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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Passionate Mom

Susan Merrill is a hybrid of sorts.  She majored in finance but loves people more than numbers.  She left behind the corporate gray of banking for the colorful world of kids.  She had three children and adopted two more.  Susan is the very imperfect Merrill family manager and the director of  She loves to analyze life, ponder possibilities, and pray for opportunity, which makes for a very busy and messy house!  She lives in Tampa, Florida, with her husband - Family First founder and author Mark Merrill - and two, or depending on the day, up to five of her children ages seventeen to twenty-two.  On those days, she happily forsakes all other responsibilities to run a bed and breakfast and laundromat for college students.

You can connect with Susan through her website found at, Twitter and Facebook.

Book Description:
Motherhood is full of uncertainty. What do my children really need? Why are they doing that? Is this normal? What can I do to help them? How can I know for certain that I am doing this right? The logistics are easy. Anybody can do laundry and carpool. But what makes a mother the best mom she can be?
It’s not better scheduling. Or more activities. Or less. It is passion—the passion to teach, protect, study, and prepare her children for the future. Great, but how?
Susan Merrill, the mother of five incredibly different children, has asked that question countless times. And she has read countless answers specific to a certain child’s temperament, age, or situation. But nothing she read offered an overall approach to parenting that would enable her to say with confidence, “I am doing this right.” She never guessed she would find a foundational plan—a reliable, universal parenting approach in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah.
In The Passionate Mom, Susan takes you on a journey through Nehemiah and into the heart of parenting. Her stories and confessions in every chapter reveal what she has learned: no mom can control her child’s future, but every mom can parent well. There is a plan—a roadmap for how a passionate mom can parent almost any child, confidently.

You can visit the Thomas Nelson product page for this book to learn more and to see what others are saying about The Passionate Mom:  Dare to Parent in Today's World.  

My Thoughts About the Book:
There are a plethora of parenting books on the shelves of book stores - secular and Christian - and many of them I have read.  Most of the ones I have come into contact with offer some variation of formula, theory or psychological musing about "how to make your kids behave" in a certain amount of time.  Furthermore, many of these books are heavy on "theory" and very shallow to non-existent on application or they focus completely on outward behavior and leave out heart issues all together.
Thankfully, Susan Merrill offers us moms a refreshing book that addresses parenting in a way that rises far above so much of the "advice" that is being given to us.  In The Passionate Mom, Susan draws from the story of Nehemiah to give us what she calls "a pattern for us to follow" in building a wall for our children which involves the following "bricks and mortar":
  1. Perception - Alertness, Availability, Attentiveness
  2. Pondering - Self-Control, Selflessness
  3. Passion - Love, Initiative
  4. Prayer - Humility, Trust
  5. Patience - Tolerance, Discipline
  6. Preparation - Integrity, Boldness, Trustworthiness
  7. Purpose - Determination
  8. Planning - Discernment, Persuasiveness
  9. Problem Solving - Faith, Courage, Generosity, Determination
  10. Perseverance
This wall Susan suggests we build for our children has two dimensions - protection and provision.  Susan says:
"The wall protects your child from exposure to harm from the outside world.  The gates in the wall provide your child access to the training he or she needs to wisely navigate in the world, independent of you...You are the wall and the gates, the protection from the world and the provider of training for life in the world...The bricks we will use to build our parenting are our ten P's.  To secure those bricks so that the wall is strong and effective, we need mortar.  The mortar is our character, made up of the traits that moms must personally develop to effectively hold our bricks in place."
In closing the book, Susan says this:
"Of all the things you do in life, in the end, loving God and investing in the lives you love will be the only things that matter...Nehemiah chose life.  He readily gave up his comfy career in the palace to care for the lives of others.  That is parenting.  You give up your comfy live of sleeping in, Cheerio-less cars, and meals of your choice in quiet restaurants to care for your children...From the time Nehemiah heard from his brother about the devastation of his people's city until the day of the wall's completion was about nine months.  In the time it takes to give birth to a child, Nehemiah gave birth to renewed hope for the Israelites...You are called to lay the foundation for your son's or daughter's faith.  You can build a strong wall to protect your child, but if you don't lay a  solid foundation for what he or she believes, you will have missed your mission...In the end, Nehemiah's last concern was finding favor with God, because He was the source for all that mattered to Nehemiah."
In The Passionate Mom, Susan offers the perfect and balanced blend of scriptural exhortation, personal application, and sharing of her own personal struggles and examples.  She doesn't let us moms off easy in our responsibility; however, she is encouraging in her challenge to us.  Susan doesn't paint with a wide brush typical of so many parenting authors.  She boldly and lovingly (like a close discerning friend) asks contemplative questions that help you to assimilate what she is sharing into your own experience and place in life.

The information in the book is well organized making it an easy reference tool to return to often in a particular situation. The Passionate Mom would be an excellent resource for use in a small group study with moms of all ages with children of all ages.  I found it helpful as a personal study guide in my own study through the book of Nehemiah.  Susan doesn't force application between Nehemiah and parenting where it compromises the truth of scripture or takes God's Word out of context, but does bring light to general themes and ideas to help us along our way as mothers.

Mother's Day is quickly approaching and this book would be an excellent gift!  I highly recommend it!

I received this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my review.  I was not expected to necessarily give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.