Focus on the Family Broadcast

Rediscovering Your Joy in Motherhood (Part 2 of 2)

Rediscovering Your Joy in Motherhood (Part 2 of 2)

Ashley Willis aims to encourage moms to hold tight to the peace of God through every moment of parenting. She introduces four “peace pirates” that steal joy and how to effectively combat them. (Part 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: September 7, 2022

John Fuller: Today on Focus on the Family, we’ll explore how to find God’s peace when you’re struggling to find joy in motherhood.

Preview:

Ashley Willis: But really, I think that we have to take an assessment of what kind of expectations do we have for our children and also what kind of expectations are we allowing to be placed on us. And this is where that definition, that real definition of God’s peace, shalom, comes in because I think sometimes, we allow ourselves to be ruled by expectations.

End of Preview

John: Well, some great thoughts from our guest today, Ashley Willis, and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I’m so glad we’re continuing the conversation with Ashley. Uh, we covered so many important topics yesterday about motherhood. I love the idea of peace pirates that we talked about. Ashley explained that these pirates represent things in your life that can easily steal joy from you, specifically in parenting. And one of the biggest peace pirates that I think all parents have struggled with is control. So often we want to manage our kids behavior. I, Jean and I did this. We were guilty of it too. Every parent has had that moment in the grocery store where their kid just won’t stop crying, and you feel so embarrassed. What, what can I do? I got to get out of this situation.

John: Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting good behavior, but we really want their hearts to want to be good, right?

Jim: Yeah, that’s the journey, right? We don’t want our kids to have surface level character. We want it to go deep, and that’s what’s going to take them forward into adulthood and be successful. Um, another peace pirate we covered yesterday was expectations. Boy, we’re hitting all the big ones. Every parent has expectations for their children, but also, for themselves, pretty high standards. And they can so easily become unhealthy expectations. We can’t let those expectations rule over us. We need to have them, but we also need to evaluate what’s controlling us. It can so easily steal the joy and peace that God is giving us.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And our guest today is going to help us rediscover that joy that we often lose sight of.

John: Yeah, we’ve got Ashley Willis again, and, uh, she’s going to help us understand how we can find God’s peace in parenting. Ashley is an author and mom to four boys. We can tell you more about Ashley and her book, Peace Pirates when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. That’s 800-232-6459 or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And Jim, here’s how you began the conversation with Ashley on Focus on the Family.

Jim: Let me ask you something, and I’ve seen this, you know, typically when we have moms and we’re in-interviewing moms. Women have such a capacity to put the guilt on themselves.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: You know, I didn’t do enough.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I’m the shortfall here. It’s my fault, whatever.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And men, I think our egos block that a bit. We’re like, “Eh, it’s the other guy’s problem.” Right?

Ashley: Right.

Jim: It’s that person. But women just do have this capacity to say, “You know what, I need to own up to it.” Talk to that ’cause to a degree that can be really healthy. In the Christian walk that seems very laudable. But when it goes to extreme, it becomes unhealthy.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: So, help women understand that balance of taking on that guilt trip.

Ashley: Man, I can relate to this so much, and I do talk a lot about this in the book because we really need to pay attention to the, what we’re believing, like our own self-talk. And I know, for me personally, I’ve had a lot of years where I just had negative self-talk. I allowed the enemy to really get a foothold and convince me that I was completely missing this whole motherhood thing. And, and maybe even, I mean, in the beginning, I even believed, just, I didn’t have, like, the proper motherhood instincts and so therefore, I wasn’t gonna really be that great of a mom. And I was just kind of sloughing along here, just trying to figure this out, even reading every book I could get my hands on. And, um, and I think that, I, I would speak to the mom who constantly feels like she’s missing it. I would challenge her to really, every day, think of one thing she got right. And that’s not necessarily, you know, to be conceited or anything like that, but just to look for the positive because we do have to really be careful of really looking at ourselves and saying, “Am I self-assessing or am I self-condemning?”

Jim: Right.

Ashley: Because there’s such a difference there, and it’s good to self-assess. It’s good to go to the Lord and say, “Lord, you know, where am I doing well and need to continue? And where are there blind spots?” Because we all have them. We’re human beings. Where can I improve as a mom? But, if you’re constantly believing lies and hearing yourself kind of beat yourself up saying, “Well, you missed that again.” Or “I guess you let him play games too much and that’s why they’re not on this certain reading level.” Or “You know what? It, it’s because of you that he’s not potty training when everybody else is potty training.” Or whatever it is, we do really take that on. And if that’s what we’re doing, it’s constantly just, you know, degrading ourselves. That’s not good.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: We need to start flipping it around and thinking about, you know, where can we improve, but also, what are we doing right? Because I guarantee you, every single one of us, has at least one thing we’re doing right. Maybe it’s bringing laughter to the family. Maybe it’s that you’re, you’re great at keeping the house organized. Maybe, you know, I mean, that’s something that-

Jim: Keeping the trains running.

Ashley: Keeping it … right. I didn’t even think our boys noticed this-

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: and then they, they, they were staying somewhere else where it wasn’t as organized and they have since been like, “Mom, you do so much to keep our house organized. Thank you.” And that just meant the world to me, and I thought, well, I guess that isn’t a waste of time. I guess that does help our family kind of keep going.

Jim: Yeah, it’s effort that’s recognized.

Ashley: Exactly, so we all, we all have those things, but we do need to, to think of those things. And I would even say to spouses listening, especially husbands. Commend your wife on what she’s doing right. I, I can’t underestimate that. Like, it’s just, it means the world when you point out that we’re a good mom. Like, it-

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: it, it means the world in, in the same way, wives should do the same for their husbands.

Jim: It’s so true. That’s a good way to go. I, I want to put a little, uh, emphasis on moms and control.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And partly because I saw this firsthand with my wonderful wife, Jean.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, having two boys, that was one of the things that, as they became teenagers, it became a battle.

Ashley: Ooh.

Jim: You know, they’re trying to kind of expand their, uh, wings, and-

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: she’s trying to keep them kind of hemmed in a little bit.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And we would have, you know, discussions about that and, you know, it may be time we need to back up a little bit.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And to her credit, she really did let go in the proper way, not totally-

Ashley: So good.

Jim: but it changed everything.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It changed her relationship with our boys. It changed her relationship with me.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: I mean it and it – most importantly, it brought her more peace, more shalom.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And I could see it.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: So speak to that mom that is still in that battle, and what Jean would say is, “I just wish I would’ve understood that earlier.”

Ashley: Oh. I echo what she said because I, we always, you know, my husband and I always tease and say we are such different parents with our fourth as opposed to our first.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: Because we don’t let the little things bother us as much, and we do give a little more.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: You know, and with the first, I feel like I was so, just, you know, trying to keep a tight ship and, and feeling like I’m failing miserably. But I would say to the mom who’s, who feels, you know, just like things are, you know, they’re with those teenagers specifically, and maybe it’s not even a teen. This can happen earlier, especially if they’re a strong-willed child.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: And we had several of those.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: And they, they really just, you know, they, they have such a strong mind that really sees things a certain way, and, leadership qualities, ’cause it’s not all bad, I mean, people, you know, it’s hard raising strong-willed kids, but that can serve them well in life. But I think it’s really giving them choices when, when you can give them choices.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: really helps go a long way. I think, too, remembering to choose your battles. I mean, my goodness, how many times I’ve had to learn that the hard way. Like, is this really worth the fight? Because, if it, does this have to do with life altering things? Or is this just details? Because if it’s just details, it’s not going to alter their life, maybe it’s not worth us all losing sleep over it and having arguments. That’s really helped me with teenagers. You know-

Jim: Yeah, that’s true. I, I remember, I would say mountain or mole hill?

Ashley: Yes. I mean, true.

Jim: Or something like that just to help trigger a little different thinking in that regard.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: You actually, now I’m sorry to just put all of your, uh, mommy failures on display-

Ashley: I’ve had a lot of them.

Jim: But you wrote it in the book.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: But you talked about this potato chip-

Ashley: Oh goodness.

Jim: incident in your car. Give us that one. That was funny, in this control orientation.

Ashley: Oh, my goodness. Again, I didn’t set myself up, necessarily, so-

Jim: (laughs)

Ashley: a dear friend of mine, Lana, uh, she was visiting town and she was … we were wanting to do something fun with the kids. I think Dave was out of town on business. And I was like, well, let’s take all four kids, and at the time, I want to say my youngest was probably one year old, you know, I mean, he’s just a baby. And my oldest was maybe in early middle school. Just to give kind of a frame of reference. We’re all hopping in the minivan. I got my snacks together, including chips, okay. And I’m like, let’s go two hours to Stone Mountain, Georgia, which is this really cool, state, you know, park, where you get to see some really cool things, and there’s an amusement park. So we’re making our way there. I didn’t have enough gas. We had to stop. And, of course, as we go along, and we did not have one of those vans that has movies in it, okay? So, I’m also like, it’s going to be listening to music-

Jim: Entertainment-

Ashley: Right. And, um, as we go along, the kids were just getting more and more disgruntled, and we had to have a couple of stops there for bathroom and bottles and all this different kind of things. And it just progressively was getting worse and worse. And I remember, at one point, there was this bag of chips. Now I should’ve known. I should’ve just put it in little, like Ziploc bags.

Jim: Individually.

Ashley: Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Jim: (laughs)

Ashley: And I had this big bag of, like, Doritos. And they were all kind of shifting the chips around, but I had made this comment that, you know, you only got chips if you were behaving and, and meeting a certain criteria.

Jim: Chip reward.

Ashley: Chip reward, right? Which, you know, yes, tokens usually work. This didn’t necessarily work, so, there was one point where our third child, who I think was probably three at the time, really wanted these chips, but he hadn’t done whatever it was that I said the kids had to do. And, so our oldest, uh, Cooper, starts pulling at the chips and he’s like, “No, Chandler, you can’t have them. You weren’t, you weren’t doing what mom said, and mom said-”

Jim: What a good first born.

Ashley: Oh, totally.

Jim: Way to go first born.

Ashley: Oh, total first born. Yes. I know. I know. And he’s like, that’s not what you said, mom, you said, and I’m like-

Jim: (laughs)

Ashley: “You know what? We’re just trying to get here. We’re just trying to get here. You know, mom, mom did say that. He is a lot younger than you. We’re going to talk about this when we get home but give him the chips.” And he’s like, “But, no, mom. You said. And we are, we are holding to these rules, and you said.” And I was like, “Just give him the chips.” And he was like, “But mom. You are not holding tight.” And the whole time, my friend’s like looking at me like … And, literally, by the end, I’m like, “Give him the chips.” Like, and I think I was growling or something, like, they said it was crazy. But, anyway, I have lots of these. I call it the mom-ster. You get it, the mom-ster? Like monster, but a mom. That’s what it was.

Jim: A momster. Yeah.

Ashley: That’s what it was, but anyway, a mom-ster. But, um, I end up saying, “Give him the chips.” Like, loudly and very, like, with some angst on it. And, uh, he gives it over to them, and he’s like, oh my gosh, so we all kind of paused for a moment, and I think we finally got to the park in that moment. And all of a sudden, like we’re all looking around, and it, and they all said, like, I think one of them goes, “That was so funny. Mom said give him the chips.”

Jim: (laughing) Darth Vader.

Ashley: Like Darth Vader. And so, anyway, we ended up being able, again, to laugh about it. I apologized for losing my temper. But I also had a good lesson about, “But you know, Cooper, I’m glad that you wanted to keep the standard, but sometimes, you know, moms and dads have to adjust based on different scenarios and things.” And so it was a learning thing for all of us.

Jim: There you go. Teaching the first born a little flexibility.

Ashley: Oh goodness, yes.

Jim: Uh, relate to 1John 4:18, where it says, there’s no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: This should speak to a mom’s heart.

Ashley: It does. And I love this. I talk a lot about fear in the book because I do think a lot of our decisions as mothers or even the feelings of failure or even trying to control or having ex-excessive expectations, it comes back to this deep-seated fear that we’re missing it, that we’re not going to do right by our kids and that they’re going to eventually not lead the lives that they could’ve led because of us. And, and what I found kind of in, in just the research I did for this book and also my own journey as a mother is that we really can’t lead and can’t parent from a place of fear. And it goes back to this verse, how there’s no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, meaning that when we lead from a place of love, that fear dissipates, and that’s really leaning on the Lord because he, you know, when we trust in him, again, it goes back to trusting the Lord, knowing, he loves these kids even more than we do. And he sees the bigger picture. He’s not just seeing this one day where we feel like we’re missing it. He sees it all and that, when we can really, really lean into love and really cast fear aside, because fear is something where, it’s not always bad, necessarily-

Jim: Right.

Ashley: It can warn us against things and that’s, so that’s a good thing. But when we are constantly in that place of fear, we let fear kind of set up, you know, a home in our heart, so to speak. Then, there’s not room for that love. And so then, we’re not going to be as nice to our kids. We’re going to constantly be snapping at them because we’re afraid that, that we’re not teaching them right. They’re going to embarrass us, things are going to go, you know, wildly wrong down the road.

Jim: Yeah, and then, you know, of course that idea that, that fear actually is also leading to anxiety-

Ashley: Oh, for sure. I mean, there is, there is an epidemic of anxiety, especially among mothers.

Jim: Yup.

Ashley: I, I myself, that’s a big part of my testimony. And a lot of it, you know, that I experienced was in the parenting years of just this deep-seated anxieties of, of failing miserably.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And I think a lot of it comes from the weight we feel of being a mother, of knowing that this is a gift, that we don’t want to take it for granted. Um, and that’s a good thing. We do need to know, like, God gave us these kids. It’s a big role that we’re filling. But I think when we allow that to just rule in our hearts, where love is supposed to rule, then we’re missing it. We’re missing the joy that’s in it. And, you know, I’m reminded of this by Mary. I love Mary’s story in carrying Jesus. I mean, she is carrying the Savior of the world. I mean-

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: and we talk about having anxiety or having fear-

Jim: Right.

Ashley: of missing it.

Jim: Don’t mess it up.

Ashley: Yeah. I mean, don’t mess it up, Mary, you know, and then having to do a lot of, going through a lot of hardship in, in her journey. And I’m reminded of this because I think about, you know, after she delivered Jesus, you know, having no place to deliver him except around the animals. The first visitors, you know, are shepherds, people she doesn’t even know. And they’re probably stinky. I mean, I’m a person who’s very, like I have a strong sense of smell, and I think about the animal smells, and like the Shepherds and all the stuff. And here she’s trying to give birth and-

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: and it’s really not ideal. And I think about all the, the things that she could be anxious about. She could be worrying about the germs. She could be worrying about the future, whatever it is. You know, it not going perfectly because she’s carrying Jesus. But it says that, you know, Mary treasured up all these things. That she looked at all this. She treasured up all these things in her heart and she pondered them often. And she actually, in, in the Bible, she’s recorded of doing this twice. The second time she does this, is after they lost Jesus for three days and then find him among the scribes. And it says that she looked at her son learning. You know, probably her first glimpse of his ministry-

Jim: Right.

Ashley: of seeing him become the man. You know, the, the man he’s becoming, and it says she treasured up all these things in her heart and pondered them often. So two very stressful moments. And I just, I look at that as a mother, and I think we can really, really learn a lot from Mary because she must’ve understood God’s peace. She understood that, yes, there’s chaos in this life. Yes, there’s imperfections in this life. But really, when we surrender it all to God, when we trust that God is really still in control, and he has, you know, our, our best in his heart, like he wants good things for us, and he doesn’t waste our pain, that we can have this peace, that we know, we’re in good hands, and we can treasure it up. I love that term, treasure it up because that’s what we need to do. You know, even in our failures, when we can laugh about it, and we can look back and be like, “Man, that was, that was a really tense moment.” And treasure it up or the little, the little glimpses of our kids becoming the person, you know, that God has created them to be, just treasuring up those moments is so important.

John: We’re talking with Ashley Willis today on Focus on the Family, and we have her book Peace Pirates: Conquering the Beliefs and Behaviors that Steal Your Treasure in Motherhood. Details in the program notes or give us a call, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. Let’s continue the conversation with Ashley on Focus on the Family.

Jim: Ashley, one of the things, it, it must be the journey, the voyage of the Peace Pirates changes a little bit with age. So when you were the preschool mom, that had to be a little different from the teen mom. So describe that as a mom of preschoolers, what are some of those Peace Pirates? What do they look like?

Ashley: Oh my goodness, it is so different because you’re facing different trials and issues and, you know, as a, as a mom of toddlers, I think that a lot of the Peace Pirates come down to just being exhausted.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: I mean, you’re just exhausted. And this is where I do see mom-mommy martyrdom come in a lot because it just requires, they require so much of our time.

Jim: Right. And it just, it just takes all of that time.

Ashley: It does.

Jim: And then you just kind of wither into bed.

Ashley: You do, yes.

Jim: I just need some sleep.

Ashley: And you’re like, I don’t even know what day it is, and you’re walking around, and you have something nasty on your shoulder from feeding and you didn’t even know it. You know, you’re just kind of like, I’m just in the trenches.

Jim: Especially bad when you at the grocery store and that happens.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: What is that?

Ashley: I’ve had that happen.

Jim: Jean had that happen.

Ashley: Oh my goodness, too many times, and you have no idea and you’re like, did someone not see this? Could they just kindly tell me. And, you know, in the teenage years, it looks a little different. I think for me, personally, I really struggled with excessive expectations, like, just-

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: not, you know, especially with that first teen. Not knowing what is this supposed to look like, you know?

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: I, and every, every child is so different, but just really trying to get down to what are those, what are healthy expectations both for my child and for myself.

Jim: Yeah, and I think, I think some of those become even deeper issues with teens obviously-

Ashley: For sure.

Jim: … the culture’s pulling at them.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: And you’re trying to protect and do all the things, spyware, whatever it might be, right?

Ashley: Right.

Jim: Trying to be that perfect parent.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And, uh, it’s harder and harder, I think, to be that protective parent. We need to do it-

Ashley: Right.

Jim: but, um, you’re going to, inevitably, I think, you’re going to lose some of those battles and then it’s how do you repair the damage that’s done and love them and make sure they’re, they know that you love them, even though they may have failed, which is so critical.

Ashley: That, that absolutely is critical. You know, I think it was James Dobson who said, “Rules without relationship equal rebellion.” And that, that is something that I’ve held onto because I don’t want my kids to rebel against me and, and even more so, I want to have a good relationship with them. And so, I’ve had to remind myself of this, a lot, as a parent, and especially with teens, be there to lovingly guide them along this because we all make mistakes.

Jim: Yeah, it’s so true. You urge moms to follow the advice in Philippians 4:8. And, again, what’s good about this discussion, I think, is applying it, applying the Scripture-

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: to a, to a mom’s role.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: So how does, uh, how does 4:8 do that.

Ashley: Yes, I love that verse because it talks about what we should focus on. You know, we talked earlier about what we allow to kind of set up shop in our minds, so to speak, the lies we’re believing, the truths we’re believing. And so, in Philippians 4:8, just to remind all those listeners, it says to focus on what’s true, noble, right, pure, and lovely. And, you know, I, I equate this in the book to this being gold. It’s gold that is from God that can fill our heart and mind and also, pass it on to others. And I think the more that we allow, you know, allow God to remind us of these things, and, and fill our mind with these things that are worthy of praise with, with the good moments of motherhood, then we are more likely to really have that outpouring into our kids and into our spouse because we’re not just full of fear and we’re not just full of condemnation, you know, that we bring on ourself. And so we do need to look for those golden nuggets, you know, and I, that’s kind of what I call it and I know, again, it’s another Pirate reference-

Jim: Right.

Ashley: But there is so much gold, and I think, for me, if there’s something I’ve learned along the way is that I just, I need to remind myself constantly to look for it. And, you know, with teenagers, especially, there’s been a lot of times where it is, it can be really tense because you’re like, man, you know, in a year, you’re gonna be in college, or you’re gonna be in your own job, and I want to make sure you understand this thing. But I think that when you can focus on well, what is something they’ve been doing really right, like where do I see the gold with this kid. When you call it out, it’s so good for your mom heart, and for your dad heart, but it’s also really good for the kids-

Jim: Oh yeah.

Ashley: because I don’t know who said this, but I’ve he-held onto this for many years, but praised behavior is repeated behavior.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ashley: And, and that’s, I mean, that goes for adults too, but with children, especially, when we can point out those golden moments and say, man, like, with Connor, I shared this story earlier about him praising his friend and being excited for his friend getting an award, even though, he himself really didn’t get a true award, or at least that he was expecting. I, I commended him, I said, “You know what Connor? I said, this is a golden moment because you were such a nice friend, and you had joy enjoying the accolades of others.”

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And, and I just feel like that’s such, that just shows your character and that’s a wonderful, Godly trait.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And, uh, and he’s held on to that. And he continues to do that, and so, as parents, we do have to look for it. I mean, sometimes, we’re really wading through a lot, like, literally-

Jim: Oh yeah.

Ashley: wading through a lot of-

Jim: To find that gold nugget.

Ashley: Yes. Yes.

Jim: Yeah, no, I get it.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: I get it. You know, right at the end, I want to have you express a story that really caught my heart, um, it’s a heartbreaking story about a good friend of yours who lost her young daughter.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: After a two-year battle with cancer. W-what, you know, it sounds even awkward to say it this way, but w-what did that awful situation teach you?

Ashley: Man, um, I’ll share briefly the story, so she, my friend Katie Ann, her young daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer. They did everything that every parent would do, you know, getting the best medical help and many surgeries and, uh, by the time she was four years old, the doctors came to her, and they said, “I am so sorry, but we’ve done everything we can do, and this tumor keeps on growing.” And they said, “We can either try some other treatments that may actually debilitate her further, or you can go home and just love your daughter.”

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And, and just-

Jim: Wow, what a choice.

Ashley: enjoy the years. It, it’s a horrible choice for a parent to have to make. But Katie Ann and her husband, Billy, in that moment, they looked at each other, they prayed, they’re very strong Christian people. And they said, “We feel like we need to go home. You know, we’ve spent all this time at the hospital and at the Ronald McDonald House.” And, um, you know, where they house people who are-

Jim: Oh yeah.

Ashley: you know, their children are going through treatments.

Jim: Talk about chaos.

Ashley: And it is. I mean, complete and total chaos. Feeling completely out of control, and just your heart breaking every day. So they went home, and in that time of going home, Katie Ann and her husband felt this burden to prepare their daughter for Heaven. And, uh, it was just, it, it’s hard for me not to get choked up sharing this. And so, Katie Ann would often talk about Heaven and, and her daughter, Bennett, is her name, would ask her questions. And she’d say, “Well, mom, do you think there’ll be dogs in Heaven.” You know, “What are the angels like?” And, you know, she’d ask all these questions and Katie Ann would just graciously talk to her about it.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: To not … she didn’t want her to fear passing away.

Jim: Right. Yeah.

Ashley: And there was one day where Bennett was talking to her mom and she said, “Mom, do you think when I go to Heaven, that I could send you flowers from Heaven?”

Jim: Wow.

Ashley: And, and Katie Ann kind of paused for a moment, I’m sure holding back tears, and she said, “Absolutely. I be there’s going to be so many flowers in Heaven, flowers you’ve never even seen. And I would love for you to send me some.” And, uh, and she kind of filed that back to memory, really hard, sweet, hard and sweet moment all at the same time. Well, tragically, um, about two months after they took Bennett home, she did pass away peacefully. And Katie Ann did say she says peacefully, she talked about this on her CaringBridge account. And she so beautifully wrote that it didn’t makes sense. It’s that peace that goes beyond our understanding that the Word talks about.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: And she said, you know, they’re never going to be the same. You, you can never fill that void of losing a child, and she said, but it, it was just this unexplainable peace of knowing that she’s not in pain anymore. There are no surgeries. There’s no wires hooked to her anymore.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: She’s with Jesus. One day we’ll see her again. Well, about two months later, Katie Ann and her husband decided that they probably should move from the home where she passed away. It was just too heavy.

Jim: Yeah. Right.

Ashley: And so they were rolling up a rug and, uh, just preparing to move, and, as they rolled up this rug, in the very middle, like, of the middle of the rug would be, on the back of it, there was something stuck there. And they go to pick it up and it, it turned out it was a puzzle piece and Katie Ann said that was very weird because they hate puzzles, like nobody in their family likes puzzles. And she’s like, how could this end up in the middle of this rug when we don’t even like puzzles-

Jim: Huh.

Ashley: And her husband was like, “Yeah, that’s weird.” And she turned it over and she said when she turned over that puzzle piece, literally, she almost fell down. And she just got cold chills all over her body because on that puzzle piece was one single flower.

Jim: Ugh.

Ashley: And she said for her, it was what she referred to as like a God wink of just him saying, “I see you. Here’s your flower from Heaven.

Jim: Ugh.

Ashley: And, um, you know-

Jim: Wow.

Ashley: You can take that a lot of different ways, but for Katie Ann, she held on to that puzzle piece because she said, “How fitting that that flower was on a puzzle piece because when you’re in the midst of something like watching your child battle cancer and pass away, it’s a bunch of puzzle pieces that don’t fit. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not something we can ever understand this side of Heaven.” But we do know that, that when, when we trust God with the pieces of our life, the pieces that don’t make sense, that is actually where we find his peace.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And so I was just so challenged by my friend choosing to look for pe-, you know, to look for God’s peace, to look for little God winks in her life that could say, you know, from God, just kind of reminding her, “Hey, you can still have my peace even after this tragic loss. It, it just showed me, man, if she can find peace, I can find peace.

Jim: Well, and it’s so powerful. It’s what Jesus was saying, “Guess what everybody. It’s not about this life.”

Ashley: Exactly.

Jim: “It’s about what’s going to come.”

Ashley: It is.

Jim: And, uh, I think we struggle, being human-

Ashley: Yes, we do.

Jim: understanding that, but, uh-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: you know, that’s what the Lord is here to unfold for us.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: There’s something bigger, something better. And what a beautiful story. What a way to end this.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I think, Ashley, you have hit it out of the park, man-

Ashley: Oh, you’re sweet.

Jim: you just, it’s so wonderful and what you’ve experienced in your walk with the Lord is just so illustrative and helpful to all of us as parents. Thank you for this great book, Peace Pirates. Uh, don’t let the pirates steal your peace, basically.

Ashley: That’s right.

Jim: And, uh, I think everybody should want a copy of this, and it, we couldn’t even cover all the content in here. And I hope you’ll get in touch with us and get a copy of, of this book. If you can make a gift to Focus for any amount, we’ll send it to you. If you can’t afford it, we’re going to trust others will cover that. So just call us, and we’ll get this into your hands. Um, it is one of those resources I think every parent, every mom should have.

John: And, as you can, uh, make a monthly pledge to Focus on the Family. We’ll send this book to you. We have a website full of great resources for you. And, uh, if you’re facing something really, uh, that we haven’t covered today, but you need some help with, give us a call. Uh, we’re just a phone call away. Our number’s 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Uh, details about the book, how you can donate, and other help is, uh, all captured for you right at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. One of those tools that we have is a free parenting assessment. It is a great little investment of your time. It’ll take five or six minutes and, uh, you’ll get results that show kind of what your strengths are as a mom or a dad and maybe an area or two needing some attention. And we’ll follow up with additional encouragement for you in that, uh, look for that parenting assessment on our website.

Jim: Ashley, again, thank you so much for being with us.

Ashley: Thank you all so much. It’s truly my pleasure to be here.

John: Next time, Dan Seaborn offers a very transparent message on how to be a husband who nurtures his wife.

Preview:

Dan Seaborn: But I want you to know, I am just like you. I struggle just like you. That’s what I want you to see.

End of Preview

Today's Guests

Peace Pirates Book Cover

Peace Pirates: Conquering the Beliefs and Behaviors That Steal Your Treasure in Motherhood

Receive the book Peace Pirates and the audio download of the broadcast "Rediscovering Your Joy in Motherhood" for your donation of any amount! Plus, receive member-exclusive benefits when you make a recurring gift today. Your monthly support helps families thrive.

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Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

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Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

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Dr. Kevin Leman

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Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you!