Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thoughts from Stepping Heavenward

I LOVE to read! Before middle school age, I remember several Sunday afternoons in which I devoured entire chapter books at once. I came home with unusual books, one specifically was on backpacking. My family never went backpacking, so I remember my dad saying to me, "You'll read anything, won't you?" He was right.

As a mom, I've come to enjoy reading while breastfeeding. I discovered it was a good activity to do to keep me awake in the middle of the night. Those hormones released that calm mom and baby also tend to put me to sleep. Falling asleep meant baby didn't get a full feeding and would therefore wake me right back up quickly after laying her down. Books, magazines, anything I could find was laid down next to my Boppy before I went to bed at night to avoid that situation! During the day, I would read out loud to my oldest child whatever I was reading while she nursed. Her vocabulary has always been extraordinary. Maybe it had to do with the fact that as I ran out of my own reading material, I read her Daddy's seminary textbooks.

Sadly, I'll begin weaning my baby boy in just a couple of weeks. I don't know when I'll find time to read without having that time to sit down with him several times a day! Knowing the time was coming close, I ordered a few books I'd been eager to read for a long while. It was a happy day when I chose to look on Amazon and make my selections. It was an even happier day when they all came in!

I began by reading Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. This is a follow-up to Shepherding a Child's Heart, one I've gleaned much from and recommend to all new parents. It was the textbook for the biblical parenting class I took while my husband was in seminary. Instructing is good, but not necessarily a must-read. If you've read Shepherding, you've got the gist of what Tripp is trying to teach.

Even though I had several new books sitting on my desk, I then had to go get a book from the library. When I looked on Amazon to order Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss, I couldn't find a copy for less than $20! That's a bit steep, and I'm not yet an owner of a Nook or a Kindle (and I'm not sure how I feel about contributing to a paperless society...), so I thought I'd check the library. I had to get it sent from somewhere on the other side of the state. It came to my local branch in the midst of reading the above book. I am so glad I got this one! I will be hunting for it at a reasonable price for our church library because it is SO GOOD!

The author, Elizabeth Prentiss, lived from 1818-1878, and also wrote the lyrics to the hymn "More Love to Thee". Stepping Heavenward was first published in 1869. I'm not usually much of one to read novels since I've been an adult, but this is in fact a novel. I was thinking I was getting a biography before holding it in my hands, but it is completely fiction. It is written as a woman's journal, so it could be any woman, and I believe some of the truth expressed comes from lessons learned through the life of the author. I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes here:

“Every day that a husband and wife walk hand in hand together upon this earth makes them more and more one flesh. The selfish element that at first formed so large a part of their attraction to each other disappears, and the union becomes so pure and beautiful as to form a fitting type of the union of Christ and His church. There is nothing else on earth like it.”

“Yes, I am in earnest. I want to see little children adorning every home as flowers adorn every meadow and every wayside. I want to see them welcomed to the homes they enter, to see their parents grow less and less selfish and more and more loving because they have come. I want to see God’s precious gifts accepted, not frowned upon and refused.”

“It is not always so easy to practice as it is to preach. I can see in my wisdom forty reasons for having four children and no more. The comfort of sleeping in peace, of having a little time to read, and to keep on with my music; strength with which to look after Ernest’s poor people when they are sick; and, to tell the truth, strength to be bright and fresh and lovable to him – all these little joys have been growing very precious to me, and now I must give them up. I want to do it cheerfully and without a frown. But I find I love to have my own way, and that at that very moment I was asking God to appoint my work for me, I was secretly marking it out for myself. It is mortifying to find my will less in harmony with His than I thought it was and that I want to prescribe to Him how I shall spend the time, and the health, and the strength that are His, not mine. But I will not rest till this struggle is over, till I can say with a smile, ‘Not my will! Not my will! But Thine!’” Edward was her husband, he was a doctor, and she did go on to have another child, and was completely in love with him and happy to have him upon his arrival. I personally can relate to this quote and the one above.

“People ask me how it happens that my children are all so promptly obedient and so happy. As if it chanced that some parents have such children or chanced that some have not! I am afraid it is only too true, as someone has remarked, that ‘this is the age of obedient parents!’ What then will be the future of their children? How can they yield to God who have never been taught to yield to human authority? And how well fitted will they be to rule their own households who have never learned to rule themselves?”

Ok, here's where my lack of computer knowledge shows up. I can't end the block quote. I'm sure if you've read this much, you can bear with me.

Aren't those great?! If I had time, I'd gush on about the book I'm currently reading, Sacred Parenting. It's been a great one too, and it's not about how we parent so much as about how parenting acts as God's work of sanctification in our lives. Good stuff!

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