-session study for moms written by Sherry Surratt and Tracey Eyster. Actually, a great way to kick it all off is to go see the movie, Moms’ Night Out, this weekend when it opens in theaters. Get a group of moms together. Have a moms’ night out. Afterwards, just say, “Would you ladies like to get together at our house, and we’ll go through this study together?”
I think every mom can benefit from spending time talking about the issues that are raised in this study and just encouraging one another. We have information about the Beautiful Mess study for moms, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Go to our website, which has just been refreshed, by the way. The team has done a great job putting a brand-new facelift on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com.
When you get to the home page, look in the upper left-hand corner. It will say, “Go Deeper.” If you click on that link, it will take you to the area of the site where you can get more information about the Bible study for moms, Beautiful Mess. There is also a link on the website to the Moms’ Night Out movie website. If you’d like to see the trailer and find out more about theaters and show times, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “Go Deeper.” All the information you need about the resources is available there. You can order the Bible study from us, online; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
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And we hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to continue our conversation with Sherry Surratt and with Tracey Eyster. Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about whether moms are too hands-on or not hands-on enough. We’ll have that conversation. Hope you can tune in 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. See you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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