You’re Not Alone
About the Guest
Are you feeling alone, Mom? MOPS President Sherry Surratt and MomLife Today founder Tracey Eyster have been there. Sherry and Tracey recall their 40 plus combined years of parenting and assure moms that Jesus will equip and strengthen them if they'll just turn to Him for help and wisdom.
Sherry SurrattSherry Surratt is the President and CEO of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International, based in Denver, CO. Previous to joining MOPS, Sherry served as Director of Innovation Labs at Leadership Network and as a staff pastor at Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC. She is the proud mom of two brilliant children, Michael and Brittainy and a beautiful daughter in love, Hilary. She is ridiculously proud of her two beautiful granddaughters, Maggie and Mollie and lives with her pastor husband Geoff in P...more
Tracey EysterTracey Eyster is the Founder and Executive Director of MomLife Today. Tenacity and a passion for momlife has fueled her relentless pursuit of following God’s call to speak wisdom and truth into the lives of moms through writing and speaking. Tracey is the mom of two, a teen and a 20 year old and her home is regularly full of their friends as she intentionally invests into their lives. She delights in doing video interviews and exploring momlife with all types of moms. Her first book, Be The Mo...more
Sherry Surratt and Tracey Eyster recall their 40 plus combined years of parenting and assure moms that Jesus will equip and strengthen them if they’ll just turn to Him for help and wisdom.
You’re Not Alone
Bob: You may have met moms who you think need to start paying enough attention to being a mom; but Tracey Eyster says, “There are other moms too—moms who can go overboard.”
Tracey: We have the helicopter parent, and we have the free-range parent. We don’t want to be either one. We want to be somewhere in the middle, where we are guiding; but we’re also teaching them to stand on their own. So, if we recognize that they are ours to train—and it is a way to help them to learn how to listen to God’s voice and not always run to us—I think that’s a good thing.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, May 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. So, how do you find the balance between being a helicopter mom and a free-range mom? We’re going to explore that today with Tracey Eyster and Sherry Surratt. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Thanks for joining us. Do you think—throughout the time that Barbara was raising your kids, did she feel—did she have more days where she went to bed, feeling like—
Dennis: Yes! She sure did. [Laughter] Yes. I mean, raising human beings is a whole lot more of an art and less of a science. It’s not a mathematic formula.
Bob: No, there is no equation.
Dennis: And we have two moms joining us, here in the studio, who immediately started nodding their heads when I said that. Sherry Surratt and Tracey Eyster join us on FamilyLife Today. Tracey, Sherry, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Sherry: Thank you.
Tracey: Great to be here.
Dennis: What about you ladies? Did you have days when you went to bed and, “I did it today! I really knocked it out to the park!”? [Laughter]
Sherry: I don’t think I had very many of those. I had a lot of days where I would say: “Oh, my goodness! I’ve blown it today.” You know, what was frustrating for me is—I would get up in the morning and I would make a resolution: “I am not going to yell today. I’m not going to lose it. I’m not going to be crabby.
“I’m not going to get so discouraged when things happen,” and there I would go again. [Laughter] Yes.
Dennis: Well, it’s good you’re giving leadership to MOPS International because you can identify with where a lot of moms are. Give us an update on how MOPS is doing—what’s happening around the world.
Bob: Yes, it occurs to me some of our listeners may think you work for a mop manufacture.
Bob: So, we should probably explain what MOPS International is all about.
Sherry: Yes. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked, “Is it a cleaning company?” No. MOPS stands for “Mothers of Pre-Schoolers.” We partner with churches to help them host a group for moms where moms can come together in a safe place and where they can talk about things that matter. They can talk about how their day is not going well and how they do feel like a failure. They are not judged because every other mom in the group knows exactly what that means and how that feels.
But going deeper than that, MOPS is really an invitation to step into a relationship with the God who made you—
—the God who gave you those children—the God who knows exactly what He was doing when He placed those children in your home and made you a mom. That’s really what MOPS is all about.
We have about 133,000 moms, across the world, that gather on a regular basis, at a church, to come together and talk about what it means to be a mom. We provide the curriculum. We provide the training for the group leaders. We give them the chance to talk about their parenting, their marriage, their self—developing themselves as a woman and as a mom. We talk about practical parenting skills, and we talk about their relationship with Jesus.
Dennis: Tracey, you give leadership to MomLifeToday.com. You and Sherry have collaborated to create a—I guess, it’s a small group Bible study for moms called Beautiful Mess. Explain to our listeners what you two hope to accomplish in this Bible study.
Tracey: I would say, first, we hope for moms to understand that they’re not alone because that is what the enemy always wants us to feel—that we’re isolated, that we’re alone, and all of the things that we deal with in our daily mom lives that is unique to us. Again, because we’ve titled it, Beautiful Mess, we’re saying, right up front, that we know that it’s messy. We know that everything that is going on in your life, around motherhood, you could describe as a mess; but also, that it is beautiful.
Our hearts are for moms to understand that: “You’ve been chosen to be the mom to the children that you have,” and that “Motherhood is an opportunity for you to find out how much you need a Savior, how much you need someone else to be in charge of your life, how much you don’t need to be in control of your life or think you are in control of your life—because you’re not. Father God is in control of your life.”
Actually, all of the stress that leads to a beautiful mess is divinely-designed by God to bring you to the end of yourself—
—so you’ll seek an abiding relationship with Him so that you know the importance of pouring truth into their lives because you were mandated, by God, for these little image-bearers to do something for Him—for His glory. Don’t let the enemy get you so frazzled that you forget that high assignment. We just want to bring them back to the truth of who they are, as a mom, and the truth of who Christ can be in their lives, and the truth of pouring His love and the Word of God into their little hearts.
Bob: This small group study for moms that you’ve put together is connected to the movie that’s coming out in theaters this weekend, Moms’ Night Out—opens on Friday in theaters across the country. It is two hours of a beautiful mess on the screen; isn’t it?
Tracey: It sure is! It’s funny—I—when I watched that movie, I thought, “This is what we’ve been waiting for!” When I say, “we,” I mean “you,”—I mean, “mom, out there, listening.” This is what you have been waiting for—a night where you can gather the family and go see the movie—
—or gather a bunch of other moms and go see this movie.
Dennis: I don’t know if I’d take my kids. They might get a few ideas. [Laughter] There are some scenes in there that are classic scenes that all of us have experienced to some level—
Sherry: That’s right.
Dennis: —maybe not quite the level that it is in the movie, however.
Bob: Let’s just say there are some walls in the home that look different at the end of the movie than they looked at the beginning of the movie.
Tracey: Some walls, some kitchens, some cars, vans, all kinds of—
Sherry: I loved how it struck fear in the moms’ hearts, in the movie, when they left the children home alone with the dads; you know? It was kind of like: “Please, just don’t let them die! Don’t let them kill anybody. Just keep control.” [Laughter]
Dennis: The fear should have been struck in the dads’ lives.
I look at the chapters to your—well, actually, it’s the weeks for your Bible study—six weeks. And really, these are great questions that every mom needs the answer to: “Am I enough?”—that’s the issue of competency—“How can I love this mess?” “How can I stop comparing myself?”
“How do I prioritize my busy life?” Oh, there is a big one—“How can I find me in the mess?” because there is an identity crisis. Finally, “What does God want to say to me in the middle of the mess?”
Bob: This is something I’m curious about because, as I’ve gotten to know both of you ladies—you are both gifted, capable women in a lot of different areas of life—did you ever resent the fact that you had kids that you had to raise because they were just getting in the way of other giftedness that you wanted to be able to express?
Tracey: For me, no, because, for me, I was told I would never have children. So, I didn’t have my first child until I was 29 years old. I had started the career, and I had an amazing career. I even had my dream job. Then, when God blessed us with a pregnancy, and then, I had my daughter, I thought: “Wow! What a blessing, and this probably my one chance.”
So, I was all into motherhood. I sort of professionalized motherhood and thought: “Okay, I mean this, and I’m going to do this.” Then, it was a miracle even that I ended up with Wesley.
I do think that’s why, for me—what has started as a passion for motherhood, for me personally—you know: “God has birthed something,” and it’s become a ministry. I mean, I never knew, when we were a part of corporate America, that God would pluck us out of that and we would end up at FamilyLife. I never knew that God would call me to gather with a group of other moms, who love motherhood, and speak into the heart of moms through MomLife Today®.
So, for me, no, they have always been a gift. They have always been a blessing. I’m just so grateful that I have children. I just want other moms to see that if, maybe, that’s not their experience, and to, maybe, see that side of it.
Dennis: I love the phrase, “all-in.” Sherry, what about you? Did you ever have that moment or maybe several moments?
Sherry: Yes, you know I have to say, “Yes,” for me.
I remember I’d graduated with my teaching degree about six months before Mike came along. I remember feeling a moment of disappointment, “Oh, I can’t get a teaching job right now because here comes Mike.” If you’re a mom, out there, who has had thoughts like that—it doesn’t make you a bad person. I think it makes you human. You know, looking back over my life, I’m so thankful that I have my children and I had them when I did; but I did have those moments where I thought, “Well, what about me?” That’s really why we wanted to tackle that subject in this book: “What about you? When you become a mom, you don’t stop being you.” You will have some other desires, things to do, other things; and that’s okay.
My brother-in-law—a pastor—told me this one time, and it stuck with me. He said: “Sherry, you can have it all. That doesn’t mean that you have to have it all at the same time.
“You know, you really need to think about what God has given you in the moment, and live in that moment, and wait for other things because you will have time.” Sure enough, I did have time to be a teacher. I had time to do a lot of other things. I did not have to do them all at that one moment.
I think that’s Satan’s trap. We get great gifts from God. Satan immediately makes us want to look at that and think: “Oh, well, now, you can’t go do this over here,” or, “That’s going to stop your life from being this,”—not true.
Bob: You know, there are a lot of moms who are trying to juggle the demands that they’re experiencing as moms. Some of them wish they could push “pause” on the rest of their lives and invest in their kids; and their circumstances don’t allow that right now.
Bob: And it leaves them feeling frustrated.
Dennis: Yes. Tracey, you give leadership to a conference called MomLife Bootcamp™. At the end of the boot camp, which happened just a few months ago, there was a sharing time.
In that sharing time, a woman stood up and shared how she was feeling trapped as a mom. She was feeling like she needed to give more attention to her child. What would you say to a mom who is feeling like “I need to give more of my heart and my time to my children”?
Tracey: Well, if that is certainly something that God’s saying to you, I feel you need to be obedient in that. You just need to figure out what that looks like in your life. If you have a spouse, you can talk to your husband about it. All moms can get so engrossed in something and spend time doing things that we start to push our children aside.
What I always try to say to Mom is, “If you have something you have to get done, set your son next to you on the kitchen counter and say: ‘Okay, mom’s got to get this report done for work. You have some homework to do. You work on spelling lessons, and I’ll work on this.’” It’s just taking those moments when you can to connect with your children—to be intentional in every moment that you have. I mean, granted, if I had my way—
—I would want every mom on the planet to be able to be all-in at all times with their children. Yet, maybe, that’s not possible for you.
I also think you need to check your motivations. If you need to work outside the home to be able to put food on the table, then, that’s what you need to do. But maybe, you do need to think about and pray about: “Is what I’m doing outside the home just because there is something I’m chasing and that I want to do for me?” because, as Sherry said, “You can’t do everything all at once.”
Dennis: There are seasons in life.
Tracey: There are seasons in life; but because God laid on my heart to try to spend as much time as I could, pouring into my children, I just got real creative. I know lots of moms out there—that when they go to an employer and they say: “You know, right now, in this season, my child is becoming a tween and things are going on. Can I cut back my hours? Can I work part-time? Can I…” Get creative and don’t just assume that you have to do the status quo.
Sherry: Yes. I think, as moms—one of the things I see from the perspective from MOPS is—sometimes, we are our own worst enemies. We jump on each other. We—there are mommy wars that really do go on out there: Moms who work are looking at moms who are not working, thinking: “You need to go out and get another job and being doing this and that.” Moms, who are staying at home will look at moms who are working and say: “Shame on you! You need to be staying at home.”
I think one of the best things we can do is support each other through those seasons. If you see a mom, who’s working outside the home—and stressed out and doesn’t have enough time—see how you can come along side and help her. We need to support each other instead of pointing a finger at each other.
Tracey: Amen; especially, the single moms. Every community I’ve ever lived in there are always those single moms who feel so alone because we have the benefit, Sherry, of—when we feel a little overwhelmed that we can go to our husband and get that extra support. You know, there are more single moms in this country than there have ever been. Yes, look for those single moms and how can you minister to them.
Bob: Tracey, as you describe your passion for motherhood, there have been moms that I’ve seen, over the years, who have become so obsessed with their responsibility that that’s become dangerous or unhealthy. Did you ever get close to that; do you think?
Tracey: I hope I didn’t. I have a husband who is amazingly supportive and is really good at speaking some truth into my life. I think, because my perspective of motherhood is that: “They are not mine for me to control. They are God’s for me to teach,”—I’ve tried to always look at it from God’s perspective. To me, there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my children blossom and do what God’s designed them to do. I don’t want them to always have to be a part of my life for me to be happy. Actually, it’s fun as they have supported me because, as things have happened—I mean, who knew that I would ever be someone that would write a book and to see my kids cheering me on? I think it’s more about the relationship.
I feel like God has called moms to be intentional, to be relational, and to be selfless. If we do those things, and if we pour into our children—what I feel the goal is—if we build a relational equity with them, they learn to listen to us and seek our guidance. So, I’m not controlling—but the guidance. We are modeling for them what we want when they leave the house at age 18.
We want them to know that that relationship that they have with the Lord will enable them to listen to Him. If we’ve taught them to listen to us for guidance, I feel like it carries over; because, even as my daughter left and went to college, she would call me and ask me for advice’ and she’d want to call all of her friends. I would always say, “But Samara, have you prayed about it?”
Tracey: “Have you sought God about it?” So, if we recognize that they are ours to train and it is a way to help them to learn how to listen to God’s voice and not always run to us, I think that’s a good thing.
I think it’s good that you bring that up because we have the helicopter parent and we have the free-range parent.
We don’t want to be either one. We want to be somewhere in the middle, where we are guiding; but we are also teaching them to stand on their own.
Bob: Sherry, you’ve seen these hyper-moms that I’m talking about; right?
Sherry: Oh, absolutely. You know—when you forget about who God created you to be, when you forget about your husband in the mix, when you just focus on those children, you’re centering the world around them—it’s not healthy for them. It’s not healthy for you. Striking that balance between the free-range parent and the helicopter mom—look at another family that strikes that balance, and kind of watch, and talk with that mom about: “How does she do that?”
You know, the healthiest mom is the mom who does really pay attention to her children and pour into them; but she also is investing in herself, as a woman / as a person. You can really get creative in the ways that you do that; but it’s very unhealthy to just center your whole world around your children—
—because they are wonderful, welcome guests in your home—who will then leave your home when they grow up. That’s a good thing for them to have their lives, and to step out, and do that. You do not want to be devastated when that happens.
Sherry: You want to have developed yourself and have a life of your own, as well.
Bob: Well, and you don’t want them stepping out into the world—where for 18 years the world has revolved around “me”—and guess what, it doesn’t anymore—
Bob: —and they don’t know how to deal with that.
Dennis: Sherry, you work with 133,000 moms around the world.
Dennis: How are young moms doing today? I mean, this is an interesting era that we live in right now. I think a lot of moms are coming out of being the least-parented generation that’s maybe ever come along in the history of our country.
Sherry: Yes, we have seen resurgence in the need for mentors because moms—young moms today don’t live in the same town as their own family and their own moms, more typically. So, they are looking for a model. They are looking for someone to help them, and they really do want that.
They want a mentoring relationship, though, a little bit differently in that they want to be able to bring something to the table themselves.
A great book that was written a while back that I talk about a lot is Reverse Mentoring by Earl Creps—and that’s developing a relationship where a younger and an older woman can feed into each other. It’s not just one-sided. That’s what we’re finding the young, millennial mom wants today. She wants to—not just be mentored—she wants to be able to speak into that mentoring relationship, as well.
Being a mom hasn’t changed in every way. There are so many things that are the same today for young mom as were true 40 years ago. They are still going to get frustrated. They’re still going to have to clean up messes around the house; but the young mom today is very savvy. She is able to figure out ways that she can earn income from staying at home—opening up an Etsy shop, where she can make things and sell things. So, she’s very creative.
Here is one thing we hear a lot from young moms, though: “Don’t waste my time.”
She’s very savvy about how she will invest her time. When we create resources, at MOPS International, for moms, we keep that in mind. She doesn’t necessarily have time to sit down and read a big long book. So, we try to keep things in short bites for her—things that will speak to her heart as well as her head—help her to think, help her to get things done quickly. She’s very mindful of her time.
Dennis: In your Bible study, Beautiful Mess, obviously, it’s going to be small groups. How long do these groups generally last? Is it an hour, 75 minutes, hour-and-a-half?
Sherry: Yes, that’s the beauty of it—is you can arrange it however you need it to be; but these studies are really built so that you can gather with another group of women. You can spend 45 minutes / an hour—you can spend longer if you want to. The point of it is to really talk about the things that are in your heart—the things that matter—and take time to let God speak to you.
As I talk with young moms, we’re finding that’s the thing they don’t do is—
—they will talk to God, they will talk to each other. “Do they sit quietly, giving God the chance to be able to speak to their hearts?” That’s why we wrote reflection questions into this study: spend time on those, think about it, ask of God, “God, what do You think?”
Dennis: Every mom is designed, by God, for relationship—first, with Him; and then, second, with others. Young moms need other young moms, and they need some mentors.
Maybe, what you should do with Beautiful Mess is find a mentor, who could teach it, and lead it, and get a group of friends together and start a six-week study. Maybe, you meet every other week; but it’d be a great way for moms to kind of come out the closet that you talked about at Moms’ Night Out—out of that moment where you have a tough moment of being a mom and find some hope and encouragement with other moms.
Bob: You can kick off the study after you go see the movie, Moms’ Night Out, this weekend.
Get some other moms and say: “Why don’t we have a moms’ night out? We’ll go to the movies.” Then, when the movie is over, you say, “How would you like to get together and we’ll go through a study called Beautiful Mess: Motherhood for Every Moment?” written by our guests, Sherry Surratt and Tracey Eyster.
You can find out more about the movie and about the study when you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. In the upper left-hand corner of the webpage, you’ll see a link that says, “Go Deeper.” Click on that link. The information about the Beautiful Mess study for moms is right there, along with the link to the Moms’ Night Out movie website. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on the study and the movie. You can also call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you’d like to order copies of the Beautiful Mess Bible study for moms—1-800-358-6329.
That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Now, I don’t know how many people are like me. When I go home, in the afternoon, one of the first things I check when I get home is the mail. I check and see what we got in the mail today.
You just need to know that our team, here at FamilyLife, during the month of May—actually, between now and Father’s Day—they are starting to check the mail a little more carefully. There is a reason for that because we’ve had some friends of the ministry, who know that summertime is a challenging time for ministries like ours—a lot of people get involved in busy summer activities—and we see a decline in financial support for our program. At the same time, the bills we get in July are just like the bills we get in January.
These friends of the ministry came and they said, “We’d like to encourage your listeners to kind of give you a little cushion as you head into summer.”
They have agreed that every donation we receive, between now and Father’s Day, they are going to match that donation, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $350,000. That would be great for us if we could take advantage of that matching gift.
That’s why we are asking listeners: “Would you consider, today, going to FamilyLifeToday.com and clicking the link in the upper right-hand corner that says, ‘I Care,’ making an online donation, knowing your donation is going to be matched, dollar for dollar, when you do that? Or would you call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make a donation over the phone? Or would you sit down and write a check and mail it to us at FamilyLife Today?” Our address is P O Box 7111, Little Rock, Arkansas. Arkansas is AR, and the zip code is 72223.
Let me just say, “Thanks,” in advance, for whatever you’re able to do in support of this ministry.
We appreciate it. When our team gets your letter in the mail, or when the phone rings, or when the computer monitor flashes, we’re just a little more excited this month. So, thanks for your support.
And I hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about just how overwhelming motherhood can be and how a mom carves out a little time for rest in the middle of daily life. Hope you can join 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 will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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