Finding Refreshment as a Mom
About the Guest
How does knowing Jesus help you with daily living? Jill Savage, the CEO of Hearts at Home, tells about the time in her mothering years when Jesus became real to her. Before then, she says, she had never considered that Jesus understood what it felt like to have no personal space, as she often felt with a colicky baby and two preschoolers. But, Jill learned how to cast her cares on Him.
Jill SavageJill Savage is an author and speaker who is passionate about encouraging families. She is the author or co-author of fourteen books including Professionalizing Motherhood, My Hearts At Home, Real Moms…Real Jesus, Living With Less So Your Family Has More, No More Perfect Moms, No More Perfect Marriages (with her husband Mark), and her most recent release Empty Nest Full Life. Featured on Focus on the Family, Crosswalk.com, FamilyLife Today...more
How does knowing Jesus help you with daily living?
Finding Refreshment as a Mom
Bob: As a mom, are you getting enough time for you? Is that even a fair question to be asking? Jill Savage says if you really care about your kids and about your husband, it’s an important question to ask.
Jill: Taking care of ourselves is essential for us to be the moms that we need to be. Part of refueling ourselves is being in God’s Word—part of it is resting—nutrition, exercise—those are not selfish things. Moms struggle with it because they feel like they’re being selfish when they’re asking for it or trying to take the time for it. What we need to understand is it is part of our job description as a mom.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, May 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Getting enough time to care for your own soul is an important part of how a mom cares for her family. We’re going to talk more about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. As guys, the priorities in our lives that tend to squeeze out our time spent cultivating a healthy spiritual life are probably different than the priorities in our wives’ lives that tend to do the same thing. In this culture, we’re all so busy that, I think, for many people, that spiritual development gets put on the back burner.
Dennis: I can tell you, for Barbara, during the years we were having children and raising those children—for a mom, it’s a battle. It’s a battle trying to find the time to cultivate the soul. She could have used Jill Savage’s book, Real Moms...Real Jesus.
Jill joins us on FamilyLife Today. Jill, thanks for writing the book and thanks for helping moms know how to have a contagious relationship with Christ in the midst of some of the most challenging days they face—raising children.
Jill: Yes, it is. It isn’t easy, but I think it is important for moms to know that Jesus actually understands them. That was really what my journey was about.
Dennis: And you understand what moms are talking about because you are the CEO and founder of Hearts at Home®. You’ve written half a dozen books. You’re a speaker and a mom of five children, yourself. You and your husband Mark live in Illinois.
Bob: Tell listeners about Hearts at Home because they may not know what that ministry is and what you’re doing.
Jill: Well, Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips moms. We do that through our website. We do that through printed resources—the books that we offer; and then, we also do that through our mom conferences. We have conferences currently in Illinois, Minnesota, and Colorado. Those are regional events. We have women who come, literally, from all over the U.S. to those events.
Our largest one is in Illinois. It usually hosts about 4,600 moms every spring. The Hearts at Home conferences are a mix of a pep rally for moms and mom-school. (Laughter)
Dennis: So you really do equip them.
Jill: Oh, we do!
Dennis: You try to give them practical skills around issues of stress, fatigue, parenting skills—
Jill: Parenting, yes—marriage, homemaking. You know, it’s practical, spiritual. We just kind of run the whole gamut of the areas of life that women are struggling with.
Bob: We’ve got a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com if folks want to find out more about Hearts at Home and when your next conference is going to be and would like to attend—they can do that. Just go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information.
Dennis: Jill, you said there was a time, though, in your life where Jesus became real—I mean, really real. You began to think of Him not just as God in human flesh, but someone Who experienced things like you were.
Jill: When I wrote the book, Real Moms, Real Jesus, it came out of my personal journey because I had had a season in my life where I just felt like God was really far away. I love to read biographies—I’m a big biography person. Just give me a biography of anybody and I will just inhale it!
I remember one day, lamenting to God, “Oh, I wish I could read a biography of Jesus.” Then I thought about the foolishness of that and thought, “Yes, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—the first four books of the New Testament—are biographies of Jesus!”
Jill: Well, I’d never read them that way, though. I’d never thought of them as a biography. I began to read them. I actually chose to read them in The Message Bible so that I could just kind of read them—more like a book.
As I was reading them, all of a sudden, I began to see Jesus’ life in a different way. You see, up until this point, I saw Jesus as God on earth—and that’s Who He was. The Bible tells us He was fully God, but He was fully man. I had always seen the fully-God part. He performed miracles—He was God on earth.
Never had I seen that He was fully man. I had never seen this human side of Him. I was reading along, and all of a sudden, I ran across—the very first place that I read something was—this simple little description of Jesus’ life. It said this, “Large crowds followed Him everywhere He went.” I thought, “That’s like my life as a mother!” (Laughter)
Bob: With five kids around the house—“Large crowds followed you everywhere.”
Jill: They follow me everywhere I go! I go to the bathroom, and there are fingers underneath the door; you know?
Dennis: Yes, they may not be hanging on His legs like they are on yours; but—
Jill: Well, but then I read on further; and multiple times it says, “The crowd pressed into Him.”
Jill: I thought, “Oh, my gosh! That’s my life! My children are attached to me!” In one season, we had a very colicky baby. The only time she wasn’t crying was when she was nursing. I would nurse her, and I had two preschoolers. I felt like one was attached to one leg and one was attached to the other. I would get everybody finally in bed at night. I would fall in bed next to a husband, who had a gleam in his eye.
I wanted to say, “Wait a minute! One more person touches me and I am going to lose it!” (Laughter)
Dennis: I understand. I’ve seen the look in Barbara’s eyes, when I would come home. Before—
Jill: Don’t even think about it!
Dennis: That’s exactly right!
Bob: Get that gleam out of your eye! (Laughter)
Jill: Never had I thought about the fact that Jesus would understand what it felt like to have no personal space, but He did. He understands what that feels like to have no personal space because, when He lived on this earth, the crowds pressed into Him. I had never thought about that!
There was another story I was reading later on. It was a time when it said that Jesus was exhausted. He’d been teaching on a mountainside all day. He was absolutely exhausted. He asked the disciples to go get a boat. He was going to get away from the crowds with a boat.
I thought, “Oh, for moms, we find a bathroom.” Jesus found a boat; moms find a bathroom. I like to say, “To eat M&Ms®, without sharing them with anybody else!” (Laughter) Anyway, He gets in this boat. It says He fell right to sleep—fast asleep! I thought, “That’s my life! My head hits the pillow; I am out!” But here’s the best part—in the middle of the night, a storm blew in. Do you know what the disciples did? They woke Him up! I thought, “That’s my life!”
Dennis: Yes. Yes.
Jill: Never had I thought about the fact that Jesus would understand interrupted sleep. It had never crossed my mind. As I began to read about Jesus’ human experiences and I began to see that He understands my experiences as a mom, all of a sudden, He moved from being very distant and a very disconnected God to being a friend, Who understands. That was a powerful change in my perspective and a change in my relationship with Him.
Dennis: For a mom to be able to have those thoughts and come to that conclusion, she needs at least a few moments of silence, or of solitude, to be able to connect in the Bible with the reality of Who Jesus Christ really is and worship Him, as you’re talking about worshipping Him at this point, and casting your cares on Him.
When did you find the time in your schedule, during those busy years when you were taking care of five—who were, I guess, under the age of 13—so you had teenagers pulling at you—toddlers. How did you find the time to connect with God?
Jill: Creatively! I think moms have to be creative. You know, in this journey of seeing Jesus through different eyes, the other thing I did—I looked at, “How did He live His life, and what can I learn from that?” The Bible often tells us Jesus withdrew from the crowds. As a mom, I had to learn how to withdraw from the crowds. You know, there were some very practical things I began to do that made such a difference.
One of them was that I put a Bible in every bathroom. I put a Bible—just a little Bible that I picked up at the Christian bookstore—in every bathroom. If I had just two minutes to myself—yes, there might have been little fingers under the door, “Mommy, are you in there!?”—just two minutes—you know what I would quickly do? I would turn to the book of Proverbs.
At that point, you can’t even think straight. I would open the book of Proverbs and say, “Okay, what day of the month is this? Okay, let’s see, it’s the 14th; it’s the 14th.” I would go to Proverbs 14 and read Proverbs 14. That would just be enough to sustain me to exit that bathroom (Laughter) and handle whatever the next hour or two hours was going to send my way before I could have another bathroom break. I could get a little more sustenance.
I had to be creative about that. Another strategy I used was asking my husband for help. I remember, one day, he came home from work. This was when our fourth had come along and was a baby. I was just exhausted. I said to him, one day, when he came home, “I want to cut a deal with you.” He’s like, “What!?” I said, “When you get home, I want 30 minutes. When you get home—that I can go in the bedroom and close the door.” I said, “I want to take the newspaper in there. I want to know what’s going on in the world. I want to take my Bible in there. I just need 30 minutes.”
That became Daddy-wrestle time. He would wrestle with the kids. I would try to have dinner in the oven, or in the crock-pot or, quite frankly, just make sure we had enough cereal and milk so we could have dinner that night. (Laughter)
I would go in the bedroom and close the door. I had to learn to ask for that, sometimes, to make that happen in my life. I think a lot of times, as moms, we think our husbands should just know what I need; or we try to ask with an attitude—like stomping around and slamming kitchen doors are really going to be an effective form of communication.
Jill: Not at all! We need to ask with words for what we need. There were nights—I remember in one season of life—I asked my husband if I could have one night off a week. He was willing to do that. I would take my Bible, I would maybe take a book I was reading—I would go to the library and just have some quiet time—just some time to step away from “the crowds” and refuel.
We need that refueling as moms! We need to connect with the God Who loves us so that we have His strength to carry us through when our strength absolutely gives out.
Dennis: There’s an image you have, in the book, of a story about Susannah Wesley, who had 19 children. She had a unique way of getting away from the multitudes.
Jill: She did! (Laughter)
Dennis: Nineteen would be a multitude; wouldn’t you say?
Jill: Yes it would!
Yes, she would pull her big hoop skirt up over her head. When her hoop skirt was up over her head, her children knew that they could not bother her. “Mommy was praying! Mommy was talking to Jesus! (Laughter) When Mommy is talking to Jesus, it’s much better if we leave her alone!” (Laughter)
Bob: That’s a great picture!
Dennis: It is!
Bob: You know, I remember when Mary Ann was in the midst of this whole child-raising maelstrom. There were nights she would get together with some of her friends—just get out and go over and have the night off—not with a Bible and a book—but just laugh and relax. When she came home—
Jill: Yes. She was a different person; wasn’t she?
Bob: She was a completely different person. I began to think, “Yes, go do that!” The person that came back was a happier, nicer point.
Dennis: To that point, Bob, how often did you take the initiative to set up Mary Ann to be able to go do that? We, as husbands, don’t—
Bob: Let’s not get into my failings as a husband on the program. (Laughter) That’s not the point!
Dennis: I look back on it and I cringe to think how much I took for granted—the weight Barbara was carrying. I had my own load at work. I’m coming home and—she always used to call me the “fun Daddy” – the fun Daddy gets to walk in and do all of the wrestling and all of that. She’s been at home all day, and she’s not the fun Momma because she’s been the enforcer.
Bob: She’s the “mean Mommy”.
Dennis: She’s the enforcer!
Bob: “Mean Mommy! Mommy’s mean.”
Jill: Well, you know what? I think this is so important for us to understand. I’m reminded of this every time I get on an airplane. They say, “If the pressure changes in the cabin, an oxygen mask is going to drop from overhead. You need to put on that oxygen mask.” Then, they say, “If you’re traveling with a small child, put on your own oxygen mask first before you assist your child.” One time, I was traveling on Southwest Airlines. They said, “If you’re traveling with two children, I’m sorry, you’ll just have to choose your favorite.” (Laughter)
Dennis: That’s a bad joke!
Jill: Anyway, that reminds me every time because that is a principle moms need to understand—taking care of ourselves is not selfish. Taking care of ourselves is essential for us to be the moms that we need to be. Part of taking care of ourselves is finding the things that refuel us emotionally. Part of taking care of ourselves is talking with Jesus because, “When Mommy talks to Jesus, it’s much better for everybody.” Part of refueling ourselves is being in God’s Word. Part of it is resting, nutrition, exercise.
Those are not selfish things. Moms struggle with this! This is huge. Moms struggle with it because they feel like they’re being selfish when they’re asking for it or trying to take the time for it. What we need to understand is it is part of our job description as a mom.
Bob: You know, part of the reason moms feel selfish is because their kids, who, when they’re little, especially, are demand-machines. They know how to come to mom and make you feel selfish. “Mommy, I need this. I need this. I need this!”
Well, for a mom to respond as if the child is setting the agenda is to have the whole thing inverted, in the first place. You don’t want a four-year-old setting the agenda for your home. You have to decide, “No. You don’t need that. What you need is some quiet time while Mommy gets her quiet time.” It really demands that Mom understand that she sets the tone and the priorities for the home.
Jill: Right. You know, when my kids stopped taking naps, we stayed with rest time. We could have easily just let that go, but they needed to step away from the craziness . . .
Jill: —and I needed it! (Laughter)
Jill: I needed that break! That was very important. You’re right! I could have let their lack of naps dictate what we did; but I needed to be the leader there and to know what was best for them and, ultimately, what was best for our family.
Yes, we absolutely need—and here’s the other piece of this—we need to be proactive, not reactive. I think, oftentimes, what happens as moms is we give, and we give, and we give, and we give, and then we end up with this empty tank. We’re a mess! That’s when we end up in a puddle on the floor in tears. Honestly, somebody’s got to rescue us.
Jill: I remember, one day that that happened. My husband led me to go to sleep because I was so sleep-deprived. He said, “You have got to get some rest.” That’s not healthy. I need to look at the things that will take care of myself and put them in my life, on a regular basis, instead of getting to the end of myself and just being so plumb tuckered out that now I’ve turned into the “Mommy Monster”, which is not healthy for our family—I’m an emotional mess. I need to put those things in place, early on and regularly, and be proactive, instead of being reactive, on the other side.
Dennis: What place do friendships have in replenishing a mom’s soul? It seems, to me, one of the ways that Barbara would get bush-wacked or plumb tuckered out, as you called it, was that she would get isolated. She was just surrounded by the multitudes, as you’ve said, at home and didn’t have another adult female voice, speaking into her life. Speak to that need for a woman.
Jill: I think friendships are so important. I think every mom needs a mothering community around her. That mothering community, number one, it helps her know she’s normal. I mean, we really need that because you start getting so focused on your kids; and then you go, “Oh, I’m the only one who feels this way,” or, “I’m the only one who deals with this with her kids.” It helps you to know that you’re normal and that your kids are normal.
The other thing it does is—when you’re in a mothering community—when you have relationships with other women around you, you also learn to mother in community. For instance, I had a friend, in the early years; and we would trade days off. We were both stay-at-home moms in that season of time. We would trade off—every Tuesday was either my day off or her day off. She would watch my kids, and I would have the whole day to myself.
There were days I went back home and went to bed! Other days I got something accomplished. Other days, I went to lunch with my husband. I needed that!
I could only have that because I had another woman who understood what my challenges were—what my life was like. We were able to encourage each other and actually help each other meet our needs.
Dennis: In the end, a wife and a mom needs a husband who is tuned in enough to the needs of her soul to ask the question. So, guys, if you’re listening right now and you’ve got a wife who’s a young mom, or maybe the mother of a flock of teenagers, this question would be a great question to send her in an email or to ask her tonight, after the kids are in bed, “Sweetheart, what are the needs of your soul?”
Jill: Powerful question!
Dennis: Then, maybe wait for an answer. She may give you one answer tonight. She may give you a better answer in two days.
Dennis: But step back and help her know what the needs of her soul are so you can then guide her into the time, the friendships, the schedule, the boundaries in her life. Maybe, you’re going to have to help her throw something overboard—something she’s committed to that’s draining her. In essence, help her simplify her life so the needs of her soul can be addressed by the Spirit of God.
As a husband and as the father of your children, you really owe it to your family to take authority, and take responsibility for your wife’s spiritual condition, and find out how she’s doing, and what you may be able to help her do.
Bob: Maybe this will help a husband think about it. Let’s say somebody came along to you and said, “Okay, I’ve got a job for you. It is seven days a week. You work all seven days. You start at dawn and you get off at—”
Dennis: About nine.
Jill: You don’t! (Laughter)
Bob: “Well, you get off at about 10:00; but you’re on call—”
Jill: —all night. There you go. Okay, there you go.
Bob: “—all night long. No vacations; no holidays; no sick leave. There’s none of that.”
Dennis: But it’s the greatest job on earth.
Bob: “Oh, it’s a wonderful job! But there’s no time for you in the midst of it. Are you interested?” Guys would say, “You’ve got to be out of your mind!” Right? That’s the job that your wife has—if she’s a mom. That’s really where Jill’s heart is—to help encourage other moms that this is a great job, and that there’s joy in the job, and that Jesus meets you in the job. You learn so much about life, and about Him, and about yourself.
Jill, you’ve talked about that in the book you’ve written, Real Moms...Real Jesus: Meet the Friend Who Understands. It’s a book that we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can find out more about the book when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Again, it’s FamilyLifeToday.com. Jill’s also written a book called Living with Less So Your Family Has More, about redefining your priorities and putting your family first. We have that book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, as well. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about both of these books; or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”. Ask about Jill Savage’s book, Real Moms...Real Jesus, when you give us a call.
Now, I need to let our listeners know about something kind of exciting that has happened in the past week. I mentioned last week the matching-gift fund that had been established here, for FamilyLife, to help us as we head into the summer and as we work on some exciting new projects like the Stepping Up video series and the Stepping Up event for men, that is coming later this summer.
What has happened, in the last week, is that the matching-gift fund has accelerated a little bit. I told you, last week, that every dollar that is donated to FamilyLife between now and the end of May is going to be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $435,000. What’s happened is we’ve had some other friends of the ministry come along and say, “Wait! We want to really encourage FamilyLife Today listeners to make this a priority.” That matching-gift fund is now up to $650,000.
Now, we’re excited about that; but we’re also hoping and praying that, here, during the month of May, FamilyLife Today listeners will call or go online to make a donation so we can take full advantage of every bit of that matching-gift opportunity. All you have to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I Care”. Make an online donation. When you do, your donation is going to be matched dollar-for-dollar with money from that matching-gift fund; or you can call us, toll-free, at 1-800-358-6329— 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
Again, when you make a donation, that donation is going to be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $650,000. We do hope to hear from you! We appreciate very much, in advance, whatever you’re able to do, here during the month of May, to help support us in this matching-gift opportunity.
We hope you can be back with us, again, tomorrow. Jill Savage is going to be here again. We’re going to talk tomorrow about some of the challenges that Jill and Mark have experienced in their marriage relationship. We’re going to have a very candid conversation about that tomorrow. Hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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