Book Review of Mom Enough

{This blog post contains an affiliate link.}

Are you mom enough? The title from a Time magazine cover above an image of a woman breastfeeding her 4 year old son. This was more fuel added to the already flaming mommy wars. The book, Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope, poses a different question: is God God enough?

This compilation of Desiring God blog posts written by eight different women answers these questions by saying moms are not enough, but God is enough. Tony Reinke says in the Editor’s Preface,

The aim of Mom Enough is not to boost a mother’s self-sufficiency, but to build her fearlessness as she finds her sufficiency outside of herself.”

Topics that are covered include biblical perspectives on the mommy wars, femininity, treasuring Christ, dependent parenting, anxiety, and the calling and mission of motherhood.

Each post is 2-4 pages of the nitty gritty issues from mothers desiring to live out what they are writing. It’s real, relatable, and refreshing. In the mundane and chaos of the everyday it’s great to pick up this slim book and be greatly encouraged. It definitely revived me throughout the day, challenged my outlook on certain areas in motherhood, and gave me fresh hope and vision to live for Jesus in my home.

Some of my favorite posts are Rachel Jankovic’s, “Motherhood is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank),” “Mommy Wars are Spiritual Wars,” by Carolyn McCulley, and “The Amazing Calling of Motherhood,” by Trillia Newbell. I’ll close with some of my favorite quotes from each post:

The modern mom doesn’t always like to be identified as a mother…First and foremost, we are united to Christ…But this doesn’t mean we must deny the significance of being a mother…We don’t need to shed our titles as moms, we leverage our titles for what they mean for the glory of Christ.” — Trillia Newbell

Your daily life may consist of dozens of repetitive tasks that feel mundane and irrelevant. This is absolutely not true! You are engaged in spiritual warfare. By bearing and nurturing life, you are reflecting the life-giving characteristics of our holy God. Made in his image, you are reflecting him when you care for the lives he has created.” — Carolyn McCulley

You represent everything that out culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another — and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.”  — Rachel Jankovic

Advertisements

Living in Her Shadow: Domesticity and Proverbs 31

She looms over us like a menacing shadow. A shadow casting much taller than us, so we are constantly trying to measure up. Who is this lady of mystery? It’s the Proverbs 31 woman.

If you’ve grown up in the church, like me, you’ve probably heard a lot about her. There are countless books written about her, sermons preached on her, and numerous interpretations of her. We throw the term around loosely: “I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman,” “She is so Proverbs 31.”

She is the epitome of womanhood, so we must do exactly what she did, right? Not exactly. A lot of times we confuse the Proverbs 31 woman with June Cleaver from the 1950’s TV show Leave it to Beaver. We think domesticity and the virtuous woman go hand in hand, and they can at times, but don’t always have to. What I mean is this: no where in the Bible are we commanded as women to be cooking recipes from scratch, making sure our houses are spotless, cleaning up after our husbands, or cleaning dirty dishes and laundry.

These are good things to do for our families, but are not things that necessarily make us good wives and mothers. If doing these household chores comes from a heart of service and love for our husbands and children, then great! But if we are excelling in these domestic endeavors, while simultaneously yelling at our children, manipulating and controlling our husbands, complaining, and angry then we are not being virtuous women. We are just good cooks and maids.

More than Maid Service 

The Proverbs 31 woman is much more than a maid and a cook. Rachel Jankovic says, “The state of your heart is the state of your home.” Proverbs 31 is not an unreachable example of a domestic goddess, but a heart lesson in being a virtuous woman in the home. She is nothing like June Cleaver.

These are the June Cleaver’s of today: fake, always smiling and perfect looking even when everything is crumbling around her, a social construct and not a Biblical example, she avoids conflict by pretending everything is ok, does everything without effort and with ease, feigns love towards her husband at the dinner table, but then slanders him to the women in the salon.

This is the Proverbs 31 woman: real, hard-working, most likely dirty and sweaty from back breaking labor, does not manipulate, control, or deceive her husband, she does not talk bad about him to others. This is how she does him good and not harm. This is the very reason her husband can trust her. “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (vs. 11-12.)

She is an entrepreneur (vs.18, 24), she is intelligent and wise with money (vs. 16), she is strong (vs.17), she is generous and compassionate (vs. 20), she plans (vs. 21), she is not lazy (vs. 27, 13-15), she is frugal (vs. 22), she speaks with wisdom and kindness (vs. 26), she is not anxious and fearful (vs. 25.)

The Virtuous Woman

As you can see, being a virtuous woman is deeper than being domestic. The domestic endeavors of the Proverbs 31 woman flowed from a heart of virtue. Her story isn’t about being a better housewife, checking off lists, living naturally, or getting a lot accomplished. Her story is about being more Christ-like.

Of course we can’t attain to Proverbs 31 status if we think of her as June Cleaver and reduce womanhood to domesticity. But we can attain to the real Proverbs 31 status, because Christ has redeemed us and given us the grace to live for him. We can be more like Him, because He died for us and empowers us by His Holy Spirit. We just need to humble ourselves and ask for His grace.

Proverbs 31 is not an overwhelming list of things we should be doing as housewives, but an oversupply of grace as we see what God can do in us. We don’t need to be praised for how well we take care of our homes, how good we cook, how many homemade cookies we can bake, how many crafts we can do with our children, how many books we read to them (though these are good things), we should be praised for our fear of the Lord in how we live in our homes and treat our families.

“…But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (vs.30.)

Shooting Arrows

The other day my husband was looking far into our son’s future. Not like a psychic mind you, but dreading the day when he would leave home. Our son is 8 months old, so this is a long way off. But as they say, time flies, and this day will be here sooner than we think. Then I started. “Oh man, I hope he doesn’t want to go away to college. I might worry about him too much.”

Then I actually started to think biblically. Sending him off is our job as parents. God gave us our son to give him back to the Lord. Think of Hannah and Samuel in the Old Testament. Hannah could not conceive and prayed, weeping, in the house of the Lord at Shiloh. When the Lord answered her prayer, and after she had weened her son Samuel, she brought him back to the temple at Shiloh and offered her son to Eli the high priest. Here is what she said to Eli,

“Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

Samuel was a gift who was offered back to the Lord. We can learn so much from Hannah. She was a humble woman; even though she waited so long for a son she was not greedy and controlling once she received her gift. Her hands were not tightly clenched over her son in fear and anxiety, but her hands were wide open to offer Samuel to the Lord. Hannah understood her place as a mother before God.

Mother’s are Stewards

As mothers we are merely tools God uses for a season in our children’s lives. Our children ultimately belong to God and we are stewards of this gift. We are entrusted with nurturing, sheltering (for a time), and training our children. For what end? To send them into the world. They are intended to leave home and it is our purpose to prepare them for that end. We give them the tools, teach them how to wield them, and then trust God with the rest.

Psalm 127: 3-5 speaks to this:

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

It is a reward to have a quiver full of children, but arrows are not intended to lie idle in the quiver; they must be shot out of the bow. Our children are weapons of warfare, and we must prepare them for the battle.

A Mother’s Love

Rachel Jankovic has some great insight into this portion of scripture. It’s a bit lengthy, but good enough to share the whole thing:

“God does not share our sentimental view of motherhood. While he delights in children, he does not speak of them in some cutesy photo shoot kind of a way. He compares them, not to tiny fairies, or dewey flowers, but to arrows. To weapons in the hand of a mighty man.

God does not tell us to desire the blessing of children because their cheerful voices will make our houses feel cozy. He tells us to desire children who will contend with the enemy in the gate.

It is natural and good that we delight in the little things with our children. God didn’t command mothers to rejoice over elbow dimples and the smell of a new baby’s head. He didn’t tell us to smile over them while they sleep, or to love the way they look in footie pajamas. He didn’t tell us these things, because He didn’t have to. That is the natural love of a mother for her children.

But the love that we need, the reminders we need, is to love them, not for our own sake, but for what God is doing through them. We need a supernatural love. We need to believe in the victory, to mother in faithful confidence.”

Not off to Neverland

Like I said, my son is only 8 months, and I have a hard road ahead of slowly learning the lesson of Hannah. Of course there is a time and a place for sheltering him while he is young, but as he grows I must grow in preparing him for the world, practically and spiritually. As much as I would love to send him off to Neverland and he could be frozen in time as Peter Pan, this is not God’s will for him. He must grow into a man and then fight Captain Hook.

I pray my son responds to Christ’s call of salvation and grows in his love and knowledge of His Word; I pray he will be a light in a dark world. Amen.