This is my first interview of 2023, with our new series of interviews called Faithful Everyday Moms. These are women who, like you and I are not perfect or famous, but just everyday moms growing in wisdom and actively choosing to live out their faith in Jesus and share it with their kids.
First, I need a FAVOR…
If you have a mom that comes to your mind when you think of a faithful everyday mom, or maybe you would be willing to share your own story of something that the Lord is teaching you in motherhood, would you please email me, I would love to hear from you because you might want to come on an interview about what God is teaching you in motherhood or you might have somebody that you want to recommend.
Now, drum roll please…
Who is the first everyday Mom interview going to be with? Her name is Jana Jarvis. She has been married to Mike for 18 years, and they have five kids and five grandkids and counting, because she said she wants more!
And Jana is from a blended family. Maybe that’s something that some of you can identify with…Jana, will you tell us a little bit more about your family?
Jana: Sure. I’d love to! I was married before to a wonderful man, but he passed away from cancer when we were both in our early-thirties. We had 3 small children at the time: five, three and 18 months when he passed away. But at the same time I was going through all of that, Mike was going through a pretty bad divorce, and he did have one son. Then God brought us together in a remarkable way, which is a whole different story, but we did have four children between the two of us. And for me, that just wasn’t enough…I wanted one more! So God blessed us with our youngest son together. So now we have three boys and two girls and five beautiful grandchildren.
Mallory: Thanks for sharing that with us! I can personally tell you I know Mike and Jana well, and they have a beautiful marriage. Y’all put the Lord first. I feel like I learn more from y’all each time I hear y’all speaking together and apart, and I know that she has a lot to share with you and I today about motherhood…She does have 5 kids after all! They’re all almost adults, with one teenager left in the house.
Jana, for my ice-breaker, first question, how do you have your quiet time?
Jana: What a question! As a mom that has changed through the years so much. The biggest thing I have tried to do through the years in keeping a consistent quiet time is to not worry about the time of day, as much as where I have it. I used to think it had to be in the mornings, and it’s great if it can be, but when you have five kids, you grab it when you can! The thing I have kept consistent through the years, is I like to do my quiet time at the kitchen table where the kids would always see me with my Bible out.
I wanted them to understand how important it was for me to spend time with the Lord everyday, and that would hopefully set an example for them. I tried to make a rule. If you saw mom at the table with her Bible open, you didn’t interrupt unless it was an emergency.
Next question for you..What is something, this is a great question, that you wish older women would’ve told you as a young mom?
Jana: Wow! There are a million answers I could give, but my husband and I say it all the time–No one warned us about the young adult years, when your children are “grown.” We were always so worried about the teenage years, that I used to pray the rapture would come before my kids hit teenage years, because I was so worried about making it through that! Then, we had four teenagers at once, and I have to say, those really weren’t bad. Our kids did not give us a whole lot of trouble then, but the young adult years have been a whole different story!
I homeschooled all the kids from kindergarten, so I will say that as a homeschool mom, I had really prayed hard and had always just had the idea in my head that if I could just teach my kids everything they needed to know to lay a firm Biblical foundation in their life, as they got older, they would not wander from that. I had this preconceived notion that I could keep them from being hurt…I had watched so many friends and family get older and make unwise choices that they later regretted, and I wanted to keep that from happening to my children.
Unfortunately as they get older, they make their own choices and that’s how it should be. They grow up, they get out from the home and they started making choices. But as they started dating and then you start really realizing who they might marry, your prayer life gets stronger than you ever thought it would. I had always prayed for their spouses, but much more so as they became adults, and I had to learn to let them make mistakes sometimes and grow.
One example: My oldest daughter started having marriage issues, and we had tried to talk her through that and counsel them. To make a long story short, her husband did choose to leave her, and she has a son. So she became a single mom, 600 miles away from home, and she took all that and turned it into anger and a lot of rebellion. I faced probably the hardest part of being a mom I think I have ever faced in the 27 years I’ve been a mom. I wanted to ground her so many times and tell her to come home, but you CAN’T do that to adult children! It doesn’t work. So I had to learn how to parent adult children, and that was a hard, because you’re so used to telling them, “Do this, do that, you can’t do this, you can’t do that..”
All of a sudden that wasn’t my place to do anymore..They were out from under my home and were under God’s authority at this point. And it was a very hard transition, I have to admit, with all of our adult children. My younger daughter was the one who old my older daughter, “Look, this is mom’s first try at all this too..No instruction booklet comes with children.” The older children are the Guinea pigs, bless their hearts, so I was thankful for my younger daughter reminding me of this… It was a learning process for all of us to navigate this time of life.
Mallory: That had to be hard…and I will echo that I dread the teenage years too! So when you said that, I was thinking, “Well great, if those aren’t the worst, then what’s to come?” So I appreciate any wisdom that you can relay to us about that. But I’ll reverse the question and ask you now as a mom that has had some experience launching her kids, you’re wiser, you have adult children, you have some grandchildren, and you’re able to share wisdom about that. But specifically pertaining to the phrase that you said about how you laid a firm foundation with them all. I don’t homeschool my kids. That’s not something that we decided to do. But I do very much relate to that phrase..we are trying to lay that firm foundation in our two sons in elementary school, and we’re getting into some of those more crucial years with my older one about that. And so I think that it’s a subject of however people choose to school their kids that many moms kind of struggle with.
How do we as moms find a balance between church and teaching in the home in laying that spiritual foundation in our kids? How much do you protect them, while still having clear conversations with them about the world and sin? There’s just so many questions, and I know that you’re still really experimenting with that with adult children…but since you’ve lived where I’m at now, I was wondering if you would share with us a little bit more about your own experience of things that you and Mike chose to do to lay that spiritual foundation in your kids when they were younger?
Jana: Sure, of course. One of the biggest things, was being able to teach them the Bible. And we always worked hard at memorize verses. That was very important, because I firmly believe the verse from Isaiah where God says, “My words will not return void or empty.” And I thought if nothing else, if I could get it ingrained in their heads, even if they strayed some, that would still be there for them to remember. So we worked hard at that. We were fairly protective parents. We didn’t watch much, especially as they were younger. As they hit teenage years, I did let up a little bit, but I tried to always encourage them to make their choices based on asking themselves: “Is this decision honoring to the Lord?”
One thing I will say I wish I had done, that I did not do, was to take the time to help them think through things they might be faced with as they got out more into the world. I probably kept them more sheltered than I should, I think at times. Their friends were all church friends and homeschool friends, and I did not really prepare them for how to handle things that would come their way when people might question their faith or make fun of them as they got out in college. I don’t think I really prepared them well enough to handle what would come their way, and if I could change anything, it would be that. I’ve done better with my youngest son since I have had the older ones now and saw kind of what has happened as they’ve moved out of the house.
I always try to keep communication open. I’ve always told my ALL my kids, I wanted them to always feel free to come to me at any time without worrying that they would get in trouble or judged. I wanted to keep open communication. And I believe the Lord helped us do that very well, to answer questions. My youngest son is full of questions, and I love that He loves to discuss and debate about God’s word vs. other’s beliefs and ideas. So I’m thankful that we have had those conversations together, and I wish I had just encouraged that more in my other children.
And I want to say to the moms, you cannot let the decisions your children make bother you too much, or reflect who you are.
I went through a lot of guilt with some of mine, thinking, “Where did I go wrong? I should have done this or that.” They’re still their own people…they’re individuals and they’re going to make their own choices. And sometimes they have to make mistakes, but it’s how God will grow them and bring them back. I’ve watched this with my oldest daughter say things I’d never dreamed I would hear a child of mine say, and it broke my heart for her. And I’ll be honest, there was a little pride in me thinking, “Wow, this makes me look bad. Look at what she’s doing.” And I had to come to terms with that myself and realize, no one’s perfect, and we did the best we could to show her the right way.
Mallory: All right, Jana, so I have another question for you. I mirror your struggle…I’m in the middle of it in deciding how much to be open and honest with my boys. I don’t want them to think just like you’re saying, that they have to believe in Jesus because mom and dad told them too or, it’s our way or the highway with their faith. At our house, I’ve realized we can have that open and honest communication, but my oldest one especially, he always tries to apologize when he asks a hard question that he’s not sure is okay.
So I’ve had to tell him, “I want you to feel like you can come and talk to me and have open communication,” like you were sharing you wish you had done with your older kids and are now doing with your youngest son. I told my husband recently, Christianity in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, when we were growing up, was very much the rule and not the exception. And it’s now switching to where it is the exception and not the rule anymore. And I want to make sure that my kids know that they’re going to have friends that have gay parents…and they’re going to have college professors that try to tell them that creation didn’t happen the way the Bible said it did…
I know that they’re going to be faced with those things, and I want them to ask the questions while they’re still in our home, so that when they get to those young adult years, like you were saying, they are able to stand on their own two feet, even if they fall down sometimes. But they’re able to stand on their own two feet and defend and live out their faith.
So realizing all of that, and knowing that the devil is very crafty, and he likes to trick us and hold us back, I think that I can ask for all Christian moms, what would your advice for us be about this? How much do you open up communication? What would you recommend as far as in laying that spiritual foundation? It is getting to be a darker and darker world. So how much do we give in on, how much do we share? How much do we keep very strict or sheltered?
Jana: These are such hard questions, and I’m not sure there’s a set in stone answer…but I think you can never give too much of the Lord to them. It’s just not possible! I would encourage moms to teach as much of the Bible as you can to your kids while they are young…that’s just so important to have His word ingrained in our hearts. It’s something we should all strive for…Moms need to get in the Word themselves and know what it says, because if we know the truth, it helps everything else line up. Teach your kids by example, that it’s all about a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus and not just stories or rules.
This is where I think prayer as a parent is so important…to pray that God will put that desire in our children to want that relationship and to want to seek Him out. I used to try to force quite times on my children, looking back, I wonder sometimes if that was a good choice. I had good intentions, but that was always really the best thing…it should be encouraged and modeled, but not forced.
That’s why I tried to have my quiet time where they could see me reading my Bible. I wanted them to see the joy of it. Not that it’s a chore, but something that should be enjoyable. But that can’t be forced onto our kids. As moms, I think we all battle with control to some degree..I know I do…and it’s done out of love. You want the best for your children because you love them, but they don’t always see it that way. So I have learned so much more about praying, that I wish I had known when I was younger. And learning to pray through these things and ask God to guide and convict my kids. Because my mom used to always tell me, “You can’t be someone else’s Holy Spirit.” And as moms, I think we try to do that sometimes.
Mallory: Very true!
Jana: So guide your children in the right way. Allow them to ask questions. Let them know it’s their faith, that we’re not saying, “You have to believe this, you must do this, you must do that.” Let them ask questions. Let it become their faith. Because that’s the only way it’s really going to be real to them, if they are understanding and growing as God’s leading them. Know they’re going to make mistakes. We all do. I mean, I still make mistakes more than I wish.
And be lenient with them and yourself and know we’re going to mess up as parents. It’s going to happen. We’re not perfect. And so when those times come, apologize to your kids, there’s times I’ve had to go back and say, “Look, mom really wasn’t right on this.” So apologize to them. Let them know that you’re human, you’re real, that you mess up.
Mallory: Amen! Yes, it shocks Jake and James sometimes when I say, “Mom was wrong. I’m sorry.” But it’s important…You’re totally right! I really love what you said about not being somebody else’s Holy Spirit. That’s so true. I’ve never thought about that. And just amping up the prayer, because it sounds like we’re going to need to get really good at that by the time they’re young adults. So we might as well start practicing now.
Jana, this has been really helpful, but I do have one more question for you. After all the insight and wisdom that you’ve given to us, is there anything else that you would leave with us just that you can think of that maybe the Lord has laid on your heart to share? Just a piece of advice, what would it be?
Jana: Yes. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek you first the Kingdom of God.” So in other words, keep your eye on him and look to abide in him. I love John 15 where it talks about abiding. And so if we are working hard on our relationship with the Lord, constantly seeking him out and looking to grow as Christians ourselves, then Matthew 6:33 says, “Then all these things will be added to you.”
So I look at that as when you make Christ the priority in your life, then your marriage, your parenting, all that falls into place with much more ease than when we struggle and fight so much against all those things.
God can give you that love that you need for your husband, your children, the patience, wisdom, guidance. He’ll provide us with all those things when we just allow Him to do so, and we keep Him the focus.
I also have to share, Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”
Watch your words with husbands and with children, because once it’s out there, there’s no taking it back.
And I can remember times, one time I was yelling at one of my children and the look on their face just broke me when I saw how much I was hurting them. I broke down crying in the middle of being angry and had to apologize and had to ask God to really help me with my words, and to watch what I would say. I’m so thankful to say through the years, He has honored that and I appreciate it.
One last thing is, and then I’ll be quiet, is a beautiful definition of love that I found is: “Love is giving of myself to meet others’ needs whether they deserve it or not. And expecting nothing in return.”
I believe that is learning to love like Christ, and as moms, we kind of set the tone for our house. So when we are actively and sacrificially looking to love our husbands and our children, they see that, and it will begin to affect them. Even my oldest daughter who has been through hard things I have shared, uses a #greatexpectations hashtag for things her father and I have done that she wants in her life. So I know we set the tone and the example for our kids in the home…they are watching us!
Mallory: Yes, loving, expecting nothing in return! That is a really, really good definition of motherhood. And so that is what she can definitely leave us with today. Thank you for sharing those scriptures and that word with us, Jana!
And thank you for reading. Please leave a comment below about how the Lord used Jana today to teach you something in your own motherhood journey and follow me at @Faithful31Moms on Instagram to catch all of the latest!