Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review-Glimpses of Grace Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman

Ok, so when I read the book Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson, this is the message I thought I was getting... a book about treasuring the Gospel and embracing it in everyday life. Well, that wasn't exactly the case, instead THIS book is just that-encouragement on how daily doses of grace may look and wisdom straight from God's word about His grace in the completed work of Jesus Christ.
I don't know about you, but I have recently come to the realization that I have lived much of my Christian with the whole idea of "works righteousness." I'll explain for those of you who need a definition. Works righteousness is basically doing instead of resting in God, it is striving instead of dwelling with God, it is comparing instead of mimicking Jesus Christ. So, once again this was a great book for me personally and my struggle to "treasure the Gospel" and as a friend put it, "preach the Gospel to myself everyday," thanks Jo.
The author reminds moms that we may not be able to get that one hour of quiet to spend with the Lord on a daily basis, so we look for God throughout the day and find plenty of opportunities to grow in holiness while we merely do life. And we must believe and strive for our hearts to be motivated by love and transformed by Christ. Every effort we make during our day, must be motivated by God's grace.
This book was loaded with Scripture and personal examples of the practical side of adorning the Gospel as mentioned in Titus 2:10. I personally needed this message of encouragement and inspiration and would highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book review-Loving the Little Years:Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic

This book was written by a young mother who at the time of the writing had five little ones, including a set of twins. She admits she doesn't have all the answers, but point readers to God at every opportunity-which I appreciated and encouraged self-reflection. I picked it up because it was recommended by Tedd Trip (Shepherding a Child's Heart) and R.C. Sproul, Jr. I enjoyed it because 1) the chapters were short, which meant I could pick it up at a moment's notice and finish a chapter and 2) it was filled with real-life stories and struggles to which I could relate. It was a parenting book in a way, also aimed at mothers of young children who need a pick-me-up and encouragement along the journey. I admit it is a little jumbly and each chapter stands alone, but she shares some great strategies that I have not tried. I think it would be best understood by moms with multiple children, but I'm sure it will provide encouragement to most moms. She has since written another book, Fit to Burst : Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood which I will probably be getting for Mother's Day.

Book Review-Desperate by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson

I'm really not quite sure why this book struck my fancy nor why I ordered it, yet it was more than I anticipated. Based on the back cover, it is a book about the struggles of motherhood and the  occasional feeling of being overwhelmed by it all; it boasted answers to honest questions that many moms have and sounded intriguing...so I picked it up while on vacation last month. And as with any book that has not come personally recommended, I read with a wary eye checking for biblical accuracy, etc.

The main author, Sarah Mae, is a Christian, wife, homemaker, mother to three little ones, homeschooler and a popular blogger. She blogs at: http://sarahmae.com

The secondary author, Sally Clarkson, is a Christian, wife and mother of four adult children with a passion for Christian motherhood and parenting. She and her husband started Whole Heart Ministries http://www.wholeheart.org after spending time on the mission field. I am currently reading one of her other books, The Ministry of Motherhood. She blogs at: http://www.itakejoy.com

The premise is this: Sarah met Sally at a women's conference and a friendship was started. Actually, Sally pursued Sarah several times before they began a mentoring relationship. Early in this book, Sarah shares her past struggle of feeling overwhelmed and experiencing feelings of depression; in comes Sally who provided the encouragement that Sarah needed all the while pointing her to the cross. This book is like a back stage look to a real life mentorship between a struggling young mom and a seasoned counselor.

"Each of us has a story, but God, who originated the design of motherhood, is the expert advisor to whom we should turn." p 9 This quote was the first of many that I appreciated pointing women to God, Sally goes on to say that mothers especially need to be women of the Word, as well as women of prayer so that we can 1) know where He is leading and 2) be obedient allowing us to gracefully grow into our role as mothers.

In the chapter labeled, "Oh right, there's sin," Sally talks about how wrong expectations produce anger and depression-why do I forget this? We will never be perfect moms no matter how hard we try, but our success is based on the fact that God is with me and that is more than enough (Romans 8:31).  Again Sally reminds Sarah that it is not sinful to be tempted, but rather it is our response that determines future choices to "give-in" or to "fight." Later on in the chapter, "When the dark invades," Sarah provides hope and a resolution to those in the throes of depression or rather stuck with feelings of being depressed. Sidenote: Although chemical imbalances and organic problems do exist, feelings of depression are most often the consequence of unbiblical habits and/or sinful reactions to circumstances. (Self-Confrontation-a manual for in-depth Biblical discipleship, Chapter 18).

She shares that once she decided to:
1) be in the Word daily
and
2) resolve to trust that God has made her righteous and perfect (Hebrews 10:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
her outlook changed because now she was focusing on the right things.

"When we follow the voice of God and rest in His ability to sustain us as mothers, we will find a true and lasting peace." p 135 Sally writes and just how does that look? Yet again, a reminder for mothers that we need to be women of the Word and prayer.

I could relate to Sarah's writing at times, perhaps because we both have three kids relatively the same distance apart. Even though, I don't feel Desperate, I do feel as though I am lacking follow-through in some areas of my life. The only area of improvement would be more scripture references. Overall, I appreciated this book as it provided some insight and biblical hope that I'm sure all of us can use.

Window into my world-a personal interaction
Sally wrote some great ideas to connect women and families-one of which I decided to implement.
She and her husband love culture and the arts and have made family mealtimes a priority. She suggests creating a special atmosphere for dinnertime-lighting candles and playing classical music. Upon returning home, I located the candle holders and found two matching candles (that only took 4 days) and then tried it.  Even though I enjoyed it, my dear husband just isn't into classical music, Josiah said the music was sad and he and Naomi just want to blow the "birthday" candles out! Oh well, the candles are all dripped out, remind me to revisit this idea in a few years!

Sarah wrote about the time that she took the three kids out for breakfast by herself to celebrate her birthday. This inspired me to ask a friend to join me and the three kids for breakfast to celebrate my 35th birthday this past March. It was a fun memory, thanks Sarah for sharing, otherwise I might have had a rather mundane birthday at home.

The link below is to an essay written by J.R. Miller in 1886 on the life of Hannah, called Christian Motherhood. I pray it is an encouragement to you.

http://www.biblebb.com/Misc/Family/wives_and_mothers/Miller_motherhood.htm

Final thought: If you are a mom, you are EXACTLY who YOUR children need; God made it that way!

















Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review-Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

Confession Time: The first time I picked up this book, I only read two chapters and put it down thinking that I must have gotten some things wrong in my parenting.  What I perceived was that we (my husband and I) had missed the mark in incorporating the Gospel into our discipline routine. I will also admit that I actually expected a different message, one about imparting grace to our kids in our everyday lived, but rather this was a book focusing on bringing attention to the Gospel during our every conversation, especially discipline.
After attending a conference in March and listening to one of the authors (Jessica), I decided she was so honest in admitting failure in her own presentation and implementation of the material to her kids; I picked it up again. Jessica said that the book was not written to be used as a manual with scripts to be read, but rather a Biblical basis for holding high the Gospel during our interactions with our children. Several close friends, including my sister said this had been revolutionary in their parenting, so I dove in once again with both ears ready to listen.
The premise is that humans are not inherently good, we are sinners in need of a Saviour. The authors cautioned us to even use the phrase "good boy or good girl" with our kids lest they begin to believe that 1) they are good, or 2) their deeds are good. My concern is that i don't give enough encouragement and positive affirmation as it is, but I understand that it may lead to people pleasing OR a works-righteousness mentality.
The authors wrote about the importance of not having a disconnect between how parents live in front of their kids and what they are taught or learning from God's word. Parents need to live with honesty and transparency, constantly conversing about the Lord and His goodness and our shortcomings. As well as, modeling daily quiet times and prayer times to help our children make the connection between what they are learning in Sunday School and everyday decision making. The authors included several pages of "tools" to help with the implementation of this model and even how to apply during discipline or training times with our kids. I'm sure this will be a great help in the future. Now, if I can only find my copy!
I'm glad I finished the book and will be reading it again. Highly recommended.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

When You Rise Up-A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R.C. Sproul, Jr


*Food for thought for all parents, 
encouragement for homeschool moms*


This book creates the case that ALL Christian parents are called to homeschool their children and that parents are fully equipped to do the job. First, it must be determined if education is a function of the state, the church or the family. After all, education cannot be "neutral" according to John Milton, a puritan poet. Second, we must apply the discipleship process in our homes.

Sproul, Jr. uses Deuteronomy 6 to show that God has called parents to be teachers of their children. Education IS the function of the family and it takes place in the form of discipleship. The goal of which it to create children and grandchildren who are Christlike. On the other hand, public education is an arm of the government who is an enemy of the gospel (we hear it more now than ever) and have banned even a mention of Christ's name. Their goal is to raise responsible adults who, bottom line: do well, earn more money and pay more taxes. All the while, spending $754 billion annually (2002 statistic) to achieve this end. If their god is money then it is NOT the god we want our children to be serving. 

Sproul, Jr. says that there are only two things needed to "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord," (Ephesians 6:4b), the Bible and the Holy Spirit; both of which we have as believers. The believer's goal ought to be that we desire to raise godly offspring as opposed to merely raising smart kids, meaning kids that excel academically and are Harvard scholars. Yes, many homeschooled children are intelligent, but remember, God's goal is godliness.

Here are some common arguments that are given against homeschool and how Sproul, Jr. answers them:

For those who don't think they are qualified, his argument is this: do you have a child? has God commanded you to teach them (Deut 6)? has God empowered you with the Holy Spirit?
Then, if God has entrusted a child to you YES you are able!

For those who believe it is too expensive, his answer is: do you believe that God wants us to entrust teaching to the public/government system? do you own a Bible? If the answer is yes to the second question, you start there. 

For those who believe homeschooling does not afford every possibility to be exposed to sports and other extra-curricular activities, he simply says: Deut 6, parents are to teach their children.

For those who think their child might rebel, he says: perhaps you should keep the control you have and not give it over to the overworked and underpaid teacher who will surely not have time to give one-on-one attention. Raising children who would rather identify more with their peers than their "family IS the problem, not the solution." p 133

What about socialization you say. Sproul, Jr. says, my children get far more socialization on a daily basis than children who are in a classroom with the same age. They learn to interact with adults far more quickly and appropriately by being homeschooled.  After all, their identity is in Christ, not in pop culture.  

So, are you according to Ecclesiastes 12:13 "fear(ing) God and obey(ing) His commands"?

Here's to you mom, for your dedication to homeschooling and raising godly children. Love you.