About the Guest
Can God change the humdrum into something holy? Certainly, say authors Sara Hagerty and Barbara Rainey, when we invite God into those moments and tasks. Hagerty tells how practicing adoration of God has changed her heart and her perspective, especially as she prays to God using His Word.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Sara HagertySara Hagerty is a popular author and speaker, but she’ll tell you first and foremost, she’s a wife to her best friend, Nate, and mother to their six children. The first children in their family were former-orphans from Ethiopia: Eden and Caleb. And then, sooner than expected, from Uganda: Hope and Lily. After 12 years of asking, Nate and Sara welcomed another boy, a biological son named Bo in 2013, and then Virginia, born to Sara and Nate in late 2016. After coming to Christ as a teen...more
Can God change the humdrum into something holy? Certainly, say authors Sara Hagerty and Barbara Rainey, when we invite God into those moments and tasks.
Bob: Think about yesterday for just a minute. Did you spend more time with the Lord yesterday—or more time checking out FaceBook? Sara Hagerty said she’s had to make some adjustments in her own life.
Sara: I’ve actually found its more life-giving for me to set my phone in one place and check it a couple of times a day and not have it sitting in front of me and actually talk with God or have my Bible open next to my nursing chair where I’m actually just reading the word and letting that speak over me more than what my friend from the second grade is now doing with her seven year old daughter.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 18th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What are some ways we can grow in our relationship with the God who loves us? We’ll explore that today with our guest, Sara Hagerty. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m just going to cut out the middle man today, Barbara.
Barbara: Oh! [Laughter] No, “Welcome to this broadcast?”
Dennis: He’s skating near thin ice—and he knows it—a career limiting move.
Bob: It’s just about time that we get—
Barbara: How funny.
Dennis: Welcome to the broadcast, Sweetheart.
Dennis: Yes. Go ahead and introduce our guest since he tossed it to you—I’m out of here.
Barbara: Ok; well, I’ll try—this will be fun. Our guest today is my new friend, Sara Hagerty. We actually met a few years ago—but we didn’t have this kind of conversation so this is a real treat. Sara has written a new book—that I’ve read and I highly recommend our listeners getting it and reading it because I think it’s worth it—the book is titled Unseen and the subtitle I really like—The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to be Noticed.
Bob: Sara, the reason that you’re on FamilyLife Today is because Barbara came and said, “We have to get Sara on FamilyLife Today.”
Sara: Oh, that’s great.
Bob: So your friend has paved the way for you to be here.
Sara: Thank you.
Bob: What was it you wanted to talk to her about?
Barbara: Well, one of the things that I liked about her book—that we’ve already talked about this week—is the idea that we can talk to God at anytime and anyplace. We sort of know that because we know that God is present everywhere—but we don’t think about talking to Him every day—everywhere.
So, what I would like to hear more from you on, Sara, is how do those moments—because you’ve described them as holy—I think we need to know more about what that looks like because—if the listeners are like me—we tend to think holy when we think church. We think, “Okay, quiet time.” Or it has to look and feel a certain way. So, how is a moment doing the laundry—or sitting at the DMV—and communicating with God? What makes that holy and what does that look like?
Sara: That’s a great question. I think—first of all—it would help to just acknowledge—
—to commune with God—in those kind of off beaten paths of our day—is actually a lot of the time—awkward at first. I think if we’re all honest we don’t do it because it feels comfortable to drink a cup of coffee and open our Bible at 7:00 a.m. It feels a little more uncomfortable at 2:00 in the afternoon—when we could be doing a lot of other things—or while we’re sorting socks, or while we’re at the DMV.
So I think at least start off saying, “It’s really normal that it feels uncomfortable for us to come before God at odd times of the day.” Bridging that gap and going, “This feels a little uncomfortable—but I want to do it—but I want to see what it’s like to engage with God”—might be the first step.
For me there’s one habit that I have picked up—in the past seven or so years—that has been pretty paramount to communing with God during the day—it’s adoration. A friend of mine—years ago—we were sitting in a coffee shop and she was just hearing me talk about my day and my life. Looking back on it, she was probably picking up a lot of cynicism and a lot of negativity, just in terms of how I was feeling about my life.
She said to me, “Hey, have you tried the habit of adoration?” I’m like, “Well, adoration—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Sure, of course! Don’t’ we all adore God?”
She said, “No, actually like using—taking pieces of God’s word and speaking them back to Him in adoration. Just try it.” She suggested, “Start with the Psalms—just start to talk to God with His word,” which seemed pretty simple, but honestly—getting into it—I acknowledge it was a little bit awkward—to talk to Him outside of the dedicated time in my day.
For me adoration looked like, “Okay Lord, if You want to show me Your eye’s on me in the middle of the day, I’m going to come right where I am. I’m not going to wait till I can clean it up. I’m not going to wait until I have all the counters clean and sit down and a candle lit. I’m actually just going to talk to You while I’m carrying the laundry up the stairs. Here I am carrying the laundry up the stairs and I’ve got one verse that I’ve chosen for that day that’s going to my verse where I’m adoring Him.
I’ve already—earlier in the week—talked about Psalm 139.
Here I am carrying the laundry up the stairs and my first thought is—because I’m coming to God right as I am—which, I think, is part of the key to it being holy is—He knows us—He knows us right where we are. So, I’m going up the stairs going, “I’ve got a college degree and I’m carrying laundry up the stairs.” [Laughter] I’m feeling grumpy and I feel like I’m going to be carrying this same load of laundry up the stairs tomorrow. Nobody is going to see this—and I’m not going to tell anybody this at 5:00—but it feels pretty useless. I’m carrying it up the stairs.
Okay, the starting point is, “I feel grumpy, but Lord, your word tells me in Psalm 139, You searched me and You know me.” So I just start saying that to Him. “You search me and You know me and You know this minute right now. You see me and You see me with my college degree pouring out my life for my children and—You love it. Your word tells me You’re acquainted with all my ways—so even right now You have kind eyes toward me. Right now I’m Your daughter.”
I’m kind of dialoguing with Him using His word—that’s adoration from me.
Bob: I don’t know if you’re familiar with Don Whitney who is a professor at Southern Seminary, but he’s written a book called Praying the Word where he just talks about using God’s word as a guide to how we pray—describing very much what you’re doing here—which is just using God’s word as the prompt to pray back to Him what you read in His word. There is something there—there is something about the living and active and sharper that a two edged word of God that takes us places we would not go ourselves; right?
Sara: That’s exactly right! John 6:63 says, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” You ask a mom with a lot of young children if at noon or at 12:30—after she’s cleaned up from lunch and she knows she’s got to dinner in a couple of hours—if she feels spirit and life? Chances are she’s going to say, “No.”
But if we can actually go, “God, you see this moment—
—and if I let Your word speak into it right now, there might actually be an opportunity for sprit and life.” Those mundane moments look really different. It doesn’t look like I’m just going through a ticker tape—checking of all the things on my list. Instead, every minute of this day was ordained by You, God. If I can engage with Your word and with Spirit, there can actually be life on cleaning the toilet.
Dennis: Barbara, you commented as you read Sara’s book that you were struck by how she is encouraging us to practice the presence of God and how—when you first starting doing that—it was so unnatural to talk with God. I think we probably have a lot of listeners who are kind of going—
Dennis: —“Talk with God while carrying laundry up the steps?”
Bob: You just skipped over—I mean you used the phrase the title of Brother Lawrence’s book from years ago called Practicing the Presence of God—but you stop and think about that. It is something you have to practice—
—it is something you have to be consciously aware of. God is with us—He is omnipresent—so He’s always with us—but we’re not always conscious of His presence. We have to practice that; don’t we?
Barbara: We choose to have a relationship with God, and that means investing in that relationship, just like we do in a friendship. In our marriage if Dennis and I don’t choose and focus on getting to know each other—communicating and talking about our day, talking about what we’re learning—our relationship isn’t going to grow. Our relationship with God is no different. Somehow we’ve put it on another plane and we don’t think we relate to God in the same way we relate to one another as people—but God is a person and we relate to Him in the same way—and that’s what He invites us to.
Bob: Before we started today, Dennis was saying that when he wakes up, he’s got his Bible and his Wall Street Journal laying right by his bed and he has to kind of look at which one he’s going to pick. You said that; right?
Dennis: I did—except it’s not by my bed. It’s by my—
Barbara: —his favorite chair.
Dennis: —kind of my throne downstairs. [Laughter]
Dennis: Barbara gave me this for a birthday present. I’ve got this black chair I enjoy sitting in and pull out my Bible and reading—but my Bible and the newspaper—and I know some of our listeners don’t know what a newspaper is. [Laughter] Sara looked at me and said, “You get that? You get a newspaper?” [Laughter]
Sara: The last man standing.
Bob: Here’s the point. We do have—God has a lot of competition today for our time.
Sara: That’s exactly right!
Barbara: That’s a great way to put it.
Bob: —and there’s a lot of stuff that feels more urgent—maybe not more important—but more urgent— “I better get to this”. How do you get past this clamor for your attention from the rest of the world and say instead, “Now I’m going to spend time with God?”
Sara: I think it is similar to what we talked about earlier—and in 2 Corinthians 12 where God says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
There is a different currency in the kingdom of God—which is—when we are weak, He moves. Just this winter—right after we had our sixth child—and I’m having a conversation with God going, “How can one person parent all these children?”—and not just the number of them—but four of our children having been adopted. It feels like their heart needs—at times—are great—and too great for two parents to steward.
The Lord reminded me of the gospel account of Jesus feeding 5,000. I went to that account and in it—I think we as humans might go, “Well I brought five loaves and two fish. He brought seven loaves and three fish. He brought six loaves and one fish.” Yet all Jesus said to the disciples was, “Bring me what you have.” Then He did a miracle. When I looked at that account—and I was just talking to God about it—I just felt like God was inviting me saying, “Bring me what you have.”
So I do think when we face that ever present need to—
—tap into information that is slipping through our fingers—there is also this still small voice. It’s in His word that tells us, “There is a different way and you know what, Sara? When you invest in the different way—which ultimately is weakness and—in a sense—it’s a fast of your time. It is fasting your time to spend time with God. When you do that, I come in immeasurable ways in My power. When you choose to subject yourself to the weakness of putting yourself in front of Me—of fasting your time—of giving Me even some of the first fruits—some of the best parts of your day—I’ll come and I’ll multiply when you put your hand to the plow.”
Dennis: One of the ways this manifested itself with Barbara and me as we raised our six, is we had a prayer that we called the prayer of the helpless parent. Speaking of weakness, “I’ve done all I can do God, I don’t have anything left to bring. Would You help me? Would You help?
Would You break through in this child’s life?”
Because no matter how hard you try to put the Scriptures into their hearts, convictions—which is meaning they’re digesting the Scripture and they’re coming to conclusions about life—and they’re going to live a certain way because God said to. That doesn’t come natural for a child—and that’s when a parent has to pray that prayer.
Bob: I think sometimes I just envision God going, “So you’re done trying to spin your own wheels to make this happen?”
Dennis: [Laughter] “Finally?”
Bob: “You’re going to kind of relent and let Me take over? Okay; all right. Let’s see what we can do here.” I mean because oftentimes it’s, “Okay, I’ve tried everything” and God’s like, “That’s kind of the point;” right? As you’re fasting—
Sara: I intentionally take time that I could otherwise be catching up on life—and even on the news to some extent—on social media. I intentionally take that time to sit before God throughout my day.
I’ve found that even more than just the morning quiet time—which is really real—and I do that every day—as best as I can before my kids wake up—if they don’t wake up. I have actually found it’s more life-giving for me to set my phone in one place and check it a couple of times a day and not have it sitting in front of me—and actually talk with God or have my Bible open next to my nursing chair where I’m actually just reading the word and letting that speak over me more than what my friend from the second grade is now doing with her seven year old daughter.
Bob: Yes. So this is back to being purposeful—being deliberate—
Bob: —being intentional. Not just saying, “Well, when the mood hits, I’ll go there,” but saying, “No, I’m going to strategically figure out how I put this in my life at every nook and cranny so I’m always there.”
Sara: I’ve found that I have to be really intentional about it and I think it is different for every person—but for me right now—if I want to be present with my six kids—and I’m also writing—occasionally speaking—
—the margins of my life right now for my survival—they need to be tapping into His word.
Dennis: Physically—where is your phone in the morning—when you sit down to read your Bible? How far away is it from your Bible and where you sit reading the Bible? [Laughter]
Sara: Oh, it’s right there. I mean my husband is usually away in the morning, so I have my phone in case he texts me so it’s not so much. During the day I keep my phone plugged in near my bedside table so I actually have to walk to go get it, [Laughter] because if it’s in my hands, I’m going to look at it—I mean that’s just the truth for me. But yes—during the morning—it’s right there.
Bob: I’ve had times when Mary Ann and I have been in the kitchen and her phone—it’s over on her desk—and it dings because there is a tweet, there’s an alert, there’s a—
Dennis: —And you twitch! [Laughter]
Bob: —I’ll hear it ding and I’ll watch her not jump—and then it will ding a second time or a third time and she still has not moved—and I’m going, “Honey, honey—“ and she goes, “Yes, I’ll get to that.”
I’m like, “How can you not be instant—how can you not immediately go to whatever is calling you?” Then when mine buzzes and I go immediately and find out that it’s Papa Murphy’s for a new offer for the taco pizza. [Laughter]
Dennis: And what does Mary Ann say to you?
Bob: “Put the phone down, honey. Can we just have a real one on one conversation here?” [Laughter] I know.
Dennis: That really brings me to a question. As you’re developing your relationship with God—you’re raising your kids—how do you protect your marriage and your relationship with Nate?
Sara: Practically speaking there’s three things we do that we’ve both found have to be in our schedule for us and our marriage. We go on a weekly date. We take—with our first two kids—once we brought them home—we said one time a year we’re going to get away. With our second two—and because four were adopted—which just adds challenges and new dynamics to a family—we said, “Twice a year we’re going to get away.” And then with our last two, we said, “Three times a year.”
This year’s a little bit challenging because we’ve got a baby—but we’ve just found that it’s critical for us to get away together. Then we do have one time a day—8:00 in the morning. Nate goes off in the morning—he spends some time alone with the Lord outside the house. He comes back at 8:00 am—we check in for 30 minutes—kids know don’t interrupt—if you do, you might get a snarl—and for 30 minutes we just have a little day check in, pray. Life is too full right now for us to just hope that it happens—it just doesn’t happen.
Dennis: We took a walk after work.
Sara: Oh, I love that.
Dennis: We walked around our yard and it was bit of a two edged sword. It would give us some sweet time of conversation but, Sweetheart, what would you notice as you walked around the yard?
Barbara: Yes, I noticed all the things that needed to be done—all the weeds I needed to pull and that kind of thing. [Laughter]
Dennis: All of the plants that she wanted to move—she never met a plant she didn’t want to move three or four times.
It’s part of her DNA.
Sara: That makes such a great story!
Barbara: Yes, well—
Dennis: The yard hadn’t changed. I mean from—you know—from month to month there is some different color in our garden, but we’d just be walking by the same rock pile or the same weed—patch of weeds—but it would give us a chance to debrief about our day before we walked back into—
Barbara: The circus.
Dennis: —six human beings—a three ring circus. You know—you have six. You have to find some ways though, to build islands of clarity where you can communicate with one another and tell each other what’s going on in your lives.
Bob: Well, and we’ve been talking about your relationship with God being purposeful and intentional. Your relationship with your spouse has to be purposeful and intentional. Your relationship with your kids has to be purposeful and intentional. If those are—in fact—the three most significant relationships in anybody’s life—your relationship with God, your relationship with family—with spouse and with family—then you better build in the disciplines—the time,
the intentionality—or those relationships will drift.
Sara: That’s exactly right. And that, you know—in some ways—that is what my book is about. When we have these pockets of time that we might otherwise resent because they seem like they’re pulling us away from the pace of life or the impact or the outward productivity—they actually really are a gift. We get to get quiet—we get to re-pattern our lives according to what we choose—instead of letting the world choose that for us.
Dennis: Well, Sara, I have really appreciated you being on the program. Barbara is batting a 1000 in terms of her guests that she has recommend being on FamilyLife Today. I want you to know that you are keeping that record fully intact.
Sara: Thank you.
Dennis: As we’ve been talking, I‘ve been thinking about—this is all about a message I used to hear the founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ—that was the organization’s name then—Bill Bright used to give to all of us as staff members. It was from Revelation chapter 2. It was about recapturing your first love.
Revelation chapter 2—the apostle John is talking about some messages to different churches. The church he’s addressing in chapter 2 is Ephesus. This is just kind of what we have been talking about here.
Listen to this. He said, “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you’ve not grown weary.” Now that doesn’t speak of a mom—moms do grow weary—but then he says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Then he goes on to talk about repenting and doing the deeds you did at first—
—that means cultivating the relationship you had with God originally.
As you were talking, I couldn’t help but think of a statement when I was first cutting my spiritual molars a number of years ago—it was this kind of a statement, it says, “If you and God aren’t as close as you used to be, then don’t be deceived about who moved.” God hasn’t stopped loving you—He hasn’t stopped pursuing a relationship with you. You’re the one who is overworked, overtired, ignoring or just not being intentional about turning around and facing Him and listening to His voice.
I just really appreciate your book. I appreciate what you’ve written here and how you’re exhorting all of us to turn back to the God that we are to love with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Bob: Barbara, who should get a copy of the book?
Barbara: Well, all women for sure, because I think it really speaks to women, the idea of being unseen I think is uniquely a message for women—but I think it would be great if some men decided to pick it up too! How’s that?
Bob: That’s good. So women and men—anybody who would be in those two categories.
Barbara: [Laughter] I think that about sums it up.
Bob: We do have copies.
Dennis: That is in Genesis chapter 1, I think—that does cover who God made—
Barbara: That does cover it.
Dennis: —male and female.
Bob: We do have copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. By the way, I should just mention this. During the program I got a text from our engineer: 65% of Wall Street Journal readers read the print edition—so there you go!
Barbara: See! There you go!
Dennis: Shame on you, Sara!
Dennis: —saying that about me— [Laughter]
Sara: What is the age range of the Wall Street Journal reader?
Bob: Let’s not go there.
Barbara: No, let’s not do that.
Dennis: Let’s not talk about average age of readers of the Wall Street Journal.
Bob: Again, we do have copies of Sara’s book called Unseen. It’s in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
You can order it from us online at FamiiyLifeToday.com—or you can call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again the website FamilyLifeToday.com. The title of the book is Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed by Sara Hagerty. You can also order by calling 1-800-358-6329. 1-800-“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY”.
Most of the time when folks tune in to our program, we’re talking about marriage relationships or about parenting or about family relationships and the challenges that can go with all of that. Today we were talking about our relationship with God—that’s because we believe that marriage and family relationships flow out of whatever kind of relationship with God we have. If we don’t have a relationship with God, that’s going to affect our marriage and family relationships.
If we have a distant relationship with God, that’s going to have an impact. Our goal here at FamilyLife Today is to effectively develop Godly marriages and families. It all starts with cultivating a deeper, more intimate relationship with the God who created us. That’s foundation to everything we do here at FamilyLife Today.
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Now tomorrow we want to talk about, “What is at the heart—what’s at the core—of manhood?” When God created us male and female, what did He intend for authentic masculinity to look like? We’ll spend some time exploring that tomorrow. Hope you can be here with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with help today from Justin Adams. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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