Monday, January 14, 2013

The Mission of Motherhood

My new favorite book is The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson.  Somehow last year I discovered her blog, I Take Joy, and knew instantly that I would love her books.  I was recently telling a friend about this book and she said she wanted the cliff notes of the books I read, so I decided to record all of the things I underlined in this book to share with all of you.  I wanted to go back and read the underlined parts anyway, so here we go... (I've divided them by chapters)

Introduction

"The fundamental mission of motherhood now is the same as it always was: to nurture, protect, and instruct children, to create a home environment that enables them to learn and grow, to help them develop a heart for God and his purposes, and to send them out into the world prepared to live both fully and meaningfully."

Discovering The Mission of Motherhood

"A profound need of every child: to be loved, cherished, cared for, and protected by her very own mother."

"Motherhood, while demanding, is one of the most fulfilling and meaningful roles a woman can fill."

"Over the course of the last century, traditional motherhood has become a lifestyle option - and to many, a lesser option - rather than a divine calling."

Reflecting on her experience as a mother, "They were busy little sinful creatures who demanded all of my body, time, life, emotions, and attention!"

"We mothers have the opportunity to influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children."

"Those foundational years in the life of a child - those same years when I sometimes thought I was accomplishing nothing - have a lasting effect on almost every aspect of the rest of that child's life."

"I am to shepherd the hearts of my children whom he providentially placed in my care."

"The mission of motherhood is strategic in providing the next generation with wholehearted, emotionally healthy, and spiritually alive adults."

"I've learned that my influence on my children is limited only by the smallness of my dreams and my lack of commitment to the Lord and his purposes."

Exploring The Meaning of Biblical Motherhood

"Destroying the foundation of the family, which was designed by God to be the stable foundation of life, is a natural place for Satan to attack."

Committing Our Lives to God's Design

The dilemma confronting so many loving, well-intentioned mothers: "When they were preparing for life, they focused on career preparation and assumed that motherhood and a home life could be tucked in around the edges."

"How we choose to focus our priorities and time in light of our children's lives will have great consequences not only for their individual futures but for the future of our society as well."

"As more women work outside the home and the two-income family is considered the norm, I believe it's become harder, not easier, to be a family."

"Discovering interesting books, beautiful music, captivating art, and fun, playful moments within an intimate loving relationship nurtures the souls of children."

"The more hours children spend away from their mothers, the more likely they are to be defiant, aggressive, and disobedient by the time they are in kindergarten." - quoted from Time magazine, April 30, 2001

"Whatever the Lord requires, he also enables."

"In the absence of biblical convictions, people will go the way of their culture."

"The cost has been great, but the sacrifice was well worth it."

Mothering With The Heart of Jesus

"It's the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts."

"Attitude, I have found, makes all the difference when it comes to serving our children.  Serving with joy in the midst of messes and difficulty can only be done when we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit."

"My children didn't need me to be on top of all my chores or even to be perfect in taking care of all their needs.  What they needed was for me to be content and patient with life."

Reaching Children's Hearts for Christ

"I want them to leave my home with a hunger and passion to know God personally and to be used by him to accomplish great things for his kingdom."

"Often our lives are so overrun with small tasks that we get caught up in checking off the list of things that need to be done and lose sight of the big picture."

"Our primary job as parents is to focus on developing their hearts - their passions, loyalties, convictions, and commitments."

"A relationship with Christ is best taught through a long-term personal relationship with someone who knows the Master, not through activities organized around lots of people in impersonal and distracting instructional situations."

"The first principle of reaching our children, then, is that we have to make the time to be with them.  And we need to be diligent to practice what we preach!"

1 Corinthians 15:33, "Bad company corrupts good morals." - "While our children are young, we need to monitor carefully the people and ideas to which they are exposed... What does this mean in practical terms?  Children tend to take in all information as truth.  Guarding our children's influences, therefore, would certainly include keeping close tabs on their media exposure - television, movies, even books.  A wise mother will do very careful research before allowing her children access to most popular entertainment."

Training Children's Minds To Think Biblically

"In order to think biblically, a person needs to know the Bible.  That's probably the most basic aspect of training our children."

"The Bible, quite simply, is the richest treasure we can offer our children, the most valuable tool for shaping their thinking."

"All of us have times when we're resistant to truth, and that includes children.  Faithful, repetitive teaching of the biblical principles of right and wrong - plus a gentle but firm insistence that the children act on those principles - is what helps to build familiar pathways in their minds so that when they are mature, they will have a reliable basis for making decisions about what is right and what is wrong."

"In a sense, I give my children their best theological education by seeking to really know and love God in my own life and living my life out before my children."

Building Loving Relationships With Our Children

"The hunger for love, affirmation, attention, and acceptance is a deep drive that will search for fulfillment until it finds it.  A child's first attachment is meant to be with its mother, so lots of loving touches and caresses from her make a difference in the child's future intellect, emotional stability, and sense of well-being.  Time and affectionate attention from a father and significant others is crucial as well."

"All the activities that keep us so busy and involved are nice but not necessary."

"Stay-at-home moms, too, can be overly busy and emotionally unavailable to their kids."

"It is important to focus on relational time as well as on activity or discipline.  All three are important, but relationship has the highest priority, because it is the foundation upon which the rest of our life with our children will stand."

"When children feel that pleasing their parents is impossible, they often reject the values and beliefs of their parents."

"Even gentle words of correction, if balanced with affirmation of a child's potential and efforts, can be encouraging, but thoughtless criticism merely stings a child's soul."

"Even then I try to keep my voice gentle and my wording constructive.  And I seek to make more encouraging comments to our children than negative in order to keep their emotional reservoirs filled with the joy and motivation that comes from knowing they're loved and appreciated."

Cultivating and Enriching Our Children's Lives

"As a garden cannot flourish without a gardener, neither can a child reach his or her potential without someone committed to careful cultivation."

"Committing to regular, specific training in manners and graciousness is all that it takes to build confidence." (in this area)

"We want to fill our home with what is true, right, honorable, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8)  (Thinking about art, music, toys, videos, movies, computer games, etc...)

Embracing God's Call To Home-Making

"The task of building our homes into places of beauty and life that will feed the hearts, souls, and minds of our children is the mot comprehensive task to which God has called us as mothers.  We are called quite literally to be "home makers" - to plan and shape a home environment that provides our families with both a safe resting place and a launching pad for everything they do in the world."

"Each of us is called to make daily faith decisions that will determine the kind of environment that shapes our family's lives."

"It is a commitment of heart, mind, and soul to the task of subduing (making productive) a very specific part of the earth - the domain of the home.  It involves teaching minds and nurturing hearts and shaping souls, in addition to getting the rugs vacuumed and dinner on the table!"

"If I can succeed in creating a nurturing environment that speaks peace to their souls even as it helps them grow, I will feel that I have done my job as keeper of my domain."

"My purpose in organizing my household is not to live up to some external value system but to make life easier and more peaceful for the whole family."

"We also realized that for children to be influenced primarily by us, they had to spend most of their time with us."

"The strong and secure future we help to build for our children is laid by the hundreds of small deeds we do every day as we serve faithfully in our homes."

Opening Windows To God's Artistry and Greatness

"A crucial part to the mission of motherhood:  exposing our children to the power and majesty of our Creator God and encouraging them to respond with gratitude and their own creative efforts."

So many today are "rarely exposed to the natural elements that were meant to daily confront our soul with the greatness of God."

"being made in God's image means we are like him - each of us.  If he is creative, then we also have that potential - all of us."

"There are usually peaceful ways to motivate my children to do what I want them to do instead of always confronting them with harsh words and lectures."

"My goal is to touch my children's hearts with the overwhelming wonder of his presence."

Bringing God's Purposes Into Our Homes... and Beyond

"Service to others in need is an essential part of training and instructing our children in order to cultivate in them a loving and obedient heart."

"Making disciples of my children is certainly part of my view of the mission of motherhood."

"Helping our children develop a heart for God and his kingdom work must be my fundamental priority as a mother."

Finishing The Journey With Endurance and Grace

"Inadequacy, in fact, had been my familiar and constant companion, overcome only by "His strength is perfected in my weakness" choices of faith."

God gave me "instruction when I needed to learn how to build in reality what he had already placed in my heart to do."

"The mission of motherhood requires grit.  It requires perseverance.  And that often means years of repetitious and mundane tasks, years of repeating yourself, years of wondering whether anything you do or say makes a difference."

Hebrews 10:35-39...
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.  For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.  But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.  But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul."

"I must choose to believe that it matters that I am choosing to be with my children and slowly build their character instead of pursuing a full-time career where the results of my labor may be more immediately tangible."

"May God's grace sustain us all in this great calling, and may we see eternity changed because of the commitments of our hearts lived out for his glory."



Sally Clarkson has raised and homeschooled four children and now travels with her husband, Clay, to speak about the importance of the family.  She has helped her husband write Educating The WholeHearted Child, which I am now reading and enjoying.  I hope these quotes offer encouragement to all moms who read them and give a desire to read the whole book.

Sincerely,
A mom with a mission