Kristin Armstrong --- author, contributing editor for Runner’s Worldmagazine, and inspirational speaker --- writes about the magnitude and meaning of motherhood in her newest book, HEART OF MY HEART. As a single mother to three preteens, Armstrong offers a day-by-day inspirational introspective devotional for moms with kids of all ages. Armstrong muses on the lessons she has learned as a mom (and as a mom parenting solo) and how her faith is the foundational staying factor for every decision she now makes. Transparent in her perspective of sometimes feeling overwhelmed, under-qualified and out of her league to parent her son and twin daughters, Armstrong’s voice reads comforting and familiar.
Throughout this beautifully designed book, Armstrong’s format is first and foremost to put readers’ attention onto a brief scriptural reading. Then she weaves together some personal anecdote or a story or two with the theme of the verse. Within a single page, she succeeds in directing her readers to the Bible, relating the timeless truth to daily living, and then nicely sums up with a strong takeaway closing sentence. Just a few of the topics she discusses include stress, over-commitment, exhaustion, patience, anger, loss, discouragement, doubt, contentment, courage, friendship, reconciliation, forgiveness, regret and hope.
Though every one of Armstrong’s essays have something worth mulling over throughout the day, some of the more stick-with-you devotionals are those that challenge women to step outside of their comfort zones, no matter what that particular scenario looks like to each individual woman. Armstrong, who has felt terrified many a time in her own life, especially after becoming a single mom, encourages women that fear is a universal foe, and through trust in Christ, they can overcome whatever it is that scares them. Quoting 2 Timothy 1:7, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline,” Armstrong wisely notes that at times it isn’t a situation that has women shaking in their boots; rather, it’s a person. Defining our boundaries, who we let get close and who we don’t, says a lot about us and our parenting. She challenges women to be wise about who they listen to and from whom they take counsel.
Another strong reminder to moms is that much of what they do for their families goes unseen and unspoken, and frequently feels unappreciated. Armstrong recalls feeling this way as she unloaded their suitcases at an airport, and her father, detecting her struggle, lovingly affirmed her by saying, “Honey, I see you. I really do.” Eyes brimming with tears, Armstrong remembers feeling “totally renewed” by that brief but amazingly positive statement. In closing, Armstrong restates what is surely the common refrain amongst moms everywhere: Sometimes it just takes believing that what we’re trying to do is making a difference. She then rejoins with the rock-solid truth that even when people don’t recognize a mom’s efforts, God most certainly does. And He is the rewarder, both in this lifetime and the next.
Vision, hope and direction for today and tomorrow --- that’s what readers will happily discover on page after page of Armstrong’s heart-filled devotional.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on April 9, 2010
Heart of My Heart: 365 Reflections on the Magnitude and Meaning of Motherhood