We recently asked you to submit questions for Gloria Furman on motherhood, marriage, and treasuring Christ in the midst of the busyness of life. In part 2 below, Gloria offers encouragement on staying balanced, living far from family, the dangers and blessings of social media, and reading good books. Be sure to check out part 1 if you missed it!
What is your biggest struggle as a mom right now?
The first thing that comes to mind is putting meals together that everyone will eat. If marshmallows and multivitamins were an acceptable diet then the only weeping at dinnertime would be tears of joy.
But honestly, I think my biggest struggle as a mom right now is my penchant for playing the blame game that our first parents invented. I hate that when I get frustrated that I’m not doing the good mothering I want to do then I turn and blame my kids and my husband for my own sin.
I don’t know what kind of baby gear is available to you where you live, and I wouldn’t want to make an assumption of what you need for your particular life circumstances.
But there is something I have learned about baby gear due to all of the traveling we do (our oldest has been on 74 flights). I hope this thought encourages you as you consider your tight budget: You and your baby need far less stuff than what the marketers/advertisers would want you to believe.
How do you balance keeping your home ready for hospitality and being present with your kids?
Sometimes, when our doorbell rings, my preschool-aged son will shriek: “Friends! Or pizza? Yay!” Either way, he is excited, and if a friend is bearing pizza then it’s doubly awesome.
It helps to think of hospitality as part of the life of your home. Hospitality is a giving issue, so it makes sense that my selfishness is what gets in the way in my hospitality. I’m really encouraged by the principles laid out in 2 Cor. 9:6-8 which lead me to pray that God would give me grace and cheerfulness to give in this way.
What are some practical ways my church can support missionary wives/mothers living overseas?
I’m so glad you asked this question! I think the churches that support us are models of encouragement. When they ask for reports on our family and our work they always ask about how I’m doing and they insist that I not be shy about telling them specific ways they can support me. They even spoil me with American treats in the mail.
Remember that encouragement is mutual—please make it a point to share with missionary women about the things God is doing through the women in your local church as well.
What advice do you have for someone raising children far away from the support of family?
Someone could write a book about raising children far away from the support of family. But I’ll just quote a Kenyan sister who just moved away from Dubai to Italy with her young family. She said in a “see-you-later” video message to our church members: “You all have been my mothers, my fathers, my brothers, and my sisters.” I agree with her wholeheartedly, and I know that our own parents appreciate this as well. When our folks came to visit us here in the Middle East they mentioned that they were pleased to see how well our local church cares for us.
How should a mom balance the blessing of social media with the distraction of social media?
I’ve opened up Facebook to see things posted by moms in my season of life and thought: “Thank the Lord, I am not crazy or alone.” Social media is a blessing when we use it to invest in people (because there are image bearers on the other end of those status updates and tweets). But I’ve found that my use of social media can become a distraction to me when I socialize to the point of becoming an idler, going from blog to blog in 1 Tim. 5:13-style.
Like all our relationships, the way we interact with people online is a matter of the heart. May I recommend two outstanding books that specifically address relationships and technology from a Christian perspective? Check out: The Next Story (Challies) and From the Garden to the City (Dyer).
If you were to recommend one book for mom’s to read this year, what would it be (excluding the Bible)?
Not By Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith by Jon Bloom—it’s a new book filled with short reflections from God’s Word that do some serious eternity-stamping on your eyeballs.
How do you find time to write in the midst of all the other responsibilities you have (wife, mother, etc.)?
Writing, for me, is part of being a healthy human. My husband is able to verbally process his thoughts out loud, but I need to have a keyboard at my fingertips or a pen (or a crayon—whatever is available, really) in my hand. I hunt down time to write because I have to.
It helps to make notes on an app in my phone throughout the day, and when my kids are in bed I get out my laptop for some extended writing. During this season I have discovered the hard way that if my computer is out while my kids are afoot then they post tweets in tongues that no one understands and edit my working documents with abandon.
How do you ensure that you’re spending one-on-one time with each of your kids?
I think this happy endeavor is an ongoing pursuit and a creative art. Something that has always impressed me is the flavor of the quality time that Jonathan Edwards spent with his kids each night (as described in the book, Marriage to a Difficult Man). This busy pastor would “enter freely into the feelings and concerns of his children and relaxing into cheerful and animate conversation accompanied frequently with sprightly remarks and sallies of wit and humor.” I’m so encouraged by Edwards’ perspective on quality time with his kids because it leaves a sweet taste to savor instead of a burden of anxiety or a law to check off my list.
What would you say to someone who says, “Why have kids? Say goodbye to your life!”?
I’d say that you might indeed say goodbye to your life as you know it. But, by God’s grace you will find that you would be willing to do it all over again if given the chance.
Underneath that comment is an iceberg of issues that can’t be addressed with one-liners. But if there ever was an icebreaker that could get you started, I would highlight C.S. Lewis’s remark in his essay, “The Weight of Glory,” in which he talks about human beings as God’s image bearers and their eternal destiny.
Lewis says, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” “People” includes babies, children, and teens. Think of it—you have never read a bedtime story to a mere mortal. You have never taught a mere mortal their times tables. No mere mortal has ever cried in their carseat in traffic. Because of eternity, there is serious joy to be had when you raise kids.
And, as Lewis says, “The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.” Our children are our littlest neighbors.
May God give us the humility and grace we need to nurture life through death-defying and death-to-self-embracing motherhood.
Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and she blogs regularly at Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and GloriaFurman.com.