Mother’s Day

When a tornado hit a small town in Arkansas last week, one mother lost everything. Her house, her things—and her two, sweet little boys. While weeping in the hospital with broken legs, this mother was able to communicate to a friend how the grace of Christ transcends even the most unspeakable of tragedies. For you see, one son had told her the Sunday before the tornado that he was ready to go to heaven. “Will you miss me?” he asked. All moms know the fear of losing their children. They also know well the daily trials that can cause boredom and frustration. Gloria Furman, a pastor’s wife in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, shares with us about how Jesus loves us in the burnout and the heartbreak.

Grace can turn burnout into a blessing.

I know it sounds goofy and backwards to say this, but when we feel burned out, we’re in one of the most tender times when we can have communion with Jesus. When I’m in the middle of an exhausting day or someone has just sincerely complimented me that the dark circles under my eyes don’t look too bad, I have to remind myself: I don’t really want to look back over the day and think, “I totally nailed it! Gimme a high five, Jesus, because we’re a great team with you on the sidelines cheering me on.” That’s not what I want at all.

What I really want is to have child-like faith in my loving Father who ordains the good work I’m walking in (Eph. 2:10), consciously give my burdens to Jesus (Matt. 11:28), and to walk by the Spirit as I resist the temptation to give up (Gal. 5:16). I don’t want to forget the Lord because my heart has become proud (Deut. 8:14). I don’t want to be so preoccupied with my own strength that I forget the Lord and all his benefits (Psalm 103).

The middle of burnout mode is actually an opportunity to say and believe with all the strength God supplies: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).

Here’s a short clip from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full that elaborates on this idea:

It’s common knowledge that the work of mothering is demanding and difficult, but sometimes we don’t live as though we need any help. Spoken as a testimony to a woman’s strength, we hear that “motherhood is not for the faint of heart.”

However, a case can be made that motherhood is only for the faint of heart. When the first child was born, Eve said, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4:10). On occasion in my doula work, a woman will admit to me that she doesn’t think she can do it—endure to the end of her pregnancy, give birth to her baby, or raise her child. When we acknowledge our inability to mother our children apart from the Lord’s provision and strength, we honor God. Of course we are not able to do this work of raising children and training them in the instruction of the Lord. That’s why we desperately need the Lord! We are to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10).

This kind of absolute dependency on God insults our pride. We’re so quick to embrace other solutions for our emotional, physical, and mental fatigue. “I can figure this out on my own,” we tell ourselves. More often than not in our trials we pretend everything is okay, and we dive headlong into self-sufficiency. Faith, rather, acknowledges the fierceness of the storm and throws us into the sea, and we swim as fast as we can to where we see Jesus walking on the water (John 6:16–21).

Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, we need the Lord’s strength to honor him in our motherhood.

Sometimes the pitter-patter of little feet means that your child is running a marker along the wall in the hallway while he toddles away from you. The sweet, bleating cries of a newborn can turn into sassy comebacks and spite­ful words. In every occasion, moms must rely on God’s strength. If we think we can do “this motherhood thing” in our own strength, then we are fooling ourselves. …

In the English Standard Version of the Bible the subtitle for Psalm 71 is this: “Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent.” This is profoundly descriptive of a psalm that lauds the Lord as the one who saves us in his righteous­ness and is to us a rock of refuge. Whether you feel that you just can’t endure or that you don’t “have it in you” anymore, or if you feel that you’ve “got what it takes,” the gospel triumphs over all. Only God’s grace in the gospel can strengthen our faith to let Jesus carry our burdens in parenting.

Listen to Charles interview Gloria on Haven Today:
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 1
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 2
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 3
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 4

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young childen, doula, and blogger. Her first book, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, helped moms see the reality of grace in all of life. Out now, her second book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms, which helps moms pursue the giver of grace: Jesus. Furman lives in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where her husband is pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. 

Content taken from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman, ©2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young childen, doula, and blogger. Below is an excerpt from her second book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms, which helps moms pursue the giver of grace: Jesus.

To say, “Being a mom isn’t easy,” is like saying, “Chocolate is yummy.” This much is obvious. There is real trouble, real discouragement, and real back- breaking work that comes with motherhood. Just watch a mom who is nine months pregnant try to get out of a car and not pull any muscles in the attempt. Just listen to a mom share the aches in her heart for the child she is waiting to adopt. Or ask a mother to tell you her prayer requests. Being a mom isn’t easy.

But sometimes mothers feel that their hands are full of inconvenience, thankless work, and futility.

Maintaining the perspective that God has abundantly blessed you is a very real struggle.

The fight for faith cannot be waged with the whimsical idea that you just need to see that “the glass is half full.”

The fight for faith should be addressed with sensitivity and grace and always subjected to the inerrant and authoritative Word of God.

I know that struggles, disappointments, and pain in motherhood are significant issues, so it is with all seriousness and sincerity that I remind myself what the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3–5:

I have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ, and I have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for me.

Even as my life is full of heartaches and triumphant victories, unknowns and hopes, I am being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation to be revealed in the future. Preaching the gospel to myself each day is the best way to remind myself that my life in Christ is the prevailing, permanent reality in my life. The indwelling Holy Spirit comforts my soul with the truths of God’s Word.

When Jesus rescued me from hell, he also rescued me to himself. I have been spared an eternity of the just punishment that I deserve and have been handed life forever with my Savior. He took that cup—filled to the brim with the wrath of God against sin—and he drank it to the dregs. Then he didn’t hand me back an empty cup (which itself would have been a mercy of unspeakable worth). The Bible says that my glass isn’t merely half full. Because of Jesus, our cup is filled to overflowing with God’s blessings (Ps. 23:5).

I know that I may not be rescued from the next blow-out diaper that leaks onto the floorboard of my car while I’m stuck in traffic with whining children who just want to get out and play.

But because of the gospel I am rescued from having to respond to those troubles in the way my sinful flesh would prefer—I am strengthened by grace because I’ve been given the righteousness of Jesus Christ when I do respond sinfully. Because of the gospel I can also see God’s good intentions to fulfill his promises to me in making me like Christ and drawing me nearer to himself. These are just a few of the ways the rubber meets the road when considering the gospel in daily life as a mom.

How does the gospel of Jesus Christ impact your life in a significant way when your seasonal reality seems to be absorbed by mundane things like bodily fluid accidents and temper tantrums at the grocery store?

Anyone can advise you on how to deal with these practical, tangible things. For example, someone could suggest that you buy a poncho and wear it until your children are in junior high. To stifle your public temper tantrums, perhaps you could go into a closet and tantrum your temper in private.

Oh? You thought I meant your kid’s temper tantrum in the grocery store? Well, that’s a different thing altogether!

Even if your first child has only just been conceived in your womb, or if you’ve recently been approved for an adoption, you can already taste the goodness of God to you in motherhood.

When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy but rather as a role with tasks that get in my way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I am missing out on enjoying God.

No amount of mommy angst can compare to the misery that comes from a life devoid of the comforting, encouraging, guarding, providing, satisfying presence of our holy God.

I want for myself what Paul wanted for his beloved Philippians (4:9):

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I want God’s peace to rule my motherhood.

I want for myself what the writer of Hebrews wanted for his readers (Heb. 12:14)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

I want to live each day in the way that I learned Christ—that is, by grace through faith. I need to put off the old self, being renewed in the spirit of my mind, and put on the new self that is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:20–24).

John Owen commented on the role of the gospel in this pursuit: “What then is holiness? Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and living out of the gospel in our souls (Eph. 4:24).”

This life of grace-infused faith would do wonders for the way I parent my children, of course, but what’s more, it keeps my gaze fixed on God. It could be said that the most loving command in the Bible is this one:

Go on up to a high mountain,
lift up your voice with strength,
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!” (Isa. 40:9)

I want to be counted among those who “will see the Lord.”

I want to behold my God!

 

Listen to Charles interview Gloria on Haven Today:
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 1
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 2
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 3

Gloria Furman lives in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where her husband is pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. Her first book, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, helped moms see the reality of grace in all of life.

 

Content taken from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman, ©2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org

Mother’s Day is approaching. Maybe you know this because of all of the TV ads telling you to hurry up and buy your mom a gift. Ann Voskamp shares with us an idea for a gift that’s better than anything you can buy.

She keeps it by her Bible. Clay shaped by hands, a pottery jar, there on the kitchen table, always there by her Bible, both open for the taking. I don’t ask her about it.

At the end of a phone call, late spring, leaves unfurling, Mama brings it up. “Ann … the jar.”

I pause at the sink, pause in the scouring, the scrubbing it all away. “Yes, Mama?”

I gave her the jar, thrift-store find, for Mother’s Day last year, filled it with slips of paper.

“I just wanted you to know what it’s meant to me. I pick out one every day … sometimes more.”

The Manitoba maple outside my window glints with coming green, and I watch the light ponding across the floor, smile for Mama gathering … “Things in that jar I never would have remembered … things I didn’t know you remembered.”

There were Jesus’ words read on Sunday, the living it out during the week now: Give thanks anyways—do this in re-membrance of Me.

God says to give thanks, to do this in remembrance of Him—because in the remembering to give thanks, it’s our broken places that are re-membered— and we are the ones made whole.

A joyful heart is good medicine and our broken bones can be re-memembered when we remember to thank a good God.

Standing at the sink, watching the spring winds bring hope and life again, I remember sitting in the sun of a May day last year, writing out those slips of paper … dipping back into pool of memories and specifically winding them in and writing them down, line by line.

Thank you, Mama, for all the nights you sang me to sleep, me so scared of dark and of dying in my sleep, and you so tired. You never got frustrated with me… just kept rubbing my feet and singing … Thank you. 

Thank you, Mama, for quizzing me on all of the dates for Mr. Manoryk’s world history tests … I passed!

Thank you, Mama, for still loving me, always loving me, even when I was a saucy 12-year-old with hair-sprayed bangs who thought she knew what to wear and what to eat and where to go and was really too hard to endure …

I scratched down a sheet with spontaneous gratitude, memories I too had forgotten before pen found page. But gratitude is a magnet, attracting filings of goodness out of the expanse of the past.

I remember having written some of the memories slow … looked through the shadows of the past and remembered the good … and saw how it was happening: Authentic thanks in all things is possible because our God is a God kneading all things together into a bread that sustains. Through hard, lean years—Mama and I, we had been the busted up who had hurt each other, the unlikely still sustained. And we both had lived it, come out the other side of it.

When we stop seeing reasons to give thanks, we stop thinking there are reasons to live.

When we don’t focus on what we can thank God for, we can’t focus on living for God.

Giving thanks can help us want to take the next breath.

“When I read those slips of paper, one little thanks at a time, it’s like—a long hug from you.” Her voice is breaking up and the tender coming leaves outside the window blur a bit in wind, in me brimming. Her brimming. “It’s like the past redeemed. Thank you.”

I can hardly hear her whisper through the feeling. I can see her though, my heart can, my heart can see my mama unfolding each note. I had felt it too as I wrote each memory, line by line: A bit of gratitude for the past goes a long way to redeem the past.

The therapy is in the thanks.

Thanks therapy is God’s prescription for joy.

“Oh, but the thanks is all mine, Mama. All mine.”

Thanksgiving is always the gift back. The late spring winds blow away a bit of the cold, the warmth surely coming.

And there’s this way that one can sit silent with a mama who was brave and gave.

The mama who tried, who could use a thousand thanks for all her worn and comforting grace.

Ann Voskamp is a farmer’s wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times bestseller, and The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, she’s a writer for DaySpring, a speaker with Women of Faith, and a global advocate for needy children with Compassion International. Ann loses library books, usually has a sink full of soaking pots, and sees empty laundry baskets rarer than a blue moon.

Mother’s Day is the day that my kids will smother me with the cards and crafts they have made that read “#1 MOM” or “Mom of the Year.” And while they do this, I will want to sit them down and talk to them about how we should be honest and not lead others to believe that they are something they are not.

Now, I know that I am a “good” mom. I mean, my kids are clothed, schooled and fed; I really could be doing much worse. But “Best MOM Ever?” I think not.

I’m not the “Best Mom Ever” when my harsh words and anger cut through the morning air. And I’m not the “#1 Mom” when I tell my kids to use their words to build one another up only to tear them down with my own words when they start fighting.

Not one of us is the mom that we need to be to our children. You and I both know that we have failed miserably. All you have to do is browse Pinterest, Facebook or mommy blogs and you will soon feel that anxiety of needing to do more for your kids rising up within you.

Now that I’ve given you the bad news and made the (burnt) toast from your Mother’s Day breakfast in bed drier than dirt and the (cold) coffee and scrambled eggs (with shells) have lost their appeal, let me give you the good news.

Romans 3:23-24 gives mothers the good news that we so desperately need to hear, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” We have all failed but because of his great love for us he has given us the gift of his righteousness.

In other words; Christ died for moms!

Jesus knew what it was to care for others. He knew the patience needed to deal with the immaturity of those who didn’t understand. His very ministry was to the messy, the broken, and the demon possessed maniacs that our children all too often emulate. With you and me in mind, he perfectly and flawlessly cared for those around him when he could have so easily thrown in the towel. Do you see the love there?

We needed the blood of Christ to wipe our “bad mom” slate clean. But a clean slate wouldn’t be good enough, would it? If we simply had a clean slate set before us every day our lives would consist of trying to rewrite it with the words “Best Mom Ever.” But thank God that he didn’t leave the slate clean for moms. No, he wrote across it with permanent marker the title that was meant for him, “MY BELOVED WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.” Our record today remains as perfect, beloved, God pleasers; on the good days as well as the bad.

Do you believe this, my friends? No matter how much you make a mess of motherhood, He loves you just as much in your state of grace as he does in your state of disgrace.

This is our God. This is motherhood. We are his beloved! Let’s do the hard work of believing that we are just that.

And if I can leave you with one thought on this Mother’s Day let it be this, Christ loves mothers as the messes that they are, not as the cleaned up mothers that they think they should be. Not one of us is as she should be. This is great news!

This post first appeared on Karis, the women’s channel for CBMW.