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Dec 20, 2023

In this episode, Victoria Riollano leads us in a discussion on how to spiritually protect our children by creating a war plan for our family.

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Get your copy of Warrior Mother: Equipping Your Heart to Fight for Your Family's Faith and get her free resources.

Warrior Mother: Equipping Your Heart to Fight for Your Family's Faith


Show Notes:

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Welcome, everyone. This is Dr. Saundra, and you're listening to I Choose My Best Life. Today, we're chatting with Victoria Riollano, and she will help us understand how we can be warrior moms who stand in the gap for our families. Victoria is a mom of eight. She's also a military spouse and knows a lot about this process.

So I'm looking forward to our conversation. Victoria, welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. I want to hear a little bit about your background. What made you write a book about being a warrior mom?

Victoria Riollano: Yeah. So, as you said, I do have eight kids. I didn't start off that way. In fact, when I had two kids, I realized that motherhood was extraordinarily more overwhelming than I expected. As a person who has a background in child development, that's what my degree is in. I just figured motherhood would naturally come. But I will say a couple of years into my journey, I found myself hiding in closets for my kids when they were too noisy, just not knowing what to do, crying all the time, anxious, depressed, fearful, all the things motherhood was basically taking its toll on me and it wasn't until I really started to put my trust in God and allow him to lead my journey and rest in him that I started to see things change and realize that I was more courageous, more resilient than even I thought I was. So yeah, that's what kind of encouraged me to write this book for other moms so that they could know that they could rise up above those daily challenges and really be warrior mothers themselves.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: I love the fact that you come at this from someone who has experience with just what it looks like to be a warrior in your own family because you have a spouse who is in the military. What has your experience been as a military spouse as it relates to parenting and home life and just supporting your spouse in that process?

Victoria Riollano: Yeah. So, one thing about being a military spouse is you always get to hear the stories when they come home. One thing that has always been a central theme is this idea of the commanding officer taking the lead and being the people who have to follow the commanding officer is something that my husband will always talk about.

And that really came to life to me when I started to write this book because, for so long I was the commander in chief of my own home, of my own heart, of my own parenting journey. So just being a military spouse helped me realize that there is power in submitting to authority sometimes. For me, Submitting to God has really been that pivotal thing that's changed my parenting.

And so, even throughout the book, I give so many of his stories as examples of how we can allow God to take the lead and take charge of our parenting.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Now you talk about having a war plan inside of your book, Warrior Mother. So what is a war plan? And why do we even need one?

Victoria Riollano: Yeah, so that chapter is my favorite chapter because I am a planner.

I plan when I go to the grocery store, I plan when I go to the mall, and I plan vacations for months and years at a time beforehand. And so, for me, what I realized is when it came to my parenting, I had no plan. I just let each day happen as it may. And most of the time, it didn't end very well. And so the work plan is just an opportunity for mothers to take that pencil and to pray and to take that paper and to say, God, what is it that you have for my family?

And so, the work plan includes a foundational verse. It includes things that are non-negotiables for your family, things that you are just not going to allow to happen, whatever rules that you have in place. And then, it also has specific goals in mind for your children and for your family. So, it is just a way for you to actually visualize what it is that God is speaking to you and follow that.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: I love that because I think we, we hear a lot about. Revival, we hear a lot about starting at home, raising your kids in the way they should go, and these types of mindset. But I think sometimes we don't actually go about it in an intentional way so that you can have some steps as far as what you need to do to get to that place.

And I know in your book, you do talk a lot about spiritual transformation. Why do you feel like spiritual transformation is key to this process of really building homes that are strong in their faith?

Victoria Riollano: Yeah. And so one thing I noticed when I was looking up parenting books for myself is that parenting books, Christian parenting books specifically place a lot of focus on behavior.

How do we fix the kids, right? Instead of, hey, how do we work with mom? How do we work with Dad to be able to create environments that are conducive to learning more about the Lord? And so I've learned in my own life that the closer I am to God, the more I'm able to show his love, the more I'm able to speak and act in a way that would draw my kids closer to God because I can preach and teach And throw Bible scriptures and throw Bible stories at them all day long.

But if I'm not changed on the inside, I'm not giving them anything to model. It's just stories on paper. And so, really, God has shown me the importance of really taking my spiritual health very seriously because I can't take it anywhere that I'm not even willing to go in my own life.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Oh, that is so true.

And I think that, once we start looking at it that way, that it has to start with me, a personal revival, a personal relationship, that spiritual transformation within my own heart to then have the kind of wellspring inside of me to even be able to pour into our children and our families. So, in your chapter on modeling the faith, what are some keys or strategies, or maybe even just the first steps that a mother can take?

Who is listening to us and thinks - This is something I need to do. This is a place where I need to really take some inventory related to my family. Where does she begin?

Victoria Riollano: Yeah, I think the first place she begins is how she talks about herself and how she talks about other people. That right there is going to set the foundation of how you talk to your own children as well.

So our mouth, really monitoring what comes out of our mouth because that's the first thing that kids are going to pick up on is how does my mom speak to me? How does my mom speak to other people? How does she talk about other people? I think that is the first thing. And I think that leads to the second thing: How do you interact with your word?

How do you interact with your word? Do you speak about the Bible? Is the Bible and God's story of love and hope just throughout your home in every situation? For example, in my home, if my child falls and bumps their knee, I'm immediately like, let's pray for you. We're going to get the band-aids, too, but I'm also going to go ahead and pause and pray for them.

So, I'm modeling for them, but I believe in prayer. Even though I didn't necessarily say it, I've modeled it for them. And then one other thing that I also talked about in that chapter is how do we talk about the church. Because that's something that's very important because, as parents, if we want our children to have deeper relationships with God, we really have to monitor How are we talking about the church and what it looks like to be in fellowship and community with other believers, because when we're not there for our kids, it's possible that the church may actually come and step in and fill in those holes.

So we want to be very mindful of if we're drawing them closer to God and his people or if we're drawing them away by the things we talk about in that area, too.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Yes. Now I know we said you're a mom of eight kids. Those kids range in age from you just recently having a newborn to what is the age of your oldest child?

Victoria Riollano: Yeah, so my kids range from three months to 16 right now. So, every two to three years, babies.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: So, is this book written with a specific mother? In mind regarding her stage with her children, or can moms at any stage in their parenting and their motherhood gain benefit from the lessons that you share, I would venture to say moms really at any stage because there were some battles that I dealt with when my children were under five.

Victoria Riollano: But there's some battles that I'm dealing with now that my children are teenagers. It's just totally different worlds. And I'm sure if I were to talk to my mother, who now has a 30-plus child, that there are some battles that she's dealing with, too. So, I feel like at every stage of motherhood, we can use these truths of not believing the lies of the enemy.

We can use the truth of modeling what it looks like to be a Christian mom. And we can also use the truth of knowing that we're not alone. And our struggles and that we need to find other women to come alongside us and to be battle buddies for us when things get very tough and very difficult.

But I will say that the most difficult age I felt like I needed a book like this more than anything was when I had children who were toddlers and preschoolers. For me, that was the most difficult time frame when I really felt like I was alone in the battle and I needed scope.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: That is so true in my own journey.

That has been my experience as well. My kids were very close in age, 21 months apart. And so it was that period of time that it just felt so overwhelming there. Unruly. They're kids, they're having fun, they're doing their own thing. And, if most of your friends have kids of the same age, they really don't have a lot of extra time either.

And so you do have that period of time when you feel like, wow, this is this, these are the kind of the lonely years of parenting. How can moms help support each other to be warrior mothers?

Victoria Riollano: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is when you have a friend who feels a little bit lonely like you described, and I described is to be a good listener.

That is a gift that goes far beyond giving parenting advice, throwing books, and taking her coffee to listen. One of the best ways that you can show up for that sister, and I would say secondly and maybe probably more importantly now that I think about it, is to Pray for her when she knows about it and pray for her even when she doesn't know about it every time God brings her to mine Pray for her because you never know the solid struggles that she may be going through that she really needs someone to come alongside her.

And if she dares ask you for advice, be sure to lead her back to the Lord and tell her your story, your testimony, and how you've come through hard situations so that she knows that she's not alone. 

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: That's so good. I think whenever we can extend an opportunity to listen to somebody, I think we forget just the power of making ourselves available, the power of our presence, just to be in the moment with someone when they feel like they're going through and when they're having these hard times.

Now, I know that whenever I write a book, somewhere in that writing journey, I learn something I did not expect to learn, and I don't mean like theologically or even scientifically learning something, but I learned something about myself. There's some spiritual growth and maturity that occurs.

What surprised you most about your own spirituality and spiritual maturity as you wrote this book? Yeah,

Victoria Riollano: I think for me, I really went into motherhood. I. I knew all the things, and I think I went into this book the exact same way only to realize I have a whole journey ahead of me, even like the war plan.

I think I have several kids to do their war plan for, too, because of time, but really, writing this book taught me that there is still so much more to know about who God is. There's so much more that I can learn about what it means to be a good mother. I haven't arrived, and I've written this book from that perspective of, I have, I am, people always call me super mom.

I'm like, I am not super mom. I am a mom who is trying and doing her best. There were many times that I wrote my book, most of the book inside of the church, and my husband, the pastor. And there were many times that as I was writing, I was crying like God, can you fix this about me too? Because I need help in this specific area.

So, it's just the biggest thing, the biggest takeaway from me is to know that we can always grow. We can always learn. If we've ever reached a point where we figured it all out, then we may as well go ahead and see Jesus right now because as for me, in my house, I'm

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: still learning. Amen. Same here. That's a very true statement.

As for me and my house, we're still learning too. We have not arrived and have not figured it out. I want to dive a little bit into the word itself because when some people see the word warrior, it seems like it doesn't. The word mother, we think of mother, we think of nurture, we think of soft, gentle, caring, protective, we think about the mother hen, mother bear kind of ideas, but when you attach the word warrior to it, the two words almost look in opposition to each other.

So what does it mean to you? What does the word warrior mean to you? 

Victoria Riollano: Yeah, so base level, when we write books, the first thing we do is start looking up words. The first thing I did was look up the word warrior when God gave it to me. And it means a brave person who is resilient and actively engaged in warfare.

And I think, as mothers, we do ourselves a great disservice if we do not realize that we are actively involved in warfare. There is a real God; there is a real devil. Some of these battles that we go through are daily battles, like the kids are up all night, they won't go to sleep, or you have a teenager who's back talking.

But some of these battles are real battles in terms of the enemy trying to fight for your children's souls. And if we take the passive approach, they can be in a world of trouble. And so it is so important that we rise up, that we put on our spiritual armor, that we stand in faith, that we stand strong, and that we pray for our kids, like their life depended on it.

That's not passive. That is. Aggressive, like the enemy is not gonna have my kids. I know that I'm going to pray for them. I'm going to stand in the gap for them. I will believe for them because I feel like the parents are that first line of defense, especially while they're still in your home. The enemy is bringing everything to try to attack their identity and try to attack who God says they are and what they have, what he has for their life.

And I. At the end of the day, I have had that question before. They're like warriors normally attached to manhood and being strong. And I'm like, mess with a mom's kids, and you'll see a warrior come out quickly. I'm just, in so many words, giving her permission to go forth and do as the Lord would have her to.

So again, God is the commander-in-chief, but. I'm a soldier, and I'm willing to do whatever it is that God tells me to do to follow the direction to help my kids to know God more and just to know that 100 percent that he loves them without a shadow of a doubt. And there's nothing that I wouldn't do to help them to get to their purpose.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Amen. I think I love this book and the way you approach it so much because of this, I think too often, just as you described, we box women into this concept of soft, gentle, passive, and we, it's almost like we, we strip them of parts of their identity that are strong, courageous. I think about when I think about women in the Bible, the title of your book, Warrior Mother, makes me think of Deborah.

Because that's what she was; she was a judge in the book of judges, but really, she was a mother of a nation. And she was a woman who was courageous and had a warrior-type spirit. She was not going to; it wouldn't happen on her watch kind of spirit. And I think every woman has to have some level of that in her own home with her family and with her children.

The ability to be open to. Have a war plan, as you mentioned, where you are strategic and how you're approaching these things. I want to close our time together by just looking at, as you mentioned, this war plan, because I think it's so important for us to have kind of a next step. What are some things to include within our war plan as we're thinking, first of all, do we do this for our family, or is it per child?

What does it look

Victoria Riollano: like? Yeah, I would definitely start with doing it for your family and really mainly focusing on what your mission is as a family and what that foundational verse for my family is Colossian 323. Do it for Jesus. That's like our short way of saying that verse. But for us, that has been like the foundation.

And then, as time allows, go ahead and do a war plan for each child. And so that's going to include that mission statement for that child. Remember, these are things that we're getting from God. We're praying, we're asking God, what is your mission for this child? And how can I help them get there? Ask the Lord for a verse for that specific child and then some goals that are related to them.

So, in my home, one particular war plan that I created, I had a child who was struggling with reading. And so one part of that goal for him was to help him to read. So this was like a tangible, practical goal. But then on the other end, my goal for him was to instill a sense of resilience, hope, and strength.

So, that had more to do with his emotional capacity. So I would say, if nothing else, pray that God will give you a Bible verse for your home that you can stand on. And when things get very frustrating and overwhelming, you could stand on that verse and say, okay, I'm going to continue to trust God because this verse is dear to my heart.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: I love that. That is so practical and so doable. And I think it's a great way to a relationship with our children in a way that is engaging with the spiritual aspect of it, where we are interceding on their behalf, and we are taking things before God and really being intentional about how we pray and how we stand in the gap for them.

We've been chatting with Victoria. She is the author of Warrior Mother. Victoria, I want to make sure people know how to get in contact with you and how to get a copy of your book.

Victoria Riollano: Absolutely. So feel free to check me out on my website: And then you could also grab my book wherever books are sold, like, Walmart, Target, all the things you'll find it.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Excellent. We will include a link to your website and your book in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining us today. Until next time. Everyone, live fully, love boldly, and rest intentionally.

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