15 January 2009
The Mother and Her Reading, I
As I mentioned before, I've been slowly working my way through the Sovereign Grace Leadership series of podcasts, wherein, last summer, Josh Harris interviewed Jeff Purswell and CJ Mahaney. I'm amazed at how much of it I can apply in my life as a wife and home educating mom. While I'm not claiming pastor-status for what I do here, there are many parallels, so I thought I'd go through each podcast and share the things that occurred to me and how these ideas might apply. However, I won't outline the podcast itself; better for you to listen to it in its entirety (it can be found through iTunes or on the Sovereign Grace Ministries website).
CJ's first point was about the importance of reading as a regular part of life. If we want our children to become readers, it's important for us to model reading for them. Read aloud to them; read books while they're awake and can observe you; rejoice with them as they learn to read; share your excitement when you receive the gift of a book. If you save all your reading until after they go to bed, and don't talk to them about what you're reading, they'll think it's an optional part of life. If, however, you share this part of life with them, chances are better that they'll catch your love of books.
CJ also emphasized planning our reading. If we don't set aside time, if we don't plan which books we'll read, we won't read any or we'll meander through books and not benefit ourselves and our families as much as we could if we read more intentionally.
The plan may be to read a chapter or smaller section of several books each day, reading them slowly with time to digest the ideas. Or, if you'd rather read one book at a time, you might read a daily, greater portion of one book, until you're finished. The important thing isn't that our plans all look alike, but that we do what works for us.
Now, I do want to encourage moms of younger kidlets that grace is a necessary component of this idea. Little ones demand a lot of time and energy, and if a little one isn't sleeping through the night yet, napping while the baby naps may be a better use of your time. You may need to ease up on your reading for a season, or you may want to be more creative in carving out that time. (I often had a book at hand when I sat down to nurse a little one.) You may be able to listen to audio books while performing other tasks. (That's something I'm not that good at - I need to see the words for it to make an impression.) Please realize moms of littles, that there will come a time when you do have more time and can devote more of your time to reading. There is a time and a purpose to every season under heaven. Relax and flow with whatever season you're in now, thankful to the Lord for your little ones who grow so quickly and relying on the strength of the Lord to face these busy days.
A proper approach toward and priority of reading is a service to your family. There have been many books I've read that have challenged my attitudes and thinking in managing my home, educating my children, and relating to others that my family has benefited from. Reading, for an appropriate amount of time, is not selfish, but can help us serve more effectively. (Reading can become selfish when it becomes more important than our children, our duties, our responsibilities, but that is probably rooted in selfishness and pride, not in reading itself.)
I've been finding that I'm fighting to maintain my concentration lately. I was wondering why, and then I read an article that proposed the idea that time spent online, with its quick hyper-links and short articles, undermines our ability to concentrate (this is why I didn't include any hyper-links in my post today - I may begin adding them at the bottom rather than in the midst of the text, so they aren't such a distraction). I think there's something to this and have determined to spend time each day reading from real books, away from the computer. It is important for us to discipline our minds, loving the Lord with them, by reading real books: books that point us to Christ, helping us broaden our affection for our Saviour, as well as husband and children, inspiring us to creativity and fruitfulness.
Next time, I'll go through some of the categories of reading mentioned in the interview, along with some ideas of my own that those pastoral categories sparked.