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Risen Motherhood

Over the past couple of years I’ve heard more and more women speaking of how the Risen Motherhood podcast or website (founded by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler) has been a blessing to them. And these aren’t just women I encounter “out there” in the Christian world but women I know “right here” in my own local church. It’s been a joy to hear how they have benefited from these resources, and I know many of them have been looking forward to the long-awaited book by the same name. It encouraged, but did not surprise me then, to see Risen Motherhood near the top-100 on the Amazon charts on the day of its release (which is no small feat).

Risen Motherhood is a book about applying the gospel to the unique joys and challenges of being a mom. Or, as the subtitle states it, about offering “gospel hope for everyday moments.” This puts it well within the stream of the “gospel-centered” movement that has made such an impact over the past 10 years or so. This movement is all about determining how the gospel of Jesus Christ applies to all of life, or about answering the question, “What difference does the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ make to this struggle, to this triumph, or to this reality?”

As they begin the book, Jensen and Wifler explain that the book (and podcast which preceded it) really began with potty training their children—with the frustrations and weariness of real life. They knew their irritability and impatience was wrong, but didn’t know how to address it biblically. So they began to ask, “Does the Bible address this? If Christ really changes everything, how does he change potty training? What does the gospel have to say about this?” They went searching and found that the gospel addresses all of motherhood, from the big picture of being married and bearing children to the nitty-gritty of teaching those children when, where, and how to use the toilet. They determined they needed to live by a “risen motherhood,” one set within the context of a resurrected Savior. It changed everything.

That’s not to say that it told them how to hurry up the potty-training process or that it made all their problems go away. But it did tell them what life and mothering is all about. It did tell them why something so good is accompanied by such major difficulties. And it addressed the all-too-common problems of envy and comparison that have undoubtedly always been present, but that today are powerfully present through Pinterest and Instagram and a host of other media. This awakening was the dawn of their podcast and now, their book. “We don’t need the world’s version of motherhood; we need a risen motherhood, transformed by the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. We need his shed blood if we’re going to shed our guilt and failures. We need his fullness to fill us where we are empty. We need his sacrifice and hurt so we can sacrifice for others until it hurts. We need his wounds to cure our wounds. We need his atonement to atone once and for all for our sins. We need his death to give us life.”

Risen Motherhood begins with a couple of chapters that describe the gospel, showing that it can best be understood as a kind of narrative and explaining how this gospel narrative applies even to motherhood. It wraps up with a pair of chapters meant to instruct readers in the importance of biblical literacy and gospel fluency even (or especially) during the long years of motherhood.

But the heart of the book is a series of 14 brief chapters, each of which looks at a common topic among moms and showing how the gospel applies to it. In each case the authors follow the standard structure of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. So, for example, in the chapter on marriage they describe some of the challenges that wives and mothers face, then show how in creation marriage was meant to be one union, how in the fall that union was disrupted, how in Christ’s work of redemption he shows what marriage was always meant to be, and how in the great consummation marriage will be fulfilled and sin eradicated. Then there are applications: “Because Jesus lived a perfect life in our stead, the pressure is off for both husband and wife to execute perfect parenting.” “Mom, Christ has measured up on your behalf. Now you can stop comparing your husband to the parenting books, the conferences, the bloggers, or the next-door neighbor. Instead, offer your husband the relentless grace and love you’ve received from your shared inheritance with Christ, celebrating the unique ways your husband is gifted.”

Risen Motherhood is a strong work and one that nicely fits a niche. Where so many books on mothering are essentially legalistic and offer news no better than “you need to try harder,” this one grounds mothers in the finished work of Jesus Christ. It aptly shows that the gospel really does make every bit of difference not only in eternity, but in everyday life as well. It shows how to live like the gospel is true in all of life’s joys and challenges, including motherhood.

Admittedly, I am not exactly the core audience for Risen Motherhood. That said, I always keep my ear to the ground for resources I can grow to trust and then recommend to others. I’m delighted to say that for as long as I’ve followed Jensen’s and Wifler’s work I have benefitted from it. Even better, I have seen many Christian moms I know and love read their website, listen to their podcast, and grow through it. I’m thankful they’ve now added this book to the many channels through which they serve God by serving his people. I believe it will do exactly that.

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