One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to connect with inspiring women. Betsy Ruales and I attended the same university, and we recently reconnected via social media. Betsy is one of the kindest, wisest, and most intentional women that I know. She serves alongside her husband in Quito, Ecuador, and she recently became a mama to a beautiful baby girl. I admire the depth of Betsy’s faith and her wisdom regarding holistic health for women.
Today, I’m sharing my interview with Betsy and our discussion about the importance of holistic health for women, mothering with intention, and her family’s ministry in Ecuador.
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Tell me about yourself and your family.
Hello there! My name is Betsy Ruales. I am American-born, but my heart belongs to the nations. About four years ago, I married my Ecuadorian husband and moved down to live with him in the city of Quito. We just had our first child this past summer and are in the throes of newborn parenting, adjusting to sweet baby smiles and long nights. As a family we serve here in full time ministry, with the focus of seeing this generation come to love the Lord and live on mission for him.
What are you passionate about and why?
For a long time I have seen families and specifically women serving the Lord nationally and internationally who are trying to pour out from an empty cup or who are so unsure of their kingdom identity that they are slowly wasting away though their heart is to serve. On the flip side, I have seen many in this generation pursue the world’s idea of feminine empowerment to the end of no longer depending on the Lord and not knowing how to respect men in the process.
Both, I have seen, lead to burnout and both end up being toxic in the realms of family and ministry. Thus, my heart is to see women so rooted in the Lord that they can thrive and be a blessing to their families and to the nations, being an example of spiritual, physical, and emotional health to the world around them. I long to see women in this generation step into their god-given roles with boldness and humility, understanding that it is our strength to be fully dependent upon the Lord.
What are your top 5 values?
Faith – believing in the unseen
Family – healthy unity as priority
Excellence – your best, not perfection
Relational Depth – genuineness
Holistic Health – Mind, Body, and Spirit
Do you have a favorite book? Why?
I left this question until last because picking a favorite for me is probably the hardest thing ever. But if I had to go with just one I’d probably say Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequest. It is a rich and personal account of the value of the table, the unique and holy gatherings that happen around a meal, and tips on where to begin in facilitating these kinds of moments. If you value people and food and good conversation or simply want to value those things and don’t know where to begin, this is a fabulous book.
Can you please share your testimony?
Having grown up in a Christian family, I understood from a young age that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. However it was not until the age of about 14 as my family was serving in cross-cultural ministry that I understood the importance of Jesus being the Lord of my life and letting Him dictate my plans and my purpose. It was then, as a teenager, that I gave Him my life and committed in my heart to serving Him and advancing His kingdom for the rest of my days.
From that point, I have been committed to making disciples of all nations – a principle which has taken me all around the world and allowed me to see the Lord at work in mighty ways.
How did you and your husband meet?
My husband, Stephen, and I met in college. I had seen him leading worship in chapel and he caught my eye. But one day our paths crossed on our way to a class and he stopped me to say hello. One small college campus event after the next we kept running into each other – a salsa dance and a Christmas party quickly led to writing each other and then him inviting me to hang out more intentionally. A few months later we started dating and after six and a half years (three of which were long distance), we got married and I moved down to begin a life with him in Ecuador!
How long have you lived in Ecuador?
I have now been living in Ecuador for about four years, which is now the longest I’ve lived in any one city since I was twelve. Prior to getting married I was living in Germany doing refugee work and, as you can imagine, the cultural shift from Germany to a Latin nation was quite a stark contrast. But right as I was in the thick of the cultural transition upon arrival, the global pandemic of Covid hit.
Lockdown began and we were unable to leave our home for 3 months. Everything shut down. For 14 months we were unable to attend public church gatherings and everything shifted to online. So, despite being physically in Ecuador and in the thick of ministry amongst Ecuadorians, our only interactions were online or in very small groups.
Can you share about the culture and what life is like there?
In some ways, the reality of Ecuadorian culture was more present than ever – mass panic in the front of a pandemic, daily faced with the reality of living in a third world country as many in our community barely had a enough to eat and as countless did not have the finances to see their loved ones get the medical attention they needed.
It was really after this season of the pandemic came to a close that I gradually was reintegrated into local culture. But things hardly felt normal. Many of the youth we were working with hadn’t left their homes for nearly two years by the time we saw them in person. At that point, more than Ecuadorian culture, we were shocked by the weight of anxiety and depression that hung like a cloud over the city.
Today, nearly 4 years later, still much of culture remains impacted by that season. But little by little, bits of Latin flare seem to be creeping back into everyday life. The culture of having friends over for lunch and they stay until 11pm, the intentional pursuit of time with extended family members, the gatherings that never start on time and always end up with twice the amount of people you anticipated…pure Latin culture. For better or for worse!
Did you grow up bilingual or did you learn as an adult?
I grew up in your very average white American home, where we all spoke a very southern version of English. When I was 12, my family moved for work to the Middle East. That was my first lengthy exposure to other cultures and languages. And I discovered I loved everything about it. As of 8th grade I started taking Spanish classes and never looked back. Now my life is extensively bilingual, and we are raising our family with exposure to several languages from a young age.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to learn another language or for moms who hope to teach their children another language?
You could probably find a million excuses as to why this is not a good season or all the ways you’re going to fail at speaking or grammatical conjugations as you go. But if you let yourself get stuck there, you will never make it.
So, just download an app and start committing 15 minutes a day to learning. Or buy a Bible in another language to read to your kids. Or have a friend who speaks another language come over to your house or meet you at a park to practice the language for an hour a week. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Just start somewhere.
That said, the best motivation I’ve ever found for learning a language is for it to be highly relational – that to hear someone’s story, you have to learn their language. Or for your kids to play with other kids, they need to learn a new language. Speaking to someone’s heart in their mother tongue is always more motivating than a textbook.
Can you share about your ministry, Quito House of Prayer?
The Quito House of Prayer was started because we saw a generation of believers wanting to make an impact in the world but with a very shallow understanding of their faith and who God is. Our heart is to see a missions-sending movement sparked in Ecuador. But if those that are being sent to the nations are unhealthy and immature spiritually, then what is the lasting impact on the nations? The Quito House of Prayer, therefore, is a neutral space where people from different churches and backgrounds can come nurture their relationships with God and grow in His presence so that the seeds they are planting would bear fruit that is connected to the vine and not wither away by the pressures of society.
Can you share about the work you do at your church?
Currently, alongside my brother and sister and law, my husband and I are co-pastoring a church plant here in Quito. We saw a need for a church that provided space for genuine relationship with God and others and that was specifically directed toward new or non believers. Due to this focus, the church is very much like a big family with a very missional core.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Currently, with a 4 month old “typical” is a pretty illusive way to describe my days. Most every day is different. And that’s okay for us in this season. Usually there is an odd combination throughout the week of discipling the girls on our team over coffee, staff meetings, intentional quality time with my child, taking care of laundry/cooking/etc, and teaching a class at our ministry training school here and there. All of that has yet to settle into a fixed rhythm, but it’s also freeing to get to flex with the needs of my family and my team weekly.
While we do value fixed routines for our daughter, we also value her ability to be flexible. So while she may take naps at consistent times each day, the location of those naps may need to change. We focus on observing her needs and if she’s seeming overstimulated or restless, we pull back from activities for her to get some good rest. But if she’s well rested and fed we try to expose her from a young age to different worship gatherings and rhythms of life.
Your Instagram talks about holistically equipping women in faith. Can you explain what you mean by holistic health for women? Why do you think holistic health for women is important?
I fully believe that God created us to be integrated beings. One part of life naturally affects many others and rightfully should. But the more I’ve been involved in ministry around the world, I’ve seen people try to isolate spirituality. Frankly, it doesn’t seem to me to be working.
The way you care for your body through nutrition and exercise is a testimony to God’s redemptive work in your life. The way you raise and steward your children is a reflection of the work God has done in your heart. The temperament of our homes speaks volumes to whether or not we walk in the fruit of the spirit.
No, it is not about earning our salvation through any one of these “works” nor is it ever about fitting into a certain size pants or having a Pinterest-worthy home. It’s not about perfection or idolizing any of these areas of our lives. But YES, the gospel should naturally ooze its way into every part of our lives. And if these key areas of our lives are not reflecting gospel-centered principles then I would ask how much authority you’ve really given God in your life. The main effect of the gospel in our lives is to be transformed from our sin nature into Christlikeness, and if that’s not happening something is wrong.
Can you share about your experience with pregnancy?
After the initial discovery that I was pregnant, the reality of the first trimester hit hard. I had no appetite and was so dizzy I basically laid in bed for two months straight, too nauseous to read, watch TV, or look at my phone. As the second trimester began these symptoms let up and I began to be able to enjoy pregnancy. Third trimester was tiring as it became hard to sleep, but I see so much of God’s hand in the process, physically preparing my mind and my body for sleepless nights postpartum. All things considered, I’m thankful that I was able to remain fairly active (not really working out, just moving around) even up until the end of my pregnancy.
At 39 ½ weeks pregnant, our baby girl was showing signs of being ready to come. They kept me on some tests to make sure my body and her body could handle a natural birth and after everything was cleared, I began unmedicated labor. After 7 hours they informed me I was fully dilated but my baby was not descending, so we eventually opted for a c-section.
Can you share about your postpartum experience?
Recovery was a challenge, but after 3 knee surgeries, postpartum didn’t feel quite as overwhelming. Due to some potential health complications, we ended up staying in the hospital a total of 5 days and frankly, it was a gift that we could get a few hours of rest and leave our baby in the safety of the nurses care for a bit. We also made the most of their presence by asking them every question imaginable of how to care for our newborn.
Going home was both refreshing and challenging. At first I was riding on cloud 9. But soon the postpartum hormones kicked in and I felt like an emotional rollercoaster. Eventually I discovered going outside or being with people a few times a week greatly affected my mental state and started planning accordingly.
Overall, I feel recovery has been smoother than anticipated, though not a breeze. And while there are new things to learn every single day as a new mom, we’re all getting the hang of functioning on limited sleep, doing our very best, and having grace for the rest.
What has been your greatest struggle or challenge since becoming a mom? Your greatest joy?
Throughout my life I’ve generally leaned in the direction of caring too much about others’ opinions. So you can imagine motherhood for me: a constant onslaught of people telling you over and over again their opinion of what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your child. That’s been a challenge for sure! I’m definitely learning to develop some thick skin and learning to kindly and directly say, “This is just how we do it, thank you,” but it wears me out faster than you can imagine!
My greatest joy has been learning to really relish in the company of my daughter. I verbalize it to myself and to her often, but really I love spending time with my child. Sure, we have our moments when I quickly get maxed out and need some space, but in general I’m learning to love just being with her. Watching her grow and learn and observe the world, laugh for the first time, all of that is icing on the cake that takes my breath away. But truly it’s a gift to get to be with my daughter for each of those moments.
What advice do you have for other new moms?
Ask the Lord how YOU should parent YOUR child. Every child and every family needs something different. And it’s okay to glean from the wisdom of those around you, but you don’t have to imitate every tip you see on an instagram reel and your family doesn’t have to look or run like all the other families around you.
You share a lot of incredible tips about holistic health for women. Can you share more about why it is important to care for yourself as a mom?
In university, one of the most groundbreaking things I learned is that in the process of human growth and education, the majority of what we learn is caught not taught. You can try to teach your kids how to be healthy and whole individuals but if you don’t model it for them, it’s probably going to go in one ear and out the other. Obviously if you really believed it, you’d be applying those principles in your own life, right?
Many moms try to wear self-sacrifice around like a badge of honor, thinking it somehow makes you a better parent the more you beat yourself up. But in reality you’re just teaching your kids to do the same.
In contrast, can you imagine how powerful it would be for a generation of mothers to model eating well, staying active, pursuing Christ and healthy community, speaking truth over their lives, etc.? Can you imagine the health and disciplines that would naturally sow into the lives of their children?
It would be revolutionary!
Can you share some practical tips about holistic health for women–specifically for moms with newborns or young children?
Now I’m not saying you have to run a marathon the day you’ve passed your six week postpartum wellness check or that you have to have it all together. But here are a few practical ideas on where you could start even with a newborn at home:
Get into the Word! Don’t have time to sit and read for an hour? Try listening to the Bible while nursing or getting ready for the day.
Stay active. Do some squats while holding your baby. Or pushups while they’re doing tummy time. Just like their body needs to get stronger, so does yours.
Get ready for the day. Even if you set your kid in a safe place for 5-15 min while you shower or do your hair or makeup you’ll feel amazing and be a kinder human for it, I promise.
Get outside. Go to the park, sit on the porch or balcony while you nurse, walk somewhere instead of driving. Not only is it healing for your brain, but it’s good for your baby and can be a good opportunity to be active too.
Scatter prayer throughout your day. Cooking? Pray for your child to come to know the Bread of Life. Getting dressed? Pray for the Lord to clothe you with his armor and with his righteousness.
Just because you’re in a season where your time distribution looks different doesn’t mean you have to neglect yourself. It may take extra creativity but there is always a way to work disciplines into your daily life and doing so will yield so much fruit in the lives of your children and grandchildren.
You have shared a lot about holistic health for women. What are values you hope to pass down to your daughter? What are your dreams for your family?
Hard is not the same thing as bad. Hard things make you stronger.
You are fully dependent on Christ and that is your greatest strength.
You are a strong woman, empowered by God, who can depend on and respect healthy authority in your life.
There is no limit to the value of someone trusting you with their story.
Every human being bears the image of God.
Find the gold in others and call it out.
God is our provider. It’s His nature and He always comes through.
My dream for my family is that they would love God and love others with everything they have in them and against all odds. I long for them to be bold and unashamed of Truth, willing to stand up for what really matters in the face of adversity. I want them to dream dreams that are bigger than they could ever hope to fulfill on their own so they can see an Almighty God come through for them every time.
Are there any Bible verses that have encouraged you or helped shift your perspective as a mom?
“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”
This passage reminds me constantly of the abundant grace the Lord showers over us mothers in this season and, man, am I thankful for every ounce of it!
What are some personal goals you have for yourself for this year?
Write a book
Have a retreat on holistic health [for women].
Invest in and design a short term rental property
Help our staff create and fulfill Personal Development Plans
Where can people follow along with you for more tips on holistic health for women and encouragement in faith and motherhood?
You can follow Betsy on Instagram for more resources about holistic health for women during the motherhood years. Betsy shares encouragement and practical resources for new moms and young families.
Personally (in English) @betsy.ruales
Where can we learn more about your family’s ministry in Ecuador?
You can follow along with the Ruales family’s ministry in Ecuador on the following accounts:
For more personal ministry updates, share your email address with Betsy (via social media) to get regular email updates.