A Mother’s Assignment
About the Guest
Linda Weber, wife of pastor Stu Weber and mother to three grown sons, talks to new moms about their important assignment. Weber encourages moms to believe what the Scriptures tell them about their role and to come alongside their children to help them process the world around them. Find out how a mother's love impacts a child's brain.
Linda Weber talks to new moms about their important assignment, encouraging moms to believe what the Scriptures tell them about their role. Find out how a mother’s love impacts a child’s brain.
A Mother’s Assignment
Bob: Linda Weber believes that it’s important for moms to make sure they’re training their kids, ultimately, to follow God, not just to do what mom says.
Linda: Everything we ever do with our kids, they need to know: “It’s not just because I said it or made this up; [it’s] because I have a higher authority—I have the LORD God. See, He created us; He knows what’s best for us. And, when we were born, we were given a life instruction book. The more that we know that book—that Bible—and we put those thoughts/those Scriptures in our mind, then we have mental file drawers to draw from. When we get in a situation, we’re going to have God’s Word to guide us, to figure out, ‘What in the world to do next.’”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 9th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” When you think about the way he should go, is that your way?—or is it God’s way? We’re going to talk more with moms about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Ann, I’m just wondering: “The hardest season for you, as a mom—
Bob: —“was it having preschoolers, having elementary schoolers, having early teens/late teens? Take those four seasons—and of course, you had kids in different stages at different times—
Bob: —but was there an era, where you just thought, “I don’t know if I can make it through”?
Ann: Yes; I know it; because my son is in that stage, right now, with their baby—it’s the newborn. It was our firstborn, as a newborn. I wasn’t around kids a lot; because I was an athlete, so I was always in sports. I didn’t babysit very much; and as the youngest of four, I wasn’t around babies very much.
I had this baby, and I’ll never forget—our son was six months old—my mom and dad came and took us out to lunch with our baby. I told my dad: “I’ve been in gymnastics, competing for ten years; I was in track for six years; I played tennis for three years”—all competitively—“and I have never—you could combine all those sports together, and it wouldn’t even touch how difficult this job is.” [Laughter]
Surprisingly enough, the teenage years are actually some of my favorite years.
Bob: You love those years.
Ann: I love those years!
Bob: The guest, Linda, you’re talking about is Linda Weber, who joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Linda: Thank you.
Bob: Linda was first on FamilyLife Today back when I was 12. [Laughter]
Dave: Aw, that’s not true!
Bob: I’m kidding; that’s not true!
Dave: It was a few years ago, but not that many!
Bob: It was 25 years ago.
Ann: You had quite a bit of hair; I saw that picture, back then.
Bob: Yes; I saw that picture, too, and wondered, “Where did that go?!”
Dave: You know, that picture should be on the website. When people go to listen to this show, they should see.
Bob: Alright, we’ll put a copy of the picture of—
Linda: How funny!
Bob: —Dennis Rainey, and me, and Linda, 25 years ago, when we were talking about the book you wrote then called, Mom, You’re Incredible. Linda has updated and revised and added to that book. The new title is The Eternal Mark of a Mom: Shaping the World Through the Heart of Your Child.
Linda is the wife to Stu Weber. They live in the Pacific Northwest—been married for more than 50 years. They have three sons and ten grandkids.
Being a mom is something that you found a passion in. Did you find, with Ann, that the first years of motherhood were a challenge for you?
Linda: They were a challenge. We were in Germany, and had just got there. Within
30 days of arriving in Germany, I lost our first child with a miscarriage. My husband was out in the field, and he wasn’t around. I had to go through that all by myself, which was not an easy thing to do.
Ann: That’s terrible!
Linda: So then, about six months later, I did get pregnant; so we had our first child in Germany. You know, it’s real different over there. We had some hardship to deal with, and you just learn to live with it. I think because I grew up with a mother, who always faced hardship by saying: “God knows. God will take care. God will take you through this,” I just had a good attitude; because of my mom’s teaching.
Bob: You soldiered on—
Linda: I soldiered on.
Bob: —in the midst of that hardship. Did you ever feel like giving up hope?
Linda: I never felt like giving up hope; no. I felt like my hope was in God, and that’s just the way I did look at it.
You know, there were plenty of other times, being a mom, that you look back—that you wonder, “Oh, my goodness! I thought I had prepared this situation to go better than it’s going!” One night, when one of the kids was out—I think he was an early high schooler; he had gone with some friends to the state fair, and I figured they’d be home by nine o’clock.
Bob: [Laughing] Why did you think nine o’clock?!
Linda: Well, they left early in the morning; so I thought, “They’ve had the whole day, and he’s just a freshman!” So he’s not driving; he’s with somebody else. It was like one o’clock in the morning when we got a call from him, and they were laughing in the background. I was thinking: “What is going on?! You haven’t even talked to us. You haven’t told us what’s going on.”
I was just thinking all the worst. I was thinking I was a bad mom for not having set him up for a better situation. Of course, nothing did go wrong; but it sure didn’t feel good, as a parent, to wonder: “What in the world is going on with my kid out there?
Linda: “He’s only a freshman!”
Bob: If somebody was a new mom and came to you and said: “Can you give me my job description/my assignment? What is it that I’m supposed to be doing? What’s my job as a mom?” Can you boil that down for them?
Linda: Boiling it down, you have to go back to the Scriptures. You know, the Holy Spirit comes alongside us; and we have to come alongside our children. When you do that, you’re helping think through things with them. You’re helping prepare them, not only in this physical world—but what I like to do is to take moms to the levels below the surface. You’re helping develop how to think ahead; how to be smart; how to have proactive work in your life that is going to be smart, because you’ve let your brain be developed.
Ann: That was an interesting study that you revealed in your book, in 2016, about a mother’s love impacting her child’s brain.
Linda: You know, I’ve worked on this brain thing quite a bit; because it’s going to help make choices, and we want them to be good choices. We have to go below the surface and help develop their brains. Now, sure, when my first son was just a baby, I would get these books: How to Increase Your Child’s Intelligence.
Linda: He went off to Oxford, and got his advanced degrees, and did well.
Bob: So whatever you did worked, apparently! [Laughter]
Ann: Well, it says that a mother’s love increased the size of an important part of the brain.
Ann: Well, look at you! Does this mean why our kids aren’t as smart? [Laughter]
Linda: No, I won’t take any credit for that.
Ann: Our kids are smart—I have to just take that back!
Linda: Yes, I’m sure they are.
The brain is very important for us to set up. I might throw in here, too, a piece that using music develops the brain and actually works against mental health issues. I would even start playing the piano at home—they would get into some sort of a discussion about things that weren’t all that good—and I would just go to the piano and start playing and singing and drown them out! [Laughter] I’d do that in the car, too; just drown them out with music. You know, it does work; and now I’m reading research that says it really makes a difference.
Bob: Tell us about how you tried to intentionally do spiritual formation with your kids.
Bob: Did you do Scripture memory? Did you do family devotions? What did you do?
Linda: Lots of different things! And of course, at different ages, you do different things.
Linda: When the boys were little, we had these little notebooks—that they each had their own notebook with their own set of colored pencils. We called it “The Weber Bible Institute.” [Laughter] You know, it was pretty funny—they would say: “Rooty toot-toot! Rooty toot-toot! We are the boys from the Institute!” [Laughter]
Linda: You know, they were just little guys, like five and three; but they loved it! What we would do is—read a portion of Scripture and then let them draw it on their little books. We still have those books, which are fun to look back to. It was interesting to see what their thought was of what we just read—you know, Isaiah 6, and God in the office chair. It was just cool! They developed their concepts from what we would read out loud.
Well, as they got older, of course, things changed. We’re an athletic family, so we’re not sitting around the table, just having dinner every night; because there’s usually practice schedules and game schedules for every sport, all year long. So we would just incorporate it every once in a while where we could—you know, read a devotional; pray; ask them what they were thinking; and “”How would God fit into the situation we’re talking about now? What would He say?”
We just kept incorporating it—you know, like Deuteronomy 6 tells us, “As you sit around, as you walk by the way, as you lie down,” you’re supposed to be passing on God’s words, and we’re supposed to make it obvious to them—to our kids—what God would want. So everything we ever do with our kids, they need to know: “It’s not just because I said it or made this up; [it’s] because I have a higher authority.
Linda: “I have the LORD God. You see, He created us; He knows what’s best for us. And, when we were born, we were given a life instruction book. The more we know that book—that Bible—and we put those thoughts/those Scriptures in our mind, then we have mental file drawers to draw from. When we get in a situation, we’re going to have God’s Word to guide us to figure out: ‘What in the world to do next.’”
Our kids went to church; they went to youth group; they listened to us every opportunity we had. Now, another good time to pass on words is when you’re taking them to the orthodontist, or you’re taking them to a music lesson or a practice—wherever you are in the car—use those opportunities to speak a word. Make it obvious what God would say about this, that, and the other thing. You don’t have to be obnoxious, you just have to be diligent and really thinking about: “What needs to happen?” because you know what’s going on in their life right now, so speak to it!
Dave: Now did you ever find them straying away as they became teenagers? Was there temptation? Did they struggle? How did you walk through those days?
Linda: You know, one of the boys was sort of down on himself, like I said, when we were trying to learn tennis. He was down on himself at other times, too. What really brought him—it made a major change—he got chosen. I forget what they called it; but they chose 20 students, who were like leaders in the school. Everybody in the school wrote down a leader, and they took the 20 names that came up most and took them on a retreat—they were called Natural Helpers—that’s what it was.
The Natural Helpers would tell each other what they liked about the other person. They came home from that retreat just higher than a kite—you know, that they could do anything; because everyone thinks they’re awesome, and they are majorly important people.
If we’re doing that with our kids, it really changes their spirit. We really saw his spirit change when he went through that weekend. So hopefully we, as parents, can just keep pouring on the positive statements to them—how good they’re doing and how much we appreciate them: “God has really gifted us with you as our kid,”—you know, on and on and on.
Bob: When your kids were going through the stage, where our children kind of have to make their faith their own, did you watch them waffle a little bit? Did it make you nervous as they went through that stage? Did they wander off at all?
Linda: You know, in our case—and every family’s going to be different—we didn’t happen to have the major going-south years, with the kids choosing to just be out of line. We didn’t have to experience that.
Ann: Is there any way to kind of draw our kids out and get them to talk?
Linda: Ask them questions! Ask them what they’re thinking, and incorporate little things that you can to just build them up in the process: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Let’s just start, from scratch, of what we can do now to make things as good as possible.” Don’t beat yourself up for somebody else’s choice, because they do have choices on their shoulders. We do our best, and then they do get to choose.
Ann: And they live in a world, I think, that’s been unlike any other generation, where comparison and social media is constantly, as you said earlier, right at their beck and call. They’re saturated with comparison and what the world thinks.
Linda: Right! Our kids don’t know what they’re getting into at times. They’re young; they’re immature. You know, we’re trying to take them from this whole concept of dependence to independence; and yet, we want them, along the way, to know what the dangers are and the consequences. Like the Holy Spirit, we’ve got to be coming alongside these kids, so that we know what they’re thinking/what they’re being exposed to so that we can take steps against it.
Bob: Linda, if you were sitting down with a mom, who says: “I don’t feel like I’m good at this. I mean, I look at other moms—I think they’re natural moms; they’ve got it together. I’m not sure I’m made for this. I’m afraid I’m doing harm to my kids, and I don’t know where to turn.” How would you coach that mom?
Linda: I would say: “Don’t beat yourself up. Let’s just figure out what we can do.” I guess that’s why I wrote this book, because I give them tracks to run on. I give them equipment to know how to go after some things. Hopefully, these moms out there will read the book; and they’ll find ways that they can make a difference in changing, maybe, bad habits or bad patterns, and make a difference in those kids’ lives, ultimately.
Dave: Well, it’s interesting. I’m looking at Page 93 in your book, which is where you put, sort of, a letter that Kent—one of your sons— wrote to you. I’m thinking, Bob, even as you asked that question, I thought, “Well, every mom can do what Kent says you did for him.” You know? It’s just a mom deciding: “I’m incredible. My mark is eternal, and I’m going to be there.”
Bob: Yes, Kent wrote this when he was headed off to college. Let me just read what he wrote. He says:
Over so many opportunities, you chose to be my mom first. Bless you for this, Mom. Please believe me; it’s made all the difference. Mom, cheers to you for pouring yourself into me like you have. Thank you for loving me into the person that I am, and for the thousand special touches: for sending Dad my kiddie books in Vietnam so his taped voice could be read to me; for French toast on game days; for being there at every game and every time I came home; for morning glimpses of you in the Scriptures; for your constant affirmations.
Your love has endowed me with theconfidence, the fearlessness, and the optimism that no kid should go without. You’ve certainly made some sacrifices to give me what I have. I just want you to be reminded of how much you are loved for all you do. Mom, I’m so honored, humbled, and proud to be your son.
Linda: That was very special.
Bob: You still hear those words—
Linda: It was very special.
Ann: Yes, I get teary hearing that; because it’s what every mom longs to hear.
Linda: You know, I told him—when he was at Oxford, and we got to go visit him over there—we used some frequent flyer miles to get there. He said, “I just can’t believe my family’s here at a restaurant in Oxford, England.” You know, we could hardly go out to eat when he was growing up, and we didn’t have money to give him. He earned his money there through his tennis; he was a tennis pro for a while, and he was very good.
When we arrived in Oxford, he was just skin and bones. He didn’t have any money to eat, so he was skinny! And this was not the kid that left our home. My jaw just dropped; I said, “Oh, my goodness! Kent, we’re going out for ice cream right now!” [Laughter] You know, all he could think of was maybe a bagel or something—a glass of water. I said, “No, you’re having something more.” I said, “You know, Kent, I’m really sorry that, when you were growing up, we just didn’t have any money to take care of you very well/get you very many things.” He said: “Mom! I just want you to know that I’ve had everything I needed.”
And you know, he had a grateful spirit. He was thankful; he wasn’t sorry that he had no money to buy himself some food while he was over there. He just had a positive attitude. I’m grateful that they were that way—that they caught the message.
Bob: There’s a great story you told to us, 25 years ago. It’s kind of that story that I think anybody, who’s ever read your book or heard you speak, when you talk about what you did as your boys got married—
Ann: Yes! This is what stuck out to me in the first book, too.
Bob: The gift that you gave their brides-to-be—tell everybody about that.
Linda: Okay, well, I felt like it was pretty important that, as they get married, I’m not the lady in charge anymore—of these boys. I’m handing them over to the new daughters-in-law that I’m about to get. I wrote them a poem—it took me probably three or four months to write the first one, in tears—[it’s] ”Apron Strings”—called “Apron Strings.”
Every time another boy got married, I wrote a totally [new] poem—“Apron Strings 2”; “Apron Strings 3”—just to tell them that: “I’m cutting the cord, and I’m handing this young man to you. He’s not mine anymore.” Then I gave it to them in a framed presentation with some apron strings that had been cut, in the colors of their wedding. I gave it to them, and I just wanted to make a statement that, “I’m, now, not the first lady in [his] life”; that: “You are.” That’s what I did.
Bob: And what was the power of those poems for your sons and for your daughters-in-law?
Linda: Well, the power was that there was a statement being made that: “I’m not the one: ‘He needs to go to you now, not to me.’”
Bob: Was it hard to live up to that?
Linda: Oh, of course! [Laughter]
Bob: I just wanted everybody to recognize you didn’t just shadow box some apron strings and go, “Okay, that was easy.”
Linda: No! I cried for three/four months, trying to write those poems—
Linda: —each one.
Bob: But after they were married, were there times you still wanted to step in and be the number one woman?
Linda: Well, you want that; but you know that’s not your place now.
Ann: Yes, I think it’s not easy.
Linda: It’s not easy!
Ann: There’s a grieving that takes place, and yet this joy! You’re so happy for them; you’re so excited for them; but there’s also a cutting off—of not being the first woman in their life—and it’s appropriate.
Linda: That’s right. Well, the Bible talks about “leave and cleave”; you know?
Linda: And you’ve just got to do it if you want to do it God’s way.
Ann: Yes; for your sons to have a great marriage, it’s a really an important step to take.
Linda: That’s right! You know, the research tells us that: “As long as we’re still trying to control these kids, they’re not free to have a relationship in their marriages and in the life that they’re setting up now.” So we’ve got to step away. It is not easy; it is hard!
Dave: —especially since I’m looking at two mothers of only sons.
Dave: You know, it seems like daughters have relationships with their moms, even after they’re married—
Linda: That’s right.
Dave: —in a unique way that mothers of sons don’t.
Dave: Has that been hard?
Linda: It has been hard.
Bob: I want to read—can I read “Apron Strings”—number one? This is the poem you wrote for Jamie Lynn, your first daughter-in-law; and it reads like this:
These apron strings I give you,
From winding ‘round my heart,
Entwined around my little boy;
And now they’re cut apart.
I give them to you, Jamie Lynn;
Blake’s yours to have and hold.
I promise there are no strings attached,
So your love indeed enfolds.
That place of being number one,
I pass to you, sweet girl.
Although he’s special to this mom,
His wife now makes his life swirl.
You know you’ve got a winner
In champion Blaker.
We feel he’s chosen of the like kind
To please our great Maker.
We’ve prayed for you this man to take;
Your vows ‘til death do part.
Commitment to each other
Speaks of how you are so smart.
Now, when I cut these strings away
To replace this cord of love,
I wrapped my heart around you both
‘Til God calls me from above.
We can’t overlook the future
Weber generations to come—
Those little children announcing,
“Mommy! Mommy! You’re awesome!”
Jamie Lynn, we do accept you
Into our big family.
May we seek the God of heaven
To live each day eternally.
I love you, Jamie Lynn.
You have to think that—a young wife-to-be/now, a young wife, as she hears that read at her wedding or at the wedding reception—there’s something there that says, “I’ve been given a great gift; because I’ve been given, not only a husband, but I’ve been given parents, who say, ‘We recognize that the Bible says, “Leave and cleave and become one flesh.”’ They’re stepping back so that we can form the union that God’s called us to form.”
It’s one of the great, powerful examples of this book; and this is such a great encouragement to moms.
Bob: And you are a great encouragement to moms! We’re grateful that you came all the way to be with us, 25 years after you wrote the first book, so that we could talk about this second book. Thanks, Linda.
Linda: Thank you.
Bob: Linda’s book is called The Eternal Mark of a Mom. It’s a book we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order the book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY is our number. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, the conversation we’ve been having this week has really been about the legacy we are leaving, as parents, to our kids. That’s true for dads; but of course, we’ve been focusing on moms this week. We’ve got a dad joining us—the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins. You’ve been listening to this conversation and thinking about the mom in your home, who is shaping the future.
David: Oh, man! Yes; I mean, I think of Meg; and I’m so grateful for her. I think of other moms—your role is so unique and special, and your voice is so key in kids’ lives; because you’re the one that, often, they are hearing most frequently from. History is, indeed, being made in your home and in my home, today and every day.
I’m so thankful for moms and the unique calling that God has given you to uniquely reflect God in your kids’ lives. But I know the temptation, and I hear the temptation when Meg voices it to me—the temptation to hear lies and shame from the enemy about all the ways you aren’t living up to the phantom perfect mom. The lies are from the pit of hell. God doesn’t ask you to be perfect. He simply asks you to follow Him, and be connected to Him, and pass what you’re receiving from Him to your kids.
Bob: Alright! Cheering on the moms today; aren’t you?!
Bob: Way to go!
I’ll tell you—we want to cheer on some moms as well. In fact, this week, those of you who are able to help with a donation to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today—we’re listener-supported; we depend on your donations—if you can help us with a donation, we’d love to send you a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, The Art of Parenting. That will cheer you on.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make a donation online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and donate by phone. Ask for your copy of The Art of Parenting by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. It’s our thank-you gift when you support the ministry today. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; and our number is 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And tomorrow, we’re going to talk about how moms and dads can work together to win their child’s heart. It’s one of the concepts we talk about in the Art of Parenting®. I hope you can tune in as we talk to Mike Berry tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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