Parenting is a Hike
Our family took a walk in the mountains a couple weeks ago. I can't really call it a hike, because we didn't go far enough for that, because kids. Actually, I would've been happy to sit by the little stream and eat watermelon, but I went on the walk. Again, because kids.
And I was glad I did. We got to experience a lot of different things, and as I thought it all over the next few days, I realized a few parallels. As it turns out, parenting is a walk in the Rocky Mountains. And then God gave me some beautiful mind pictures to go along with it. So, I'm inviting you to take this walk with me and we're going to get a new look of our parenting.
When we got to the mountains, we set up our little day camp spot, complete with chairs, watermelon, and lots of water. It was comfortable and restful. I felt like I could sit there and take in the beauty all day. Much like the day we brought our first baby home. And our second. Well, kinda the same for babies 3, 4, 5, and 6 too. I didn't know everything about parenting (still don't) or about this tiny little person I was holding, or anything, really. But it felt cozy and beautiful and I just wanted to sit in that season for a while. Spiritually speaking, it didn't require a whole lot for me. Tender prayers, sweet songs, sacred blessings; these are the things we whisper over our newest ones.
Soon, it was time to move on. The kids were calling us to explore, so we went, leaving the comfortable area we knew and exploring new ones. The two oldest led the way, the middle ones held our hands and the babies were in our arms, as we trudged along a trail worn by many wild hooves and paws.
Elli's Heroes of Faith Booklist
The concept of “story” is vital to the human race. Mankind is the only species that can create and perpetuate tales and we have been doing so since the beginning of our existence. Today, stories have taken a different form than ever before. Many children’s first experience with story is not around a fire or a kitchen table, but from a screen. And when books are given and read to young children, they are often mediocre and fail to spark imagination or inspiration of any kind.
We have to recognize that story holds much more importance than we acknowledge. Through media, literature and even the supermarket tabloid, our culture is shaped by story. As our children hear, see and experience story everywhere they go, we have the beautiful opportunity (and responsibility) to provide them with excellent ones first. To reference the educator Charlotte Mason, we can lay before them a delicious feast that will make lesser stories seem like sawdust.
Today’s children are in dire need of stories of faith and true courage. Starting with the Bible and adding tales of bravery and purpose, we can give children a context for their future. Before they even recognize it, they will begin to have questions about good and evil in the world around them, even in themselves. In order to answer their questions, a book needs to come alive to a child. A textbook on church history would never do.
True, well-written stories of those who have gone before and proven that the battle can be fought in the strength of God’s might, that he has shown up in miraculous ways and he holds us in his hands to the end and beyond will nourish and strengthen their souls! I can imagine not only a well rounded meal, but a protein shake to pump up their soul muscles as well. I also personally believe that wonderfully written fiction can do the same. Story itself is a gift from God and I believe he intended word-craft to enrich our lives and serve his purposes.
"One more thing is
As a parent, I know that it’s easy to question whether a child is “ready” for the brutality and violence in some stories, especially in true stories of martyrs. I’m going to reference C.S. Lewis on this topic:
“Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things. They may mean (1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, phobias. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can’t bear to think of. Or they may mean (2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil. If they mean the first I agree with them: but not if they mean the second. The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. There is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which is born to the Ogpu [State Police in the USSR] and the atomic bomb.
Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker. Nor do most of us find that violence and bloodshed, in a story, produce any haunting dread in the minds of children. As far as that goes, I side impenitently with the human race against the modern reformer. Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end of the book. Nothing will persuade me that this causes an ordinary child any kind or degree of fear beyond what it wants, and needs, to feel. For, of course, it wants to be a little frightened.”
I will admit that there have been times in our children's’ lives during which I had to sensor more cautiously. Sensitive periods of grieving, battling fear or stress on the family warrant some heedfulness to the individual heart. But abstinence completely from tales of faithful men to their faithful God will do more harm than good.
Before I share with you a list of books to get you started, I want to mention one more thing: age, specifically reading comprehension level. It is very difficult to tell you which of these stories is right for your child. Instead I’ll remind you of a few things that have helped me:
Okay, with no further ado: the books!
St Francis of Assisi by Joyce Denham
The Very First Christians by Paul L Maier Illustrated by Francisco Ordaz
Martin Luther A Man Who Changed The World by Paul L Maier Illustrated by Greg Copeland
Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley
Banner Board Books such as this one on George Whitefield are ok.
Little Lights on various church heroes. There are box sets of various Christian heroes, but also one each to inspire boys and girls specifically.
Christian Biographies For Young Readers
Dangerous Journey (Pilgrims’ Progress abridged)
What Would Jesus Do? By Mack Thomas Illustrated by Denis Mortenson This is a children’s version of In His Steps by Charles M Sheldon. It has simple discussion questions after each chapter. This was very influential in my childhood, learning to do the right thing when no one was looking. If the price isn’t great on Amazon, try thrift books or other used book seller. There is more than one version and the newer illustrations are gorgeous, but as long as you have the correct author it’s worth the $.
The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop illustrated by Preston McDaniels
Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Smaller Chapter Books:
History Lives Series by Mindy and Brandon Withrow. I highly recommend these; each one covers a different period of history.
YWAM Christian Heroes Then & Now Series
Trial & Triumph by Richard Hannula
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom et al
The People Who Couldn’t Be Stopped by Ethel Barrett (Written in a conversational style that might take some getting used to, but so worth it!)
Missionary Stories with the Millers
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Also several versions available to listen for free here.
Twice Freed by Patricia St John
The Promise Land series by Hope Auer
Victory on the Walls: A Story of Nehemiah by Frieda Clark Hyman or others in the living history library.
Larger/More Difficult Books
God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew et al
Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxis
Gay Girl Good God by Jackie Hill Perry This is book about a woman redeemed from homosexuality has difficult content and should be pre-read! If/when you are already discussing sexual issues with your older teenager, this is a beautiful story of redemption and purpose. The author is a modern hero of faith.
C S Lewis’ Space Trilogy (Spiritual Warfare)
"To introduce children to literature is to instal them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child's intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find.” - Charlotte Mason
I had some pretty amazing adventures as a child, especially considering I simply grew up in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.
I snuck into Hindu temples with my skin stained brown from coffee beans. I hid in a small cave, holding my breath as the King's soldier went by, looking for heretics. I watched God feed dozens of children even though our cupboards were bare. I sat in a Native American teepee and carefully translated Bible stories into their language. Every day was full of adventure, heroism, passion for Jesus, and faith, thanks to the constant stream of books I devoured with my heart and mind.
My mom worked hard to feed that appetite and our book cases were always loaded with good, faith-building biographies and stories. And now I'm ready to pass that heritage on to my kids. However, this can be easier said than done. That's why we're declaring this the Heroes of Faith Summer in our home and here at WHM!
To say I'm excited about this reading theme for our Summer would be an understatement. I can hardly wait to share some of my favorite childhood memories with my kids as we read some amazing books together.
I'll be sharing our favorite reads on Instagram (and so will Elli! If you're not following WHM on Insta, you should be. ;) ) throughout the Summer and I'm putting together a list here as well! I hope you find a few good reads to add to your bookshelf.
Please note that some of the links shared below are affiliate links, which means, if you purchase through our links, we will get a small amount back from Amazon. Warrior Hearted Mom is an affiliate for Amazon.com This does not raise your cost in anyway and simply helps us cover some of the expenses of running this website. Thank you for your support! Read our full disclosure here.
So, without anymore chatter, here are a few favs:
For elementary - middle school
For preteens - teenagers
I could share so many more, but I'm going to stop here for now. Maybe I'll make a follow up post. Also, be sure to check out Elli's book list. She's got some great ones too!
I had some friends ask about books for toddlers, which is when I realized I've never seen any great books for toddlers about Christian toddlers. And then I got to thinking that, while maybe unintentional in the Christian world, it's also strategic. Let's build our littlest ones up in the Word of God with Bible stories and simple passages and then supplement their inspirational diet with stories of heroes of the faith when they're a little older. My favorite Bible story book for little ones is the Jesus Storybook Bible. I know it's everyone's favorite, but seriously, there's a reason.
I'd love to hear about your favorite Heroes of Faith books. Share them in the comments!
Our kids don't always enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. It's easy for me to expect them to keep their room neat and clean just because it feels good and it safe-guards their belongings. A neat room nearly eliminates the the possibility of losing treasures and it's just...restful. It feels safe. It's right. But kids just don't feel all that. Learning to be faithful in keeping their room clean is a process. And they're quick to let me know they might remember to be faithful a little better if there was a reward at the end of the day.
Just like us...right?
Jesus has been teaching me a lot about being faithful recently. A lot.
And, like my kids, I find myself wanting to barter a bit when He calls me to all-out faithfulness.
I say, "Jesus, I have been faithful to You. Remember my faith through our first adoption, when everything looked impossible? Remember my faith when Virgil had cancer? Remember my faith through our second adoption? What about all the faith I poured out a year ago when TWO adoption failed? And have you seen my faith in the path You've called us to walk now?
And Jesus says, "I have been faithful. You have only walked in the path I created for you. I have never let you, or forsaken you. I have always had a purpose. I have never ceased to call you deeper, so you learn to rely more fully on Me."
Servant. What pictures come to mind when you say it out loud?
Maids in black dresses with white aprons, dusting the furniture in a large mansion?
Cinderella scrubbing the hearth for her nasty stepmother?
Jesus, with a towel wrapped around His waist, washing the feet of those He was discipling?
Satan has worked hard to give us a menial view of servanthood. We think of it as distasteful; a job meant for someone else. Sure, sometimes we like to serve at church, where everybody can see us. Maybe we'll serve on the schoolboard or volunteer to bring a bag of chips to Bible Study. But actual servanthood? Not what we were made for. We're warriors, after all.
The reality is, people have been honored to serve their sovereign for thousands of years. To work directly for royalty has been a symbol of honor and respect, almost since time began. Why do we consider it menial to be a servant of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the General of Generals?
In our entitled worldview, we view ourselves as special, holy, and anointed with power. There is truth to this, but only when it follows our servanthood.
I learned something that blew my mind a little bit, can I share it with you? I’ll have to show my nerdy side a little bit but I think is worth it!
It’s all started with a homeschool podcast on joy. It turns out that word the New Testament used for joy is chara and the word they used for grace is charis. They have the same root. I love languages, but this was news to me! Why does this excite me so?
Because friends, the only place to find joy is at rest inside of God’s grace. In places of grief or happiness, seasons of rest or busy, no matter what we think or feel - joy is possible through it all. It’s not something we determine to have or work at, it’s a natural result of God’s grace in our lives.
The trick is, although God pours out his grace in abundance, we don’t always open our hands to receive it. We know he covers us, but then we go and try to answer 10,000 “moms,” homeschool through a pandemic, conquer mount st(inky) clothes and teach a toddler not to throw his sippy cup all in our own strength.
When I was a child, the holidays were always a difficult time. The brokenness and grief that was present year-round seemed to be magnified. And the older I get, the more loss and trial I see around this time when we’re supposed to be celebrating. (This week I remembered the one year deathiversary of a father, and then lost a baby, our first dog and my grandmother.) But whether you find this post around Christmastime or not, I wanted to share some practical helps to get you through from someone who has been there.
You're up to your ears in laundry and you didn't sleep last night because your toddler had an ear ache. The dishes are piling up and you ran out of dishwasher soap. The dog won't stay away from the chickens and you really don't have time to doctor the sick kitten.
But you long for something more. You feel called to ministry, yet you know you can't fit another thing on your plate. The desire won't go away and you long to feel like you're making a difference in the Kingdom.
You sigh as you cook another meal and think "someday. This season of motherhood isn't made for ministry anyway. God's going to pass me over until the kids are grown and flown."
And, in some ways, you're right. Raising your kids is your most important ministry at the moment. But that doesn't mean you need to lay your other gifts and passions aside. Neither does it mean you need to get a nanny so you can go into full-time ministry.
You blow your temper again and this time you're ready to give up. You can't change. You've read every self-help book and blog you can find, but your temper cannot be changed.
The tears of despair roll down your cheeks, because this is not the kind of mom you want your kids to remember. You feel the hope draining out of your body and, just like many other moms in your shoes, you begin to tell yourself lies.
Do you ever feel done in, exhausted and ready for a retreat?
Jesus's disciples knew how that felt. One time, fairly early in His ministry, He sent them out to all the surrounding cities, telling them to not even take provisions for themselves. They were to preach, heal and cast out demons.
When they came back, their faith was stretched, their eyes were opened to the power of God and they were worn out.
Jesus had compassion on them and took them out in the middle of nowhere so they could rest.
But it was not to be - Jesus could not be hidden and throngs of people followed them. So Jesus preached & healed.
And then all the people were hungry.
Now the Son of God could've asked for manna from Heaven or created a banquet in the wilderness. But He didn't.
He turned to the disciples.
"You feed them," He said.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.