Friday, September 08, 2006

A Mother's Heart

I've posted about the book A Mother's Heart by Jean Fleming before, but I this time I want to post her thoughts that I have written down, read and reread countless times now. This is not just another book on mothering. For me this is, next to the Bible, the most helpful book on being a godly mother that I have yet to read. In one of the early chapters entitled A Vision for the Task this is what she says:
Mothering can seem an isolated occupation unrelated to anything beyond the immediate needs of the family, but there is no more natural way for a mother to influence her world for Christ than through her own children. We will touch few lives with more intensity than the children God has placed in our homes. The implications are awesome.
Time devoted to our children should not be spent marking time, but as an investment in one of our greatest ministry opportunities. Although our children should not be the focus of our lives, if we neglect them to pursue other opportunities we may one day find we lacked a biblical vision of mothering.

"Marking time" is what Jean Fleming calls it. I certainly am guilty of doing just that. Entertaining my son while looking at the clock wondering how much longer until I can do what I want. Providing filler activities to pass the time until dinner and bathtime. If you, like me, feel convicted in this area, just wait, it might get worse.
If you think you would do a better job if you had a "real ministry", one that people would recognize and want to learn from you, listen to her talk about a women missionary.
Several years ago, I heard a dedicated missionary share what she would do differently if she could start raising her family again. This woman was committed to Christ and his cause and she spent her life serving others--so the depth and quality of her life made me sit up and listen when she shared. She said she would stay home more, be kinder to her children, and feed them spiritually.
Not what we would expect is it?
Fleming went on to recount:
Even knowing she would spend almost all of her married life as a missionary in Asia, this woman said she would have postponed full-time language study--which took her away from her children during their preschool years--until she could do it without being gone from her children.

Her response to this missionary's revelation is, I think, the key paragraph to this book.
I too am jealous for the influence I have at this crucial period in my child's life to teach him what is good, to enrich his life with beauty, to train him in obedience and respect, to stimulate his eager intellect, to encourage his attempts to try new things, and to play with him. I want to enjoy these years that happen only once and are soon gone forever.

Once the full import of this way of thinking sets in, the question no longer is, "What will we do all day?". The question becomes, "How on earth will I ever get all this done in such a short time?".
Ending the next chapter, What Values Are Really Important?, Mrs. Fleming writes:
I must constantly remind myself that though the visible, tangible world is so insistent and clamorous in its demands, I must not let it badger me into spending my life unwisely... I must take the long view. I must choose to do those things that will give satisfaction as I view my life as a whole, rather than measure satisfaction at the end of each day.
She then quotes this poem to strengthen her insight.
Time is of the Essence
by Irene Foster

Now is the time to get things done...
Wade in the water,
Sit in the sun,
Squish my toes in the mud by the door
Explore the world with a boy just four.

Now is the time to study books,
How a cloud looks,
To ponder "up,"
Where God sleeps nights,
Why mosquitoes take such big bites.

Later there'll be time
To sew and clean
Paint the hall
That soft new green,
To make new drapes, refinish the floor,
Later on...
When he's not just four.

A tender reminder of how important mothering is to our children.

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