Busy and Tired

800px-2010-07-20_Black_windup_alarm_clock_face_Sun_LadderIn response to yesterday’s post, a blog reader asked why regularly telling people that you are busy and/or tired is a gentle selfishness. Here are several reasons why it is very often an expression of lack of thought for others.

It implies that the person asking you is neither. When someone says, “Hey, how are you?” and your normal response is, “Busy” or “Tired” it implies that they aren’t, and that you are either unusually fruitful, in demand, and hardworking, or have a physical issue that makes you more frail and fatigued than the rest of us can be. Continue reading

Gentle Selfishness

800px-Narcissus-Caravaggio_(1594-96)_edited A classic novel I’m reading had that phrase in it, describing a character’s personality. The old man was not evil, malicious, scheming, or even mean: he just had a gentle selfishness.

The kind of behavior we usually think of as selfish is obvious: lying, cheating, stealing, hurting, etc., to get what we want. Everyone recognizes it for what it is. But a gentle selfishness, because of its very gentleness, is subtle, deceptive, and far more difficult to detect than the blatant kind. Often, it is in adults. Everyone is born selfish, and children clearly express this, often learning more gentle forms of the sin as they mature and realize that crass egotism is both conspicuous and socially unacceptable. Continue reading

Grace At The Grocery Store

IMG_5855 “Spiritual struggle” isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when I think about buying my food. But lately, I’ve noticed a lot of judgement as I work through the aisles – from other people to me and from me to other people.

Kids are a big source of this. When I see someone else’s kids screaming their heads off, I tend to feel smug that mine aren’t grabbing the candy or taking off in the produce section or hiding behind temporary displays. Mine are sitting nicely in the cart watching the bad kids. That is just pride! I feel as though I am in a position to condemn this woman’s parenting because God is graciously enabling my kids to obey. What this other mother needs are not judgmental looks, but encouragement, and maybe the gospel. Continue reading

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