Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Getting away: trips and Sabbath May 26, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Blogging,Books,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:13 pm

Last night my husband and I pulled into our driveway after 11 hours on the road with a van full of tired kids, dirty laundry, and a back windshield void of glass and elaborately covered in duct tape due to a rock our 4-year old put through the window two days prior.  We’d spent three days and four nights in the beautiful, lake-side woods of northern CA in unseasonably cold weather – combining our first multi-night camping trip as a family of five with practice in winter-tenting. (Photo-disclosure: it snowed near but not at our campsite.) It was a huge adventure and well worth it; more details from the trip will no doubt follow in upcoming posts.

This morning I saw that a post I’d written for Christianity Today about Sabbath-keeping called Our Restless Lives came out last week, just before we left.  This timing seems especially fitting because Wendy Mogul’s analogy of Sabbath-keeping with a trip to the wilderness resonates with me and our family’s experience.  As I quoted in my last post about the Sabbath, “What? Day of Rest?”, Mogul:

“cites a rabbi who compares the Sabbath’s ‘sense of timelessness to river rafting or being in the wilderness.  Preparing for such a trip – finding the right maps, inspecting equipment, packing the car – is so much trouble you wonder if it’s worth the effort.  You have to work so hard to prepare to stop. But once on the river, with no watches or other obligations, time can unfold and expand in a natural rhythm.’  You can’t get into the natural rhythm – stop and enjoy life – till you’ve done the work to get away (literally, figuratively, or both) from the daily grind.”

It was a lot of work to prepare for that trip. There were a lot of hours in the car with our kids to reach our destination. But the experience there was one we could never have recreated at home, and it was fabulous.  Our trip was a Sabbath from our regular life… just as our day of rest should be a Sabbath from our regular week and mindset.  There is catch-up to do on the flip side sometimes (as the mounds of laundry around me attest), but who cares?  I’ll take refreshment, widened perspective, deepened relationships with my family members, and a renewed sense of the adventure of life over the annoyances of prep and clean-up any day.


Is there such a thing as spiritual helicopter parenting? May 16, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Culture,Parenting — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:55 pm

I’m doing a Bible study this year in Esther – a book about a Jewish orphan who defies the odds to become the queen of Persia through marriage to King Xerxes.  During Esther’s reign, a decree is issued for the entire Jewish population to be exterminated, but God uses her royal influence to thwart the plot and save the Jews.  In the penultimate chapter of the book we read this: “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the edict (to annihilate the Jews) was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.”  According to study facilitator Beth Moore, the “most pronounced theme of the Book of Esther is the reversal of destiny”… And about this reversal she says: “God can’t turn a table that was never set against you.”

It’s a fairly obvious point but still a striking one.  A story like Esther’s is compelling and inspiring because of its drama- the threat of annihilation, the fear Esther must conquer to intervene, and ultimately her brave “risk-it-all” act of approaching her husband, the king.  The triumph and relief that accrue to Esther – and all the Jews- come in the face of otherwise fatal circumstances.  They anticipate evil and destruction; they get rescue and life.  God swoops in and saves them through Esther and her cousin Mordecai.  God responds to their cries, fasting, and prayers. He hears them. He reverses their destiny. (more…)


Mother’s love: a look inside May 10, 2010

Filed under: Bible,For moms,Mothering role,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:22 am

It’s Mother’s Day, and my reflections today were mainly about a mother’s love for her children.  I was reminded of Jesus’s words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”  The analogy He makes between Himself and a mother hen intrigues me.  Of all the types of love for Jerusalem He could have described here, He chooses a maternal picture of care, attachment, and protection.  It makes me realize that the love we moms feel for our young ones is truly akin to the love God has for us humans, His children. 

This got me thinking about the ways God loves us, and the ways that we moms in turn love (and sometimes don’t love) our own kids. In a talk called “Loving my Children,” Carolyn Maheny speaks about maternal love with special emphasis on the type of love the Bible commends to mothers.  She focuses on Titus 2:4 in which Paul tells Titus to teach the older women to “train the younger women to love their… children.”  The teaching centers on this word “love,” because Paul chooses an expected form of the Greek word for love; he uses “phileo” rather than “agape.” “Agape” love – which Paul doesn’t use – refers to sacrificial, selfless love.  “Phileo” love, on the other hand, refers to warm affection and tenderness.  Thus the instruction here is for moms to tenderly, affectionately love their kids.  Maheny says;

“I found it interesting that Paul didn’t use ‘agape’ love, sacrificial love. Instead he used ‘phileo.’ Of course we know that we are to love our children with a sacrificial and selfless love, but I believe that Paul encouraged the older women to teach the younger women to love their children with a tender, affectionate love rather than a sacrificial love may attest to the fact that women are generally weaker in exhibiting phileo love than they are at showing agape love.  I mean think about it with me: isn’t it a rare experience to meet a woman who doesn’t sacrifice for her children and daily lay down her life to serve them? Women are good at that kind of love. (more…)


I love iTeaching April 26, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Communication and speech,Culture,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:55 am

Among the “top five items I love:” my iPod.  But not for the reason you might think.  Sure, I like my music and enjoy my playlists… But the real gold for me is the podcasts. Early in 2007 I started listening to sermons regularly, and it’s one of the best things habits I’ve ever picked up.  Particularly because I’m an audial learner, it’s hard to describe how much knowledge and wisdom I’ve gleaned through listening regularly to teaching this way. It’s been a lifeline.

In my mind, teaching-via-iPod seems well suited to the life as a mother of young ones – who get short, often unpredictable spurts of time here and there that might be put to intellectual use.  I listen primarily while I’m washing up the dishes as my husband’s getting the kids into their PJ’s. Sometimes when I’m doing housekeeping work by myself (not too often) or exercising.  Occasionally when I’m alone in the car for a stretch – picking someone up from the airport or running errands solo.  Redeeming the time, whenever possible, by plugging my brain into the teaching of God’s word, refreshing me and providing direction all in one go.  Load ’em on; listen; unload.  Podcasts refresh where you last stop them, so when I stop halfway through, I can pick up right where I left off next time.  It’s one of my favorite things about modern technology. (My “pro” column in this arena is frankly rather short, so I’m glad to be able to be able to pony up a positive that I can heartily endorse.) (more…)


Of earthquakes, fear, and Mary April 5, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Fear,For moms,Holidays,Mary — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:26 am

It’s Easter, and we had an earthquake here this afternoon – a tremor so subtle that it we weren’t sure at first that that’s what it was.  We all just felt a touch dizzy, standing on the sidewalk, and then my husband realized that the cars were shaking a little.  Nothing too unusual for southern California.  Easter afternoon, though.  Could there be a more fitting time for an earthquake?  When the life finally ebbed out of Jesus, hanging on the cross on the first Good Friday, “the earth shook;” then again on the third day, there was a “violent earthquake (when) an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.”  So the quake today was really fitting.

An earthquake can be a pretty scary thing; I’m sure if I’d been present for one the first Easter quakes – much more dramatic than our little rumble today – I’d have been petrified.  The soldiers standing guard at the tomb clearly were, as they evidently fainted.  Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene, also present at the time, must have been terrified too, because the angel’s first words to them were: “Do not be afraid.”  Whether their fear stemmed primarily from the earthquake, the angel, or the absence of Jesus’ body in the tomb – who can say?  All three rolled together, no doubt. (more…)


The 4-year old theologian April 1, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Books,Culture,Holidays — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:01 am

As we approach Easter and spend a good bit of time each day talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection, our four-year old son has had some pretty deep questions about God. For example:

“Mommy, why are there two Gods?  Jesus and also the God up in heaven?”

“What do you mean, that the men who killed Jesus were wrong?  You mean grown-ups do wrong thing too?”

“What does it mean that Jesus died for our sins? Why did He have to die for them?”

So this week we’ve been having conversations about the triune nature of God, the evil inherent in all human hearts (adults as much as kids!), and the atonement for sins.  Not quite in those words… but still, pretty heavy stuff for a four-year old. (more…)


Mary: mother and leader December 9, 2009

Filed under: Bible,Blogging,Culture,Mary,Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:24 am

Today I’m blogging over at Christinianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership about blogging.  (A little circular, I know.)  I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary this year: about her motherhood “heart pondering” in Lk 2:1;  about the effects her pregnancy with Jesus may have had on her body; about how she may have felt about the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth.  Now I’m wondering if Mary, if she were around today, would blog. (The post is called “What Would Mary Blog?”)

I’m wondering this because I look around and see that many of today’s influential women blog; among these women, many are mothers.  Their words have encouraged and inspired thousands of other moms, including me.  Some of these women I even view as virtual mentors, “e-mentors” if you will (like Andrea of Flourishing Mother, Mary of Owl Haven, and Renee of Steppin’ Heavenward, to name a  few). 

But other influential, godly women I’ve loved have stopped blogging [Amy of Clothesline Alley,  Terry of Breathing Grace, Jess of Making Home, temporarily].  Why?  Mainly because the process and platform of blogging can be complicated in many ways.  It can be, among other things, self-focused, controversy-stirring, insecurity-causing, time-sucking.  In short, it can be messy.  And God called these women away.  The blogosphere, as many aspects of today’s techonology, is a source of blessing but also a place to be carefully and prayerfully navigated.  This is something I’ve realized and sought to pray into since the earliest days of heartpondering.

Mary, a fellow mother, was one of the most profoundly influential women leaders the world has ever known – if not the most influential.  And yet, as far as I can tell, she never sought a platform.  She never sought the limelight; she never went after a soapbox.  She led quietly and humbly.  Can we blog in the same godly and servant-oriented way that Mary led?  Can I?

That’s my challenge with each post I pen… and by God’s grace,  I hope to, for as long as He may wish it.