Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Review: A Mom After God's Own Heart, Intro

**Disclaimer: When I do reviews on this book, the posts will probably be pretty lengthy. Don't get me wrong, I think it will be worth your time since I will be quoting a ton from the book and Elizabeth George has a TON of great things to say, but just know going in to it that the posts will be long. With that said, I will not take offense if you do not read/comment on these posts!**

When I was pregnant with Caleb I had started reading this book, "A Mom After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George. I barely made it through the intro before tears were streaming heavily down my face. I figured it was my pregnancy hormones that had kicked in to high gear so I tabled the book and decided that once Caleb was here, surely I wouldn't be as emotional and so I could pick up the book and start back at the beginning. Boy oh boy was I wrong! I probably cry just as much now, if not more than when I was pregnant, reading this book! The cool thing is that I found a growth and study guide to go along with it, so not only am I emotional over the actual book, but the in depth study guide as well! I must be crazy!

Anyway, this will be my feeble attempt at doing a "book review". I'm hoping to do an overview post of each chapter as I read and do the study guide. My goal is to encourage and spur on other mom's who might be struggling with desiring God in a way that will reflect His true nature to their children. Believe me when I say, this will be a FEEBLE attempt, I know I'm brand new at the whole mommy thing, but even if just one person is encrouaged, I know my time writing these "journal entries" will be completely and utterly worth it!

So here it goes...

The Intro: Focusing On The Heart

I'm a highlighter girl, I could use up 2-3 highlighters per book, and probably will use more for this book because already I've highlighted more than half of the intro! Note: All verse references will be in the ESV translation. Also, most quotes will come directly from the book, however not everything you read will. I will be imparting my own opinions, obviously, it's a book review, anything from the book will be in quotations. Now, on to the "meat"...

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Proverbs 4:23

"We all know that doing things God's way is a matter of the heart. No matter what it is, how to spend our money or time, how we treat others, dress or work, our choices reveal the true nature of our heart. This is also true in how we raise our children - no matter what ages."

"The heart is first. It speaks of the inner life, the mind, the thoughts, the motives, the desires. The mind is the fountain from which the actions flow. If the fountain is pure, the stream that flows from it will be pure. As a man thinks, so he is. God begins molding a mother after His own heart on the inside -- in the inner woman and her heart -- and then works outward."

I don't know about all you mommies out there, but when I was pregnant with Caleb, I struggled hugely with anxiety. Would my baby live through birth? Would I live through birth? Would he have Trisomy 18? (that question reared it's head from learning of multiple cases of it that had happened in the lives of a not only a friend of mine, but also two other blog friends I was following) Would Caleb be healthy? And my biggest fear was Caleb's salvation, would he EVER come to know the Lord? What fear I had let creep in to my heart during pregnancy, and what joy I was robbed for part of that pregnancy because of the lies of Satan.

"As moms, our job assignment from God is to raise children after God's own heart -- children who seek to follow God and hopefully experience salvation through Jesus Christ." This is something I have prayed for since the first moment I found out I was pregnant. Something else I should have been praying for though was "strength to give my heart, soul, mind, strength and time to influencing and shaping the heart of my child toward God and His purposes." I've since added that to my daily prayers. I pray for stamina to "till the soil of each tender heart and sow the seed of the Word of God while praying fervently for 'Divine influence.'" What work I have cut out for me, but what joy and excitement I have found in the simple ways I try to be a light for Caleb, through reading him books, bible stories, playing with him, taking care of him, loving him as Christ loves me, and just holding him close (whenever he will let me!). Although I know I will never perfect the art of loving as Christ loves, I know that as long as I place my trust in the Almighty, he will give me the strength to love my child(ren) well.

Moving on...in the rest of the Intro, Elizabeth talks about children of the Bible who had a heart for God and followed Him.

Samuel. What a man, in a little boy's body! In 1 Samuel 3 we can read that he --
heard God's call...and
answered Him. He
listened to what God had to say, and he
responded to the voice of the Lord, saying, "Here I am!...Speak, for Your servant hears" (verses 4 and 10) . "Children (even at a very young age) are able to make significant spiritual commitments and substantial contributions to the work of God."

To look further into Samuel's story, we must look at Hannah, his mother. What an amazing woman she was, to have the guts to pray to the Lord and vow, "O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed...remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life..."1 Samuel 1:11. How a woman can pray and vow those words, and hold true to her promise, I am just amazed at. Yes, I know that Caleb is a gift, a child of God, and he does not belong to me, but to know that Hannah so desperately wanted son and vowed to give him over to the Lord the way she did, well, I could only hope that I would do that and be continually faithful.

David. A Man After God's Own Heart. Truly. "He was also a boy after God's own hart, at the age of somwhere between 10 ang 16 when Samuel anointed David to be king over Judah. Already a lover of the Lord, he tended his father's sheep, wrote prayers to God, and sang them to the Lord." Even though the Bible doesn't tell us much about David's parents it does talk about his lineage and his love for God at a very young age.

"As mom's after God's own heart, we must teach, train, and counsel our children every chance we get. We need to pray for God to write our faithful teaching of His Word on our children's hearts."

Even when there is division in the home, it is possible to instill a character of faithfulness that will carry into adultness. This shows to be true for Timothy. His mother and grandmother were his main spiritual influences as his father was not a believer. I can attest to this as well. Even though I was "fatherless" (until 15), my mom was such an example to me of a Godly woman, as well as the influence that Kanakuk had on my life. And once Mom was married to Dad, he did a great job of being that fatherly/spiritual influence in my life that I had been missing for so long.

At the end of the introduction Elizabeth reiterates, "Doing things God's way is always a matter of the heart. That includes choosing to focus your heart on raising your children God's way and praying with each breath that they will develop hearts after God." Just be a mom after God's own heart. He'll help you take care of everything else that goes with parenting.

Also at the end of the intro and throughout the book is a section called, "From a Dad's Heart" written by Jim George, Elizabeth's husband. He shares encouraging words for mom's from a dad's perspective. This s a great encouragement to me and I'm hoping to Aaron as well, even though he's not reading the book.

And finally, the very last section of the intro and each chapter is a section titled, "Little Choices That Reap Big Blessings." This section will give you simple applications to your daily life that will help you along in becoming a mom after God's own heart. This is just my style, for those of you who know me well. I am a list maker! I over analyze everything, and I am OCD about organizing! Here's Elizabeth's challenges for the Intro:

1. Develop a template for your week. Fine-tune what's already going on in your home so you are truly putting first things first. Master-mind a schedule that allows time for both you and your children to have a daily Bible Study or Bible Story time (depending on their ages).

2. Analyze your TV time. Do you know exactly how much time you are watching TV? Chart or record it for a while if you like. Then think about how you could use that time to grow in your knowledge of God, to put better things into your heart and mind, to pray for your family to follow God.

Ok, this is a HUGE struggle for me! It is so normal for me to have the TV on during the day, if not just for background noise, yet the days that I have it off, and just have my iPod playing I do get so much more done, and I spend so much more time playing and being with Caleb. I still can't figure out why I don't just leave it off!

3. Choose a devotional book.

4. Memorize one verse.

5. Pray for your heart. Give your heart to him each fresh new morning as it arrives with fresh new challenges. Open your heart up fully to him. Dedicate it to God (Luke 10:27). Cleanse and purify it through prayer (James 4:8). Then pray from the heart for your precious children as only you, their mom, can.

"A Mom After God's Own Heart: Growth and Study Guide"

Here's my review on the study itself. The nice thing is that is starts out with a study section on the intro in the book, not many study guides do that, but the intro had so much meat that I'm glad the study guide had additional reflection and questions. Just a sample of some of the questions...

1. Read the intro.... What meant most to you has a mom?
2. What things challenged you as a mother?
3. What does Psalm 40:8 say about your heart, and how does it affect your life and your parenting?
4. From a Dad's Heart: Write down at least one way you will encourage your husband in his role as a dad this week.
5. Little Choices That Reap Big Benefits: Write out the little choices suggested in your book. Which ones challenged you most as a mom and why? Which one encouraged you in a big way? Which one do you want to give more time and attenton to this week?

I don't know about you, but all of this post, just from the Intro in the book, I'm guessing there will be many more posts, tears along the way, tons of prayer, change of heart towards trusting the Lord with Caleb, and plenty of encouraging insights from Elizabeth George. I'm so very excited to share this book through the service of the great internet, with each one of you mommies (and all of you who aren't, I hope you find encourangement through these posts as well!).

Be Blessed and Encouraged!

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