I’m so thrilled to welcome my author friend, Julia Roller, here today! Julia has quite the amazing journey, which she’ll share more about below. Her book, Mom Seeks God, is a must-read for young moms trying to figure out how to practice grace in the chaos of life. Stay tuned for some wise words and encouragement…
Welcome, Julia! To help our readers get to know you better, I’m curious what 7 words best describe you?
Well, my first instinct was to give you two lists—the 7 words that I want to describe me (things like humble and patient) and then the 7 words that actually do! But then it occurred to me that I could use nouns, which seemed to require less harsh judgment about myself, so here they are in no particular order: disciple, mom, wife, writer, reader, tea lover, kitchen contemplative (sorry, I know the last two are two words each!).
No worries. It’s a tough challenge! 🙂 I love the concept behind your book, Mom Seeks God. Can you share how it first came about?
Becoming a first-time mom wasn’t an easy or smooth transition for me. My son Ben had a terrible time gaining weight, and he cried a lot and never seemed to sleep, and it was all so much harder than I had thought it would be. I felt far from God in the isolation and struggle of new motherhood, and at the same time, I felt like I didn’t have the quiet or time to myself to study the Bible or pray the way I had before. Mom Seeks God chronicles my attempts to meet God in the chaos of motherhood through various spiritual practices such prayer, fellowship, silence, simplicity, celebration, and fasting.
Such a relevant struggle for all moms out there. What was most challenging about writing this book?
It was hard to be honest about my own sin and selfishness and how hard I found it to put another person’s needs before my own. And as a lifelong Christian, it was also difficult to admit how much I struggled with fitting prayer and other spiritual practices into my day. It’s been helpful to realize that many other Christians find themselves in changing seasons of faith, and writing the book helped me to recognize that.
What came most naturally in the creation of Mom Seeks God?
Once I got over revealing those not-so-flattering truths (which I did partially by convincing myself no one would ever read the book!), the writing came very easily. I’ve written many other books, but this is the first one that is completely based on my personal experience. And I found, when I sat down at the keyboard, that I’d been writing parts of it in my head for years.
As you know, when you have young children, your time at the computer is so limited that you have to be very efficient. I know I have a precious couple of hours of nap time, and so I tend to compose things in my head throughout the day and then hopefully when I do have the time to sit down and write it out, it flows easily.
Oh yes, I totally understand that routine. How has your life changed since you wrote this book, and how has your quiet time adapted to those changes?
I’m the mom of three children now, ages 10, 6, and 15 months. So my life still feels busy and chaotic, but ten years of parenting under my belt has left me a little less hard on myself and a little less exacting in my standards. With my daughter, who will be my last child, I find it a lot easier to access the joy and delight of parenting. A lot of that is because I have her brothers around to help!
My spiritual practices are still very close to the ones I describe in Mom Seeks God. For example, in the book I chronicle my attempts at several kinds of prayer in an effort to find one that I could do consistently. I found that praying the Examen before bed was a great daily practice, and I still do it every night (unless I fall asleep first—that does happen sometimes!).
When I spent time with you at our agency retreat in October, I was moved by your recent journey. Can you share more about it and how it has shaped what you’re working on next?
For years now I’ve wanted to write a book on hospitality, which has seemed to me to provide an important type of personal connection that our digital world is so often lacking. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a year ago, when I was 39 weeks pregnant with my daughter, and spent much of the first year of her life in treatment.
Throughout that difficult experience, I was surrounded by hospitality at every turn—from my doctors, my family, my friends, and my church community. I’m working on that book now but from a slightly different perspective of receiving hospitality and what that looks like in the Bible and in my own experiences.
I love that God is using your experiences to shape your work. (He’s good at that, isn’t He?) 🙂 Any final tips for young moms trying to survive the chaos?
Remember that your work matters. It matters to your children; it matters to your soul; it matters to God. I just wrote a blog post this morning about how many times a day I have to put everything back into the various cabinets my daughter empties throughout the day. It seemed to me so symbolic of a lot of the work we do as parents, which can seem so pointless and Sisyphean. But it’s not. It’s the work to which we are called in this season, and it’s valuable in God’s eyes.
He gave us these bodies, which need all this care and feeding and cleaning. And he gave us our children to care for and nurture. The mundane and repetitive tasks of parenting—laundry, diaper changing, dish washing, cooking and cleaning—can also provide perfect opportunities for prayer as our hands are engaged and our minds and hearts are free to listen for God.
I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty. Believe me, I don’t have an intense time of prayer each time I change a diaper. But when you start to feel overwhelmed at the backlog of household tasks awaiting your attention or when cleaning the counter AGAIN starts to feel unbelievably pointless, try reimagining that task as a time for prayer. It certainly couldn’t hurt anything! 🙂
Connecting with God in the ordinary…I love it, Julia. Thanks so much for being my guest today! I pray my readers will be inspired by your example and find daily grace in their own lives.