When storms hit our lives and the lives of our loved ones, how do we keep hope alive in our homes? Join us as we talk with Grace Fox about how we can maintain hope in difficult times.
- How to deal with the anxious "what ifs"
- Choosing joy over fear
- How pain can mold/shape our kids
- Identifying joy-stealers
- How we can change our view of "weaknesses"
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Grace Fox is an author and speaker whose passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life so her audiences might live the life God intends. Drawing from Scripture and from personal experiences learned while living on Canada’s rugged coastline, in urban U.S.A., and in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains, she uses the written page and the public stage to build Christ-based confidence in audiences worldwide.
Get Grace's book: Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm
Life changes in a nanosecond when storms sweep in, often without warning. They leave our knuckles white and our hearts broken. With minds barely able to think clearly, we often set our Bible aside. In reality, that’s when we need its comfort and strength most. This devotional is written for those in crisis, for those longing for hope but lacking the ability to focus on a lengthy Scripture passage. These minute-sized devotions offer respite to readers caught in the storms of life.
Connect with Grace:
Creators & Guests
What is The Connected Mom?
Form a deeper connection with God, more empathic connection with other Moms, and more intentional connection with your child.
Welcome to the Connected Mom podcast, where we have real conversations helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow moms, and more intentionally with your child. I'm Becky Harling, your host. And I have with me today my amazing cohost, Sarah. And Sarah, I rave about you all over the world because you are so amazing know. So welcome, Sarah.
Thank you, Becky. It's amazing how the Lord uses a media communications degree from like, 20 years ago. What are we talking about, Sarah?
We are talking about having hope in your home. And I feel like parents really need this right now. There's so much wonkiness going on in the world. And if you read the news reports, if you watch what's happening in your own city, uh, wherever you are, or your own country, because I know we have people watching and listening internationally, it's a wonky time. And so parents need to know how to have hope in their world, in their home. And so our, uh, guest today is a dear friend of mine, actually, Sarah Grace Fox. And so Grace Fox is a career global worker and an international speaker at women's events. Her passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life by helping others to love, understand and apply God's word. She's written nine books. Maybe more than that now, Grace, I don't know. She's a member of first five writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and her husband Jean live on a sailboat in British Columbia. Okay, Grace, before we get into hope, what's it like living on a sailboat? There's got to be a story behind that, because most of us live on land, not on a boat. So talk to us.
It's like living in a tiny home because that's exactly what it is. So our boat is 48 ft long and we actually have two sleeping areas, so we can have overnight guests, but they almost have to be small to fit in the boat. I have an onboard shower and I laugh about it because I say if I were to ever fall in the shower, I wouldn't fall because there's no space to fall.
It's just so small.
So it's all good.
How long have you lived on the boat, Grace?
Oh, it's almost five years. I cannot believe it's been that long. But we moved on at the end, um, of February 2018.
Do you ever get seasick?
Not sitting at the dock? Because we're tied on really tight, so once in a while, if there's high winds, then the waves will start flashing and we move a bit, but it's not ever going to be enough to get seasick. But when we are out, um, not often, I should say maybe three or four times a year, we're able to leave the dock because Gene and I are both working full time still, so we just can't get away as much as we wish we could. But uh, we go out in the water between British Columbia's coast and Vancouver Island, and that's where it can get pretty rough depending on the weather. And I'll go for my medication to settle my stomach if we really start blowing a lot.
Yeah, I can understand that. I went on a cruise once. Steve and I are similar to you and Gene and that we're always ministering and worldwide. So we had this cruise that we were doing for partners of the ministry we were serving. Right. And one night on the cruise, the water, uh, like, we were on the bottom level, right. It wasn't a high end cruise. So we were on the basement floor, kind of, and we had this little window, and the water just kept coming up over the window. And all I could hear was the music to the Titanic. I just thought, we're going under. All right. Jesus. Here I come.
So I felt last winter in January, um, the river that we're on started to freeze over. And it didn't freeze solid. Ice was moving, but it was like big chunks of ice. Big, just not solid. So these big chunks of ice would just kind of scrape the entire hull as they went down the river. And I did the same thing, Becky. It was a Titanic all over again. Oh, man. We're not going to the iceberg. It gets coming down.
Really? I don't know how you do it, Grace. I don't know if I could live on a boat. How about you, Sarah?
No, the seasickness would get me for sure, especially when those storms hit. And that's, I think, what we're going to be talking about, Becky. Some storms in our lives, even.
Yeah, for sure. So, Grace, talk to us about that, because you've written this fantastic devotional on hope, and we're really going to push our listeners to get a copy of that at the end of our show. Because I do really feel like it's perfect for Mamas because it's well set up and it's short. It's not like you're asking them to lock their kids in a room and spend 5 hours on their knees. Um, but you talk a lot about storms, and when trouble comes.
Hit our lives a lot. We can't predict when they're going to hit. They either hit our lives or the lives of our kids or our loved ones. And how do we keep hope in our own hearts alive so that we can be the hope givers to our family?
Yeah, there are some things that we can do, practical things, but also scriptural principles that we can follow. And, um, I know that as moms, our journey and that whole thing about storms can really throw us into a, um, mentality of what if? Thinking.
So what if, um, my child goes to school and some shooter shows up? What if my child is bullied? What if my child gets sick and ends up in the hospital. Uh, and there's, uh, staffing shortages and this child can't get the care he needs. And so many things we can entertain in our head with the what if. But the more we focus on those negative what ifs, the more real estate those things take up in our brain, and those things become bigger and bigger in our thought processes. And so what we really need to do is backtrack and start walking in the truth. Because if we walk in the what ifs, we're walking in assumptions that are probably wrong, but to go and focus on the truth. And the truth is that God loves our kids far more than we ever could, and he is present. And even when the bad things happen, bad things do happen because we live in a world that has been affected by sin. And so those bad things do happen. But when they happen, we have to hang on to the truth, that God is faithful and he's able to take our pain and our sorrow, and when we give it to Him and entrust Him with it, he can use it for good, and he never wastes anything.
M it's interesting that you bring that up. Grace. Uh, okay, so I'm a grandmother. You are too. Um, and last week, within one week, you talked about those what ifs. Several of my girls had those what ifs. Uh, one got an alert from M, the school, that there had been a threat of a school shooting. Uh, another one, uh, her child ran a really high fever. Doctors actually said, don't take him to the hospital because there's too many kids with RSV and all this kind of stuff. He's going to get worse. So those what ifs are really real in our lives as moms. And I think even as grandmothers, we have to practice living in that truth. Sometimes we think, okay, when my kids are grown, all the worry and the fear is just going to be gone and it's going to be magical. And that's not the way it is. You have to keep walking in that truth. God loves my kids more than I do, and he loves my grandkids more than I do.
I was just going to say I learned oh, my. I had such an AHA moment when I was a young mom. Jean and I were working in Nepal between India and China back then. So our son was born there. And when he was 20 months old, I gave birth to our second child. But she was born with hydrocephalus, which is too much water on the brain. And the doctors at that Mission Hospital said, you have to return to North America as fast as you can so that she can get the help that she needs or she'll probably die. And they said that she had other things going on in her body, too, but they didn't have the equipment there to figure it out. And so this was a Tuesday that she was born Wednesday. My husband tried to get airline tickets to get back on the first available flight, which was Friday. But we were 12 hours drive from Cotton Dew, which is where the airport was. So Thursday we loaded up into a, um, jeep, basically. And I laid on the floor of this thing on a Land Rover because I had a C section to deliver her. And I was in bad shape. So a midwife went with us. My mother in law had flown over from the States to just be there as a grandma when the baby came. And then all of this happened. Um, so we had this twelve hour drive into Cotmandue. And then the next day my husband left with a baby. And I'm cutting the story short just for time sake. So much other stuff went on in between that. But I was left behind because the airline wouldn't allow me on board. They said that I was a medical high risk. And so my husband wrapped our baby in a blanket. Another nursing mom and I expressed enough milk into one of those Playtex nursing bottles to get him on the plane with at least one bottle. And then he left for the United States. And I was left behind, not knowing if I would see my child alive again or not. And I remember crying out to God and saying, what do you want me to learn in the middle of all this? Because we were in a perfect storm. We didn't have a job back in North America. We didn't have a house, a car, and we didn't even have healthcare insurance. And now we were going to have a baby in the NICU ward out of American Hospital. Do the math.
And so we were missionaries at that point, earning. We earned take home pay, um, of about $80 a month for the two and a half years prior to that. So we just had nothing. Uh, and that's what I had to deal with. But I remember into that really dark moment, uh, the Lord just put into my head the lyrics from the hymn Great as I Faithfulness. Back then. There was a poster that I had loved as a teenager. And it showed a kitten. There was a rope coming down from the roof with a knot tied at the bottom and this little kitten with its claws stuck in the knot and, uh, hanging on. And the caption on the poster said something about when all else fails, tie a knot and hang on. And that's what I was doing. And it was like hanging on to the promise that got to be faithful. I didn't know what the future would hold. I didn't know how my daughter's life would turn out. But I knew that whatever our family went through, god would be faithful because he never breaks his promises. And therein lies hope. Because none of us, as moms or grandmas, know what the future holds for those we love so much. And we can't guarantee a good one. We can't it's out of our control. But we can count on the faithfulness of God to work in their lives, to work in their lives, and to give us the faith that to trust, even when it's hard.
M so obviously you have to replace fear with something. And so I think in your book, you write about choosing joy over fear. So obviously you just gave us a very practical example in a crisis as a mama, but what does that look like in practical terms for someone that might be listening?
How do you choose joy in practical terms? It is an intentional choice. But I think for me, I'll just say from my own experience, it comes best when I practice gratitude. And so, like Philippians four, six and seven that says, don't worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. And then we experience the peace of God. That surpasses understanding, but it's like a math, a mathematical equation. We, um, have to pray and we have to give thanks in order to experience peace. And if either prayer or thanksgiving is missing, we're not going to end up with peace at the end. And so it's giving thanks. I found if I just prayed, prayed, prayed about those things that worried me, I worried more because that's what I was focusing on. But if I prayed and gave thanks that God was able and that he would be faithful and that he is all wise and he's all knowing and he's present everywhere at all times to give thanks for the ways I'd seen Him answer prayer in the past. Then my focus shifted and it went from the things that worried me to the things that were true. The things that were true. And that's where peace started to come. And that's where joy replaces the fear and the worry.
Yeah, I love that grace. I have found that to be true in my own life. And like you, I've written about that. We have to shift our focus, because if you focus on all the fears, you are going to be worried. Uh, we have to shift our focus to the character of God and how wonderful he is, and then you are able to trust and relax more. So you write in the book, and I absolutely love this grace about how restored relationships restores joy. And I think that's such an important principle. Can you talk about that a little bit? And especially within the context of family and home and moms and all that?
Mhm we're living in an age where there's a lot of potential for divisiveness politically and whatever. We're working through some of that in my own family, and it's hard, but when those relationships we're built for love. We are wired in our DNA for love. And that's when we flourish fast. But relationships don't always go that way, because people are people, and we all have our flaws, and we see life through our own perspective and our own lens, and we have wrong assumptions and all the rest of that, and relationships hurt as a result. But when we can work through as best as we can to a right understanding of what's going on in that other person's life, and, um, ask relevant questions to try to get a full understanding of where they're coming from, sure. When those relationships are restored, joy is restored to it's tough. It is tough when there are hard relationships, but we just have to do what we can in order to see where that other person is coming from and not expect them to see life the way we see it.
Uh, that's good, because I once did a whole study on joy, and it actually is very relational in nature. And so your joy is tied to how strong the connection is with God and how strong your other connections are to people. And so I love that you brought that out.
In your book, Grace, we've been talking about, as moms, how we handle these difficult things, but what about our kids? I mean, there's that term helicopter mama, right? Because we all want to be hovering around and controlling things and making sure our kids don't get hurt. I think that's the gist of a helicopter mom. But in your book, you talk a little bit more about how that pain can actually mold us, right? So how do you think hard things that happen to our kids can help mold our kids and refine them rather than maybe make them bitter or that sort of thing? How have you seen that work with kids, even?
That is such a good question. Because I think sometimes, as moms, uh, it's woven in us, too, as moms and grandmas, to want to protect those we love. We want life to be good, we want them to do well, and we don't want them to hurt. So, yeah, if we can control that in any way. But sometimes I think we get in God's way.
And so, if we were to go into Scripture and do a deep dive into suffering, the theology of suffering, um, our human bent says, Get out of it. We want it to stop. We don't want it to happen. And so we want to escape it as fast as possible. But if we look at Scripture and what it teaches, and even look at some scriptural, um, characters like Joseph, you know what? I wonder how Joseph's dad felt when he was sold off by his brothers and taken to a foreign culture. And there he was for what, 17 years or something before he finally, uh, was put into that position of authority and God's purposes began to be known. But he sat in prison, and he was falsely accused of sexual assaults and all of that stuff. And boy, like any parent, would have wanted to go and rescue that child. But God was preparing that boy for a position of leadership, and it came through the hard knocks. So we have to, um, understand and just looking at my fist, this is what we want to do with our kids is hold them here so that nothing can reach them, right? We don't want anything hurtful to reach them, but to be able to hold them in that open hand instead, and to allow God to do in them what he wants to do because he has a purpose for them. And only he knows what it's going to take to prepare them for that purpose.
You know? That's so good, Grace, because I remember being a young mom, and, um, one of our kids was going through a really hard time, and everything in me just wanted to dive in and rescue because that's who we are as mamas. And I remember a wise older woman saying to me, becky, don't rescue them from what God might be doing in their lives. Now, um, my kids are strong leaders, but they wouldn't be had they not gone through some of the challenges and difficulties that they had to go through. And I think that's so hard for us as mamas to wrap our heads around. You get moms that, um, bulk at coaches because their kids aren't the starting players, or moms that are raising Holy Hallelujah in a musical theater group because their child is not the star. And yet every event in your child's life can be used by God to develop that child into the person that they're going to be. I remember when our youngest daughter was she's a, um, very gifted vocalist, and she was at a state college. And for the first time ever, she did not make a certain choir that she wanted to. And I remember saying to her, you know, Carrie, this is so bizarre, but I feel like it's from God. So ask God what he has in it for you. And because of that decision, she actually switched colleges to a, uh, Christian college where she was able to major in worship arts and become more prepared for who God had called her to be. And so some of the hard things in our kids lives, god is using those things to develop our kids into who he wants them to be. So you talk about joy stealers, and this is so good, Grace. Difficult circumstances and, uh, difficult people really are the joy Steelers, right? So, um, how do we help our kids deal with difficult circumstances and difficult people because they're going to encounter them, right?
Yeah. So, Becky, I think you said something very meaningful just a moment ago when you were telling the story about your kids, and it was asking and it's what I did when Stephanie was born with hydrocephalus and I was left behind in cotton. Duke asking the question, what do you want to teach me through this? And so if we can help our kids process, um, tough situations like that, ask the question not why me? But what is it you want me to learn through this? So that's one thing that we can coach our kids in difficult circumstances and with difficult people, um, the human band is to lash out. And I don't like that person, uh, but to be able to teach them to pray for that person and say, god, help me to see that person through your eyes, and we can teach.
Them to set boundaries. I mean, I know that one of our grandsons encountered a bully for the first time at school, and so parents had to really sit down with him and say, you need to confront him in a loving way and say, you can't treat me like this. Um, so there are those principles, too, and yet also praying for that kid, because you realize, okay, most bullies underneath is terrible insecurity. Right. So they're reacting out of that. And helping our kids see that takes some of the power away from the bully, and it also empowers our child to be able to do something about that situation.
And to remember that hurting people hurt people. I was an adult before I finally.
Figured that would be too great.
When I did, and I figured it out in the middle of a difficult relationship, like you said, it just took a lot of pressure off me. And, uh, I remember thinking, so it's not that I'm just such a bad person that this person is picking on me. That person has hurts inside, and that's why they're acting out that way.
M, so often we view weaknesses as hardship rather than an opportunity. And I love so much of your book. Sounds like it's really making that mind switch. So, as moms, we all feel we have those weaknesses, and maybe they're even on our New Year's resolution list to change. Right. But how do we change these? And maybe do you have an example of a weakness in your life that you were able to change and see an opportunity in?
I should ask my kids, because they probably know all the weaknesses better than I do.
That's always greater than all of us.
Well, man, they could give me a list, I'm sure, but weaknesses? Uh, you know what? I think so many of us struggle with not good enough, that feeling of not being good enough. And, uh, if only I were a better listener, maybe I could get inside my kid's head and figure out why they're talking to me this way or why they're behaving this way or, uh, there's so many things that the enemy can throw at us to discourage us in that role. But weaknesses are opportunities for us to grow, too, because our kids are growing, but we never stop growing and learning. And so when we admit that we have a weakness, it's okay to admit it. It's okay to admit that we're struggling in one way. And for that. One of the best things I ever did as a mom was to find, um, other moms to pray with. And sometimes we were able to pray together in person. I was a part of, um, it was called Moms. Um, Mothers Who Care, I think is what it was called back then. But it's Moms in touch. Moms Who Pray is probably the current name, but I was a part of that group for years, and, um, it was such a blessing to be able to be with other women of, like, mind, all concerned for our kids. But there was a time even when my kids were smaller and before they started going to school, I couldn't get out because somebody was always napping, it seemed. But there was another friend of mine who did daycare. Her kids were older than mine. But we committed to doing, uh, a prayer together every Monday afternoon after the kids went down for rest. Then we get on the phone and we would pray. And it was just ten minutes. That's all it was. But it was wonderful. It was such a support for me when I was feeling like I am the worst woman in the world and I'm destroying my kids.
I think almost every mom out there has had that thought, Grace. And like, oh, man, I'm sending my child into a lifetime of therapy because of what I just did. And yet God also wants us to embrace our weaknesses because they can make us more dependent on him. And I love what you said about encouraging moms to pray with other moms. I remember a ah, season in our lives where, um, our oldest daughter was a teenager and our son was a teenager. And I had one group of moms. We all had daughters the same age. And we would pray for those girls. We surrounded them and prayed for them, and then the moms of the sons, the same thing. And knowing that there were other moms in it with me, I think that's so important. So I'm so glad you brought that up because I feel like our moms out there need to hear that. Find your prayer people and begin praying with them. Maybe that's parents from your kids school. Maybe it's other parents at church. Maybe it's parents or moms from a mom group that you go to. But find who you resonate with and pray for your kids, because God hears those prayers and you're going to feel more supported in the whole journey of motherhood. We are almost out of time, Grace, but I want you to walk us through how your devotional is set up, because I really want our moms to buy it. So the name of the devotional is keeping hope alive. Girls, you need this book, so get it. Maybe start it, um, this month or next month, and go take the time to do it, because it's a phenomenal devotional. So, Grace, tell us a little bit about how it's set up.
Sure. There are 90 daily meditations in there, and they're written very short for people whose minds are on overload, perhaps, or are so busy it's perfect to slip into your purse or almost into your pocket, or to keep in the glove compartment of your car. So when you're on the run, you can still get your head into the word. But, uh, they're very short. So each one starts with a key verse, and then there's a little story that's got the application kind of woven into it as well. It's a scriptural truth, just to set our minds on who God is, the character of God, and on his promises, and we find hope there. Then there's, uh, one suggested little question for an application. There's a one sentence prayer, and then each one ends with a relevant quote by somebody who's gone through a storm and come through thriving on the other side.
I love that. So, girls, you heard Grace. You can keep it in your glove compartment, you could keep it in the bathroom, and when you get out of the shower, you could do r1 quick before the natives come find you. You could do it in the car line while you're waiting forever to pick up your child from school. So there's a plethora of ways you can do this devotional. Grace, would you close us out with a word of prayer for our moms?
I would love to do that. Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for your heart for Moms. I am so grateful that you love them, that you care for them, that you know their worries, their concerns, their fears for their children. And I am so grateful that you are the great. I am so whatever their needs are, you are enough to meet. You are enough. You give wisdom, you give understanding, you give strength. When we're weary, Father, I just pray for all the moms out there listening today, and perhaps some grandmas, too, and that you would fill their hearts with joy, fill their hearts with peace, remind them that you love them dearly and you love their kids, and that, ah, you're holding them close to your heart. We just are so grateful that we're never alone in this role of being moms and raising the ones for you. In Jesus name. Amen. Um, amen.
Hey, girls, you are never alone. You just heard the end of Grace's prayer, and we want you to know that. So we hope that you're going to join us next week again for another episode of the Connected Mom Podcast, where we're going to have real conversations. Helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow moms, and more intentionally with your child. Check out the show notes today and be sure to order Grace's Devotional Keeping Hope Alive. Because you need this in your daily life. So I'm Becky Harling. Goodbye for this week, and we'll see you next week on the Connected Mom Podcast.