Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Notes: "The Ministry of Motherhood", by Sally Clarkson

"The Ministry of Motherhood", by Sally Clarkson, is a gift. A pure gift. I'm so grateful for this book.

Now here, full disclosure, before I go on with the gushing, let me tell you what I didn't like about this book. Each section starts with an imaginative retelling of part of the gospels, and I disliked that part. But I think it's primarily a stylistic preference. I only mention it in case someone else like me picks this up and also dislikes that feature. Don't worry about it. Skip it if you like. Consider it a drawing illustrating the title page of each section and just flip past it. Do not let it stop you from reading the book.  Because the rest of this book is so, so good.

This book is amazing. In each chapter, it felt like the author takes my face by the chin, and turns me 'round so I can see things from a different angle, and I go "ohhhh. I get it now." It's like she says, "look at it this way. See?" And then I see, and I am so, so glad.

This book is a gift.

Sally Clarkson talks honestly and earnestly about her experience of motherhood, and easily segues into giving advice and even commands that don't sound at all presumptuous, they just sound right. Here are a few samples to give you an idea of the way she writes - things I particularly liked:
“Through his Word, God had given me all I needed to live productively through the challenging circumstances he brought my way. He will do that for my children, too, which is why the Bible must be at the center of all we do as parents. One of the central ways we give our children the gift of faith is to base everything we do on the Word of God.” –  pages 124-125.
Such a good way of reminding me of the way I need to be an example to my kids. And that even before I look to how things might be affecting my kids, I need to be looking to the Lord.

And then this part - this amazing part - where she reminds me about how my children are really in the Lord's hands, not mine:
“To me as a parent, this ‘vine’ reality has two implications. First I must do what I can to stay connected to Jesus at all costs. Only when he lives through me will I have the patience, love, faith, strength, perspective, and understanding I need to raise godly, faithful children. Spiritual fruit in the lives of our children even depends – up to a point – on my staying connected to the Lord.
“But the other side of this truth is that eventually my children must attach themselves to the Vine, not to me. Only the Lord can draw our children to himself. Only he can give salvation to our children. And only he can convict them of their sins. I can and must love my children, nurture them, comfort them, teach them. I can and must model for them what a life as a ‘branch’ looks like and show them ways to stay ‘attached’ through prayer, Bible reading, fellowship with other believers, and so on. But I cannot be their ‘vine,’ and I cannot play the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives.” –  pages 131-132.
That truth is so terrifying to me, and yet so reassuring. I can't tell you how many times I've prayed over my children at night, and come to the conclusion, "Lord, you love them so much more than I ever could. May they be yours. May they always be yours."

Because He does. And because He can.

This book reminded me of that. I loved it.

And I really want to spend some time rereading it, and journaling through the study questions Clarkson provides at the end of the first section.

Really worth reading. And rereading, I think. Highly recommended.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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Ashley said...

I am getting ready to read this with a group of four moms that I serve with here in Asia. Glad to see your good review of it! I was able to go to a conference of Sally's when I was in the States last year, and I was really encouraged by it.

Jessica Snell said...

That's really cool, Ashley. I think (I hope!) it'll be an excellent book study. I know I'm looking forward to going through it again.