A Mother’s Heart

          “I can read everything written on child raising, closely supervise their activities, develop meaningful dialogue, and stay up late worrying – and still miss the target…….We can take them to church, but we can’t make them worship.  We can require Bible reading, but we can’t make them enjoy doing it.  We can provide an example, but we can’t guarantee they will follow our steps.”
Jean Fleming, A Mother’s Heart

    
      That quote is not meant to discourage you from doing your best when it comes to parenting.  Understanding the Holy Spirit’s role in our children’s salvation does not relieve us of the incredible responsibilities of parenting our children.  We are still called to be obedient to God.  It’s a matter of faith.  Jean Fleming, in her superb book for Christian moms, A Mother’s Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother, lovingly encourages us in both of these areas of obedience and faith. 

       I received this book as a gift from a sweet, on-line friend last year, but I didn’t read it right away.  The delay was, what I now know to be, a sweet Providence.  I would have enjoyed the book last year, but it touched me deeply this year as I’ve struggled with parenting one of my children.  What would God have me do?  Is this really the right course?  Why aren’t things working?  Those questions have plagued me, but I’ve found some real help and encouragement in A Mother’s Heart.

     Author Jean Fleming, and her husband Roger, have served on staff with The Navigators, at home and abroad.  They are the parents of three grown children.  Originally written in 1982, Mrs. Fleming updated her book in 1996.  Now, some 14 years later, the book does contain a few items that might seem outdated; but the heart of the book is solid and useful for all times, and for moms with children of all ages.

     The book’s thirteen chapters cover various aspects of motherhood, helping to establish a firm, biblical look at our role as a mom.  Most helpful to me were the chapters on praying for your children (“Going Beyond “God Bless Charlie”) and the final two chapters (“God is Our Only Circumstance” and “Parenting By Faith or Fear?”).  All of the book’s chapters are valuable, and most chapters contain practical applications to help the reader put the author’s words into action in her own home.   Each chapter ends with a few questions that would be helpful for the individual reader, or that could be used in a group study setting 

     In the chapter “God is Our Only Circumstance”, Mrs. Fleming pushes us past excuse making.  We all have circumstances that make life difficult, but it’s how we use and move beyond those circumstances that matter.  The Apostle Paul had “circumstances” galore – imprisonment, beatings, shipwrecks, and that infamous thorn in his flesh – and yet he didn’t allow those circumstances to limit his obedience to God’s calling or diminish his faith.  He recognized his circumstances for what they were and worked with what he had.  From the book:

          “God intended them to form boundaries for Paul’s life.  Paul did not kick down these boundaries so that he might get on with the job as he saw it.  Rather, he accepted the boundaries and worked within them.”

     The final pages of the book, in the chapter “Parenting by Faith or Fear?”, were outstanding!  How many times have we muttered about peer pressure influencing our children?  How many times have we, as mothers, allowed the same sort of thing to happen to us?  How many of us have felt the pressure from other moms, even those within the church, concerning how we educate our children, or how our kids dress, or what we allow them to watch or listen to?  This sort of peer pressure can cause us to live in fear of man, rather than fearing God.  It can lead us to worry or cause us to try to parent our children as someone else parents, rather than looking to the Lord for direction.  We wrongly long for the approval of others, rather than God’s approval. 

     In the same vein, we must be very careful to not judge others who are doing it differently.  We should encourage one another to seeking the Lord for direction and looking into His word for counsel and not try to force our extra-biblical ideas on others.  From the book:

          “We must neither yield to peer pressure ourselves, nor judge parents who seek to follow the Lord but decide directions different from ours.  We need each other; we are a body.  We need to challenge and encourage one another, to learn from one another.  The danger comes when one specific application is held up as the only right course of action.”

and this quote located under the heading “The Struggle to Live Relevantly in This World”:

           “If God allowed us to retreat from this world, huddled together in delightful commune with others of like mind, we would be released from some of the stresses that accompany the life of those who take His call seriously.  But God calls His people to make Him known………The difficulty comes in trying to balance the desire to protect our children and the realization that if they can’t relate to people there is little hope of reaching them for Christ. (emphasis mine).

A Mother’s Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother (highly recommended)

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27
 


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