Notes from our Moms' Book Study

Sunday mornings at 10 am, we're calling all busy moms to a book study with Ashley Danos, using Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman. Please join us at any point during the semester! Here are Ashley's notes from week one:

Let’s set the scene, shall we? It’s 5:10pm on a Wednesday. You are still in your clothes from work. Your husband is stuck in traffic. Your son has a football game across town at 6:15pm. You have a headache. The oven is beeping because the pizza is ready. Two of your kids are fighting over the remote. Your son is crying because he can’t find one of his cleats. You realize that you forgot to switch the clothes to the dryer this morning, which has his football uniform in it. The dog is barking to come in and be fed. You just spilled orange juice on the counter & it’s dripping onto the floor.

What is your first reaction? What do you do first? My guess is that you immediately start reacting to all these things that need your attention. You probably grab Advil last, if at all, to dull your headache. “Treasuring Christ” probably didn’t even make this list. Why not? Maybe because treasuring Christ won’t stop sticky orange juice from continuing to drip, and it won’t start the dryer. True.

What does it mean to “Treasure Christ” on a daily basis?

At this very moment, my kids are at school. I am sitting in our outdoor kitchen with a cup of mocha coffee and taking notes on my laptop. The Calm app is playing soothing sounds. I’m out here because there are some ladies inside cleaning my house. I just looked up and a hummingbird came to drink from the feeder. Less than a minute later, a little squirrel peeked in with an acorn in his mouth, just to say hi. Doesn’t even sound realistic, does it? More like a scene from Snow White.

I could treasure Christ all day long in this setting of peace and quiet, but this is far from the reality of mom life.

We are moms. We are fixers. We are multi-taskers. We know where the soccer socks are, we washed your new shirt for the field trip, and yes, we got a gift for Samantha’s birthday party tomorrow. We have an ever present to do list in our heads that when we look closely at it, it’s almost a survival manual to ensure our children stay alive, get educated, do not leave the house naked, and do not end up a ward of the state.

So HOW do you combine treasuring Christ with everyday “LIFE?” It sounds like a good deal, but what could that possibly even look like? Matthew 11:28 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

What is this “rest” you speak of? I’m intrigued. Is it a nap? Is it a long bubble bath? Is it a massage? Those are like small time outs from the chaos of life. It can even be as fancy as a girls’ trip or an entire week at a wellness retreat, but when we come back, we all know what the house would look like – the laundry piles that await, the school projects that are behind, the unopened emails waiting in your inbox. And as “rested” as you might have physically felt before you walked in the door, an hour after you get home, it’s like the “rest” never happened. All the spa days in the world can’t rest our souls like Jesus can.

The book says, “Day and Night, moment by moment, we must choose to rest in Jesus.” We know deep down that we cannot do everything that being a mom requires us to do, and keep our sanity, all in our own power. Something falls through the crack.

Luckily, we have the strength of Jesus and HIS power to get through the tough days. In theory, that sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Mothering with the power of Christ! Please order me a cape in a size medium and sign me up for that gig!

Of course, there is a catch. We have to do our part, and consciously make that CHOICE. Tap into that power. And it is exactly that. It’s a choice. It’s a choice that we make countless times every day. It’s a HABIT. It’s keeping Christ in the forefront of our minds and heart throughout the day to guide our thoughts and our choices. “As mothers we look to Jesus not only as our example; we also see that he is our power to love God and our children.”

How easy is it to make good choices? Let’s say you go into the kitchen for a snack. You can choose a carrot or a cookie. We all know immediately what the best choice is for our bodies, but do we make it? What happens when you keep eating the cookies verses starting to choose the carrot? The short-term gratification of the cookie has long term effects that no one wants. If you continue to choose the carrot, you will eventually look and feel better. You start to crave the carrot. You start to want the better choice. You begin to forget about the cookie. OK, not really. You never really forget about cookies. They are delicious, and our worldly self will always have the knee jerk urge to grab the cookie. What habits are you forming with your spiritual life? Are they cookie habits or carrot habits?

Treasuring Christ, for me, is a daily choice to conscientiously continue to choose the carrot. Continue to do the best things to walk further in your spiritual journey and grow closer to God. Spend time in the Word. “There is no time of day or night when God’s Word is not relevant to our lives. Always respond to every impulse to pray.”

When you are frustrated with your kids, choose to remind yourself that they are God’s children that you have been blessed to raise. They were His first, and He has entrusted them to you for this lifetime. He loves them more than you could ever dream of loving them. Make it a habit to treat them accordingly. Treasure Christ and love them as Jesus does.

A friend of mine, Amy Whitley, shared a little nugget with me that I should have tattooed somewhere on my body as a constant reminder. “Receive and Release.” In those frustrating moments when your blood starts to boil, take a deep breath. Envision yourself breathing in and receiving that power of the Holy Spirit, transforming your mind and taking your heart to a calmer place. Let it out, and with it, release the frustration of the situation. Make it a habit to take that breath, that pause, and “respond” instead of “react” to the milk that spilt after you told your kid 4 times to push it back from the edge of the table.

Make it a habit to pause many times throughout the day and just sit in Christ’s love for just a second. Treasure Him and all that He is. Soak it in and re-center your heart before putting out the next fire. This can be done any time; mid dishes or laundry, at a stop light, or while looking for the missing lovey that always seems to be in the last place you look.

Make it a habit to remind yourself that out of all the babies in the world that God could have given to you, he picked this one, and that’s pretty stinkin’ special. There must be something about me that this kid needs and vice versa. You will change each other in ways that just cannot happen without having had each other. God uses them to shape us to be more like his son. More loving. More compassionate. More selfless. “The gift of motherhood points mothers to treasure Jesus Christ as he transforms our heart from the inside out.”

Do I do this every day? Nope. Do I mess up daily? Absolutely, many times over. I react badly to the people that I love the most. We should thank God daily for his grace and mercy. “By God’s grace I can resist the temptation to treat my children as interruptions to my will for my life. Instead, God enables me to treat my children as precious gifts he is using to shape me into this image according to HIS will for my life.” So he’s not done with me yet. (exhaling sigh of relief…) I’m 11 years into this mom gig, and I’m still trying to get it all figured out. That’s why I wanted this class and this group of moms to come together and to support each other in this journey.

We know God loves us, but until you become a mom, it’s not something we can even begin to fathom. The love we have for our children is sometimes so overwhelming we can’t even put it into words, but it gives us an inkling of an idea of how much God loves us and craves our love in return. “There is something distinctly Christlike about a mother’s love for her child.” It is truly an unconditional love.

“When your eyes are fixed on the horizon of eternity, it affects your vision for motherhood. We need to have eyes to see a view of God that is so big and so glorious that it transforms our perspective of motherhood. In the context of eternity, where Christ is doing his work of reigning over the cosmos, we need to see our mundane moments for what they really are – worship.”

See y’all next week.