My guest, Chelsea Bretzke, is a mother to seven, including an autistic teenaged son and a three month old baby. She discusses how she learned to let go and discover who she really is in motherhood. Chelsea also shares how personal revelation, drawing on God’s power and identifying spiritually defining moments help her let God support her.
How to Listen
Episode Links + Quotes
Chelsea attributed this quote to Emily Watts “The product of our parenting isn’t our kids, it’s us.”
“What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know you’re near?” Hear the song Chelsea mentioned, Blessings by Laura Story.
“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.” Read more about this story Chelsea mentioned HERE.
Go HERE to read the talk Chelsea mentioned by Sister Linda Reeves.
Quote by President Nelson: “Sisters, you have the right to draw liberally on the Savior’s power to help your family and others you love.”
Scripture Darla mentioned (not in 2 Corinthians) Acts 19:15: “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”
Podcast episode Darla mentioned – How to Raise Grown Ups, episode 53
SMM 015: Balance + Overcoming Feelings of Failure + True Self-Care in Motherhood || Elise Curtis
SMM 041: Only You Can Receive Revelation for Your Motherhood || Michelle Gifford
SMM 066: The Privilege of Personal Revelation|| JoEllen Woods
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Intro: You’re listening to the Spiritually Minded Mom podcast. This is episode 90: How to Know Who You Are and Let God Support You with Chelsea Bretzke. Hi, this is Darla Trendler and welcome to Spiritually Minded Mom. My goal is to help you gain confidence in your ability to hear and follow God’s voice in motherhood and in life. Listen to hear interviews with all kinds of moms who are learning to navigate motherhood by partnering with our heavenly parents.
Darla: Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Mom podcast I am so excited to welcome my guest today. She is dynamite and you are going to love hearing from her. Her name is Chelsea Bretzke, and she lives in Alberta, Canada. She served a mission on Temple Square and has a degree in education, and she loves yoga, hiking, and cheap no name chips, especially when she can eat them at a girl’s night. So, I’m with you on that. Yeah, they got to have salsa with them though, like, yeah, I love chips and salsa. Her oldest son is nonverbal and autistic. And, she has told me some really interesting stories about him climbing on the neighbor’s roof and smashing the toilet tank since they’ve been in inside for Covid-19 during isolation. So that’s going to be fun. So, I’m, I’m hoping we can dive in and talk a little bit more about the unique challenges that she has faced with that. But she’s also a mom to seven. She has a three-month old baby as well. And she says that since she and God had a big wrestle back when He told her about number five, seven feels like a big deal. And she knows that God’s plan is always the best way to go and that he truly knows what we are capable of, even if at times we think there’s just absolutely no way. So, a week before Covid-19 erupted, Chelsea actually hosted, in Canada, her very first women’s conference and she spoke about priesthood power of women and the crowning blessings and symbolism of the temple endowment. And she’s also had some experience teaching a Book of Mormon class for her stake relief society and loves to focus on women in the scriptures. Her favorite presentation is one she gave at Salt and she talked about heavenly mother, and loves giving that presentation as well. She, Chelsea really is someone, and I’ve met her in person, and I can attest to this. She is really someone who believes in the capacity of righteous women. And there is nothing she feels more passionate about than helping good women know who they truly are and to feel empowered and inspired to seek out and fulfill their own personal glorious missions. And she feels like it’s her mission to help teach others and to share that message. So, Chelsea, I am so excited to welcome you today. Thank you so much for being here.
Chelsea: I’m so excited.
Darla: Yay. This is so great. Okay. I want to talk about a lot of things, there’s so many good things that we could talk about with your motherhood. But I want to lead off with something you told me before when we were prepping for the interview that I think is something that everybody needs to hear. Okay, so it was this quote, “The product of our parenting isn’t our kids, it’s us.” So, what does that mean to you?
Chelsea: Well, I heard that at a Time Out for Women, Emily Watts, who was a great sharer of great thoughts for moms, had shared that and it just penetrated me. I was like that. Because we often, there’s so much in life that we feel we want to accomplish and there’s, I grew up really seeking some of that validation and when you step, you know, you get good grades or you practice your piano or those kinds of things and then you get into motherhood. I remember telling my mother-in-law one time, I was like, I just want someone to come in like give me a little report card and just like, tell me you’re doing good. And I’ve really had to step away from that type of like, thinking of needing that validation and my son, Aaron, has really been a catalyst for that because there’s nothing, I mean, we support and love him obviously, but he’s not going to be bringing home the great report cards. He’s not going to be on the sports team or, any of those things that sometimes we’re tempted as parents to take little badges of honor for, like oh, you know? Somehow with Aaron, Aaron helping us get rid of all that expectation made me realize, God is putting me through a learning. Like it’s so easy to make it be about we’re teaching our kids, we want our kids to turn out. Like we get really focused on them, which is lovely and beautiful, but at the end of the day, we don’t have actual power over that because of that lovely agency. There’s just, we don’t, and we can be the most terrific parents in the world and that is no guarantee. And letting go of that was a huge moment in my parenting and letting all my, my effort then go to what does God want to teach me? You know, I, Aaron, who just walked into the room. Aaron, one of his things is he doesn’t regulate well. And that meant that he didn’t sleep well. And so that’s the very first thing that as moms, how’s your baby sleeping? Right? Like that’s the first thing we can succeed at.
Darla: So, from day one, these expectations are out the window.
Chelsea: Totally. And all through like his babyhood and toddlerhood like he just, wouldn’t sleep on a regular schedule and wanted to be up all night long, and making messes. And I would, I had years where I would just lay with him and he would play with my hair because that was soothing to him and he would just giggle all night. I have so many blog posts, from back in the day when we did blogs, of 3:00 AM where I’m like, Heavenly Father, just make him sleep. I’m going crazy. And it just really taught me to let go. I remember there was a Christian song that I listened to, I heard on the radio randomly one time and there was one line that said, “what if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know you’re near?” Because I decided my parenting journey was about God and me, then it didn’t matter that I couldn’t get Aaron to sleep because God was going to take that and he was going to make that something that drew me closer to Him and that’s what he is going to do with everything in my life. Every good, all the bad, the broken toilets, all the things, he was going to take those. It was about me and God, and getting closer to him. Like, you know when the pioneers, with the handcart company, and they say, oh, that shouldn’t have happened, and he says, no, that was a privilege because that was what brought us, that was a privilege to be closer to our Heavenly Father.
Darla: I really, I really love that perspective. And it’s, it’s a shift in thinking like, we think that our job is to turn out these perfect kids. And that’s really not our job. That’s Christ’s job. His job is to offer his atonement as a way for us to become better. And that includes us and our children. Our job is just to come to know Him, do the best that we can, but not take over his job for our kids. I love that. That it really, motherhood is, I’ve said before, motherhood has thrown every weakness I’ve ever had in my face. You know, on the daily, like I see all those weaknesses. But, it is a refining thing. And that’s such a refreshing way to look at motherhood. It’s about us and our relationship with God. And that’s what I try to talk about on this podcast every week, that we have a partner. We have someone to go to, who will help us to become better.
Chelsea: I remember being, we were living in Texas for a little while and I’d gone to the temple and it was, again, early on in my mothering and yet I think I’ve learned that every stage feels overwhelming. Every stage. Oh my friend said it, that it’s because you loved to the max no matter what. You have one kid, you love them, to the max, you, it’s taking all of you. And so, I was at the temple and just feeling like, Oh, how do I do this Lord, how? It’s such a huge job and it matters so much. And I was praying and crying, and I looked up and there’s this beautiful picture of the Savior and I just felt the spirit say, “Just bring them to me.” That’s all you have to do. You can’t save them. You can’t. That’s not, that’s not your job. Like you said, it’s bringing them to the feet of the savior and saying here. He is the one that has all the answers. He is the one that can, you know, mend those broken hearts and see you through all the things like he’s done for me. Right? He can do that for you and then you just really hope that they will let him.
Darla: Yes, you always have that hope, but then like what you said, there’s the lovely agency. It’s always always there. So I would love to know, you dropped those expectations quickly into motherhood because of Aaron, and the difference that, you know, motherhood was not going to be what you thought it was going to be, it didn’t look like what you thought your expectations were. So, what are the practical things that you’ve learned in mothering seven children that are helping you to point them to Christ? What can a mom start with if she wants to have this mindset change of this is about me and me becoming closer to the Savior and pointing my kids to Christ? What have you done, what can any mom do to start focusing on that?
Chelsea: Like what you’re saying about your podcast. It’s about making that partnership. So that starts practically with, I love how our prophet is telling us, hear him, hear him all the time. Just find those pieces of revelation. And I think sometimes for me, I, I am praying so specifically about, you know, individual needs of individual children and it all adds up with the seven, and he gives me these beautiful, overarching principles. Right? He helps, he teaches me in ways. I love, uh, I was pregnant with my fourth and it was conference time and I was like, oh man, because three really, I took a break after three, instead of after two years, it was like three and a half.
Darla: Three’s the kicker, by the way, for me it was me too.
Chelsea: I have three boys, three boys and Aaron and yeah, it was a lot to commit to that. So I’m thinking, oh boy, I already had these three boys and we’re adding another and I was staying at home at conference and sister Linda Reeves says, “Oh, when me and my husband had our fourth child,” my ears just perk up I’m like, talking to me! This is my talk. And she said, “Oh, and that was overwhelming and we’re overwhelmed and we went to the Lord and the Lord said, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if the kids are in pajamas and they just eat cereal. What matters is prayers, scriptures, those family scriptures like those, if you have those in there, and that was a real time like, I held to that quote for years. And it doesn’t mean we’re in pajamas every day, but it meant that if there was days when that was all that I could do, let’s just say maybe everything else is chaotic and even scripture study is chaotic, but I know it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly, in fact. I just know and, and our scripture studies are not anything, like, they are ridiculous. My husband always was like, by the end he’s like, “Just pretend you’re listening.” Anyways, but that, that is what I hold to. That if those simple, simple things are in place, no matter how messy they look, but at the end of the day, I want my kids to know like, that mattered, that mattered to our parents to do that.
Darla: And I think, you know, you can know, I did everything I could to lead my kids to Christ and now I’m going to leave it in His hand, and let him do the rest.
Chelsea: He’s so much more patient than us.
Darla: Oh, totally. Yeah.
Chelsea: Well, um, my next oldest is only 11, but he’s like super tall and like, I think of him as like, he’s 11. Right? Like I get really anxious about, like, I gotta get him his testimony. I gotta, and the Lord just literally has eternity to reclaim his children and he is so okay with just taking the time and just being on pace with whatever we need.
Darla: Yeah. So, this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about and I would love to know your take on this. Where do you think personal revelation fits in, in motherhood? We’re thinking so much about President Nelson’s, you know, admonition to us to Hear Him. Where do you think that fits in, in mothering and teaching our kids?
Chelsea: What I think revelation does, because of course, it can help us know what to do and that’s, you know, we want those solutions. We want, we have these problems and we take them to the Lord and he can definitely help us with those, but what revelation has done for me is when I go to my Heavenly Parents, they are there for me and when they are there for me, the things I feel, that provides a basis for everything I’m trying to do because when I can feel what the love that God has for me as his child, that he is willing to communicate with me one-on-one and know my heart, and know my frustrations, and know my weakness and all of it, to completely know me and still love me so much and be so kind, and just liberal, to use Joseph Smith, right? To give so liberally these little pieces of those little defining spiritual moments that we heard about last conference, then that is all that we are trying to make a little copy of. That we’re just trying to have those little moments with our kids where they know, that we love them because they’re ours. And if they mess up, we will still love them. And if they don’t fulfill their potential every day, we’ll still love them. I was with my littles and baby Gwen, that’s my, my youngest daughter, she’s three months old. She’s with me and we’re having our little bedtime routine. And um, I just wanted to share with them. I wanted them to understand something and I said, why do we love baby Gwen? And I said, is it because, um, she can run really fast? And they’re like, mom, she can’t even walk. What do you-? I’m, I’m funny to my four year old and five year old. It’s probably what I’ve done as well with my older kids. And I said, Oh, well it must be because she has beautiful hair. And they’re like, mom, she’s bald. And I’m like oh yeah, you’re right. I said, is it her beautiful smile? And she doesn’t have any teeth. Is it because she’s really good at, you know, like I’m going through the things? That sometimes we make our worth all about, right? Why did we love, why do we love it? And then they’re like, huh? I said, we love baby Gwen because she’s ours. She has never done anything to deserve our love or earn our love or be worthy of our love. She’s done nothing, she’s just here. And I think if we can really, it’s so easy. It’s so easy to start attaching our worth to all sorts of other things. That goes for us and our kids. Right? Am I caught up on laundry? What did the teachers think of me? Am I involved enough at my kid’s school? Like there’s all these scenarios where we have all these degrees of, am I doing a good job? And at the end of the day, our heavenly father, he gives us, he loves us because we’re his, and that’s our kids too. And I, and I just I hope I can hold onto that. It gets tricky. Like the older they get, I just know that in my own life growing up, I got that in my head. Right? And, and my daughter, who turns six today, I see her like she’s just more aware of people. She’s more aware. My boys are like, oh, whatever. This is me. But she sees like, oh, that made my teacher happy. I like when my teacher likes me. Like, and that’s good. Right? It’s good. But at the end of the day, I don’t want her to have to do that with me. I don’t want her to think that my love depends on whether she’s happy or not. She can, she can have a bad day. She can, you know, anyway.
Darla: No, I love that thought. What I was thinking when you were saying all that is, maybe a first step for a mom is just to know that she’s a daughter of beloved Heavenly Parents. And that they love her, no matter what. And when a mom can internalize that and know that? So, so maybe the first step for a mom is get on your knees and pray and know who you are and that’s when you can drop the expectations. And when you can let go of, and let your kids have their agency. And then you can model that for them. You can show for your example that you know who you are and then you can teach them just I mean your story at bedtime, is beautiful. That’s a beautiful way that you took an ordinary moment and you taught them the gospel, you taught them who they are, and that they have worth, and that you love them. But that they have Heavenly Parents who love them even more. So, I think that maybe that’s the first step, is just to know who we are.
Chelsea: And my heart can be on fire and then the next day, I’m just the worst. Right? And so, it’s checking back in over and over and over again and getting those and remembering the experiences that we have been blessed with. Just the same way that our kids, we check in with our kids all the time. How are you doing? Right? Like are you getting run down? Are you getting thoughts put in your head that you’re not enough? It’s just continually building that back up and remembering, that is true. I am okay.
Darla: Yeah, it makes me think of something. I love that you said the word remember. Remember who you are. We don’t remember being spirit children in the preexistence with our Heavenly Parents, but we can have glimpses of that. We can have recollections. It’s constant. We’re in a battle in this Earth life. We’re battling constantly against an opposition that wants us to forget who we are.
Chelsea: I think it is Satan’s number one goal.
Chelsea: Because when he, especially with good women who are trying, right? Because you can’t just be like, hey, let’s go sin. I mean we sin every day, but like he’s not going to like, be like, let’s go break some commandments. Right? But he just is like, how about we make them feel like they’re not doing well. Like let’s just, oh, you’re not enough. You’re not enough. You never will be. If he can destroy that hope, that little, then he’s disconnected us from our Savior. And that’s him winning. But it’s so subtle. It’s so subtle. It feels like, oh yeah, you know, we don’t want to be prideful or whatnot and it cuts us off from our power, our priesthood power. President Nelson said that we can, Oh no, I had the quote…
Darla: I have it. I have it right here. “Sisters, you have the right to draw liberally on the Savior’s power to help your family and others you love.” I just got the chills reading that. It’s so true, we have power.
Chelsea: We do. And Satan wants us to be disconnected from it. Amen to the priesthood, right? And those little thoughts, those little feelings, will do it every time and that’s why we have to keep reminding each other and we have to keep reaching out and like keeping that power intact. This is who I am. It’s that Moses moment of I know who I am, and I am because of that. I see you, Satan. I see what you are trying to sneak in and do to me and my family. And I am the lioness at the gate that is not going to let it happen. We’re going to keep remembering who we are and if we are connected to Christ there is always hope, no matter how messed up or off the path or anything, Christ always is a way back and so we’re good.
Darla: Yeah, we can do it. I think, I read something this morning that goes along with this, so indulge me for a second. I’ve been reading all the references about Christ that President Nelson talked about a long time ago. I’m finally doing it and I was reading in the New Testament. I can’t remember the exact place. I think it’s in 2nd Corinthians. I’ll look it up and I’ll put it in the show notes, but some people were some, some wayward Jews were trying to cast out evil spirits and they couldn’t do it. And Paul comes along, and the evil spirit says to these people, so Satan says, I know who Jesus is and I know who Paul is. I don’t know who you are. Basically. That’s what the verse was. And I thought about that and I thought that is powerful. We need that. We need, no pun intended, we need Christ’s power in our life and that’s priesthood power to help us battle him. And if we don’t have that, we don’t have, he’s not going to listen. He’s not going to be gone. He’s, you know, he has to respond to Christ’s power.
Chelsea: He doesn’t want us to know he’s there.
Chelsea: I felt like, demons in our life are just these creepy little, they want to get in and just like, feed us, these thoughts and feelings, like they don’t want to be recognized at all. They’re like, don’t let them know. Right? If we can recognize that and combat it with the messages Christ wants to tell our soul, that just obliterates it, right? That that light, that darkness gets dispelled.
Darla: So how do you think, as women, we tap into that power? I know you’ve studied about this. I know you’ve talked about it. What do you, what are your, what are your things that you think you know, really practically like, this is what we can do to tap into that power?
Chelsea: The temple is huge. Don’t we miss it?
Darla: I know we’re all missing the temple right now.
Chelsea: The temple is huge. And the temple, the reason it’s huge is because it is a place that’s connected to heaven. And I think it really does come back to that, staying connected. Like that is, that’s the point of all, like that’s why it’s not those checklists of it’s that the product of what we want to do with our spiritual habits, isn’t to get them done. It’s to feel connected to heaven so that we have that foundation of remembering who we are, who’s we are, who’s got us, not feeling alone. But feeling supported like we have, we have angels at our bidding. We can, we can send them with our children that our children don’t have to be alone, that we can be protected and guided and loved by all sorts of heavenly forces in our life. We just forget. We just get, oh, I’m reading my scriptures, and oh I, we do the things, but the power for me has, always come when it is a matter of, when it’s personal. That personal revelation. I know it’s God talking to me. That God knows it and I know that God knows it. Those moments are the ones that anchor my soul. I now, I call them the spiritually defining moments, but I used to call them little pillars. Like Joseph’s pillar, little pillar moments where the light comes and gets rid of the rest and just gives us those bits of truth that say, this is what matters. This is how you’re going to do it because you’re not going to do it alone. I’m going to be right here. That’s what empowers us. My friend said when we think we, I shared that quote with her from President Nelson that we can draw on those powers to help those we love, and she said, “I think what happens is the moment we think we have to do it alone, that’s when we lose.”
Darla: And that’s a trap of Satan, right? He’s certainly going to tell us we’re not enough and he’s certainly going to tell us, you are all alone. You don’t have a partner in this.
Chelsea: And other women too, you know, he doesn’t want us to reach out and cheer each other on and pull each other up. And share the power and love one another and like some of my, aside from those moments where the Lord is telling me who I am, I’m really really grateful that I have a few people I can call. And not remembering when I’ve let Satan sit there a little too long and tell me a little few too many lies that they’ll combat that for me and they’ll say, no, Chelsea, no you’re not. You’re doing great. And sometimes it takes that actual person telling you.
Darla: Yeah. God works through other people for sure.
Chelsea: We got to have those people, those cheerleaders like just on our side no matter what and that they have been Christlike friends who have represented him and told me the things that he would tell me and I’m grateful for that and vice versa. Right? We do it for each other.
Darla: Right. So important to, you know, to open up and share if you’re struggling right now, share it with someone. I was listening to a different podcast, How to Raise Grownups and Lynnette Sheppherd, the host, was interviewing someone, someone, I can’t remember her name, just about having wayward children. You know, kids that were just really not choosing what she wanted them to. She suffered alone for a really long time and she just shared how when she finally started opening up to people, first of all she realized, oh, I’m not alone like other people are suffering in silence too. Like they have the same problems and even if they didn’t have the same problems down the road, she said that some of her friends even came to her later, years later and said, I’m struggling with this now and I know you’ve been through it, can you help me? And so, I really think a key thing there is sharing. Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to blast it on social media or whatever but have a few trusted friends that you know have got your back that you can share those burdens with. It really helps us.
Chelsea: We gotta be real with God too, that some of my spiritually defining moments have come because I let God help know how much I was struggling. And that I knew that that little piece of almost desperate, that I had pieces of my testimony, that I just wanted so badly to be in place. Or I had, there’s just a million things that draw our heart out to him, and then He can respond. It does, it does take that, that realness, that vulnerability.
Darla: Right, vulnerability, being real, authentic. Yes. All those things. I love that. I love everything that you’ve shared. This has been so good for me. I know that what you’ve shared will help, will help others. So, I do have one final question for you and that is, how have you seen and felt your Heavenly Parents as your partners in motherhood?
Chelsea: I love how you changed that question. Growing up, both my parents were converts, and I will honor them for that courageous choice for eternity. I’m so grateful that they brought the gospel into my life. They came out of families that, it was hard. I was the oldest child and I think I took a lot on for my mom. When her mom died, she fell into a pretty deep depression. I was eight years old. She just didn’t recognize what was happening. She just had lost that support and my dad was unemployed for most of my growing up and that was hard on their marriage. And the idea of having, they always loved me. They gave me great, great things. But the idea of having strength supporting you, I’m not sure I felt. I almost felt like I was trying to emotionally support my parents and physically, and there is, I put a lot on myself. Being a mother to my seven kids has been one of the first things that really I can’t, I cannot do by my myself. And reaching out to my Heavenly Parents, the strength. The perfection. The fact that they are fully developed and secure in themselves. You know, we rely on each other here in life, but they’re wobbly. They kind of wobble on each other because we all have our things and we all have our, we’re just mortals. And so as nice as it is to feel all cozied up as a family and to support each other and those are wonderful. It’s not like I felt leaning on my Heavenly Parents, that their love is fully developed. It’s just perfect. And so, letting myself lean on them and feeling how completely able they are to support anything I throw at them has changed my life. And I’m so grateful to know that they unitedly accept me as their daughter, and offer all their support, the support of the powers of heaven and the universe is offered to me through their loving hands and they’re little messages of, Chelsea, we love you. You’re our daughter. We’re here for you. It’s so simple. But it is so powerful.
Darla: That is so beautifully said. I am really grateful that you’ve come today to share. I think if you kind of had to sum everything up, it’s that we are daughters of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who love us. And they are there for us. They really are our partners in motherhood. So, thank you so much for being here today.
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