Thursday, March 09, 2017

Book Review: High Calling of Motherhood

It's been a while since I took part in a blogged book tour!  But I was thrilled to get to read an advanced copy of Chimene Dupler's new book The High Calling of Motherhood to review.  My passion both as a doula and a blogger (and I hope, as a friend) is to help women find their strength-- to help them think clearly and intentionally plan, to become wise and humbly confident that they will be given all they need to do whatever God asks of them.  As such, in many ways this book beats right along with my heartbeat.

The author, Chimene, has worked with both mothers and children, in various professions, and exclusively as a homemaker.  I appreciated that she was able to approach "motherhood" from various angles because of this.  It seemed to me that the goal of her book is to encourage moms to actually take a good look at their role as mothers, and set about intentionally fulfilling it, with eternity as our timeline and God's Word providing a perspective.  There is much that is helpful in the book.  The first few chapters aim to summarize our culture and show how motherhood in many ways is neglected; it is neither respected nor really taught.   Women marry and "fall into it" or, even if they choose it intentionally, often do not plan how they will go about it long-term.
"You get married.  You have kids.  It is just something we are expected to do as adults.  We have bought into the lie that it is meaningless and insignificant outside of our own satisfaction."  (p. 56)
The second section of chapters tries to redefine marriage in Biblical terms.  Chimene returns to Scripture to remind mothers who they are in Christ, and to encourage us to be intentional, long-sighted, and faithful.  Parenting is spiritual warfare, she reminds us-- and she reassures us that ultimately our children are in the sovereign grip of God (not only dependent on our perfect parenting!)   She has good insights into some practicalities-- establishing authority in toddlerhood, so that adolescence can be enjoyed.  She also has very much-needed reminders that motherhood is vitally important, and it is time-limited-- we only get 18 years at most, and we need to intentional and careful how we spend those years.  There are no ultimatums like "you must do XYZ" but there is enough Truth to give moms a chance to evaluate their current practices and mindsets Biblically.

The third section of the book is practical, hands-on advice.  There is a lot that is helpful here:  the idea of making a game plan, the exhortation to pray for our children as we do battle spiritually, and clear examples of how to use situations to reach our children's hearts.   I know many moms-- especially those who did not grow up in a Christian home-- who are quite at a loss as to how to even begin to speak to their children about spiritual things, much less capitalize on the unscripted teachable moments that come up day to day.  This last section is great at meeting that need for practical ideas.
"The question isn't about avoiding trouble but whether we know who we are fighting and how to fight.  We can rest in the fact that God is in control.  God is sovereign, and He sits on the Throne.  It is from this place of understanding that we see our children with potential.  It is from our calling and commission to make disciples that we see the army of world changers we are training.  We are raising up an army for God and must equip them for spiritual warfare."  (p. 132)
So did I like this book?  Yes!  Absolutely.  Is it helpful?  Yes, definitely.  Could it have been improved?  Well, honestly, yes.  It seemed to me that this book needed an editor-- there is too much repetition, too much meandering and personal anecdotes whose point I struggled to see, and (most irksome to me, just because I am a nut about it), plenty of misuses of the word "literally."  ('We can literally touch the world'... somehow I doubt that.  'We can literally impact this generation and leave our handprint on future generations'... well, let's hope we aren't smacking people hard enough to leave LITERAL handprints...)  I think this book could have been twice as powerful with half as many words, a clearer structure, and a willingness to back up statements with sources.  For the first section of the book, which is kind of describing "motherhood in America today" the author just kind of assumes many stereotypes of our culture-- "Mommy Wars," using social media as a popularity meter, etc.  In my experience these things are not ubiquitous, and with no sources to back them up, it's not a very convincing start.  Broader truths could have been used to address motherhood in the West more effectively.  I must say that my doula heart also cringed at the descriptions of washing newborns (with antibacterial soap) after birth, and the flippant attitude about legitimate discussions outside the scope of her book (breast v bottle feeding, mode of birth).  Those issues deserve to be thought through with just as much intentionality as the rest of parenting-- it isn't a silly little mommy war to be dismissed out of hand as divisive and judgmental.

So while I don't think this book is particularly ground-breaking or uniquely helpful (I would point to "Shepherding a Child's Heart", "Don't Make me Count to Three" or "The Mission of Motherhood" and the old classic "Hints on Child Training" for those titles) I certainly give it a solid 4 stars and encourage moms of all ages to read it!

You also have a chance to win either 2 tickets to the Passion4Moms Conference in Washington DC (May 5-6, 2017) OR a custom-made "World Changers" necklace!  Enter the giveaway here.

Order your own book copy here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Ambassador  (here you can use the code "HighCalling" at checkout for 10% off!)