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 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

My Mother Doesn’t Live In Town

Segantini_Le_due_Madri Like millions of other women, I don’t live in the same town as my mother. Some women have bad relationships with their mothers, and so living in another town is a relief. But for most, living in the same town as your mother means you have local encouragement and help from someone who has known you for life and loves you anyway.

Part of me wants to address the issue by saying to myself, “Boo-hoo, stop it with the princess-martyr complex: ‘My mother’s not in town so I can’t go shopping by myself, nap, or get my nails done every Friday’.” Continue reading

At Home And Loving It

IMG_5674As full-time stay-at-home mothers, we don’t have the most glamorous careers. It’s behind the scenes, mundane, and sometimes hard to enjoy. A book I was reading had an example of how hard it was to be a stay-at-home mother: “It’s so boring!” the woman said. Boring? Tiring, I get. Frustrating, challenging, occasionally menial and repetitive, but boring? If you’re a stay-at-home mother and find yourself bored, invite your pastor’s family over for a 5 course dinner on Saturday. It will make Thursday and Friday interesting. If chronic boredom is a struggle, start a business, buy a puppy, or begin homeschooling.

But boredom isn’t what most stay-at-home moms struggle with. Continue reading

A Mother’s Work

Ernst_Lindenbauer,_1936 Wanting to be a horse was probably a mommy low point. Not just any horse, mind you. One of my kids was studying the Lipizzaners in Vienna’s Spanish Riding School; as I helped with some research, I found myself envying the horses. Not only do they live in a historic building in a European capital, but they also do nothing beyond go for long walks and occasionally jump to live orchestral music. They are taken care of. Totally. “I could live off of apples and oats,” I told myself. When my husband came home from work, I announced my new career plan. The pressure of constantly caring for everyone else’s needs made me lose focus.

Mothers need breaks now and then. But even more than that, we need perspective. And that’s easy to lose when the dishes are piled up and the baby won’t stop crying and the toddler refuses to be toilet trained. Continue reading

Authenticity, Honesty, and the Stay-At-Home-Mother

clean-up At the Gospel Coalition, Brett McCracken takes on authenticity as an evangelical substitute for holiness. He asks, “by focusing on brokenness as proof of our ‘realness’ and ‘authenticity,’ have evangelicals turned ‘being screwed up’ into a badge of honor, its own sort of works righteousness?” Yup. And perhaps few are as guilty as us wives and mothers.

The mommy wars have made great advances in battling the false fronts of picture-perfect blog posts, where dinners always look fabulous, children are always beautifully dressed, and husbands always come home with roses. But we’ve replaced those filtered versions of our lives with other versions: Continue reading

It Happens At The Table

newhouse 1The table in my dining room is creaky and needs a refinishing. The legs have scrapes from dozens of moves and there are a few scratches from dog feet here and there. A professional designer would probably recommend that we look for something a little less vintage, perhaps something that matches the dining room better. But that table isn’t going anywhere.

It was a wedding present to my great-grandmother, who moved from Glasgow to Canada a few years before she met and married my great-grandfather. A local craftsman made it with a built-in leaf so that it could expand with their family. Their two children, one boy, one girl, were born on that table. When my great-grandmother, then a widow, moved to a retirement home, the table was passed along in the family. I grew up eating every meal at it, unless we had so much company that the children were relegated to the kitchen or porch. Continue reading

Men and Hospitality?

230px-Schweizerhaus18 Last week I reviewed a book on hospitality for someone. It was good, but like most books on hospitality, it seemed to be directed at women. That’s not all bad; we need help! But Scripture’s command to practice hospitality is not merely to women. In fact, when we look at Scripture, it is almost always the men – the husbands – who are directing the hospitality. This is true from Abraham (Gen. 18:6-7) to Manoah (Judges 13:15)  to Boaz (Ruth 2:14) to Gaius (Rom. 16:23), with a few notable exceptions, such as Abigail’s husband, the harsh and unkind Nabal (1 Sam. 25:3). Women like Lydia (Acts 16:15) stand out as examples of women leading their families in this area.

And yet today in the church, we treat hospitality as though it’s largely the woman’s job–unless the man happens to love cooking. Perhaps part of this is because, unlike thousands of years ago, men today work outside the home; very few guys are on hand to slaughter fattened calves hours before a dinner party. But perhaps another part of it is be an unhealthy mix of unthinking abdication on the man’s part, and unthinking dominance on the woman’s.

Regardless of a husband’s working hours, cooking abilities, or social preferences, there are things that husbands can do to lead in showing hospitality. Continue reading