Tuesday, February 07, 2006

building the christian family you never had

personal aside:
when i reviewed one of her books, i said,
you know mary, you don't get a good review just because you're my friend.
she locked horns with me and fought. i did not read or write a word until she said,
suz, just be honest.
i gave her an uncoerced, positive review.

i don't seek counsel from many people, especially about parenting. i do not encourage my child in certain friendships i think pointless (especially with unruly children), i wholeheartedly encourage my child to be a friend to mary's children. she walks the talk folks. she isn't just writing about it from fond recollection. she is in the trenches and i trust her. i met her during the darkest period of my life and not many souls can befriend a soul shrouded in darkness, but mary saw through it, loved me through it, and loves me still. she is wise. i read her willingly not because she is my friend, but because she actually knows how to write and has something to say. i can make no higher recommendation than that.

if we truly are the cumulation of everyone we meet, and i believe we are, then i am the editor i am because mary was the first author to entrust her as yet unpublished novel, crushing stone, to me. i am only the poet i am, because of mary's fine poetry and her constant encouragement.

this is a brief interview with my dear friend, Mary DeMuth. her book, Building the Christian Family You Never Had: A Practical Guide for Pioneer Parents, just came out and i try to find out why you should spend your time reading it.

hi mary, just a few tough questions for you. you ready?
I don’t know!!! I hope so.

why should i read your book?
Because it’s an honest book about God healing parents so they can parent differently than how they were raised. There’s not much else out there about this topic.

i've got very limited reading time, what do you have to say that merits my time/attention?
So many parenting books these days are about imposing parenting methods from the outside. But this parenting book is about the heart. What is inside a parent comes out. Our parenting flows from our hearts. If our heart is not right, no amount of methods or formulas will “fix” our homes.

i've got four kids, one is all ready thirteen, what could reading your book possibly do now, other than make me feel guilty?
This is not a book about guilt. If anything, grace permeates it. Often I write about my failures, about how our weakness, in terms of being pioneer parents, is actually a blessing in disguise. Because we know we are weak, we realize our great need for God’s strength. I want to set parents free. To help them know they are not alone when they worry they’re screwing up their kids. And that God is there to help when we stumble.

do you come down as the all-knowing parent who has perfect children? i won't like you very much as an author if you do that.
Yes, of course.
No, just kidding. I guess I see myself as about as opposite of an all-knowing parent as can be. I am not an expert. My children are far from perfect. I make tons of mistakes. But I do apologize. I do ask forgiveness. I try to model humility. I don’t want my kids growing up in a home where they think, “Gee, to be a Christian, I have to be perfect all the time and put on a happy Jesus face everywhere I go.” I want them to see Patrick and me living life, making mistakes, running to Jesus, asking forgiveness. That’s real life.

is your book pie-in-the-sky or reality based?
Reality baby. You’ll see me bleed all over the pages. It’s about the gritty part of parenting. I tackle issues like: what should you tell your children about your own indiscretions; how do you protect your children from the negative influence of grandparents while still preserving the relationship; and what does it really mean to forgive and honor parents who hurt you.

is your book a lot of cute stories or will i actually benefit from it?
It’s just a bunch of cute stories with talking forest creatures. I hope readers will grasp just how much we need Jesus through the pages of this book. If that happens, there will be great benefit!

i'm tired of reading authors who have all the answers, do you have all the answers?
Nahhh. Hardly. I don’t like reading those books either. That’s why I wrote this book. I couldn’t find a book that related to my parenting struggles. One reader said, “I’m sick and tired of parenting books being written by people who came to Christ at age three. Where are the books for me?” I wrote the book because there were so many folks like that, including myself.

how do you live with the tension of not having all the answers?
I take a hot bath.

Or I smile.

I’m glad God knows the answers. I rest in that.

what does it mean to be a christian parent to you?
It means running to Jesus, seeking His face, being very near to His presence. The more Jesus there is inside me, the better I will sacrificially love my children.

how does christian parenting look in your life? how does it play out?
It looks awfully DAILY. It’s a constant thing, parenting. It’s about loving my kids. Seeking God for strength. Taking time to talk to my children and listen to them. It’s about asking forgiveness when I fail to model Jesus to them. It’s about reading books together and eating dinner every night around our table.

is there anything you want to convey to readers that you didn't get in the book or have come to understand since writing the book?
I’m learning more about the art of coaching our children when they hit the teen years. I’m so thankful I’m learning about that aspect of parenting now that I have a teenager. There’s a transition that happens in parenting somewhere around the teen years, where you shift from being highly directive to becoming more like a coach, someone who comes alongside and trains children to make their own decisions.

thanks mary, you've been a good sport. i wish you the best for this and your future books. i look forward to reading them all.

Thanks, Suz. And I must add a hearty thank you for your tireless effort in readying this book for publication. What a blessing that was!!!

my pleasure.

be sure to check out her soon to be released novel (mary is a master storyteller),
watching the tree limbs

and previously released,
ordinary mom, extraordinary God
(an excellent read).

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