Of Weddings and Heaven

IMG_0547 I know two young women getting married this summer. They have pretty rings, enjoyed shopping for the dress, had fun at showers, and got the bridal party all lined up. But it’s not enough for them. Pleasant as engagement has been, they want to be married. In fact, they can’t wait. If you asked them to please bump things off just a little longer, they would refuse. They’ve done all the preparations of engagement in order to make the wedding possible. They’ve been promised marriage by men they love, and they aren’t going to take anything less, any later than they have to.

So it’s the marriage that is informing how they think and live right now, not the engagement ring. That piece of jewelry is just an encouragement and symbol of what’s coming. Continue reading

Things Dad Did

climbEvery dad is different. But there are biblical principles that should guide a father’s parenting. Here are some of them, and what that looked like in action when I was growing up.

Dad taught us the Word. Though he was a pastor, the main way Dad taught us the Bible when we were little was through family worship. Every night: Bible reading, discussion, prayer, singing, catechism. Sometimes Dad was exhausted, sometimes we wouldn’t stop laughing, sometimes the phone kept ringing, but family worship was still consistent. Continue reading

Leaving and Cleaving

IMG_1148“A couple should live at least a hundred miles away from both sets of parents for at least the first year of marriage.” That’s what an older couple told us as we rode to church in the back seat of their car. We thought we were doing pretty well by that standard: it wasn’t quite our first year of marriage, but we were 3,000 miles away from all four parents.

Leaving home in order to join together and form a new, separate identity as husband and wife is woven into the creation ordinance. Genesis 2:24 tells us that “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife…” The New Testament repeats this mandate (Matt. 19:5). Getting married necessitates getting out of your parents’ home (in all but very rare circumstances) and creating a new, independent household. At least, it does according to biblical standards. Continue reading

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