Focus on the Family Broadcast

Finding New Strength as a Mom

Finding New Strength as a Mom

Heidi St. John offers encouragement to you as a mom, especially if you feel afraid, overwhelmed, and discouraged by everyday tasks. With humor, Heidi recalls some of her “mom fails” and other embarrassing, challenging, and wonderful moments every mom faces.
Original Air Date: May 7, 2021


Heidi St. John: God said, “I’m going to help you. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” He said that my weakness is what He loves. His strength is made perfect in weakness. And I love telling moms, “Do you feel weak today? That’s exactly where God wants you.”

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John Fuller: Well, that’s Heidi St. John, and she’s our guest today on Focus on the Family, with your host Focus president and author Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: All right, John, so Sunday is Mother’s Day.

John: Yes.

Jim: How have your children honored Dena-

John: Oh-

Jim: … on Mother’s Day?

John: It’s- it’s been everything from breakfast in bed, whether she wanted it or not-

Jim: (laughs).

John: … to homemade cards, to-

Jim: Oh.

John: … a hit and miss gifts, all sorts of different things.

Jim: They’re, yeah, those are all the things Jean mentioned. I asked her last night, knowing we were going, uh, to do the broadcast today, but she said the same thing, breakfast in bed, which always meant cold everything.

John: (laughs) Yes.

Jim: Like the toast would be super cold. ‘Cause, you know, the kids aren’t [crosstalk]-

John: With globs of jelly on it

Jim: (laughs).

John: Yeah.

Jim: But, and then the homemade cards.

John: Uh-huh.

Jim: Those have been the things that she remembers the most. I think we still have some of those tucked away in a, you know, t- time capsule that we keep.

John: That’s nice.

Jim: Yeah. So it’s great. Uh, but today we are grateful for moms, of course, with Mother’s Day around the corner. And we are going to speak to a special guest today about that mom calling and being a mom. Motherhood is so unique, and it can, uh, be challenging, I think today in this culture. We want to make sure that we encourage you in that role as mom and follower of Christ.

John: And Heidi St. John, uh, has some reassurance and some hope for you. Uh, she runs MomStrong International, which is an online ministry for women and, uh, she and her husband Jay have seven children and three grandchildren. She knows a lot about being a mom, and uh, about being a grandmother as well I guess. And she’s a very popular speaker and author. And, uh, her book is Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith. And we’ll invite you to contact us for your copy. Our number’s 800-A-FAMILY, and you can also stop by

Jim: Heidi, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Heidi: Thank you for having me.

Jim: It’s good to have you. Now you are a, uh, this mom blogger, you’ve got a very successful blog and you’re talking to a lot of women from around the world. What- what’s a common thing that you’re seeing that they are encountering in being a mom, kind of the- the obstacle?

Heidi: Oh, I don’t know that there is one obstacle.

Jim: Give us a couple.

Heidi: I- I- I think moms feel, uh, the culture has really made motherhood into a stopover on the highway of life, you know.

Jim: Mm-hmm, right.

Heidi: It’s- it’s this thing you do for this- this small season of time. They don’t realize the impact that they’re having. They don’t realize that these children that they’re raising today are going to be tomorrow’s teachers and tomorrow’s leaders. And so, I’ve been spending the last, you know, 20 years of my life trying to encourage them that what they’re doing right now is, God’s going to use it for eternity. And so just, I think they feel a lot of them undervalued. You know, a lot of people will say, “Oh, you’re having kids. Well, that’s just sweet. What else do you do?”

Jim: Right. Yeah.

Heidi: You know, what else do you do? And I love to tell moms, it’s okay if your dream is to be a wife and a mother. It’s okay, if your dream is to raise those children to love and serve and follow the Lord Jesus, and it’s all right to pour your life into it. These kids are worth it. So just encouraging them in the day to day, you know-

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: It can get- it can get exhausting as you guys know (laughs).

Jim: Yeah, but I- I do think and I- I applaud that fact that, uh, you’re a mother of seven and a grandmother of three, so you know the calling. And this doesn’t let the dads off the hook, by the way.

Heidi: Oh, no.

Jim: We also have to be engaged fathers.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: So, I just want to make sure as we go into Mother’s Day, we’re recognizing the role of dads too. But I think, even with Jean, you know, before we had our first, Trent, uh, she was teaching nuclear gene splicing in labs at the university here. And she loved what she was doing. And I remember the professor said, that she was working for, you know, “Are you- are you trying to have children?” And she said, “Yes.” And he said, “Boy, this is not- you can’t be doing nuclear gene splicing if you’re trying to have children.” So that really allowed her to kind of free herself up from that vocational approach-

Heidi: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and then concentrate on the kids.

Heidi: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And that’s what she thankfully has been doing. We have, you know, 20 and 18-year-old sons that are thriving, I think in part, in large part because of mom. And-

Heidi: Oh, yeah.

Jim: … that’s what you’re saying.

Heidi: Oh, yeah. I think- I think we underestimate the value of motherhood and we underestimate what it’s going to do in the culture, you know, years from now, because these moms chose to focus on their children.

Jim: Heidi, um, another amazing attribute of women and moms is their ability to look at themselves first. I’ve often said that on the broadcast. I, you know, men, we run from our shame. Women tend to go, “Yeah, it was me. I’m the one.”

John: (laughs)

Heidi: (laughs)

Jim: And they’ll even say that when it’s not their fault.

Heidi: Well, because their kids would tell on ’em.

Jim: Right. Well-

Heidi: Like if- if you have to do that.

Jim: (laughs)

Heidi: You know, because you’ve got all these little reflections of you walk around. “Oh no, mom, that’s actually not how it went down.”

John: (laughs)

Jim: Well, a fact that you mentioned in the book, the two big mom fails that you had on the same day. And I love that. And Jean loved that because it was so, uh, you know, great to see you reflect on that. What were they?

Heidi: Well, I think one of the first ones was realizing, uh, that I’m not going to be able to get it all done. I think I told a story kind of early on in the book, um, is funny. There’s, okay, there’s a lot of things that happen when you’re raising seven children, right.

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: Every single one of them is different. And I- I- I did not feel equipped for the job. And I think … This is another thing that’s so important for women to understand, you don’t have to feel like you’re going to have it all together. You don’t have to feel like you know what you’re doing. You don’t have to feel like, you know. I- let’s say like me, who didn’t come from a home that modeled it well-

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: … and so maybe you haven’t seen it done- done very well. And I remember very distinctly, uh, one time in particular. I’m- I’m trying to go to bed. This is so typical of me. I’m trying to go to sleep and I’m thinking there’s something, I’m missing something.

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: Something. Is it- is it an orthodontist appointment? No. Is it, uh, did I take the roast out of the freezer? I- I think I did. Did I put the clothes from the washer in the dryer? I’m not really sure if they’re mildewy, we’ll wash them again. All the things. And in the morning, my little six-year-old came in and she said, you know, “Mom, the tooth fairy didn’t show up.” And I was like, “Doh, that’s what it was.”

Jim: (laughs).

John: (laughs).

Heidi: It was the tooth fairy, it was the tooth fairy. And I’m- I’m, you know, jabbing my husband next to me. And I’m- I’m like, “Listen to your daughter, you know?” And she’s like, “Mom, you said she would come. And she did-, she didn’t come.” Well, while this is happening, you know, Jay’s trying to wake up and roll out of bed because we have a routine by now, right. ‘Cause this has happened to us many times. And he’s running into the room and putting it, you know, somewhere under the covers. And so, then it’s her fault, right.

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: And so, then it’s her fault, right?

Jim: Right (laughs).

Heidi: No, no, you looked in the wrong place.

Jim: Right.

Heidi: Like, the tooth fairy did come.

Jim: Yes.

Heidi: Yeah, we’re getting this. We’re- we’re getting this- this whole thing, uh, all mixed up. But I remember just telling my husband, I said, “I feel like every time I turn around, I’m failing at something. I’m failing at something.” And he ha- you know, for 32 years now loved me so well. He was like, “Did you think it would be different? Did you really think that we are going to skate through this thing and are- we’re going to get all of, you know, get it all right?” And I- I looked at my daughter and uh- and I, something I love about the innocence of children. And I was able to say, “You know, mama told you that the tooth fairy was going to come. And when mama says the tooth fairy’s coming, the tooth fairy is coming.”

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: And then I thought, and if she doesn’t, what am I-

John: (laughs).

Heidi: … you know, what am I going to do? You don’t have to have it all together. And I think I look back at my, uh, raising those kids, most of my kids are grown now. You know, that little one, uh, she’s almost 11 now and our oldest daughter is 30. And I look at those kids now and I think the times that I failed are when God met me the most.

Jim: Well, and I think that was on top of you falling asleep the night before when your-

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: … son was trying to tell you an important thing.

Heidi: Oh yeah. They’re telling me [inaudible]. But that’s what they do. That these are teenagers too. They come in, right.

Jim: Oh, 11, 12 o’clock. Yeah.

Heidi: It’s 11 o’clock at night. Yes. And you’re trying to prop your eyes open. I remember one time in particular, my- my son came and sat down on the bed and this- they do this every night. They still do it. ‘Cause we’ve got a couple of teenagers still left at home and he sat down, and he was like, “Mom, how did you know that dad was the one?”

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: I- I was like, “I- I didn’t know.” (laughs).

Jim: (laughs)

Heidi: I just blurted, “I didn’t know.” Jay has this ability to just go to sleep.

Jim: Right.

Heidi: The kids will sit and talk to me. And he’s like, “Well, I love you guys good night.” And he’ll roll over and go to sleep-

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: … and then they’ll want to talk to me about the deeper things of life. And I remember telling … They’re sitting on the edge of the bed and he’s telling me this great thing that happened to him, uh, with a friend. And I fell asleep in the middle of it. And he was like, “Mom, mom, are you listening?” “Oh, that’s right. Yes. I am listening.”

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: “Wh- pick- pick me up again. Where were we again?”

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: You know, and all of those things, if you- you got to look back on it. Uh, at least I do now. In the- in the moment I felt like I was failing. But now looking back, I can see that staying in there, that perse-, you know, that perseverance-

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: … which is patients in action, right. That perseverance, the willingness to be able to say, “You know, I’m so sorry. I blew it. Can we start over again? Tell me again, you know, where are we go … What- what were you trying to say to me? I’m really sorry.” And you realizing that’s … You don’t have to do it right. You don’t have to do it perfectly. To come back and cir- circle back and say, “You know what? Let’s try this-

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: … let’s try this again.” Motherhood is a lot about humility-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Heidi: … and a lot about being willing. One of the- the things I love to tell moms is that- that importance of leaning into the Lord. And I think the biggest moment for me in remembering that God was with me all the time was probably after I had my sixth baby. And now you’ve got a picture. I’ve got this house full of children, we’re homeschooling them, which is something I never thought that I would do. So I’m doing all of these things, trying to do them and feeling like I’m failing at everything.

Jim: Right.

Heidi: Right. Because that’s how moms-

Jim: Correct.

Heidi: … are guilt magnets. We always feel like we’re failing at everything. I woke up early one morning. And I’m- I’m fairly certain that I hadn’t really slept at all. Went outside. I watched the sun rise over Mount St. Helens and I’m just sobbing. I’m sitting outside on my deck feeling like I- I’m never do, I- I used to do quiet time. I used to be a good Christian. Now I can hardly open my Bible. And I feel like I’m crabby with my kids. And I was like, “Lord, you know, where are you? I- I feel so far away from you.” And in that moment, the Lord, so faithfully, He was like, “Heidi, I didn’t- I never went anywhere. I’m not distracted when you’re, uh, when you’re unloading the dishwasher, you can talk to me then. It’s all right, if you’re nursing a baby and trying to juggle a toddler that needs your attention right now, or a teenager that thinks your sweater is ugly and she doesn’t like you anymore.”

Jim: (laughs)

Heidi: Uh, all of those things, He say, He said, “I- I didn’t leave you. Draw your children into your quiet time.” Because I just felt so guilty again.

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: You know, it was that, I haven’t opened my Bible. I used to be so faithful at it. And just feeling like I’m not even communicating with the Lord. And that was a turning point for me [inaudible].

Jim: Well and again, that’s that guilt feeling, right.

Heidi: It totally is.

Jim: You’re describing.

Heidi: And this is the enemy, right, who wants to make you feel like everything you do is permanent. Everything that you wrong, or every failure that you feel that you’re encountering is permanent. And so, I did something different. I went- I took all my kids to Walmart and I said, “You guys can pick out a spiral notebook.” And they all had to be different colors, because we all know what happens [inaudible].

Jim: And I’ll see you in an hour.

Heidi: Yes, exactly.

Jim: (laughs)

Heidi: Yeah. You guys- you guys, you know, you bicker over who gets the green one and who gets the blue one and mom is going to go over here and get my grocery shopping done, then I’ll come back. So the kids all get these, you know, 15 cent spiral notebooks. And I said, “I’m going to start doing my devotions with you.” And I went to, uh, the store and I got it, just a children’s Bible, nothing- nothing exciting. And I said, “Every day in the morning, mama’s going to read the Bible. And I want you guys to write down when we’re done, what you’re learning.” And I learn in that moment, two things, God’s going to speak to me through the reading of his word, whether it’s a children’s Bible and I’ve got a nursing infant and toddler and a grumpy teenager and whatever it is in the room with me, God can use it. He used that reading of His word in those moments and it changed my life.

Jim: Mm.

Heidi: And what- what’s … The other thing I learned is that God speaks to his children through His word. So I want moms not to feel like they have to do something fancy, you know.

Jim: Yeah. I think too, moms need to hear, what is Momstrong? What does that mean to be Momstrong?

Heidi: Yeah. Well it, to me, it means to know that we’re raising God’s kids, you know.

Jim: So the purpose.

Heidi: The purpose of motherhood is to raise children that are going to reflect, uh, a love for the Lord Jesus. We’re supposed to be raising kids that will be fully committed disciples of Jesus Christ. Meaning we want our kids to love the Lord and to walk with them to realize that they belong to Him and that their purpose is eternal. And when they get that, when you start to see those light bulb moments go on, they’re going to see it by you not doing it right, right. And you’re going to get an opportunity to go back to them and say, “You know what you guys? I’m so sorry, I’m struggling with this. And you’re going to struggle- you’re going to struggle at some point too.” I want my kids to be strong in the Lord. I want them to know who they, that their identity comes from Christ. The world’s going to tell them your identity comes from this thing or that thing. And there’s so many definitions of who people are out in the culture. But I want my kids to know that God made them just the way they are. He loves them just the way they are in the package that they were delivered to us in, is beautiful before the Lord. And He has a plan and a purpose for their life. That comes from me, which comes from the Word.

Jim: And Heidi, uh, you know, I’m thinking of the mom right now, who feels like their teen daughter or their teen son isn’t in that place.

Heidi: Mm.

Jim: And so, they’re hearing this going, okay, that’s more guilt. Maybe I failed-

Heidi: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … because I wasn’t doing the right things, or however she’s processing that, because that teenager with that attitude that you mentioned a moment ago.

Heidi: Oh, yes, I’m familiar.

Jim: The ugly sweater and, you know, I don’t even like you anymore mom.

Heidi: But yesterday you liked my sweater.

Jim: Yeah, right. But ho- how does she pick up the pieces and realize that this isn’t a formula and that the basic things are to love your child as God created them, what you just said. And to trust that God’s hand is upon them. Wh- what are some of those things that a mom can do to, um, ei- either get back on track or try to encourage their children, not to go off track?

Heidi: Well, I love that you said that- that she might be looking to a formula-

Jim: Yes.

Heidi: … you know. Uh, years ago I was very into the formulaic parenting, you know, raised our kids. Started having babies, you know, in the 90s, in the early 90s, and there were several popular parenting programs out there at the time. And I remember we got invited to one of them, right. And so, there was, if you just do this and this and this and this, then your kid will turn out, ding, you know, if you just check all the boxes. And we began to realize very early on that each one of our children are different and there is no such thing as a formulaic approach to parenting. Every single one of our children need to know that, uh, that they’re unique and we parent them uniquely. What might’ve worked for my 18-year-old isn’t going to work for the seven-year-old.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Heidi: And we, Jay, you know, of- of course my husband is a pastor, so we raised our kids in a fishbowl, right. Everyone’s watching.

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: We had some- some friends that we love very much come over to our house. And again, it’s the pastor’s wife thing and I’m feeling, you know, the- the guilt. And, uh, she comes over to my house and she sees all these parenting books, you know, sitting on the- on the coffee table. And she goes, “Oh, that’s a good book. She goes, “Oh, where did you get that one?” I’m like, “Oh, so-and-so gave it to me.” And she said, “Heidi, I notice a book is- is missing.” And I was like, “Oh.” And I’m- I’m gonna write it down.

Jim: (laughs)

Heidi: I’m like, “Oh, you’ve got the holy grail of parenting-

Jim: Right.

Heidi: … books.” I’m going to write this down. These people had raised five children, five girls successfully. At that point, we only- we only had three children. So, I’m like, who in their right mind, with five children.

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: This woman was, you know, I mean, I was just like, wow, whatever you say, I’m doing it. And she said, “I don’t see a Bible anywhere on your coffee table.” And yeah, see how you guys are being quiet. That’s what I did too.

John: Mm.

Jim: (laughs)

Heidi: I was like, okay.

Jim: That’s a good point.

Heidi: A good point, good point. And a- she wasn’t saying you- it wasn’t condemning, it wasn’t … She wanted me to know, and this was so good for me because I- I needed to know it. She said, “If none of these books existed, let’s say no one ever wrote another parenting book again and all you had access to was the Bible, it would be enough. It would be enough.”

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: And in it, we’re told how to love our children. And in it we’re said, you know, Lord, if we need wisdom … This is James, right. Ask it from the Lord and he’ll give. Do you not know what you’re doing as a mother? Ask the Lord, he’ll tell you, he’ll give you what you need. And I think at that point, I was like, all right, I’m leaning so hard into the advice of all these other people that I’m not saying, “Okay, Lord, I’ve read the books, but I still have this one … I’ve had that one child, that child, right. I saw this one child and nothing’s working for that one child. I can’t seem to get to her heart. I can’t seem to- to, uh, reach her in the way that I want.” And the Lord said, “I’m going to help you, right. I’m going to show you the bend upon which that child needs to be folded.”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Heidi: And she came with that bend, that unique bend in her. And it was … These are like aha moments, as we’re processing through motherhood and realizing God’s going to use another mother to come along and encourage me back to the place where I depend on the Lord. And it really does make you feel less self-conscious. I wish there were more moms who could be comfortable enough in their own skin to say, “I don’t actually know what I’m doing.”

Jim: Yeah, right. Dads too.

Heidi: Yeah, and dads do. It’s all right to not know what you’re doing, because when you come to the place and you realize, okay, I need help. So, you can look at Heidi St. John and say, well, she’s got seven children and three grandkids, and she had it all figured out. But they- they didn’t see the meltdowns that my kids had in Walmart. They didn’t see me crying myself to sleep. You miss all those things. In the process of raising children, God was doing something in my life. And I think that’s … Moms need to know that, it’s not just about your kids-

Jim: Yeah, that’s so good.

Heidi: … God’s doing something in you.

Jim: Yeah.

John: This is really good stuff from Heidi St. John, and uh, we have this great biblically based book from Heidi called Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith. And, uh, we’ll invite you to contact us, to get a copy of Heidi’s book or a Bible. Uh, our number is 800-A-FAMILY. 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by

Jim: Heidi, you point to Zephaniah 3:17. We don’t get a lot of people quoting Zephaniah.

John: I can’t remember the last time.

Jim: And it starts with Z, but it’s not the last book in the Bible.

Heidi: (laughs)

Jim: But, uh, how do moms derive something out of Zephaniah 3:17? Break it down.

Heidi: Well, the verse is that the Lord, your God, is in your midst. A mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you by His love, He will exalt over you with loud singing.

Jim: Hmm.

Heidi: There’s not a mom I know who can’t relate to that. And so, in the book, I sort of personalized it for moms. I said to the mom who feels abandoned, God says, “I’m living among you.” There are a lot of moms listening to this who maybe grew up like me and felt abandoned. I felt abandoned by my own, uh, relationship with my father. It was very … I- I always tell people that when I got married at 19 years old, I was about as broken as a 19-year-old girl could be.

Jim: Hmm.

Heidi: I didn’t know the first thing about motherhood. I thought, I’ll never be a good mother. And the Lord through His Word … That’s how he works, right. So tenderly through His Word has been showing me, “You feel abandoned, I’ve never abandoned. I’ve- I’m living among you.” To the mom who feels battle worn God says, “I am your mighty savior.” So, if you feel worn out from this right now, God’s like, “I’m going to help you. I’m going to hold you up. When you feel like I can’t do this for one more moment, uh, I’m- I’m going to help you.” To the mom who’s wondering if God is enough. The Bible says it right here, “I delight in you. I delight in you.” He didn’t say, “If you get this thing, right. If you be sure and give your kids, you know, three balanced meals every day and you don’t- and you don’t miss a- a stop, it’s fine.” He says, “No, I delight in you.” When you’re afraid, God says, “Lean into me. I’m going to quiet you with my love.” I can’t think of a mom who doesn’t need to hear that, that His love is what, uh, ultimately brings that healing. And He loves you, and bad days don’t make bad moms. And I think moms need to hear that. We all have- we all have bad days. We all have moments when we … And maybe even seasons, when you just feel like, well, that’s six months was a huge waste, you know.

Jim: Right.

Heidi: I went down the- the wrong road or maybe, um, like me, maybe we bought into this idea that if I just read this book and do it just right, everything will be right. Then when your kid doesn’t do the thing-

Jim: Right.

Heidi: … you feel like, why- why am I even trying? Uh, but I met a mom, uh, recently I met- I met a mother and I was talking about the importance of recognizing our place on the battlefield, right. The- the Bible says in Psalms, that our children have been given to us like arrows in the hands of a warrior. So, listen, listen to me, mama, you know what that makes you? It makes you a warrior. It makes you a warrior. You have to be a warrior to raise children in the culture right now.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Heidi: And so, this mom came back to me after I spoke. Uh, it was a three-day event. On the second day, at the end of the day, she came up and she said, “I’d given up on my child.” She said, “I- I have a 16-year-old daughter. Uh, uh, her dad and I are divorced, and she doesn’t want to come home. And she’s belligerent-

Jim: Right.

Heidi: … and she’s angry. And I finally said, “You know what? It’s okay.” She said, “I want to go live with my friends for awhile. So her mama said, “That’s fine. Go do it.” She said, “As I thought of myself as a warrior, and this is my arrow.” That arrow does not belong to your neighbors. That’s the arrow God gave to you. She said, “I called my daughter up at her friend’s house. And I said, I love you and I’m coming to get you. I’m coming over there right now.” And her daughter’s like, “Nope, I don’t want you coming.” And she said, “No, I’m coming. And I’m bringing a milkshake and I’m bringing whatever else you want. And we’re going to talk about this thing.” She said, “I brought my daughter home, you know, angry and depressed.” She said, “Heidi, uh, the Lord’s doing something. He’s starting to restore that relationship and he’s doing it because I took my place on the battlefield because I remembered this- this child is mine to raise and I need not give up. And I know it’s going to be hard because it will be-

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: … but it’s worth it.

Jim: Heidi. We’re down to the end, and you have given so much great advice. But I would love to ask you, uh, kind of rapid-fire style, what are some things that a mom can do, uh, to get on a healthy track?

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: If I could say it that way, where the guilt load is lighter. Probably will not go way-

Heidi: No.

Jim: … but where it’s more manageable. What are some of those things that a mom can do?

Heidi: Well, I like to tell moms, it’s okay. I hear from moms all the time who say, “I’m just- I’m just so burned out,” right.

Jim: Right.

Heidi: Mommy burnout. It’s real. And I, well, the first thing I always tell them is you got to stop wrestling and start resting. What does it mean to rest? Because if always feel like, you know, all I ever do is diapers and dishes and laundry and no one’s listening to me. Uh, I think moms need community. I think it’s absolutely crucial that moms have community. We got to have other moms. You got to have that mom who’s like, you know, “Girlfriend, what’s going on?”

Jim: And tell her you’re not the only one.

Heidi: Oh yeah, what’s going on. You know, people call me all the time, “Hey Heidi. Wow. That post you made on Facebook. What in the world, what’s wrong with you?

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: That just seems out of- out of character for you. You know, do you need a mocha with extra whip right now? I’ll be over in 10,” right. That’s what we need. We need those people that we can be real around. And I feel like moms need to give themselves permission to carve out that space for themselves. And so, for me, it was an- an issue, especially working through the things that I was working through in raising young children, it was getting up early in the morning. It was, it’s- it requires discipline, I’m not going to lie. Like we want an easy button. There is no easy button.

Jim: Right.

Heidi: It requires discipline. But getting up in the morning, carving time out for yourself, being, uh, being faithful, to be in the word. And if you don’t have time to be in the word by yourself, do what I did and bring your kids into it and incorporate that. But exercise, obviously the resting things, moms are the only ones … Years ago I took all my kids to … I was speaking in Florida. We don’t have sun in the Pacific Northwest like they do in Florida.

Jim: Yes.

Heidi: We don’t get sunburned in the Northwest like they do. I slathered sun, you know, sunscreen on all my kids. I slathered it on my husband. Guess who I forgot?

Jim: (laughs).

Heidi: Me.

Jim: Did you get burnt?

Heidi: I, oh, uh, second degree burns all over my back. Blisters-

Jim: But that is a metaphor for motherhood, right there.

Heidi: It absolutely is. Because why? Because I- I did all for my family and not for myself. And so-

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: … I was out of commission for like almost a week.

Jim: Wow.

Heidi: And, you know, just, uh, I mean, it was severe. And in that time, you know, later on I thought, that is a metaphor for motherhood. We do everything for our children. You have to foc … You know, “Lord help me show me, um, how can I carve out time for myself?” It is important, you know.

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: And we- and don’t discard the idea. Don’t deny it.

Jim: Let me ask you this too, because that bitterness can- can grow in that moment-

Heidi: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … where you start to feel like I’m giving to everybody else-

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: … and who’s giving to me?

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: How do you manage-

Heidi: I call that martyr mom syndrome.

Jim: Okay. And then how do you manage that? How do you get above that, on top of that-

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: … beyond that?

Heidi: Well, I think the beyond it is recognizing, uh, that what I’m doing is bigger than this moment. And honestly, let’s be perfectly honest, we’re wrestling with our own sin, aren’t we? We’re wrestling with the selfishness inside of us that says, I don’t want to do this thing. This is where community is so important to talk to other moms-

Jim: That’s true. But it feels, it’s deep.

Heidi: Mm-hmm, sure.

Jim: Because if no one’s helping you, no one’s tending to your needs.

Heidi: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, that can feel lonely. It can feel-

Heidi: It is lonely.

Jim: … like, you know, you’re out there on the limb.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: And it … Do I not matter to anybody?

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: Is nobody seeing me?

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: And I get it.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: I understand that.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jim: But you’ve got to put that down, right. The Lord sees you.

Heidi: The Lord sees you. And, uh, one of the things that the Lord is, that I have now that I didn’t have all those years ago, is perspective.

Jim: Right.

Heidi: You know, I can look back, you know, uh, when you want fruit off of a tree, it doesn’t come overnight, right. It comes after years of tending and watering and praying and pruning and crying.

Jim: Well, and putting manure in the root system.

Heidi: You’re not wrong.

Jim: (laughs)

Heidi: You are not wrong. And I- and for the mom to realize that. It’s, hang in there, it’s going-

Jim: Yeah.

Heidi: … to be worth it. There are hills in there are valleys, this is how life is. I think the culture tells us, oh, if it’s hard, just give up. This is what they tell you. It doesn’t matter if it’s marriage or motherhood or, um, educating your children or whatever. Once it gets hard, while that looks too hard, you should just give up, let someone else do that. No, no, no. God said, “I’m going to help you. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” He said that, “My- my weakness is what he loves.” His strength is made perfect in weakness. And I love telling moms, “Do you feel weak today? That’s exactly where God wants you.”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Heidi: He wants you to say, “Okay, bring your weakness to me. And I’m going to show you how my strength is going to be seen in you.” You guys, I could weep. I could sit here and tell you stories over 30 years of mothering, where God met me, when I decided, I can’t do this for one more second. And now as I’m watching my daughter raising her three, her two little boys and a little girl Juni. She’s so cute.

Jim: (laughs)

Heidi: Uh, I know that watching Savannah raise those children is an answer to prayer that I prayed for 25 years. “Lord helped me do this thing that I’m not equipped to do. Lord, why would you give Heidi St. John, the girl that can’t keep houseplants alive and is about as broken as a girl could be, why, why would you give me seven children?” And the Lord said, “Because I want to show you who I am.”

Jim: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Heidi: And that’s what he does. And he uses motherhood. And I think moms need to know God’s doing something in you. And you’re going to look back, if you don’t grow weary, right. That’s what God’s word says.

Jim: Yeah. Stay the course.

Heidi: Don’t … stay the course. If you don’t grow weary there is a harvest of blessing and it is coming. It’s worth it. Stay in the fight.

Jim: Heidi St. John. I mean, this is incredibly good stuff. And I hope moms are encouraged-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … for Mother’s Day coming up this weekend.

Heidi: They need encouragement.

Jim: They need encouragement. And everybody takes for granted the love of mom.

Heidi: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And mom’s, you are special. I hope you’re hearing that today. Heidi, thank you for being with us.

Heidi: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

John: Well, we’re so glad you could be with us, Heidi. And I do hope that you, our listener have enjoyed this refreshing message. And if you’re not a mom, maybe you can share this with someone who is.

Jim: That’s a great thought, John. And we hope you know, Focus on the Family is here for you. We want to help you be the best parent you can be. We have lots of great resources available to you, like Heidi’s book, Becoming MomStrong. It’s full of encouragement and hope for moms with kids at all ages and stages. This kind of hope is crucial in the times we’re facing. There’s a lot of uncertainty at every level out there. The economy, politics, all of it. Real families, just like yours reach out to Focus on the Family every day for help and I would say hope. We want to continue to provide answers for families that are in need, um, for you too. And in order to do that, we do need your help and support. Your prayers and financial gifts to Focus on the Family, allow us to share the healing hope of Jesus Christ through broadcasts, podcasts, counseling resources, online and print articles. Life-changing events like Hope Restored, our marriage intensive. Or our efforts like Option Ultrasound, showing women the baby that’s growing in their womb. And when you donate today, a gift of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of Heidi’s book, Becoming MomStrong, as our way of saying thank you for joining the ministry.

John: Donate today, get your copy of Becoming MomStrong. All the details are at or call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Well have a terrific weekend and a wonderful Mother’s Day. And join us again on Monday as we hear from Jason Johnson. He suggests some ways that you can help families with kids in foster care.


Jason Johnson: God is far more concerned with our willingness to be faithful than he is concerned with our ability to produce a certain set of outcomes through our faithfulness.

End of Teaser

Today's Guests

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Becoming Mom Strong

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