Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Seeking Adventure in the Midst of Motherhood

Seeking Adventure in the Midst of Motherhood

Popular blogger Sarah Mae offers encouragement to moms in a discussion based on her book Longing for Paris: One Woman's Search for Joy, Beauty and Adventure – Right Where She Is. Focus on the Family broadcast producer Eva Daniel joins the conversation.

Original Air Date: May 31, 2016



Sarah Mae:It doesn’t matter if I was in a café in Paris having the best croissant, you make it what it is. You know, you learn to enjoy what it is. You can savor right where you are.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Well, there are simple gifts in life that so often we pass by and that’s Sarah Mae and you’ll hear more from her today about finding more joy and beauty and adventure in the mundane moments of motherhood. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, making that transition to being a mom, it is really had. You and I don’t know it, but we saw it through our wives’ eyes and feelings and emotions. And you can so easily lose your identity in the midst of all that (Chuckling) dirty laundry and whining kids and endless demands. And you know, regardless if you’re just transition to being a new mom or if you’ve been a mom for a long, long time, here at Focus on the Family, we want to encourage you. That’s why we do programs like this and you’re gonna hear some good things from our guest today.

John, in fact, I was out. You had the chance to sit down with Sarah Mae, our guest and one of our own producers, Eva Daniel. And you talked about motherhood and how to find contentment–even excitement, that’s hard to believe–but even excitement in the everyday moments as a mom.

John: Well, we did have a great conversation and Sarah Mae is a very popular speaker and blogger and author. And her latest book is called Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty and Adventure Right Where She Is. And where Sarah Mae is, is living in Pennsylvania with her husband, Jesse and three children. And Eva is a producer for our “Focus on the Family” radio program and she and Jacob have two boys.


John: Blogs are a two-way vehicle for conversation. What are you hearing back as some of the more common struggles from your readers?

Sarah: Yeah, a lot of women are really struggling with navigating the tension between their dreams and their reality. So, there [are] a lot of messages out there that are like, follow your dreams! Follow your dreams! Go for it! And it can be a very confusing message for women, particularly with small children who are saying, “Well, how do I follow my dreams and yet, my reality is changing diapers and—

John: Yeah, my—

Sarah: –feeding my kids–

John: –my dream is to—

Sarah: –like, I can’t–

John: –get around all the obstacles just physically in my way here.

Sarah: –yeah, like I can’t just leave my kids and go follow a dream and so, there’s a lot in that.

John: And you can relate to that a little bit personally, can’t you—

Sarah: Uh-hm.

John: –because a couple of years ago, that was you.

Sarah: Yeah, it really was. I was hearing a lot of those messages and my personality, I’m a go-getter. I like to do things. I have ideas. I get excited about projects. I really love to encourage women and so, there’s always something that I want to do or could be doing. And I started to actually get a little bit resentful—

John: Towards?

Sarah: –towards the people who were saying, “Follow your dream,” because I felt like there was no context to it and that really bothered me. I felt like it was just a blanket statement of like, “Go! Do! Go for it,” instead of you know, it just made me feel frustrated, because I thought well, how do I do that? I’m not gonna neglect my kids. I actually loved being a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom. I mean, and that’s a choice I made. It’s not like I have to do it, but I chose to do it and I love doing it.

And so, for me, it was this really weird wrestling of like, I would daydream about having two parallel lives. So, in one life, I’m doing the life I’m doing now and in this other life, I get to go off to Paris and I get to write all day and I get to meet interesting people and stay up late and have great conversations and you know, Hemingway is in my other life. (Laughing) This is a fantasy life here.

Eva: I think I really identify with what you’re saying with these, okay, this is my reality and I don’t necessarily have a place, but I feel like there’s this part of me that when I was single, before I was even married or had kids, I had a lot of adventures. I was going all over the country for internships and I went to Europe with friends and I was doing all of these different things. And then, even as I was, you know, we got newly married, I had some of those adventures. And then yeah, you have kids and suddenly, it’s like, okay, well, that’s not the reality. We’re not going to Europe. We’re not—

Sarah: Yeah.

Eva Daniel: –taking this epic road trip. We’re not, you know, moving across the country for a job. And I think I’m probably more at the beginning spot of where you were two years ago, where I’m still kind of in that wrestling with trying to figure out, okay, what does this look like? I know this is a season, but …

Sarah: Uh-hm and you know, how can we enjoy our lives truly and fully right where we are?

Eva: Uh-hm.

Sarah: I mean, that was the question for me. I thought, “Lord, You know these longings that are in my soul. You know that I want to be content. I want to be faithful where I am, but help me (Laughing)—

Eva: Yeah, help me.

Sarah: –you know, it’s almost my prayer, like, “Lord, help me to now feel resentful or frustrated.”

Eva: And not bogged down in the mundane, the laundry that never ends, the—

Sarah: Yeah, right.

Eva: –[work] that never ends, you know, and just really see the joy in it.

Sarah: Uh-hm.

John: Now this is the kind of contentment that all of us have to kinda contend with in—

Sarah: Yeah.

John: –in life, our present circumstances, where God has us.

Sarah: Uh-hm, that’s right.

John: And for you, Sarah, there was that realization that, okay, I have this symbolic life in Paris, but maybe I can do something with that. You asked some pretty hard questions of God in that initial stage of the journey. What—

Sarah: Yeah.

John: –were some of those questions?

Sarah: Yeah, well, so if I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t just resentful of the message, I found myself sort of questioning the role of a woman. I felt like, “Lord, you know, do You even care about women? Like are we just supposed to be, you know, wives and mothers?” And when I say “just,” I think that, that is such a good beautiful thing. I mean, that’s what I do.

John: But what messages were you getting that—

Sarah: I was—

John: –made you raise that question?

Sarah: –I think that it was particularly, I was seeing a lot of men, I felt like they could follow their dreams as the breadwinner. And I just had a really warped thing going on in my mind. But I would see that and they’re the ones who are putting out, like, you know, follow your dreams. Do it. Go for it. Look what I’m doing. And I was like, that’s fine for you, but you know, your wife is the one staying home with your kids, like I’m staying home with my kids. I’m stepping on toes all over the place, I’m sure right now and that’s why the book is a full book, ’cause it unpacks all of this more than I can unpack in this show.

But I just started to really wrestle and as I was reading through Scripture, I began to look at women and I was particularly drawn to the story of Michal, which is David’s first wife and I’m just watching sort of her life play out and she has no choice in anything, you know. She loves this man, David and then he gets taken and she’s like this pawn between her father and her husband.

And then he goes off and gets some more wives on the run and then she has to marry another man. She actually had two husbands, which is fascinating. I didn’t even know that women, you know, had more than one husband in the Scripture, but she did.

And then she got taken away from him, ’cause David wanted her back. This is a whole thing right? And at the end of her story it just says, “And Michal had no children,” you know, that was it for her. And that wasn’t—

John: That wasn’t a real happy ending.

Sarah: –it wasn’t a happy ending and it’s because by the end, she resented David. I mean, she like hated him and there’s a whole ton (Laughing) of story in that. But I looked at her and I thought, well, I can understand. I mean, I would be upset, too.

And so, I was praying and I just felt, “Lord, I feel for her. I feel, you know, I would feel sad if I had to live in that time. I mean, did You care about Michal?” And that led to questions like, you know, I look at the women all over the world and how they’re treated and “Do You care about women, Lord?”

And essentially, at the root what I was asking was, “Lord, do You even care about me? Am I somebody more than just a gender? Like how do You see me? Do You care about my dreams? Do You care about me more than just as a wife and a mom?”

John: And what did God say?

Sarah: I really learned through this whole process of searching, praying, talking with others, that yes, God cares about me and He cares about my dreams. That was really significant. When I say that to women, God cares about your dreams, it’s sort of, you’d be surprised at how many of them take a step back and they’re like, “Oh! He does.” Yeah, He really, really does, because He cares about you, so of course, He cares about your dreams and your hopes and your longings and everything.

And I came to this realization at the communion table, interestingly enough. I’d been wrestling, wrestling, wrestling with all these things. And then I’m in church on Sunday and it was communion Sunday and I’m taking the communion and I realize, oh, like God doesn’t die for somebody He doesn’t care about.

John: Hm.

Sarah: He died for me because He loves me and all women and He probably, I think, loved Michael and He loves all these women all around the world and He wants them to know Him and to have hope and to be free.

John: Oh, I appreciate that and Eva, you just said a few minutes ago, you’re probably at the beginning of a journey, you hope, like Sara, where you really lean into God. What’s your reaction as she’s sharing some of this struggle she had with God?

Eva: I feel that sometimes it’s hard to feel that God speaks to you in the midst of the busyness. Like it’s hard to get to that point where you’re having that time for that reflection, for having those revelations even during communion. Like it feels sometimes like the relationship with God almost feels a little elusive once you’re in the midst of motherhood, because when you’re single, you have time for the Word or when you’re newly married, we had time.

Sarah: You could go deep, right? (Laughing)

Eva: You know, you could actually get up before your kids, but nowadays, you know, somebody’s waking up at 5 and somebody’s up all night and it feels a lot harder to get kind of to that in-tune where like God is speaking to you and you’re finding your value in what He says and at least for me, not getting persuaded by social media or all the cultural perceptions–

Sarah: Uh-hm, all the places.

Eva: –like actually getting to the point where I can hear the voice of God. It feels a lot more distant now and sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to get back there.

Sarah: You know, I have found that the times that I most hear from the Lord are one, He’s simple about it, but I think when we’re really just raw and vulnerable and at the end of ourselves and just, you know, on the floor and you can’t go anywhere else, God just speaks to us in those really vulnerable painful moments, because there’s nowhere else we can go. There’s nothing else we can do and no one’s gonna put life into us but the Holy Spirit speaking to us.

And so, in that moment of darkness and questioning and wrestling, the Holy Spirit just spoke to me in that particular communion service. I mean, why? I don’t know, because the Holy Spirit is alive and active and He speaks to our spirits.

And it was just this, you know, it’s not profound when you say it, but it’s profound when you experience it. And so, me saying, you know, I realized at the communion table, that God doesn’t die for, you know, somebody He doesn’t love. He doesn’t die for a hired hand’ Job calls himself a hired hand. “God, why did You even make me? I’m just a hired hand to You.” No, God died for those that He loves.

John: Yeah.

Sarah: Somebody out there could hear that and it’s not registering until they experience it. And when it hits you in that raw vulnerable moment, it means everything.

John: And it wasn’t an instantaneous kind of thing. You struggled for quite a while with that—

Sarah: I mean, yeah.

John: –over this.

Sarah: Uh-hm, that’s right.

John: And that should give some hope to our listeners and Eva, to you, that this is a process. This is a journey.

Sarah: Yes.

John: And all of us, I mean, we walk with God and learn Him and understand Him more—

Sarah: Yes.

John: –as the days go by. This is “Focus on the Family” and our guests are Sarah Mae and we have our own producer, Eva Daniel with us, as well and you can find Sarah’s book, Longing for Paris at And while you’re there, I hope you’ll get the CD or the download of this conversation and maybe pass it on to that friend that you sense is just kind of slipping under the weight of everyday moments.

Sarah: Yeah.

John: As you’ve gone through this process Sarah, earlier you had mentioned Paris and it becomes a symbol, the title of the book, Longing for Paris, a symbol for something that it out there, but you tried to bring it in here, into your home and heart.

Sarah: Yes.

John: How did that work out and what were some of the first steps of doing so?

Sarah: Yeah, that’s really a great question. So, first of all, the book isn’t actually about Paris. It’s for whatever you long for, so fill in the blank there. But for me, there was two parts of this whole Paris symbol like you’re saying. And one was bringing it into my home. How can I bring Paris into my life right where I am in my small little town of Lititz, Pennsylvania.

John: Because it’s a dream and God—

Sarah: Right.

John: –cares about your dreams.

Sarah: And He cares about my dreams and He wants us to delight. That’s the thing. He doesn’t want us to walk around miserable. We’re gonna have a hard life and suffering, but He wants us to delight in Him and His gifts.

So, I thought, well, I want to delight. How can I bring Paris where I am? So, I started to get creative and just little things, like one of the really fun things I did is, I said, “Okay, kids we’re gonna go on an adventure. We’re gonna find the best croissant in Lititz, Pennsylvania, because this is a small town, I …

John: The best Parisian pastry in Pennsylvania.

Sarah: Right and so, we would go and it’s not like we could do this every day, right? ‘Cause I’m not rich, but every, you know, throughout the summer, we would hit different coffee shops or different places in Lititz and the most fun part was I’d, you know, gather my kids around with our croissant and I’d say, “Okay, take a bite; close your eyes (Laughing) and just enjoy it. How is it?” You know, “How does it taste?” And I mean, I kind of was a little overboard, but you know, this is where I was at–

John: And I’m guessing—

Sarah: –like we are gonna enjoy this.

John: –I’m guessing your son had already finished by the time—

Sarah: Yeah, totally–

John: –you opened your eyes again.

Sarah: –I’m sure; I’m sure. But they actually got a real kick out of it. I mean, they all did it and it was really fun and we found the best croissant in Lititz, Pennsylvania and it was at Dosie Dough, which is a delightful little place. And so, that was just one thing we did throughout an entire summer, where I thought, this is taking us out of our ordinary. We’re gonna enjoy a treat together and we’re gonna make it, you know, sort of a fun thing of, you know, “the best one,” you know, ’cause croissants are the best Parisian thing, right—

John: Yes.

Sarah: –croissants. So, that was a really great thing. I also had to learn to flip my idea of what adventure was. I really pictured adventure as like, you know, you’re gonna go climb Mount Everest or go to—

John: It’s something—

Sarah: –a jungle.

John: –really exotic, yeah.

Sarah: Yeah, really exotic and big and adventures can just be small things that you do that are just out of the ordinary. One of my … the women who works with me and helped with my book at Tyndale, she said, her mom, this was so inspiring to me, her mom just one night came into her room–this was when she was a teenager—and it was late at night and she said, “Come on; I’m in the mood for a cheeseburger. Let’s go out to Burger King.”

And she said, her mom never did that kind of thing, so she got up. They went in the car. They drove around, windows down, listening to music, singing, you know, got this fast food burger or whatever. But she said, that stands out in my memory. She’s an adult now and [says], “It’s just such a really fun little adventure that my mom did, something out of the ordinary.” And she goes, “And I’ll never forget it. I remember just watching her as we sang and the windows were down.” And that meant something.

And so, for all the moms out there who feel like, you have to do all this work to plan something big, you know, ’cause we’re all tired and oh, my gosh, you know, we don’t want to do all that or we’re just exhausted for trying to make memories, just pick a small thing out of the ordinary and that can be an adventure.

John: Back to the book, Longing for Paris, you tried to bring some Paris food into your (Laughter) life–

Sarah: Yes.

John: –in Pennsylvania. You tried to bring some Paris romance, as well. How was your husband, Jesse, a part of that process?

Sarah: You know, he thought this was really fun. I have to tell you. He first of all, you know, he wrote a little afterword in the book, because he saw that through this—this was about a two-year process for me; this book is a two-year journey of me figuring these things out—and what happened was, he saw that I began to come alive again. And so, that was exciting for him.

So, the romance stuff was really great, because, you know, he just thought it was really fun and really cool. But particularly I had to learn that romance also isn’t sort of this movie romance of like, you know, he’s getting me flowers and we’re going out on all these dates and we’re doing all these magical things.

John: Yeah, you’ve got three children in the home and that’s—

Sarah: Yeah, like—

John: –not possible.

Sarah: –like romance for me, you know, could be and this sounds so confusing, but it’s true, could be, you know, and one of the things I write about is, you know, some French music. I don’t know, we must have put it on; we must have put on this French music and we were dancing in our living room. And our kids are, you know, around our legs trying to break in.

But it was just this moment of like, you know what? This is our life and these are our three kids and we’re in our living room. But if we just close our eyes, I mean, the kiss is the same, whether you’re in your living room or whether you’re in Paris, right. It’s about the connection. It’s about the person that you’re with.

And that’s the other thing I realized.It doesn’t matter if I was in a café in Paris having the best croissant or if I was with my children having the best croissant. You make it what it is. You know, you learn to enjoy what it is. You can savor right where you are, you know. I don’t know, that was helpful to me.

John: No, that’s good; that’s good and I appreciate again, the way that you’ve framed this in terms of the longings of your heart represented by Paris. You haven’t even been to Paris personally.

Sarah: I’ve never been to Paris.

John: But you’ve tried to bring elements of Paris into your home and life and experience God in rich new ways through that.

Sarah: Yeah.

John: So, let’s broaden this out. Again talk to the listener who’s saying, I like it. I’m so glad it worked for you. I’m dealing with, you know, with throw up and—

Sarah: Yeah.

John: –doctors’ appointments and kids who are goin’ off the rails—

Sarah: Yeah.

John: –and a lack of sleep and a husband who’s working really hard and I never talk to him.

Sarah: Yeah.

John: I can’t do that.

Sarah: Yeah.

John: It may be impossible for me to do that right now.

Sarah: Yeah and it might be.

John: And they’re resenting you for saying I should do this.

Sarah: I mean, I totally, first of all, would understand that, but I will say that again, there are seasons. And so, what you’re in right now is not forever. And God does care and it’s so important that one, we give ourselves over to the work that He’s given us. So, if you have the diapers and the throw up and all of that, I want you to know that it is a good work given to you by God before time. It is listed in Timothy as a good work. Raising children is a good work.

So, if you’re doing that and you’re in it, you are being faithful to the story that God is writing for you right now. And because He cares about you and He cares about your dreams, you know, He doesn’t let hope die for us. He’s going to show you ways to bring life to your soul. It might be harder now. It might not happen until another season of your life, but He’s with you in it, so you have to trust that He is with you.

I mean, honestly for me, believing the truth that God is with me through everything I’m going through, watching my husband. You know, another thing, it’s not just for the woman at home with the diapers. My husband, all of his dreams fell apart as an adult. He was born partially deaf. He had done everything in his life to become a police officer. And then he found out that he couldn’t because he had hearing aids and they wouldn’t let him. So, in college, right when he graduated, his dreams all fell apart. What do you do then?

So, a lot of you listening, your dreams are broken. Life’s hard, you know, all of these things, but when you know that God is in it and He is with you, you’re not alone. You’re gonna make it. He wants to bless you and give you good things, but life is just kinda hard.

John: Well, journeys really never end and just because you wrote a book doesn’t mean you’ve arrived (Laughter) at the destination–

Sarah: I’ve got it all together–

John: –Sarah.

Sarah: –you know.

John: What’s it like today? I mean, are you still havin’ the celebrations now that you’ve nailed the croissants? Are you lookin’ for something else? How’s that workin’?

Sarah: Uh-hm, you know, I have so come out of this, because I mean, the Lord just showed up in so many ways for me, really just having to do with being faithful and trusting Him. But I am not so much longing for Paris. In fact, and well, this is just being true; this is true. I love my life more than any other time in my whole life right now. Truly I do.

I have just given myself over to this work of raising my kids and that doesn’t mean we don’t have crazy times. The conflict drives me up a wall. But I love where I’m at, because I’m just with my kids, doing my work. I’m not trying to do too much. I feel like I’m in this period of sacred rest, where I’m saying no to a whole bunch of things in order to just be with my people and grow with them right now.

John: And along the way here as we’ve talked, it’s been pretty clear to me that Paris is not the end all. It’s really not—

Sarah: It’s not.

John: –the goal. It’s representative of something far deeper and that’s where you’re at right now.

Sarah: Yes and it’s really true. One of the things that the Lord showed me through this journey was that I sort of had this idea that my longings, some of them would get fulfilled here on this earth. Like if I could just go to Paris and experience all these things, I would be filled up in some way.

Or if I went to Tuscany, I saw a whole bunch of bloggers got to go to this Tuscany trip and I mean, I literally cried when I was watching all their Instagram pictures—

Eva: Out of jealousy? (Chuckling)

Sarah: –out of just sadness, ’cause I wanted it so bad. And I could go to Tuscany. I could go to Paris and it wouldn’t do it. It’d be fun. It’d be a good memory, whatever, but I realized that none of my longings, none of any of our longings are gonna truly be filled on this earth. We are just getting a taste of what’s next. We are getting a taste of the banquet table of heaven.

I really believe that the longings we have in our heart are a magnet that draw[s] us to heaven, that draw[s] to more. Because just think; if we love all of the things here, I mean, if we love the good taste. You know, I had a sinus infection when I was writing this book and I lost all sense of taste. I couldn’t taste anything for days.

And it occurred to me, God could’ve just given us food that didn’t have any taste to it if He just wanted to nourish our body. Why does food have taste? To give us delight. This is the God that we serve. This is the God that we’re gonna spend eternity with if we know Him. It is delightful; it is good. There are tastes and colors. The world could be grey. It’s not. It’s colorful.

And that made me have so much more of an excitement for heaven, for what is next. It’s gonna be so much better, so much more delightful. The foods are gonna be magnificent. Paris has nothing on heaven.


John: What a great perspective on the eternal things and the simple gifts that God gives right now today as we bring this conversation to a close that we’ve had Sarah Mae and “Focus” producer, Eva Daniel on the program today.

Jim: You know, I love the message behind what Sarah said throughout the program and that really is, find conten

Today's Guests

Longing for Paris

Receive Sarah Mae's book Longing for Paris for your donation of any amount!

Recent Episodes

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Home Schooling: Giving Your Child a Strong Foundation

Home schooling is one of the fastest growing forms of education in the United States and a lot of families are interested … but intimidated as well! Monica Swanson describes how she was reluctant at first, but soon reveled in the many benefits of home schooling. Things like prepping them for life in the real world, shaping the character of her sons, and providing them with a solid Christian worldview.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Practical Ways to Celebrate Your Marriage

Jay and Laura Laffoon laugh their way through a conversation on practical ways to celebrate your marriage. This couple of over thirty-nine years talks about how to enjoy your spouse by improving your day-to-day habits and attitudes. Work, parenting, and the realities of life can keep couples from taking the time to invest in each other, so Jay and Laura advise couples about how to be intentional and connect more deeply.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Moms and Anger: Understanding Your Triggers (Part 2 of 2)

Amber Lia and Wendy Speake discuss common external and internal triggers that can make mothers angry. They share their journeys overcoming their own triggers, like when their children disobey and complain, and when they have to deal with exhaustion. Our guests offer encouragement to moms and explain how they can prepare to handle their triggers in a healthier way. (Part 2 of 2)

You May Also Like

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Avoiding Shame-Based Parenting

Psychologist Dr. Kelly Flanagan discusses the origins of shame, the search for self-worth in all the wrong places, and the importance of extending grace to ourselves. He also explains how parents can help their kids find their own sense of self-worth, belonging and purpose.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Becoming a Clutter-Free Family

Joshua Becker discusses the benefits a family can experience if they reduce the amount of “stuff” they have and simplify their lives. He addresses parents in particular, explaining how they can set healthy boundaries on how much stuff their kids have, and establish new habits regarding the possession of toys, clothes, artwork, gifts and more.