Guest Book

IMG_6601Some guests think that our guestbook is an odd tradition. They politely sign it, commenting that it “must be a British thing,” or some other remark that lets us know that this is weird for them. Others think it’s great, and flip back through the pages to see if they know anyone else, reading comments from previous guests.

The guestbook is something we started years ago, and it has helped us be better hosts. Here are a few ways it has helped our hospitality—three reasons that you might want to start your own. Continue reading

These Aren’t The Best Years of Your Life

vacation A friend with a stroller was walking through town when an older woman stopped her to see the baby. After admiring her, the granny said, “These are the best years of your life; too bad you’re too tired to enjoy them!”

Mothers with small children often hear this–at least the first part. We keenly feel the second part, wondering why the best years of our lives are so lacking in sleep. We try hard to enjoy the fleeting stages of childhood while fighting to go to the bathroom alone. If these are the best years of our lives, why don’t we feel like it? And if these are the best years, what on earth will it be like when they are teenagers? Continue reading

Grieving Christians

IMG_7111My parents believed in bringing us to funerals. So at young ages, my siblings and I saw a lot of grieving families, heard homilies, eulogies, and a couple of us even rode in the hearse with the funeral director from the church to the grave (only when Dad did the service). One of my earliest funeral memories is being in line to view a body. I was so short that my eyes were below casket level, and I did not want to be picked up. It seemed off to me that adults would stand in line to see a corpse. Continue reading

What Churches Can Learn From Jane Austen

CassandraAusten-JaneAusten(c.1810)_hiresDon’t worry – it’s not soteriology or anything. There is no evidence that Jane Austen possessed saving faith, so taking theological tips from her doesn’t make sense.

But as a brilliant novelist, she understood people. Society might be different now than it was two hundred years ago: human nature is the same. And it’s Austen’s keen insight into people’s thought and behavior patterns that leave lessons for pastors, congregations, and individual members in our churches today. Here is one lesson from each of her three best-loved novels. Continue reading

Reasons To Get Married In School

snowy hugGetting married during school is a multi-generational tradition in my family. Grandpa started it: many aunts, uncles, and siblings on both sides have also made it a habit. So we have heard all the usual objections: “You’re too young;” “It’s financially unwise;” “You won’t finish your degree;” “Babies will end your career before you can start it;” and so on. Some people have assumed that the weddings must be shotgun weddings — why else would you get married before you have a degree and a job? Others think that parents will indulge and provide financial support until there is enough money for a nice house. A few think that home must have been a horrible place for us to make such a reckless choice. Continue reading

Reading as Parenting

Laura_Muntz_Lyall_-_Interesting_Story_-_Google_Art_Project When we think about parenting, the word “books” probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But reading to our children is a fundamental aspect of parenting little people, though we rarely talk about it in the context of raising children.

Most of us are already reading to our children. It is something that mothers in particular already do, whether it’s the classic bedtime story or another scenario. Thinking carefully about reading to our kids can help us do it better in a way that will help us and them better steward the gift of intellect that God gives each one of us. John Stodt said that “the secret of holy living lies in the mind.” Books help us steward our children’s minds because it is what we know and understand that drives and directs how we feel and what we do. Reading out loud to our children is a potentially a powerful parenting tool when it is done intentionally and biblically. Here are five reasons to read out loud to our kids. Continue reading

A Mother’s Joy

IMG_6404Joy is a major theme in the Bible. God blesses His people with the joy of salvation, with the joys of fellowship with Christ and other people, joys of work, of marriage, and the promise of eternal joy, with no sorrow or grief to interrupt it. God delights to see His people joyful. He has particularly created fathers and mothers to have joy in their children.

And children bring their mothers much joy. In a perfect world, mothers would be joyful all the time. But this world is not perfect, and there are specific things that can rob a mother of joy. As Christians, we have the tools we need to identify the kill-joys around us, and cultivate the joy that God created us to have in our roles as mothers. Continue reading

A Girl Born Facing Outside

jeanetteliThe Chinese practice of killing a daughter in order to have a son did not come in with Communism’s one child policy. Before the revolution, poor families who could not afford to raise a girl abandoned their female babies at foundling homes, where most of them died. Jeanette Li was nearly one of those. A “girl born facing the outside,” her life is a story of grace overcoming impossible obstacles.

You have probably never heard of her. Most westerners—even many Chinese Christians—have not. This is partly because she was a member of a small, uninfluential denomination, and partly because her story has been out of print for many years. Continue reading