We had the pleasure of talking with Gloria Furman about her books Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, Glimpses of Grace, Missional Motherhood, and the many other ways she serves Christ. The interview was recorded and be played below. Feel free to follow along with the provided transcript. Enjoy!
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Vicki Morgan: Hello and welcome to the conversation! I’m Victoria Morgan interviewing for christianaudio and joining me today by phone is one of our treasured authors, Gloria Furman, whose readers and listeners often describe her as being “a close friend” though they’ve never met her personally. Gloria has been in the Middle East with her husband, Dave and four children since 2008. The Furmans have never taken the easy road, choosing instead to plow the mission field … and in this case, plant Redeemer Church in Dubai, where Dave serves as Pastor. Gloria is the author of some exceedingly popular books, including Glimpses of Grace and The Pastor’s Wife.
In this interview, we’ll talk about two audio book favorites, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home. Plus, we’re going to chat a little bit about her most recent book, Missional Motherhood.
Welcome Gloria, all the way from the Middle East! We are honored to have you with us today.
Gloria Furman: Thanks for having me!
Vicki Morgan: Well, let’s just start with the basics. People want to get to know you. You’re a pastor’s wife, mom of four, a writer, a blogger and a church planter. You pour out your life for others in so many ways. But you’re also a volunteer “doula.” Now, forgive me. I didn’t know what a doula was until I started reading your biography. And so, forgive me if I’m out of the loop. But what exactly is a “doula” for those of us who aren’t familiar with the term?
Gloria Furman: A doula is a non-medical assistant or helper for a woman who is giving birth or who has just given birth, so someone who is not medical, not a midwife, not a doctor by any means. I provide support and encouragement emotionally, physically, antenatal before the baby is born, and then often during that laboring process and then afterwards as well.
Vicki Morgan: Now, when I looked up the actual definition of it, it said something about being a servant of women. That’s the actual definition.
Gloria Furman: Yeah. Doula is from the Greek word “doulas,” which is slave or servant.
Vicki Morgan: So your heart, maybe even your burden, is for wives and mothers, to help them see beyond the mundane, to see beyond the challenges and the busyness, to discover God’s handiwork in their lives.
Gloria Furman: That’s exactly it. [laughs] I knew that for myself too. So, whenever I write something down, it’s really just a note to self as well.
Vicki Morgan: Well, it’s interesting. Many of your readers seemed to share a common theme when they review your material. They describe you as someone they wished they had as a friend. They say they would just love to have coffee or tea with you. Where do you think that connection, that trust, and that intimacy comes from? How do you touch your readers in such a personal way?
Gloria Furman: [Laughs] I could always use more coffee. [Laughs] So, I would love to have coffee with everyone. [Laughs] I could totally do that, three times a day … four! So, where is the trust? Well, in the books and in articles I’m honest about who I am, meaning that I have in common what everyone has in common, that our greatest need and challenge is not anything outside of ourselves but it’s our sin and the biggest obstacle to fellowship with God being our sin. And of course, as we share that one great need, we can all share that one great Savior, Jesus Christ. And so, I endeavor to point myself and others to Christ.
Vicki Morgan: Wow! What a relief that is for us to know that even with all the good you do that you’re still a sinner just like all of us.[Laughing together]
Vicki Morgan: Well, let’s talk about Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for a Busy Mom. That’s your book and we have it in audiobook. The cover is a perfect illustration – a woman carrying a child. And you understand those full hands because you’ve been there! You still are! The sleep deprivation, the exhaustion, the loss of self even. What has helped you get through these tough times in motherhood?
Gloria Furman: That’s a lot of tough times. The ongoing presence of Jesus, His spirit, the awareness of that I think has helped me get through those tough times, understanding that the power that I need for motherhood does not come from me. It never was supposed to come from me. It’s always been through Him. Therefore, it’s always been to His own glory and not to mine. I find that when I am serving my own glory, then that sleep deprivation and the exhaustion and that loss of self feels maddening. But when I’m serving Christ and conscious that am serving Him, then it’s a joyful sacrifice.
Vicki Morgan: You know, it’s hard to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus when our senses are being overwhelmed on all sides. Some days, not every day, but some days it seems like all we have before us is crying children, dirty diapers, defiance, runny noses and absolutely no peace. Plus, we have these very deep cravings for intimacy which sometimes aren’t being met. How can we “renew our minds” in this case, when we’re feeling so torn down or worn down?
Gloria Furman: That’s a great question. I was just thinking about that this morning. My youngest son who’s two, he threw a flashlight down the toilet and it got lost.
Vicki Morgan: Yikes!
Gloria Furman: Yeah. [Laughs] It got lost down the toilet. So, I had to call the maintenance. And it took the plumbers, a team of plumbers, all morning to resurrect the flashlight. They had to take the toilet off the floor, take the pipes out the floor. It was awful! [Laughs] So, I kept telling myself, “I am seated in Christ in the heavenly places, and I need to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. So, I want to be fully pleasing to Him and bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God.” So, I took that time and all that frustration to think about Jesus and how He is perfectly happy with the way that He is gathering up all peoples, men and women and children from peoples to worship Him. And He’s perfectly content in His work as He’s doing that in the world and so, I was like, “I am part of something bigger. I’m seated in Christ in the heavenly places.” And so that really transformed the morning and I saw it instead as an opportunity to serve and encourage the team of plumbers who spent the entire morning at my house.
Vicki Morgan: [Laughs] That is hilarious. It’s almost like your son drops a light down…
Gloria Furman: [Laughs] Yes, into a dark place.
Vicki Morgan: Well, actually, it’s an earthly throne when you think about it.[Laughing together]
Gloria Furman: Yes.
Vicki Morgan: Well, I have to tell you, I love the way you bring Scripture to the forefront for us. You’re constantly pointing to Christ and His Word, not in a placating way either. It’s not like you’re giving us that annoying “scriptural counsel” like, “Oh, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. Okay … goodbye now.” We would all just rather not receive that kind of counsel. But your counsel is distinctly different. I feel like I’m getting wisdom and truth in your books. Wisdom, delivered like a refreshing cup of cold water. Scripture is obviously key when you’re writing a book.
Gloria Furman: I’m so glad. Thank you for that encouraging feedback. I’m convinced that I don’t have any advice to offer people truly because even my own best practices fail me eighty percent of the time. So, if I can just point people to the Gospel and to God’s Word and I am far better off doing that and everyone else is far better off reading it. So, if I ever go down that path of “here’s what works for me,” then I find that I have to give so many disclaimers that it ends up being “you know what, [laughs] trust the Lord.” So, pointing people to Scripture is probably the healthiest thing that I could do for people because like I said, my own tips for living are not so great.
Vicki Morgan: Your reviewers tend to use the word “mundane” to describe their role as housewife and mother. One reviewer wrote: “As homemakers, we can be smothered by the ordinary, blinded by the mundane, living in a fog of routine and fatigue, unable to see how to clean messy noses or break up sibling squabbles for the glory of God.” And in reading your book, the answer to all of this is apparently grace. Grace, grace and more grace. I’m sure we could talk about it for a half-hour. How has understanding God’s grace helped you love your family in the midst of the (quote unquote) “mundane?”
Gloria Furman: The grace of God surpasses all of those earthly, temporary circumstances. Like the reviewer said, the fog of routine and fatigue and not being able to see … what cleaning messy noses and breaking up sibling squabbles really does in the grand scheme of things. So the grace of God tells us this. It tells us that, “No single day will ever be repeated.” That messy nose that you just cleaned up, or that sibling squabble you just broke up, will never happen again. You may do it again. You may have another sibling squabble, but that one in that moment is now in the past. And in the present, God is using all of this for His glory. So, you may be sweeping your floor twice a day but none of those moments are truly repeated in an unending cycle.
History is coming to an end point, a goal in which Jesus returns and then sets everything right, and then we are ushered into the new creation in full to live with Him forever and so, all of those things are propelling us forward. And I get this from John Piper that, “The future grace in Christ that Jesus purchased for us on the cross, the future grace is coming down at us like a waterfall, and we cannot avoid it or get around it. It is going to get you.” Future grace is coming for you. And so, behind you, there’s grace in the past. And in front of you, it’s an eternity of future grace in Christ. And so, grace, grace and more grace. It is all of grace.
Vicki Morgan: And you had a chance to really, I’ll bet and correct me if I’m wrong, you had a chance to experience that when you were pregnant. Your husband developed some kind of a severe nerve pain and that lessened his ability to help you with the kids and your pregnancy and the housework. From your book it sounds like an extremely challenging trial that the whole family had to endure. So, I assume that grace is the biblical principle that helped you to get over that obstacle.
Gloria Furman: Yeah. When I was pregnant with our first child, Dave just developed this nerve disease. And so he began to less and less have ability to use his arms. I guess, you could say he’s disabled. My husband is disabled. So, he can’t pick up the two-year-old or restrain him from throwing the flashlight down the toilet, or cook a dinner, or drive a car, even do some buttons and some tiny little finger work things like that. So, learning to serve my husband physically too was sanctifying because I got to see how selfish I really am. I laugh now, like, “Oh, I’ve got such a servant heart.” And then, you know, you have to actually serve on your hands and knees and do things for people who look totally healthy but are not. And you see just how selfish you really are.
And when you feel that you’re at the end, and I know a lot of moms feel this way, I give and I give and I give and I give. When does anybody ever give anything to me? And then they keep asking. And, you know, more and more. Give more and more. And just understand that you can never out-give the grace of God. And He is strengthening us with all power according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy! And that’s the kicker, I think in Colossians 1, with joy. “Giving thanks to the Father who’s qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
So, if God is giving me all this endurance and patience with joy, then He does deserve all the thanks … because He is doing all of that work. So, understanding that it’s of grace that I’m able to do any of that and share in that ministry to people who are helpless, because I see that I am helpless, has been a real privilege for me.
Vicki Morgan: And I think God wants us to admit our dependency on Him. So, it’s all about relationship, which I’m excited about in your newest book. We’re all excited about it, called Missional Motherhood, and that’s about relationship and more. It’s really taking that reaching out to the next level. We also have it scheduled for audiobook release, and the subtitle is The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God. So, what can we look forward to in this book?
Gloria Furman: The thesis for that book around which the whole book pivots is that Jesus invites women to missional motherhood, to follow His pattern, to trust His promises, and to nurture others by the power that He provides. So, it’s about discovering the big story behind motherhood. The first half of the book is an overview of that big story and we’ll see places where motherhood is brought out as a theme. We see our nurturing as mission. And so, there’s the grand plan of God, [makes a mistake and then laughs about it] … but you see how motherhood fits into God’s grand plan and how He’s designed it to be part of His mission. And there’s a lot of mission talk in there … ministry … strategic ministry. I talk about how missional motherhood is actually a strategic ministry designed by God to call people to worship Jesus.
So, I do recognize that all of our mothering looks different in different contexts, as mine and in the Middle East does look different than somebody else who’s somewhere else. But we know that the source and the goal of all of our ministry is the same. So, I’m hoping to give laser focus on what God’s word says about His mission, how motherhood fits into that, and what Jesus has done to fill and fulfill all of our everyday ministry as moms.
Vicki Morgan: That sounds wonderful. And we really, really, really need focus in this day and age. We need it so badly just because everything is tearing at us from all sides. Everything! And I can’t go into that. But I do have one more question for you, Gloria. I noticed that your biography page doesn’t take a lot of space on your website. I don’t see any bragging going on. But your opening line is very telling. In your opening line, you say: “I want to be obsessed with what I’m going to be obsessed with three zillion years from now—seeing and savoring Jesus.” So, your eyes are on the eternal and we need more of that kind of encouragement. If we want to read your blog, get that encouragement, find out more about you, where do we go for that?
Vicki Morgan: Your readers are definitely correct. You are somebody that I would call friend. And I just wish I was in Dubai with you right now, having coffee or tea. [Gloria laughs] And I thank you so much for sharing your life’s journey, your truth with us in these heartfelt books and audiobooks.
Gloria Furman: Thanks, Victoria. Thanks so much.
Victoria Morgan: You can find out more about Gloria Furman’s audiobooks Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home at christianaudio.com. To find out about the release date for her latest book, Missional Motherhood, and to receive our free audiobook of the month, we invite you to join our mailing list. I’m Victoria Morgan. Thanks for listening!
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