Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for this review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.
Sitting in my ladies bible study, I listened to everyone give their prayer requests for the week. Over and over I heard a common theme as the women spoke in life-weary voices. Peace. The need to be settled. Calm in the midst of chaos. Each woman a mom, each heart overwhelmed by the responsibilities and duties of juggling children, a home, and life. I saw tired eyes and sagging shoulders and hearts that needed encouragement and hope.
To be honest, I need some peace and hope myself. I struggle to live a life of joy and serve my family wholeheartedly. I too am worn by unmet expectations, failed plans, mommy guilt, and the closet I keep thinking I’ll clean out but never do.
I recently was given the opportunity to read Rachel Jankovic’s new book Fit to Burst : Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood. You may have read her book Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches. In Fit to Burst : Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood, Rachel addresses the challenges of motherhood and gently prods and points us to what really matters– bringing glory to God in our role as mothers. This book encourages the reader to glorify God and live out the truths of the gospel in our interactions with our children, in the way we feed them, in the way we handle stress, in the way we handle embarrassments, and in all the mundane activities of motherhood.
Each chapter is short–which was good for this busy mom! Filled with real life insights and her own struggles, Fit to Burst : Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood is a book that addresses issues every mom faces in every day life. But it’s not a book that just jokes about the struggles and allows us continue in our same habits and sins. Rather, Rachel points out sinful attitudes and behaviors that mom’s have and helps us address them through the truth of God’s word. From maintaining a house to training children, from dirty dishes to the chaos of our days, Fit to burst challenges us as mother’s to rely on and remain faithful to Christ in all things.
Rachel was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about this book that I am excited to share with you today:
1. What is the one thing you hope moms will walk away with in reading this book?
“It’s hard to put it into one word, but if I had to I would say encouragement. Once when I was pregnant with the twins and had two tiny kiddos a lady went after me in a really funny way. “I would be so hating my life if I was you. Are you just hating your life right now?” I remember thinking it through afterwards and realizing how overwhelmingly thankful I was that I didn’t care what she thought. At the same time, I realized that it wasn’t some special strength in me-the fact that I didn’t care came from my husband, my family, my church, my faith. That made me want to give that to other women. Encouragement is like a plate of cookies that you can give to someone-only later they will be glad they ate it!”
2. You talked in this book about the way we view food. Often as moms, we can look at food as our savior, putting our trust in a particular diet. That diet for our family often becomes the hill we are willing to die on. I see this often in the “mommy” blogging world. Why do you think we tend to trust and put so much emphasis on food as the solution to our problems?
“Honestly I think that this is just an age old human problem called idolatry. We find something that we think has the power to save us and we worship it. Food is very “in” right now, and I think it is especially tempting to mothers because it is a big part of our job. It seems like every choice we make might be a life or death situation and we get really emotional about those. But at the bottom it’s just a regular old fashioned temptation to not trust God.”
3. In your chapter called “Mean Boss” I had an “Aha!” moment as I read it. Realizing that as a mother, I am both the boss and the employee helped me see why I am often so frustrated with myself. I am both a leader and a follower in the same job. Many times, I emphasize one or the other. I end up feeling guilty or angry with myself when I don’t get things accomplished that I wanted to accomplish in my day. How can we maintain this tension and keep it balanced?
“This one is tricky! For me, being aware of it is a great place to start. Something that I would recommend though is to think about how you react when you are guilty or angry about your performance. Then think about not doing that. Sometimes this reveals that we actually have an elaborate structure in place that we are dependent on to get attention. What would it be like it you weren’t doing this? What would it be like if when your husband asked about your day you could honestly tell him without any drama or tears?”
I guess what I realized was that in some ways I didn’t want the hard times to go away, because in some weird way it noted the value of the work I was doing. This is hard. I am stressed out. This is so crazy. How can I be doing this so badly? Let’s all gather around and hold my hand while I consider…obedience. Of course, once you see that about yourself you have to repent of that. We can get so self absorbed that when we think of ourselves not having any trouble, it sounds boring. We want to be in the throws of something. The reality is that when you lay that down, it won’t be boring, but it might not be about you either.”
4. I also appreciated your chapter on pulling weeds. Raising children requires constant diligence in identifying and pulling out weeds of sin in their hearts. You point out that sometimes, it is helpful to have a sense of humor in doing so. It is possible to address some of their sins with a light heart. How can this be helpful to our children? Can you give a few recent examples in your own life?
“Usually when we talk to our kids about a sin, we are searching for ways to explain it to them. Often times, those are funny. Because the reality is that sin is foolishness, and we don’t want to be reverent towards it. We don’t want our kids growing up thinking that sin is attractive in any way. Laughing at it is sometimes a way of helping with that. Not in a slap-stick way, but more in a “I don’t want to do that thing you are talking about” way.
One of our older kids has had a little trouble lately with receiving correction. She is tempted to take it personally and get her feelings hurt, especially when she feels like we didn’t understand the entire situation. The trouble with this is that when her defenses get up, we aren’t talking about the original situation anymore, because the attitude about the correction steals the show.
I explained to her that correction is love, and then I gave her a noisy and horrible kiss smack on her ear. This made her laugh of course, but it also illustrated the point. Sometimes, when Mom and Dad miss a little bit it sounds terrible to you, and it might be really annoying. But we want you to know it is love. So when the correction smacks you on the ear, don’t get your feelings hurt, instead talk to us about it in love.
When you talk about sin with your kids in a light hearted way, it has a wonderful side effect of making them enjoy talking about sin with you. Today my three-year-old is playing with a cousin, and the last two times we have done this she has cried when I picked her up. So we have been talking about that, about what she is supposed to do, and we laugh at other options (that are worse than what she was doing). I say things like, “Blaire, when I pick you up today are you going to be so crazy and cry about it? Should you scream and run and hide and kick the floor? Would that be such a good idea?!?!” She thinks this is hilarious and she loves to correct me and say, “No! I will run to you and say ‘Hi, Mama!’
In the same vein, sometimes when they mess up badly I make a funny face at them and say something like “Oh, no! Did that happen?! Quick! Let’s try again and do it right!’”
5. Is there anything else you’d like to share about this book or thoughts on motherhood?
“You know, this is funny. We had a really intense time when the twins were little and the two older girls were toddlers. God really used that time in my life for some serious refining. As time went on and things got easier it felt like we were figuring things out. We weren’t so bad at this after all. Well here we are several years later, with a crawling baby, realizing that this is still seriously hard. You would have thought that we know how to do this by now.
It made me laugh to realize that we never figured this out like there was some secret answer key, but rather that time passed. The kids grew up. Things felt easier because things were easier, not because we were suddenly really gifted at this.
While that might not seem comforting, it really is. Some parts of this job are just hunkering down and being joyful. Hanging on and hanging in there. Being faithful in the most normal way possible-by getting up every day to do your best as unto the Lord, with the full knowledge that this time will be a sweet memory all too soon.”
More good news! I have two copies of Fit to Burst to give away! Register to win below. Winners will be announced Saturday the 28th.
The winners are in! Danie and Aileen, congratulations! I will contact you via email to get your info. Thanks for entering!