I can't think of a better role-model and teacher for parenting in our day in age than Sally Clarkson. Sally has written several books including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, Seasons of a Mother's Heart, and co-authored with her husband, Educating the Whole Hearted Child, amongst others. Not only are these books published in English, The Mission of Motherhood is published in two Chinese languages, The Ministry of Motherhood published in Korean, Dutch, and two books in Polish, and Educating the Whole Hearted Child is published in Korean. Sally mentioned at her recent conference that a professor in Bejing gives away The Mission of Motherhood to families as one of his/her highest recommendations for books on mothering.
Sally has opened, filled, and captured four amazing hearts, as she has sought biblical principals in raising her four children. I've just returned from one of her Mom Heart Conferences in Denver, Colorado a week ago (and finally getting around to writing on it) and have been highly enlightened. I thought I'd share some highlights from her recent conference with you: (This does not cover everything, just highlights with thoughts that stood out to me)
The conference was titled: The Heartshaping Mother: How to Open, Fill, and Hold Your Child's Heart
Three main points that fell under the premise of what a "Heartshaping Mother" is was the following:
1) She shapes with relationship that opens her child's heart with grace.
2) She shapes with influence that fills her child's heart with truth.
3) She shapes with culture that holds her child's heart with love.
Heartshaping with Relationship:
Sally stressed the importance of training through relationship as we model the heart of Jesus. God is a God of relationship and since he created us in his image, being a parent is being made in his image. We're supposed to be like him. We do this with grace. Grace sympathizes. Grace builds up. Grace admonishes to goodness. Grace leads to Jesus. She tells us to treat our children in the way we would desire to be treated. Training our children in gentleness and gracious manners, language, and courtesies will open our children's hearts.
Heartshaping with Influence:
Sally painted the picture that we mothers are creators/artists of civilization for our families and we can influence them through the exercise of patience and with a balance of grace and truth. We show patience throughout our children's growing years, with their childishness and with questioning and doubts, as they grow older. She stated that we should provide gentle responses power-packed with truth.
Sally posed the difference between indoctrination versus teaching our children in truth. We teach our children in truth by spending time feeding them the best literature, music, art and the truth of scripture. We want our children to be great thinkers and to think with the mind of God. Indoctrination looks at stereotypes and is fear-based; it guilt's, which closes and even destroys the heart. Truth looks at and understands the individual. In this, we teach our children not to be afraid of culture, or a part of culture, but wiser than culture. The goal being that our children will go out into the world, engaging the world not as judges, but as a light.
I was like a little girl in a candy store when I saw the selection of great literature for children at the conference. Stacks of recovered classics from the 1800's on character building and faith. I definitely went over the book budget my husband and I discussed, but I knew he would see it as an investment. We are already diving in and loving these books.
Sally stated that Jesus is a perfect balance of grace and truth. Influencing our children with God's truth will fill our children's hearts.
Heartshaping with Culture:
In using the scripture reference "A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands, " (Proverbs 14:1) Sally posed the question: what are we, as parents, building? A condo or an estate? An estate will take more time.
Children require time to receive love. 1) They require heart time to feel they are loved. Seek opportunities for them to open up. 2) They require mind time to know they are loved. Feed their minds with truth, great literature and conversation, and teach them how to think. 3) They require soul time to believe they are loved. Create a family culture that connects children together. As Sally mentioned, in the absence of home culture, children will look to the culture.
Practicing love creates a culture of love. Love holds family culture together, gives it life, and makes it grow. Creating a culture of love will hold our children's hearts.
Sally reminded us mothers that we cannot give what we are not taking in. As parents, we need to take responsibility for our mental mind, expanding our own biblical knowledge and taking in great literature ourselves. She also reminds us that a woman alone in her ideals is a target. Therefore, join or form a small group for support, surrounding ourselves with other great thinkers, and find a prayer partner.
In a nutshell, I took away the importance of building a culture of love within our family, in which to train our children primarily through relationship and to influence them by feeding them the best of literature, scripture, music, family conversation, etc. The goal here is to reach their hearts using Christ as our example. And like the message I am currently reading in her book, The Mission of Motherhood (Ch. 5, The Discipling Mother), the most important goal of parenting is not raising smart children, socially gracious children, and financially savvy children. Those factors, Sally states, are good, yet more or less out of our control depending on their giftings. However, the goals God has called us to as parents are accomplishable. We do have control over the culture we raise our children in and we can reach our children's hearts for Christ and his purposes.
What I love about everything that I went away with and constantly receive from Sally is the underlying message that there is no formula. When we seek answers in so many directions, or even reliant on one, we can get confused. We have to be willing to remove ourselves from all the noise and find our answers in the quiet of our soul. We'll find answers to our individual families and circumstances as we seek scripture for truth and by the power of the Holy Spirit.This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 9:23, 24
I am so grateful for Sally's example and biblical philosophy and, it is clear to me that, more than I need Sally Clarkson in my home as supernanny (as good as that would be) be, I need Jesus. And friends, I have him!
We have everything we need to give our children the life of truth and grace right at our fingertips.
With God's Word you have all the truth you need to fill your child's life. ~Sally ClarksonIf any of you are near Texas or California, I would highly recommend attending one of Sally's upcoming conferences! Also, for another insightful perspective on the Colorado Mom Heart Conference, hop on over to my friend, Cheryl's blog!
Sharing with Finding Heaven, Graceful, Seedlings in Stone, and At The Wellspring