Teaching Our Girls to Cry

By monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

Right now is a very exciting time in the life of our girls. Our oldest daughter, Christi (a recent college grad), is now engaged to an awesome third-generation missionary from Niger, West Africa; our brand-new daughter-in-law, Anna, is working with our son to pioneer a new mission including an orphanage and Bible school in S.E. India; and our youngest daughter, Caela, is thrilled to be chosen as Christi’s maid-of-honor. It’s also a great time in ministry. My daughters and I are launching a brand-new vision, called DARING DAUGHTERS to inspire teen girls for missions and fulfilling God’s purposes. Our heart is for teens and ‘tweens (girls, ages 10 to 20), along with moms and mentors.

Christi & Trae in Niger, West Africa -- quite a ways to go to get to know the family!!!

Christi, ministering to children in a slum area in Cambodia

Christi & Trae -- on their Engagement Day, at our home in Oregon

It’s a time of joy in our family . . . yet even in the midst of dreaming about fun girly-stuff like wedding colors and bridesmaid dresses, our heart remains focused on the needs of this world.

Recently, I found a weird verse that I shared with my girls. It’s from Jeremiah 9, and in context, the prophet was talking about how horrible it was that Israel had fallen from God’s ways. The nation was dealing with wickedness, deceit, idolatry, and all kinds of evil.

In verses 17-18, the Bible says,

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for skillful wailing women, that they may come. Let them make hast and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run with tears, and our eyelids gush with water . . .”

Isn’t that kind of strange? God was calling for the professional criers and the wailing women. There was a need for tears, but a total lack of mourning and grief. Then in verse 20, Jeremiah 9 says,

“Yet hear the word of the LORD, O women, And let your ear receive the word of His mouth; Teach your daughters wailing . . .”

Wow. This verse really stopped me.

I’m a mom with daughters, and I’m always on the lookout for what God tells me to teach my girls. So here, God is saying to teach my girls to cry . . . to shed tears . . . and even to wail. God is talking about big stuff, like rebellion against God, and not caring about sin.

Anna -- with one of the precious girls from "Aasha Children's Home"

The newlyweds -- Josh & Anna Dunagan -- already with 20 kids!!!

As moms, how often do we allow thoughts about the injustices of this world to penetrate into our hearts, to the place where we would care enough to cry? Or care enough to motivate our girlfriends and our daughters? All across the globe, and in our own nation, and right down the street, and (sadly) even blaring into family rooms through televisions and movies, there’s horrible stuff going on.

It’s stuff God calls SIN and INJUSTICE.

Even while living in God’s joy and peace, there should be seasons when the needs of this world should make us so sad, and so shocked, and so ashamed (especially as mothers who deeply care for the next generation). At times, we should be compelled to our knees, where we should cry, and even weep. Yet as women and as moms, most of us are just too calloused . . . or too busy . . . or too tired.

Moms, we need to quit striving, and to quit caring so much about what others think . . . about us, and about our homemaking skills, and our motherhood successes (or failures).

Instead, we need to care more about what God thinks. He loves us so much, and He loves our daughters, even more than we do. For both moms and daughters, our calling is to simply walk with Him and to abide in Him, and to follow His leading, day-by-day. As we each draw closer to Him, He will show us His daily divine balance, to keep our family (and for our daughter’s future family) in His order, as He will also show us how to help others.

Our youngest daughter, Caela, having fun with orphan children in Uganda, East Africa

Caela, praying for a girl at Guma Na Yesu Children's Home in Uganda

Needs that should concern a godly girl . . .

As Christian women (of all ages), we need to allow ourselves to see the big needs of this world, especially those that concern women, and girls, and children . . . like teenage pregnancy, abortion, pornography, the plight of orphan children, child slavery, human trafficking (especially of young girls), hurting and broken hearts, neglected children, and so many unsaved women and lost children who desperately need the love of Jesus.

Many of these are feminine needs that should “pull” on the God-given “nurturing” and life-giving hearts of our daughters. In this next generation, it’s going to take a mighty army of godly daring daughters to minister to these needs. But will our girls even hear about them?

It’s a responsibility of godly motherhood to instill in our girls a heart for the world’s needs (just look at Proverbs 31:8-9, about pleading for the cause of the speechless and those appointed to die, or verse 20, about extending our hands to the poor and the needy). As Bob Pierce prayed, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

As women of God, we need to care. Will our girls grow up to be pampered or passionate? Will they be cute, or compassionate? As moms, let’s ask God to give us more of His heart and His perspective. Our little girls don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details of the world’s horrible evils; but as they’re old enough to understand, we need to teach our daughters to pray, and to pray HARD!

Our daughters can be radiant pure lights . . . to reach a very dark world.

We need to teach our girls to cry.

If you’re a mom with teen daughters ages 10 to 20, or a woman with a heart to mentor a younger generation for Jesus, I invite you to come see what my girls and I are up to. We’ve just launched a DARING DAUGHTERS blog, twitter, facebook page, and blogtalkradio show; in March, we’re speaking at the Teaching Them Diligently Homeschool Convention (in South Carolina); we’re leading a DARING DAUGHTERS Retreat (at Christian Renewal Center in Silverton, Oregon); and Christi and I are writing a new book for teen girls entitled Daring Daughters & Dirty Feet (coming, Lord willing, in 2012).

Learn more at Daring Daughters.

About ADunagan

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 11 to 25, with 4 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of orphan ministries in East Africa and India (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

33 Responses to Teaching Our Girls to Cry

  1. Riris M S July 7, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    Praise the Lord. nice. moreover show the world that you have a good family because you have Jesus. maybe you could go to Indonesia, but the will of God

  2. Cassandra Marie November 25, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    It was a true joy to read your post. Currently God has called me to Uganda to work with Africa Inland Mission. At a young age, during high school, God touched my heart for missions. What a blessing to hear how a mother is encouraging, engaging, and praying for her daughters in missions. May the Lord keep your family safe while they are working for His glory all over the world. As you are all over the world may you feel close in spirit to one another. Keep up the great work the Lord has for you as a mom and know this post blessed me as a young lady serving in missions.
    Working for His Change in Africa,

  3. Jennifer Jones October 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    What a blessing to have found your page! A friend who knew I’d LOVE it sent me here. I am VERY passionate about teaching our daughters and I LOVE your title “passionate homemaking”. I assume you’ve heard of and probably know plenty about Dannah Gresh and her ministry for young girls (tweens and teens) and their moms!?!? I’m pretty involved in that, but I LOVE what you’re doing and can’t wait to find out more! :)

    • Ann Dunagan October 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm #


      Thank you SO much for your comment.

      I really appreciate Dannah Gresh and her ministry to teens & tweens (especially her balanced and sweet heart in her book, Secret Keeper, about modesty, and her involvement with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and the True Woman movement.

      It would be so wonderful if there would be any way that you could connect the vision of Daring Daughters with Dannah’s ministry. Here’s our CONTACT page…

  4. Sarah October 26, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Thank you so much for this timely post! It was so encouraging and challenging to me. I have been so overwhelmed with knowing just what to do with all of the injustice in the world as a mom to young children. I felt called to missions as a young girl, my Dad was a missionary to Honduras. As I’ve grown up, married someone who has not really had the same passion for missions, and now have 3 small children I feel like I’ve lost my vision for mission work. I now see my home and family as my ministry ( which it is) but I miss world missions and other cultures. We now have an opportunity to be in on a type of mission field on the southern border but we’re having a hard time know what to do as this is a very dangerous area and we have small children. Anyways, I guess I just struggle with how to be wise and protect our children while also making a difference and helping those that are living in these unjust situations.

    • Ann Dunagan October 28, 2011 at 8:36 am #


      One thought is that we can never underestimate the true ministry of prayer and intercession. I would encourage you to stir-up those cooled embers in your heart, that formerly stirred you for the lost and for world missions. Perhaps you could get hold of a book like Operation World (to pray for specific world needs), or Window on the World (to learn and pray with your children for different countries and people groups) — or check out the websites for Operation World or the Joshua Project for daily country or unreached people-groups to pray for, complete with maps and videos. Another idea is to sign up for a magazine like The Voice of the Martyrs (about the persecuted church) or Gospel for Asia’s SEND magazine. Perhaps take a season to read missionary biography books, or heart-challenging books such as Radical by David Platt, Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper . . . or maybe even, The Mission-Minded Family :)

      Sometimes, as moms-at-home with little ones, if we think we can’t do anything, we don’t want to “stir” our heart to care; but I think as mothers with little ones, we can invest these years in laying a strong foundation for God’s heart for the entire world, even from our homes. And no matter where we are located, or what our husbands are called to do, we can PRAY and intercede for the world.

      Blessings to you and your family!!!

  5. Sarah October 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    I think you wrote this part just for me:
    “Moms, we need to quit striving, and to quit caring so much about what others think . . . about us, and about our homemaking skills, and our motherhood successes (or failures).”
    I often seem to get my head caught up in all those strivings, and lose focus of the bigger picture, which is to glorify the Lord Jesus, and bring more people into His Kingdom. Thank you for the lovely reminder!
    I have 2 daughters, ages 2, and 6 months. I pray that the Lord will do a work in them, to make them godly, compassionate, Christian ladies.
    God Bless you!

  6. Bethany October 25, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Thank you for this! My husband and I have three very young daughters so far, and I definitely have a heart for young girls and young women.

    One way that a family (especially women in later years) can practically help young women is to adopt young pregnant teens out of the foster care system. Young women like this end up in group homes and have very little support. Most of them end up homeless once they leave the foster care system.

    • Leah Mick October 26, 2011 at 8:41 am #

      wow, Bethany,
      That is really inspiring and you are truly being the hands and feet of Jesus. So often we don’t see the ministry opportunities we can have and simply think we are called to help those in ministry, but we are all in ministry. Thanks for sharing

  7. Danielle October 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    Wow. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful message. I broke down earlier today and I now feel that God is telling me He was glorified in that. I don’t believe I was ever taught that it is okay to cry. I love that I now can feel and delight in that freedom. I hope to share this with the little ones that I hope to have one day. Daring Daughters sounds like a wonderful-moving ministry. I will definitely be looking out to learn more about it and to share it with friends and family. Thank you again so much. God truly speaks though you and your words.

    Danielle -21

  8. Kelli October 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    This was so fun to read on so many different levels- your son and daughter marrying missionaries, the verse on crying, and your new ministry Daring Daughters. I attended your workshop at the homeschool conference in Portland several years ago. God had called my husband into the ministry, but at that time I had no idea that God would call us to be missionaries to Sierra Leone, Africa. Our prayer is to get there on or before January 2013. I have 4 children, 3 girls ages 10, 12, and 13. So I will be checking out your Daring Daughters blog and seeing if God will get us to your conference in Silverton.
    Loved this post!

  9. Colleen Sleadd October 25, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    I just want to say you and your husband have done an amazing discipling your children. Congratulations on the engagement and new marriage. :)
    And I love this article. What should our tears be for?
    Grief used for God’s glory.

    • Ann Dunagan October 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm #


      I love that phrase — “Grief used for God’s glory.”

      – That’s awesome. Even through pain and hard times, and tears, may God be glorified and His kingdom be expanded. Thanks for adding this!!!

  10. Courtney October 25, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    I couldn’t agree more. For so long while I was a teen, I felt my heart broken by the sin and injustice in the world (I studied Sociology with an emphasis in Social Justice in college) but recently I have been feeling less – just not feeling much of anything. Thank you for reminding me of how deeply God feels about what happen in our lives and the lives of others.

  11. Therese October 25, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    Ann, this post was beautiful – and so true! One of the most beautiful thing about women is our ability to be compassionate. Being able to weep with God for all the sad things in this world is such a gift, and one that I hope to be able to pass on to my daughters someday.

  12. Goga October 25, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Thanks for sharing this. I too really feel that we as women have the call to care and to help people in need. I just started following your blog and I am happy that I found it. :) Love from Croatia :)

  13. Rachel October 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Great article and how I would love to cry more, but find the tears rarely come, no matter how much I want them to. After a tragic death in the family, I was glad they came so freely, but as time went on, I’m back to my non-crying self. Here’s another article from the same Bible verse.

  14. Heidi Ngai October 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Wow, this moved my heart so much! I had never seen or read that verse in Jeremiah. What a powerful verse!!! It so helped my heart to understand what I have experienced as I mourn for the children in this world that need a Father and need to know His love!! I don’t have any daughters yet, but my heart is to adopt and bring as many daughters as God calls us to love into our family and pass on this legacy of weeping for His purposes to be fulfilled! Thank you dear sister!

  15. Kim October 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    I rarely comment on blogs, but I wanted to leave a message. I really appreciate this (and all of your articles) that you post. Our family is preparing to go on the mission field and desire that it not just be my husbands or my ministry, but that we do it as a family. I especially appreciated this post, because my oldest is a 10 year old girl, and I desire her to have compassion for others around the world. I will be following the things that you do on your blog. Also, I was excited to hear that you will be speaking at the Teaching Them Diligently Homeschool Convention. That is close to where I live. I hadn’t even heard of it. But I was able to register and I look forward to being able to see you in person. Thank you for your ministry.

    • Ann Dunagan October 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm #


      How thrilling to hear that you are preparing to go on the mission field, and that you’ll be able to attend the Teaching Them Diligently Homeschool Convention. Please be sure to stop by our booth for a fun chat and a big (((HUG!!!))), and let us know that you heard about the conference through this blog.

      See you in March!

  16. Morgan October 24, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Can’t wait for the book! I have 3 daughters with a 4th on the way (she will be arriving in January). I love reading about the wonderful things your daughters are doing for Christ. It is an inspiration!

  17. Ann Dunagan October 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm #


    It blessses me so much to hear how your heart grieves for the unborn, and for the injustice and sin of abortion. God’s heart for life has always been a strong conviction in my heart, but in the last 6 months God has been stirring my heart to learn more about this need, and to read stories and facts, so I would think more about this area. Recently, along with my teen daughter, I’ve actually listened to pro/life speeches, spent time on pro-life websites, and studied a few books by Randy Alcorn.

    • Tara October 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

      Ann, are you aware of the 40 Days for Life campaign, happening in locations all over the US and in other countries right now? Today is Day 27, I believe – so there is still time left in the 40 days if you and your daughter would like to participate. It’s a peaceful prayer vigil and outreach.

      • Ann Dunagan October 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm #


        Thank you SOOO much for sharing this information about the 40 Days for Life Campaign. God is a God of LIFE, and I know His heart grieves for the terrible injustice of abortion. May He bless and anoint your prayers, as we all intercede for righteous change in our nation — beginning in our hearts, and extending to the hearts of others.

    • Monica Elith October 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

      Hi Ann,

      Abortion is certainly one of those issues where the more you read and learn, the more your heart breaks and you are moved to prayer and action. So many facts about abortion are shrouded behind vague ‘politically correct’ language and misleading terminology…it is important that the truth gets out there.

      Just a few resources I have found helpful lately: http://www.ehd.org/movies-index.php is amazing…videos of unborn babies in the womb from 4 weeks. Miraculous!

      Also, a quick Google search will show you many recent studies are linking abortion to long-term mental health risks in women. Here is the most recent: http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/199/3/180.abstract?sid=5449ca71-ac20-4e1d-8f87-f400f04ad925. Books like ‘Giving Sorrow Words’ by Melinda Tankard Reist allow women who have experienced abortion to express their grief and tell their stories.

      Finally, it is terrible and heartbreaking, but I think it’s important for us adults to know the facts about abortion procedures. Once again, due to vague language like ‘removing the pregnancy’, so few people understand what actually happens in the surgery room.

      That’s probably enough from me. :p I’m just learning all of this and so eager to share when there is an opportunity!

      God bless you and your daughters in your work for His kingdom!

  18. Monica Elith October 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Thank you for this article. It spoke to me so directly today. I have always been a ‘crier’….often feeling deeply sorrowful about the evil and suffering in the world, always struggling to know how to explain my feelings to others, and often confused as to whether this personality trait was from God, or if I was just a bit ‘depressive’. As I go further and further in my training to counsel women in crisis pregnancy situations, and as I gave birth to my first baby last year, the horror of abortion has settled deep into my heart and I feel so deeply grieved moved to prayer and tears for the women feeling like they must make this choice, and the babies that die as a result every day in my own city.

    While I know that balance is necessary (there IS joy and hope, and ultimate victory in Jesus), I feel encouraged that God sees my tears and isn’t telling me to ‘get over it’ or ‘stop thinking about it so much’. He is more grieved than any of us could ever be at all the sin, injustice, and suffering in the world. It is always before his eyes, and how it must anger him. I think of Jesus…’a man of suffering, and familiar with pain’ (Is. 53:3).

    I pray that God will raise up many women (and men!) in this generation who will allow themselves to see…to feel…to be moved…to not turn away…to act on God’s command to ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.’

  19. Ann Dunagan October 24, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    I’m writing this note from up in Alaska; Jon & I are at a GLOBAL MISSIONS CONFERENCE, and ministering together this morning (in 3 hours) about the balance of an effective and strategic balance of a mission-minded family. appreciate all the awesome comments on here.

    As for the Mother-Daughter retreat in March, any woman is welcome!!!

  20. Jessica October 24, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    Wow, I hope in ten or fifteen years my little girl is doing great things for the advancement of the Kingdom like this. Can’t wait for the book to come out.

  21. JessicaD October 24, 2011 at 6:26 am #

    ooo. I am looking into that retreat! I don’t have daughters yet but…

  22. Regina Murphy October 24, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    This is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your heart. Your family is such an inspiration. I have seen so many families in which the parents passionately served God, and the children were either complacent or walked away from the ministry and the Lord. You give me hope for my family.

  23. Lacey Wilcox October 24, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    I know this is slightly off-topic, but I definitely love the way you’re still so close with your girls. It reminds me of my relationship with my own mom, and the relationship I pray the Lord graciously grants me with my own baby girl. What a glorious opportunity to walk with them in all aspects of the Gospel.

  24. Diane October 24, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    This is great. I am so excited about your new endeavors. I have a 12 year old daughter that has expressed interest in being involved in missions when she grows up. We live to far away for the retreat in Oregon but would love to review the book when it comes out. Thanks so much for doing this.

  25. Jo October 24, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    Wow. God has really moved me through your words. I don’t have any daughters but I pray I’ll start by being moved to tears myself, instead of trying to be numb to ‘protect my heart’. Whatever moved God’s heart to mourn, may it do the same to me. Your posts are always so empowering and inspiring… thank you so much.