24 January 2009

The Mother and Her Reading, II

Most of CJ's focus was on spiritual growth, developing an affection for the Saviour; as we read, so we think and as we think, so we feel.  In order to develop passion for the gospel, we must be reading books about it, books that will help us look at it freshly and to see new aspects of it.  We must strive never to grow familiar with the gospel.

So the first category of our reading must be books that care for our souls. Scripture is a no-brainer, but also we should be reading books that challenge us spiritually to examine our hearts, books that remind us freshly of the gospel, books that help us get a firm grasp on solid theology. Not all at once, but they should be part of the plan.

This applies to every believer. Yet it applies to moms at home because it affects our children as well as ourselves.  In a very real sense, we are pastoring and discipling our children as we raise them. Their souls must be a focus of our efforts. However, we cannot give them something we don't have. If Mom isn't experiencing a deepening faith and relationship with Christ, she can't pass that onto her kidlings, nor will she be quick to walk in dependence on the Lord. (Yes, Dad is the head of the family and ultimately responsible before the Lord for child-rearing efforts, but most moms spend more time with their children than dads do; we must be working along with our husbands, following their leadership, submitting to their goals; but often the time, effort, and day-to-dayness of raising children falls on our shoulders, not as a burden, but as a privilege.)

CJ also, rightly placed a specific emphasis on books about our specific callings. For those of us whose calling is to keep house and raise our children, this would include books about being a godly wife, a joyful mother, a skillful teacher. 

Books to help and encourage us in our home making activities: cooking, gardening, household organization, home crafts (sewing, knitting, crocheting, tatting, things that make a home and a life beautiful), the theology and philosophy of keeping house (there are many voices telling us that we are wasting our lives by devoting it to drudgery - we must remind ourselves of the truth of the high calling to which we aspire so that we don't grow weary in well-doing), leadership, bargain hunting, hospitality, cleaning tips, caring for the sick and elderly. The list goes on and on.

Homeschooling moms would also benefit from reading books about educational philosophy and practice as well as literature, history, biographies, logic, science, even some math books. Part of this is to equip us to help our children learn, but this type of reading also keeps our minds sharp. We may not remember everything we read, but we'll be much better able to point our children to books that will benefit them and we'll be able to discuss them together.   It is also an excellent example to our children of the joy of a lifetime of learning.

My intent isn't to overwhelm anyone by these lists of possible topics for us to read about.  I point them out so that we can be intentional in our reading choices.  I certainly don't read all these types of books at one time.  I have certain areas in which I lack skill or motivation and  I need to be reading books about those topics (my current focus in school is books about writing and teaching writing).  There are also certain areas of particular gifting or topics that appeal more to me than others; those are books I want to read.  These lists are more suggestions to get you thinking about your reading.  It's better to start anywhere and read one at a time than to feel so overwhelmed that one never starts.  I hope these lists lend themselves to a lifetime of reading.

Teddy Roosevelt said that those who read will be those who lead.  We live in a post-literate society.  It's not that people don't know how to read (although they may not have been taught how do it well), but that they don't see the importance of reading; they choose not to read.  We may feel that we're at home, not out leading in our culture, however, cultural change happens the way yeast works in bread.   'A little leaven leavens the whole lump,' is how Christ described the church.  Chesterton said that there is nothing more powerful than an average man and his average wife and their average children living their average lives to the glory of God.  Reading can help us do so, and do so well.

Next time, I'll list specific books that I've found helpful and that I think are worth reading and re-reading.


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