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

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