Home Sweet Home: The Center of Evangelism
About the Guest
Does motherhood leave you little time for ministry? If that's what you've thought, you might want to reconsider. On today's broadcast, Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald, co-authors of the book Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, tell Dennis Rainey how a woman's home can be her greatest outreach for the gospel, especially when she's training her children or reaching out to friends or neighbors.
Does motherhood leave you little time for ministry?
Bob: When you think about a stay-at-home mom, what image pops into your head? Here is Jennie Chancey.
Jennie: The two major ones in today's culture are the stereotypes of, "Oh, yeah, you stay-at-home moms, you all want to be June Cleaver," or you're saying I have to wear the dress and the pearls and the high heels and look perfect all the time and never have a messy house, and I just can't have that.
And then the other one is behind-closed-doors housewives are actually adulteresses, and they hate their families, and they would like nothing better than to escape.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 13th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to move past the stereotypes today and see if we can take a look at what real, genuine, stay-at-home motherhood looks like. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We're going to talk about stay-at-home moms today and, you know, I've been sitting here thinking this is something we've been talking about for a number of years now, and I'm just wondering – do you think that over the last decade and a half the cultural devaluation of motherhood and stay-at-home moms, do you think things have gotten better, or do you think they've gotten worse?
Dennis: Well, on one hand, I want to say it's gotten worse, because it doesn't seem like the culture really champions the role of a mother today. But, on the other hand, there is more than just a sprinkling, there is a steady stream of women who are standing up and proclaiming, "You know what? I am going to stand for Christ and my family," and they're balancing their priorities. They seem to be making some decisions that come in line with Scripture.
Bob: Do you think that they are looking at the promises of feminism and saying it doesn't live up to what we've been sold over the last 30, 40, 50 years?
Dennis: No doubt. I mean, the freedom that feminists have sold our nation and a generation of young ladies is that you can define yourself in the marketplace and, you know, any definition or any address other than a spiritual address of the Scripture is the wrong place to write down as your address, and I'm grateful we have both of you ladies here in the studio with us.
And, Bob, as I think about introducing them, I don't think there's ever been this number of children ever represented in this study at one time. You and I together have 11.
Dennis: Okay, and our guests, one of whom is expecting her ninth together have 19. So that could be a total of 30.
Bob: That even beats your grandchildren total.
Dennis: We're on a roll with grandchildren. We're expecting our 13th in 2008.
Stacy: Oh, praise God.
Dennis: Yes, we're just getting started.
Stacy: We're expecting our first grandchild.
Dennis: Let me tell you, it comes fast, and I – God bless you if you can remember the birth dates and all the names, because I was writing a card the other day, and I'm going, "What was the name of that last one?"
Well, I do want to welcome our guests, Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald to the broadcast. Jennie, Stacy, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Jennie: Thanks for having us.
Stacy: Thank you, we've very happy to be here.
Dennis: As I mentioned, Jennie is the mom of eight, soon to be nine, and Stacy has 10. She's a pastor's wife, and together they have authored a book called not "Desperate Housewives," but "Passionate Housewives Desperate for God" -- aA little different twist on that.
You really believe today, though, that we need to present a different blueprint to women and their roles in culture and family today. How so, Jennie?
Jennie: Well, I think a lot of the emphasis in our culture today is on individualism, and it's at the sacrifice of the family and the community, and people are lonely. We live in a neighborhood that has a lot of young families, but you'd never know it because you don't see the children out very often. People come home at night, their garage doors goes down, and the blue glow goes on in the living room and the bedrooms, and you know that they're not gathered around the table talking.
And I walk around the neighborhood with my children, I'm often stopped by people who will say, "Are these all your children?" and "How do you do this?" and "They all seem so happy, and we seem them playing out in the yard, and you're out in the back talking to them, and it just looks like you really have a neat family."
Most people, that's just something they've never seen before or haven't seen since their grandparents' generation, and they don't know how to make it happen, and I think that they are searching for the answers that don't change with the generations. They want to know, "Is there a bedrock? Is there something I can build a family on that goes beyond me and my personal preferences?" Because personal preferences have led to a generation of divorce and children in day care that don't see their parents and who are pair dependent.
Dennis: You know, this is a culture that doesn't value children. In fact, there are some, Bob, and you know we'll even get a few letters about this – going, 30 children, three-oh, between the four of you? Get a life. Read a book about birth control, you know? They don't have a biblical perspective of children whatsoever.
Dennis: We need to recover the value of the next generation, don't we?
Jennie: Amen, yes.
Stacy: And, you know, it's a wonderful opportunity for evangelism, as well, because people don't see large families especially large families interacting and getting along. It's a tool that we can use to open up the Gospel and even our children can be a testimony in that.
Bob: Let me ask you, Stacy, where does Mom fit into all of this? Because you're writing to wives and to moms, and part of what you're suggesting here is that the role that a woman plays in the household is significant in how all of this comes together, and in what we do present to the culture. What do you see moms and wives doing today that you think they need to correct?
Stacy: Well, the number one thing would be that we need to remember what our role is. We need to remember that we are helpmates to our husbands, and we are there to support him in whatever he's called to do. And so as we do that, what does that look like in the home? Well, obviously, it's going to be training up our children together for God's glory and, of course, both of us home school, so we see that as a large part of that. We're training them all during the day, but it's more than just home schooling, because that's why I don't really care for the term, "stay-at-home mom," because we do so much more than just raise our children. We need to be hard workers in the home, and each family is going to look different, each mom is going to look different.
My husband is a pastor, so I'm going to be supporting him in his ministry to our church and to our community, but every woman can help minister in various ways in the community as well.
Stacy: Mm-hm, I'd also say that a lot of women have filled their lives with so much busy-ness surrounding their children. You've got the soccer mom profile, where she's literally in the car five days a week, and she's going from this event to that event and, at the end of the day, everybody comes home exhausted, "I just can't believe I have to get dinner on the table now," so it's almost no different than if I worked outside the home all day in a career only instead of being in an office, I'm in the van.
And I think a lot of what moms need to do is just rethink their priorities – "What am I doing? What am I investing my time in? Is it in being a chauffeur? Is it in being an activities coordinator for the local support group? Or do I need to pull back and really focus on being home?"
Jennie: And sometimes being in too many activities in church as well – too many programs and volunteering for too many things. This may not be the season. Your first ministry is your family.
Bob: This is the pastor's wife who is talking about this, right?
Bob: I just wanted to clarify that, and you're telling me, as a mother of eight, soon to be nine, and you're home schooling your kids, that the woman who is chauffeuring them to the soccer practice comes home exhausted – I mean, come on, if you're not chauffeuring them – you've got to be exhausted most days, aren't you?
Jennie: Well, it is a lot of work, and I tell people it's a 24/7-365 job. It's something I'm doing all day long, but that's what the Scripture says, its say "Walk with your children, get up with them in the morning, walk with them by the way, speak with them in your sitting, speak with them at night when you lay them down to bed." But how can I have the time to do that if I'm rushing from here and there and dropping this kid off at that practice and this kid at the other?
I know there are a lot of moms out there who really feel the activities are important. We've got to get our kids socialized, they need to know that there are other people in the world. But I want to really issue the challenge to throw open your front door and bring the people into your house.
Stacy: Practice hospitality.
Jennie: Right, that's bringing us back to this whole notion of community. Are we in communion with those who live right around us? Are we showing them a model of FamilyLife that says, "We don't just exist as little disconnected atoms inside this box, and we kind of get shaken up and thrown out every now and again like dice, or like my husband says, "You get popped out of the toaster every morning, you go out, and in the evening you come back in."
We want to make home a really vibrant locus of ministry as a family, where we say, "Would you like to come over for a meal?" and sometimes you're asking the same people 10, 11, 12 times, because they've never had the concept of going and being in someone's home and interacting with their whole family, and it's a little intimidating.
Or they may think, "Oh, dear, if we say yes, then they might want to come over to our house and, oh, I'd have to feed that whole army of children."
So we try to make it really …
Dennis: There's no doubt about it that. I mean, we never got asked that, and we only had six kids.
Dennis: I think I can count on one hand the number of times another family asked us to go out to eat with them, I mean, because, you know, it's, like, get your credit card out and get ready to float a small loan.
Bob: Or do it in the home, and where are you going to put everybody, I mean, where are they going to set their plate, right?
Dennis: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It's like an invasion, you know, it really is, but it's a lot of fun, and we enjoyed our big family and have no regrets. How many of your children are teenagers right now? Because as you make this statement about not being a soccer mom, there are moms listening right now going, "Oh, yeah, well how old are your kids right now?"
Jennie: My oldest is 10 and a half, so I don't have any teenagers yet. I have stairsteps in my house, and they do all love to play sports together. I've got three older boys who love to go and throw a ball in the back yard and climb trees and build forts, and they are very active, and we try to go to the park at least once a week, so they can really run off the energy in the nature trail. That's our nature walk. We get out and push the babies in the stroller, and they're going, "Oh, Mom, look, I found this kind of tree, and it has this kind of acorn," and they're really busy and interested in what's going on in the world, but we don't want to turn our home inside out to where that's all we do is get out, and we don't have any home life. It's just a shell.
And I think one of the saddest things about what we're seeing in America today is the buildup of these gigantic houses with things in them and huge cars and you've got the security system to protect it all because you're never there.
You know, where are the people? When we first moved into our neighborhood we met one other family with young children, and they are very friendly, they're Christians, and they get out and do things with their kids in the neighborhood, but most people shut themselves up behind their doors, and it's really hard to try to reach them, because they don't have the concept of getting out and visiting with others in the community or opening their homes.
Bob: Stacy, you've taken children through the teen years, right?
Stacy: Yes, I have two that are grown and three that are in their – well, in their teens or above that are living at home.
Bob: Did you say that things like soccer practice, piano lessons, those things – were those off limits for your kids?
Stacy: No, it wasn't that it was off limits, but we certainly didn't make it a priority. I had someone come into my home and give my daughters piano lessons. I wanted my children to sew, and I thought for sure that I was going to need to learn to sew to do that and found out really quickly that I am not talented in that department. For two weeks of my dining room turned into needles and pins and fabric – and I said forget it, this is going to be for the next generation, and I hired someone to come in and teach my daughters.
I have enough daughters where I have my own class so …
Dennis: Why not, huh?
Bob: Rather than taking your kids places, you just brought the teachers to you.
Stacy: Right, it made it a lot easier, and then the little ones learned because they sat and watched, and they're being taught by their older siblings now. And it made it a lot of fun. We were also able to minister to the lady that taught them the sewing. She wasn't a Christian, and she was very intrigued by our large family, and so it wound up being a great ministry opportunity that way as well.
Dennis: I really like this emphasis on hospitality and being home-centered. I think, honestly, there aren't many regrets that I have, and you need to know, we really played it pretty close to the house, too. We stayed home – we live in the country, we home-schooled our kids, started back in 1982 when it wasn't popular, and questions of legality and everything else were circling, but I wish we had made our home more of that relationship center, recreation center, fun center because we had the fun. We just should have allowed some of the other neighbor kids …
Stacy: Enough to enjoy it, too.
Dennis: Exactly, to have come in there, because it is a way to connect with other families today at a level that, oddly enough, is becoming a vanishing species.
Bob: But there are moms who are hearing this and thinking, "That would be so disruptive," it would turn things – I mean, 10 kids already turn things upside down for you. So I guess adding the neighbor kids doesn't really make a difference, does it?
Stacy: I think that's probably a large part of it. But I think part of it, too, is that women, when they picture practicing hospitality, when they picture inviting people over, they picture everything has to be perfect, I have to have all matching china, you know, I have to plan this a week in advance, and everything has to be picture perfect, and sometimes it just means, "I made a really big pot of soup, do you want to come join us?" or "Come over for lemonade the cookies." It's the fellowship.
And, you know, we're accused, as Christians, of being hypocrites so many times, but when people are in your home, and they come to know you and see your family interact, they know you're not hypocrites. They see it being lived out.
And maybe part of that is because of the way I came to Christ. I know that's what made it real for me.
Bob: Was seeing another family live out their faith.
Stacy: Exactly, they didn't have to say a word.
Bob: You were a single woman living in Williamsburg, Virginia, and a woman who worked with you was the one who reached out and started bringing you food, right?
Stacy: No, she came in for a haircut, I was the hairdresser. She came in for a haircut, and started bringing all of her friends from church. So, slowly but surely, I started to get to know her, and she would bring me lunch sacks and bring me fresh bread, and she just started to interact with me, and then she invited me to her home.
Bob: And when she invited you over for a meal, what did you think?
Stacy: Well, I walked in, and I thought, for sure, I had walked into the Walton's home – the table spread with home-made mashed potatoes and roast and green beans and all her boys were lined up at the table, reaching over the table, and everybody was just so obviously enjoying one another, and I saw affection and interaction between the husband and wife and between the children and the parents that I had never seen before.
Dennis: And, Stacy, sometimes, as parents, we're so afraid our children are not going to be "perfect," when we invite someone into our home. We're afraid we'll be embarrassed but, in essence, the real life is what you're showing people.
Stacy: Yes, exactly, and I'm not saying that they were perfect, like I said, they had their elbows on the table, and the boys are reaching over to get rolls, but they loved one another, and they were loving me, and I just stood amazed. I had never seen anything like it.
Bob: I'm hearing the "under the pile" alert buzzer going off in the back of my head. That's the buzzer that I hear from the listener who is thinking to herself, "Okay, let's see, we're talking about the home-schooling mother of eight who is making mashed potatoes and roast beef and inviting the single woman from the neighborhood over and sharing Christ with her."
Dennis: You forgot the green beans.
Bob: Okay, the green beans are there, too, and she just goes, "I don't know where you get the time and the energy to do all of this. I mean, I am struggling just – I've got three kids, and they're in school. I'm struggling just to keep up with today. I mean, these women must be supermom. There must be some genetic something or other that you got that I don't have, because you're doing it, but I can't."
Dennis: Barbara and I used to talk about these supermoms, and we said there are three-ring circus women, two-ring circus women, and one-ring, and God's gifted different ones with different abilities. Now, tell the truth, Jennie, Stacy, if you had to pick which one you are, because you're – we've got several hundred thousand listeners right now who know, Jennie, expecting your ninth, they know which one of those you are.
Bob: Three or more. You may be a six-ring circus woman.
Dennis: Yeah, exactly. Which one are you? Three?
Jennie: Well, definitely three with the trapeze artists overhead and the elephants dropping the balls.
Dennis: Yeah, there you go. And Stacy?
Stacy: Well, we definitely have a busy household, but Jennie is much more laid back than I am. God had to really bring me through some things to be able to function in our large household. Slowly, I had to give things up, because I wanted everything perfectly in order, and some of that you just have to give up because it can't always be perfect, and people live in those homes. If it was an empty home, that would be one thing.
Bob: So are you saying that moms need to all learn how to be three-ring circus woman moms?
Stacy: Absolutely not, absolutely not.
Jennie: I'd say what they need to learn is to let go of a lot of expectations, and I tell – a lot of young moms come up to me, and they say, "I don't know how you're still smiling and how you look happy with all these children trailing after you," my oldest is 10 and a half, remember, and they're stairsteps on down, and I said, "You've got to realize that there is going to be a whole section of your life I call "Mommy Boot Camp," and it's just as much about the Lord sanctifying you as it is about you training your children. But you've got to prepare to turn off the distractions, turn off the TV, turn off the magazines that are telling you you need "House Beautiful," you must always look like this. You're kitchen must be immaculate. That's all got to go out the window, and you throw out those expectations, and you focus on training those children.
And, to me, this is a constant thing that goes on. My husband says it's like driving a car where you don't really realize after so many years how much correction you do on the steering wheel. It's the same with children. It just becomes a pattern of "No, honey, don't do that, and let's speak a little more slowly, and let's be quiet," and don't lose your vision, because they will turn around and become your hands and feet, and they really are.
Stacy: I think, a lot of times, what people are picturing when they see a large family is they're picturing all the children playing while mom does all the work, and that's not our home. That's not reality. We've trained our children to help. We're part of a family, we all pitch in, and we all work together, and as they grow, they are huge helpers, and they wind up really being an asset and they're training. My older daughters are going to be so set when they have children, and now my oldest, who is married and expecting her first – not nervous at all, because she's been helper to all the babies that have come into our home.
Dennis: We had all those helpers move rocks and make flowerbeds in our house and around our place where we live out in the country, and I just have one complaint. You raise them …
Stacy: And they go.
Dennis: And they're like arrows in the hands of a warrior – they are a blessing, but when you let go of the arrow, it's gone, and then all those rocks and all those weeds …
Bob: You've got to move them all now, don't you?
Dennis: We've got to do it all. But children really are, they really are a delight, and, you know, Barbara and I have reflected often in the past four or five years since we've been empty-nesters just talking about the greatest privilege of our lives. You know, we've written books, we've spoken here and there and been around the world to all kinds of places representing Christ in ministry, but one of the most noble, high callings that we have ever enjoyed is that of being a mommy and a daddy, and, you know, I just think there have to be moms right now who just need to have their heads lifted up just a little and maybe their hands, too, held up a little bit here, getting discouraged, because it is relentless – raising the next generation is like that steering wheel illustration that you gave, Jennie, where it's constant correction, and if you're doing it right, it really is hard work, but you know what? It is worth it.
Bob: And there are days when you're driving, and you get weary sitting behind the wheel, and there are days when you're raising your kids, and you get weary doing that, but the Bible says that we are not to grow weary in well doing, because if we don't faint, we will reap, and that's the great promise of Scripture and, hopefully, we provided some encouragement and some help for moms who are trying to do that on today's program. I know that's what the two of you have tried to do in the book that you've written called "Passionate Housewives Desperate for God."
We've got copies of that book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if our listeners are interested in getting a copy, they can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and request a copy of the book, or they can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329. If you go to the Web, when you get to our home page, on the right side of the screen, there is a box that says "Today's Broadcast," and if you click that box, it will take you to the area of the site where there is more information not only about Jennie and Stacy's book, but also a devotional book for moms that's called "Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God," by Mary DeMuth. One person has said you can think of this as kind of Oswald Chambers meets the Busy Housewife. It's that kind of devotional encouragement for moms who are raising their children.
Again, both of the books are available from us here at FamilyLife. You can order online at FamilyLife.com, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329. 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and if you call there will be someone on our team who can make arrangements to have the resources you need sent out to you.
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Now, tomorrow we're going to be back to talk more about those moms who are at home and the challenges and joys of being a stay-at-home mom. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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