Immediately Mom at Christmas

IMG_1155You wake up, and immediately do your devotions before the children stir. They stir. They want breakfast immediately. Immediately after they eat, you get them ready and out the door to school before cleaning up the cereal that the toddler spilled. The dog needs to be let out immediately.

Life can feel that way, can’t it? For moms, sometimes days are just a series of “immediately’s.” This is especially true during the holidays: immediately after the shopping is done, there’s the music program, then gifts to wrap, then immediately to bed because people are coming tomorrow and there’s a lot of food to finish before they arrive. As soon as we finish one thing, two more are waiting for us. Immediately. Continue reading

Apocalyptic Carols

First_Nowell_stainer What do Christmas carols make you think of? Luke 2? Manger scenes? Candle-lit Christmas Eve services? Turkey dinners with family? That’s what they do for most people. Few of us think, “Oh, Christmas carols = the sky being peeled back and saints being caught up in the clouds.”

It is true that the nativity is the main theme of carols. Several carols also point to Calvary: “Then let us all with one accord/ Sing praises to our heavenly Lord/ That hath made heaven and earth of nought,/ And with his blood mankind hath bought” (“The First Nowell”).

But some of the best-known carols make reference to the second coming. Continue reading

You Might As Well Not Pray

1024px-Worried_little_girlI don’t like being away from my kids, under pretty much any circumstances. One summer, my parents had taken them camping while I stayed with my grandparents. “You’re worried about them, aren’t you?” my grandmother asked. I nodded. “Well, have you prayed about it?” “Of course!” “Well then why are you still worried? You might as well not pray.”

Sensing my coming protest, she kept going: “Really. You can sit there and worry about them the whole time, or you can ask God to keep them safe and enjoy your time off. There’s no point in asking the Lord to handle it if you are going to sit here and fret.” Continue reading

Five Secular Books That Changed My Life

There are, of course, more than five. This list omits the many, many children’s books that continue to shape me, and several “grown-up” ones that are influential. But here are five that changed my thinking and living. Some of them I read in university, one I read this year, all are worth checking out.

FOT1017875Adam Bede, George Eliot. Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) apostatized after translating a work of German theological liberalism. But her novels are full of religion, and Adam Bede co-stars a female, Methodist lay preacher. Continue reading

A Peaceful Home

800px-Rzhevskaya_Antonina_A_Marry_MomentMy husband likes peace and quiet, especially after a day of work. Just before he came home last week, I realized how things at home would strike him. Lots of lights were on, the washer and dryer were both going, I had water running as I did dishes, the kids were shouting (happy shouting) back and forth about something, running up and down the stairs, and Cantata 140 was blaring so that I could hear it wherever I went in the house.

Peace and quiet are so connected to each other in our vocabulary and our thinking that it is difficult to think about them separately. In our home that afternoon, we had peace – there was no strife, no fighting, no anger, no crying! (It’s not like that all the time…) People were at peace with each other; we were just loud and active. Peace? Yes. Quiet? No. Continue reading

Eyelashes and Morals

BB-BeaIt doesn’t take much life experience to know that, given a choice, a young man will choose a young woman with a beautiful face and gorgeous figure over an average woman with weak eyes. Even biblical patriarchs were susceptible to an attractive external. “Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel” (Genesis 29:16–18a). He picked the pretty girl. And in a time before Maybelline, she was probably born with it. She didn’t beat Leah at the win-the-man game because she was better at application and had contacts. God made Rachel more beautiful than her sister, and it won her the love of the husband. Continue reading

Facebook, Privacy, and Marital Oneness

IMG_4614Maybe it’s me, but there seem to be an awful lot of couples posting things on their facebook accounts to each other about their relationship. From “you’re the best boyfriend ever” to “he said ______ when he proposed” to “I’m pregnant, Honey”.

Now, the emotional side of a relationship is just as real as the sexual one. Making out in public is unacceptable, but the emotional equivalent is almost expected online. Nobody minds if a couple holds hands, or gives each other a peck on the cheek, but even unbelievers keep public displays of affection under control when there are other people around. But so often, Christian couples are “over the top” in their emotional interaction online. Continue reading

Mentoring 101

1024px-Pieter_de_Hooch_-_At_the_Linen_Closet“Mentoring is so American,” a friend from another country told me. We were talking about older women mentoring younger women, and she had a different take on it than most people around me. “Where I’m from, people would never do it. They just take part in the life of the church and try to be faithful in their personal lives.” What she meant was that the early 21st century American version of mentoring—more of a Evangelical, programmatic Titus 2 system—was something unique to this culture. And she is probably right: the one-on-one coffee dates, note taking, and arranged, lay shepherding isn’t exactly something that has a timeless or universal feel. Not that this “American” version of mentoring is wrong, it’s just a cultural expression of Protestant America trying to help the older women teach the younger women. Continue reading