Being a mother is one of the most wonderful blessings God can give. The joy, love and fulfillment it provides us is so special, we can’t really express it adequately. Yet motherhood can also be demanding, frustrating, confusing, exhausting and even heart-breaking.
God has called us to parent our children proactively towards Him. We are to spend our days training our children and teaching them God’s commands, principles and ways. Yet, there are days when we don’t have the energy to pray ourselves. There are days when our personal faith feels shaky. Even if your faith is strong, you may question God’s plans for you or if He even has any.
The times when we are faced with the deaths of close loved ones, illnesses of ourselves or our families, loss of income or other unwanted circumstances can make our questions even more urgent. As a mom about to have an empty nest in a few months, I also understand those feelings I had as my kindergartener went to class the first day will be intensified greatly when she moves across the country to attend college. You may even be experiencing the pain of having a child who is struggling through dangerous waters, where you feel you have no way to help him.
When you are full of negative emotions, questions and possibly even anger, it may seem too difficult to parent your children toward God. Proactive parenting when your personal spiritual well is dry is almost impossible. The idea of joyful Christian parenting sounds like an oxymoron.
Lynn Austin had a period of time like that. After the death of several close family members, her three children proceeded to move away from her home and town. Although she had been a successful author, the sense of loss and questions made her feel stuck. She had no way of knowing what God had planned for her next or if she even had the energy and desire to follow that plan.
Ms. Austin decided to make a pilgrimage to Israel in an attempt to find her way again. She wrote about her journey of discovery in the book Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked. I have read several books over the years describing various journeys through Israel. This is perhaps my favorite.
Since Ms. Austin is primarily an author of fiction, she is a master of using her descriptions of the land of Israel to make you feel as if you are seeing it with her. You almost catch your own breath as she struggles to climb some of the mountains and hills found throughout Israel. At one point, I even found myself questioning whether I should consider jumping on the donkey with another woman in her group to rest from the exhausting walk! I closed my eyes and could almost see the Sea of Galilee or the desert trails.
Pilgrimage is much more than just a travelogue though. As Ms. Austin journeys, she finds the scriptures that touch the places she is experiencing. Many of them are the Psalms of David as he struggles through the tough times in his journey. I felt as if she were gently guiding me by the hand through not only the scriptures, but also the lessons to be learned and applied to the life of any mother (or frankly, father).
Books like this one can sound preachy, but Ms. Austin is very careful to share her journey of discovery while not demanding anyone else come to the same conclusions. I do, however, wish the publisher had included actual photographs instead of drawings to illustrate the book.
My only other question is why they included a written prayer at the end of each chapter. I believe prayer is intensely personal and have never really understood the need for people to give others written prayers. It is especially awkward in this book, because it is not set up like a normal Bible study book. Although one could easily use it for personal or small group study, I think the book would have been smoother without the prayers.
In spite of my short wish list of changes, this is one of my new favorite books. I found it relaxed me and made me calmer about the happenings of the last couple of years and my impending empty nest. Like Ms. Austin, I feel more refreshed and ready to see what God has in store for me next. I may have to re-read this book if things get really stressful again, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I know it makes me want to see Israel in person one day more than ever and gives me new visuals when I read some of the Psalms. I think I may start training now for all of those hills!This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. I really loved this book and found it very relaxing and educational. The link is an affiliate link. It costs you nothing to click and does not add to your price should you choose to purchase. It does however, offer a very small compensation to support this blog. Thank you for supporting Parenting Like Hannah.