Rachel Jankovic. Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2013. 120 pp. $14.00.
This has been a great season of books written for stay-at-home Christian moms who desire to glorify God in the midst of the mundane. Here’s another one. Rachel Jankovic’s second book, Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood, is a quick read filled with meaty, thought-provoking discussion about the divine in everyday life for a young and growing family.
When I read Rachel’s first book, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches (Canon Press, 2010), I was nursing my newborn baby and battling a combination of sleep deprivation and the baby blues. I was encouraged by her honesty in admitting that her desire to write the book didn’t arise from thinking she had it all together, but from knowing she didn’t. Her discussion of fairly weighty topics related to parenting babies and toddlers was limited to brief chapters of four to five pages each. This appealed to me then, as it does now. (Find me a mother who has time to read volumes of systematic theology for three hours a day, and I’ll give you an ice cream cone.)
Written in the same style, Rachel, a stay-at-home mom of six, candidly presents topics plenty of us think about but rarely discuss at heart level. Like whether or not to believe your 3-year-old when she professes faith in Christ. Or whether our newfound obsession with clean eating has overshadowed our belief in God’s sovereignty and turned us into farm-fresh Pharisees. Or whether our perspectives on parenthood are just too short-term.
I found all of these topics important and pertinent, but, as an Australian, a number of the American analogies admittedly went over my head. To be sure, the relevance of the heart matters Rachel discusses is universal; but when commending this book to my international friends I’d encourage them to see past the Western illustrations and look to Christ, whose sufficiency Rachel extols.
If the wife represents the church, and her duty is to help her husband, this means we need to practically help our husbands love and lead our children well. Furthermore, there often seems to be a gap between teaching women how to be godly wives and how to be godly moms. But the reality is most of us tend to play both roles longer than we play just one. While many moms desire to live in a more gospel-centered way, we don’t always know what to expect or how to apply this concept. I’d like to continue seeing application for women desiring to live out the gospel practically in their overlapping roles as wife and mom. I especially appreciated how Rachel applied Ephesians 5:22-23 to parenthood and not only marriage.
In an effort to push women out of their comfort zones, Rachel calls on women to consider their motivations and prideful hang-ups in relation to motherhood—particularly in our expectations of ourselves. Are we trying to do so much that we’re letting our little ones fall through the cracks of our busyness? Or are we not doing enough, thinking there will come a better season to discipline our kids when the time to act is now? Are we too heavy on grace at the expense of law, or vice versa? And are we sitting around waiting to “arrive” but not willing to take the little, mundane steps required to see our parenting efforts bear fruit? I appreciated such penetrating application as I read Fit to Burst.
Treasuring the Little Moments
This idea of treasuring the mundane is close to my heart. Busyness is something I’ve perfected over many years. If I’m not doing or creating something, I tend to pronounce myself “useless.” Now the mom of a 2-year-old, my newfound busyness certainly doesn’t appear to be productive. There’s constant tension between doing “important things” and doing the little, boring things that make up my every day—wiping a nose here, spanking a bottom there, and reading book after book about little piggies and cows who (if you can believe it) jump over moons. Like all moms, I battle with the temptation to cry out, “Surely I was made for more than this!”
Rachel urges us to think beyond our immediate aims (i.e., well-behaved kids with stellar attitudes) and points us toward a long-term view of our eternal influence on future generations. Admittedly, that’s often the furthest thing from my mind during a difficult day with a teething child who refuses to obey. In times like these my perspective takes a nosedive, and I just want to survive the day, put the kid in bed, and finally get some “me time.” But it’s times like these when I most need a perspective shaped by eternity and driven by hope. In other words, when I most need the gospel.
Refreshingly honest and practical, Fit to Burst is a welcome tool for promoting deeper discussion and application among those God has commissioned to be moms.
Kristen Narara lives in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates with her husband, Nigel, and their 2-year-old son, Kingston. She is stay-at-home mother and a regular contributor to Domestic Kingdom, a blog for women striving to honor God in the midst the mundane.