Interview with Elizabeth George and Christian Book Previews' editor, Debra Murphy
CBP: Can you share your Christian testimony with our readers?
Elizabeth: Well, Jim was a Christian, but I wasnít. We met and married in college. We were married eight years and had two children before I became a Christian after reading The Late Great Planet Earth. Jim asked me if I would read it, and I said, sure. Two years later I got it off the shelf and began to read it. Thatís when I became a Christian and it turned our lives around; the transformation began. We were new creatures in Christ; we were a new family in Christ. We got our marriage on track and we got our family going. So thatís what Iím trying to share with women; what the word of God can mean in a womanís heart and life.
CBP: Why did you decide to write this particular book, A Mom After Godís Own Heart?
Elizabeth: Well, I did write A Woman After Godís Own Heart. I devoted four chapters to being a mom in that book, and I have two daughters with seven children between them. So Iíve been working my way, sort of through Titus 2:3-5. First your own heart, thatís A Woman After Godís Heart, then your marriage, thatís A Wife After Godís Own Heart, and the next thing on Godís list is to love your children. So Iím working my way through. And this book is from my heart basically to my daughters and young moms like them. These are things I learned as a baby Christian and that transformed our family, and Iím hoping and praying will go on to the next generation and help as many moms as possible.
Maybe theyíll be like I was and didnít have a clue. So I want to help give them a clue.
CBP: How did you come to include or insert your husband Jimís perspective from a dadís heart?
Elizabeth: It is a priceless part of the book because as I was writing, I have sort of a tender heart for the moms and I try to bring the truth in a warm, but convicting way. The word of God is convicting, but Jim, as a former pastor and counselor and dad, he was able to come in with some real strength with ďHereís what you need to doĒ. Especially if theyíre married to a man who is not a Christian and are trying to raise Christian children, or if theyíre husband is just not on board; leaving it all up to them, or they have some kind of resistance. So he came in and told the women, the moms, exactly how to handle their husband, what to say, when to do this or that, what attitude to have, and to be praying for him, and to keep pursuing their own way as a mom after Godís own heart. So itís a priceless insertion of his heart as a dad.
CBP: In the book was something about Jimís mother Ė it was Jimís mother that led him, she did not take it out on the father that he was not on board, she just kept being that shining star.
Elizabeth: Good observation. So he comes from a that background, has seen it done and has seen it work.
CBP: Can you highlight for us some choices that reap the big blessings?
Elizabeth: Well, the first thing is that the only way to be a mom after Godís own heart is to be in touch with God. Each day with kids there are needs and challenges that change. As a mother wakes up everyday if she can just take the time to nurture her own heart in Godís word before she faces that day. Those problems are going to come up but that is where sheís going to get her instruction, sheís going to have her perspective polished up fresh every day. Moms get so tired, and itís like a grind, the same thing every day. Youíre going to get the encouragement from Godís word to your heart that you need. I think a big point of realizing is that it is a role that God gives us, and if we touch the Word, weíre reminded of that. Itís important that these children are a heritage from the Lord; theyíre a responsibility; we have duties, He has commands for us, He has the way for us; if weíll be in the Word, weíll be inspired and encouraged and have that energy to follow through for one more day. Just look at the day in front of us and take the manna from the Lord for that day and do it.
CBP: So taking time to nurture oneself in the Word is planning ahead for that day.
Elizabeth: It is. Five minutes, ten minutes, thatís a little chunk, but it reaps a big blessing.
CBP: How did you discover your plan for your family?
Elizabeth: I was coming from having done everything wrong, having no structure, no guidelines, and really bouncing around. I was very encouraged to discover some guidelines out of Godís word. I started taking all the commands and instructions in the Bible for moms especially out of Proverbs. I put all that together seeing what it is that God wanted me to do. And as far as the plan, at that time I was a full-time student, marriage and family counseling, and I was leaving my little girls in the dark at a daycare center to go to school. I had to learn to put my own dreams on hold. Once I embraced that God wanted me to love my children, train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, train them in the way they should go and instruct their hearts, then I learned to put my personal plans on hold and to live out Godís plan for me as a mother.
CBP: What is one of the hard choices that a mom has to make?
Elizabeth: Well, one really hard choice is for moms to take on the role of disciplining their children. Itís the hardest thing we have to do, but Scripture is so clear that thatís one of the ways we train them in Godís way. If left to themselves theyíll go their own way. We need to bring them back through encouragement, instruction, discipline to, at least, understanding Godís way. Thatís a hard choice, and thatís something we have to do every single day. Loving them, taking care of them, talking about God to them, and constantly talking to God about them through prayer.
You impart wisdom to them, and then theyíre on their own. Youíre a mother forever, but you give your all when they are young and by Godís grace, youíll reach their hearts and hopefully there will be another generation of believers in Christ.
CBP: When did you start your career writing and speaking?
Elizabeth: It wasnít until both of my children were married. My grown children were in the local area and I wanted them to know they still had a home, they still had a mom and a dad; that doesnít work out for every woman, but I think you can keep them first in your heart. I talk about choosing first people first. We have a lot of people in our lives: girls at work, friends, neighbors, sisters, but according to Scripture, your husbandís the number one person in your life, and your children are number two, and we need to keep that in mind.
CBP: What about mentors for women?
Elizabeth: Maybe thatís the reason moms struggle so much is theyíre not seeking help from other women. God structured the church giving the elder women an assignment to help the younger women learn how to love their children. I constantly tell young moms, ďDonít go it alone. God didnít mean for you to go it alone. Your husband can help up to a point. But an older woman that you can call upon, a contact mom, or whatever, to be able to call and say this is happening, how should I treat it, how should I think about it, and what advice can you give me?Ē
CBP: Why do you refer women to the book of Proverbs?
Elizabeth: I read my Bible with a pink Magic Marker. I mark everything God says to me as a woman and a mother in the Bible. You wouldnít believe in the book of Proverbs how much God has to say to us about being a mom, disciplining the children, and if you had nothing but the book of Proverbs, I believe you could be a successful raising a child with Christ in your heart and the book of Proverbs in your hand.
I think I tell about Ruth Graham having the book of Proverbs open on her kitchen table. When Billy Graham would be gone on a long crusade, with her five children she would run in every time there was a problem and find the proverb that told her what to do. I read that and I thought, I want to do that too. Proverbs is a passion, and itís a must for moms.
CBP: You mention in the book that moms can be running on empty, heartless, worldly, and unspiritual. Can you elaborate on that?
Elizabeth: Oh my goodness. That brings up pain just thinking about what women go through. My point was is that Godís word will change all that. We feel worldly, because weíre in the world and the tug of the world is strong, but once we touch the word of God we get that heavenly perspective again. Running on empty Ė if you get up and try to go through your day without some refreshing input from the Word Ė you will be running on empty. Youíll grind it out; you know the principles and the things to do, but your heart is missing. And thatís one of the things about being heartless. If you touch the word of God and you pray and you have His heart, that makes all the world of difference in your day.
CBP: One of your principles for being a mom was to have fun. Why do we need to take time, effort, and planning for having fun?
Elizabeth: Well, it is a responsibility, a duty, God has commands for us and sometimes we can get in that groove of, ďsit down, weíre going to pray, sit down Iím going to teach, or do your choresĒ but if you can just remember to plan some little bit of fun. Iíve always thought that living in a Christian home should be a ball because we have freedom in Christ and we have the joy of the Lord, and it just takes a tiny little bit of thought of a mom to plan that into every day. Just do silly things and you donít lose your dignity, youíll still have the respect of the kids, but just to ensure every day thereís some fun element.
CBP: Moms watch over their household, they keep the balance, but what can interfere with keeping the balance?
Elizabeth: Off the top of my head is being tired. If weíre too tired there are things we donít want to do, things weíre not going to do or resent doing. If we just stay energetic, which, being in Godís word does help. Watch the calendar and schedule. If your kids come first in your life, making sure they get the best of your time before your other commitments, or ministries, or friendships, or outings or whatever youíre up to. But keeping the balance of getting your rest, staying in Godís word, taking care of the children and the home and their dad, and then adding whatever your energy and time allows.
CBP: Thank you so much Elizabeth for sharing with us A Mom After Godís Own Heart.