Apr 21, 2017

Easter, Church, Friendship, and More (Offsite Highlights)

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 
Annibale Carracci, Holy Women at Christ's Tomb

The world may have already moved on from Easter, but we know our SDMW readers are just getting started. As you bask in resurrection joy, here are a few recommended links for your reading and listening time this week.

First, Anna had two pieces at The Federalist. Don't miss her plea to Netflix not to turn the beloved classic Anne of Green Gables into something it was never meant to be. Then be sure to read her superb contribution to the continuing conversation about whether or not men and women can be friends. 

Cheryl wrote one for The Federalist about why people who visited church on Easter should go back the following week. You can also listen to Cheryl talk about her article with Rev. Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc.

Jayme Metzgar, a senior contributor at The Federalist, offered this beautiful meditation on how the occasion of her grandparents moving out of their longtime home reminded her of Christ's resurrection. If you're up for a longer read, consider this Touchstone article about how the Church offers the gift of calm in anxious times.

Are you doing anything special at your house to celebrate the Easter season? A SDMW reader recently shared that she and her children are celebrating by making a cake every week until Ascension. Sounds like a divinely delicious plan!

In other news, the SDMW team has been working hard to learn all about podcasting so as to begin bringing you SDMW content in a whole new way! Look for our first episode in the not-too-distant future. :)

Apr 18, 2017

We Live in Daily Repentance, Not Daily Guilt (from our Archives)

Note: This post first ran in 2015

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

Even though modern culture rejects the Christian concept of sin, we Americans still describe our actions and our self-image in moral terminology. We speak of atrocities like those of ISIS as “evil.” We claim to be “good people.” Of course, we also refer to high-fat foods as “sinful” and say things like, “I’m going to be bad and eat a big slice of cheesecake.” The greatest terminological confusion, however, is evident when we as a society try to cope with feelings of guilt.

On the one hand, popular psychology encourages us to simply deny our guilt--to assert our own worth, value, and goodness and to look on feelings of inadequacy as a mental weakness from which we must be liberated. On the other hand, society also seems to find guilt useful (one of my college professors remarked that whereas the Japanese are motivated by shame, American society is motivated by guilt). When, for instance, someone chooses to feed the homeless or to visit annoying relatives simply because she would feel guilty if she didn’t, she is helping to keep the social wheels turning.

Moms especially seem inclined to use guilt as a combination of self-flagellation and self-motivation. We read articles about all things things we should be providing for our children (enrichment activities, organic food, quality time, chemical-free laundry, more religious training, enough iron and vitamin D, positive body image, successful discipline, etc.) and feel guilty about not measuring up. We notice that someone else’s kid at church does X thing better than our child, and perhaps feel guilty over that, too.

However, moms are not alone in the tendency to expend significant brainpower wondering exactly how guilty we should feel about hitting only the low rungs on the ladder of perfection. It is as if we all unconsciously see some kind of moral superiority in guilt. I wonder if, afflicted by an inborn sense that something about ourselves is deeply flawed, our culture has substituted “guilt-wallowing” for the religious penances of medieval Christendom.

Apr 14, 2017

Call Me Mara

By Leah Sherman


I watched my husband holding newborn life. I watched as he quietly hummed the songs of faith, cradling and rocking the baby who slept soundly in his arms. I watched as he bounced him, patted him, and made faces at him when he woke. After seven years, I had forgotten how my husband looked holding an infant. I had forgotten the music, the consoling, and the mimicry. Once before, I had watched him marvel at the tiny child in his arms--our child, our son. Now, when this infant’s cries of hunger would cause him to pass the child to his mother, he would not bring the babe to me as he once had done, for this son was not ours. Instead, he would pass to another set of arms, and ours would be empty again. And so, I cried. I wept for the joy we have not known, and the emptiness our hearts have held.

Sometimes, this grief I bear is all-consuming. The sadness sprouts deep within, and grows into a mighty chasm that swallows the stomach, and devours the flesh. It renders my body helpless and my heart hopeless. This was that grief.

Like Hannah before Eli at the temple, I prayed in my grief as one seemingly drunk--mouth moving, but forming no words. Like Rachel, I cried out to my God that he might open my womb again and let me bear life. Like Naomi, I called myself Mara, for God has made my life bitter.

This Holy Week, I am reminded that Christ is no stranger to bitterness. Hanging on the cross, suffering for my sin and brokenness, His work became as bitter as the gall he was offered to drink. From depths of woe, He cried out to his Father and yet was forsaken, so that I would not be. My sin devoured His flesh, and the grave swallowed Him, so that I would not be. Christ’s bitter death became a glorious rising on Easter morning, so that mine may as well.

My arms may be empty, and my heart may grieve, but my life will not be bitter. This Easter morning, I will stand beside the mother of this new child as she and her husband bring him to the Baptismal font. The death Christ died will become his death, so that he will not be forsaken by his Father. Christ’s resurrection will become his resurrection, so that he will not be swallowed by the grave. I will pledge to pray for him, support him in his faith, and encourage him toward the faithful reception of the Lord’s Supper. I will pledge to be, at all times, an example to him of the holy life of faith in Christ and love for his neighbor. In this way, this child will become mine, if not my own.
Whatever weeping I may have in the night, God will turn to joy with the morning, that I may sing with David,

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” (Ps. 30:12)


***

Leah Sherman is a pastor's wife and homeschooling mother.  She and her husband have struggled with secondary infertility, but are constantly reminded of God's great blessings through their son. She lives in Gordon, Nebraska, and enjoys reading, gardening, and sewing.

Apr 11, 2017

Brutal Forgiveness (from our Archives)

This piece first ran in 2015

By Rebekah Theilen

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37)
.

The verdict was in.

Peter preached it loud and clear. Filled with the Spirit he minced no words.   Our precious Lord was whipped to shreds. The Long-expected had come and gone, was dead and buried.  The infant Son was born and raised, tossed and turned away for the sins of the world.  The people stood accused of murder.  Pontius Pilate’s hands were not the only ones covered by the innocent blood of “this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Perhaps then they remembered.  They were there, as was I.  You, too, were witnesses of these things.  We stood at the crossroad, perplexed at Heaven’s sign.  Bethlehem’s Star fell to His knees.  The once and future King now bled through the streets.  How could this be? A carpenter’s boy--crushed by the wood of His own making.  Something was wrong, terribly wrong.  Crucifixion was nothing new—but this?

This was something new under the sun.

Apr 7, 2017

Satan's Game of Discontent

By Monique Miller

Comparing our own lives to others’ is a dangerous game Satan plays in the minds of Christians--and we always end up the loser. Many situations in life don't seem fair. We try to make sense of why it appears others have been blessed more than we have.

Perhaps you want blessings you believe would benefit your family in a positive and good way. A friend announces on Facebook that her family is taking a family trip to Disney World and you can barely put food on your table. Or you notice your neighbor's husband is always home by supper time while you are routinely flying solo with the kids to battle out supper, homework, baths, evening devotions, etc.--knowing full well your husband won't return from work until the late hours of the evening. Or perhaps, you've been married over a decade and the Lord has not yet blessed you with the gift of children, while your sister has a house brimming with little ones.

Providing for your families' needs, quality family time, the blessing of children--all these things are good and honorable things and we believe we deserve them. So why is it that our Lord sometimes withholds these good things from us? How are we to make sense of God's mysterious economy of dishing out blessings?

We don't realize how dangerous complaining and grumbling toward God really is. We legitimize and justify our complaining. We consider it a small offense because; after all, the blessings we seek from God are things we should have! Dear sisters, don't be mistaken. Grumbling and complaining is no small offense in the eyes of our Lord. Complaining is what caused the Israelites to never enter Canaan. God provided for the Israelites by giving them manna from heaven. Food that fell from the sky! And yet, how long did it take for them to begin to grumble and complain because they grew tired of it and wanted meat. We learn later the Lord did end up giving the Israelites the meat they demanded. Yet it turned out not to be a blessing but a curse for their grumbling. He gave them so much meat that it literally made them sick.

The manna that fell from heaven was the actual blessing from God. It was God's provision for them. And yet, they were not content and walked away from God's blessing. We are all guilty of this same discontent. Are we seething in anger and bitterness because our Lord has not given us blessings we believe we deserve? Do we harbor resentment because we believe others have more? Do we foster the same pride as the Israelites by believing the lies of the devil that somehow God is unfair and we deserve more than what He has given us? This discontent can poison our very soul, reap a toxic atmosphere in our families and ultimately destroy us.

Apr 4, 2017

What We're Reading

A lovely reader (thanks, Katy Hopkins!) suggested that we should run occasional posts about what the SDMW authors have been reading lately. I thought it was a fabulous idea. So, in case you need something to add to your to-be-read list, here you go!



Cheryl Magness

I recently finished reading A Life for a Life by Victorian writer Dinah Maria Mulock Craik. I first became aware of Craik's writings last year. At the time, I was grieving the death of my mother, and a friend shared this quote from Craik's novel Olive:  "[Fo]r all I lose on earth, heaven—the place of souls, which we call heaven, whatever or wherever that may be—grows nearer to me. It will seem the more my home, now I have a mother there."

Apr 1, 2017

Something Funny, plus Motherhood and Cookies (Off-site Highlights)

Dear Readers,


Blessed Lent, and happy April Fools' Day. Be careful out there today.

Have you seen these two episodes of "Church Hunter?" Yeah. A little too funny. But appropriate viewing for today.

I've posted this link to art depicting the Resurrection before, but it's worth revisiting. It's fascinating to see how different artists have viewed and portrayed the empty tomb.

Did you catch Cheryl's excellent post about 6 Truths You Learn when a Loved One Dies?

I very much appreciated this one, by Gracy Olmstead: Why It’s A Problem That Reading Is At 30-Year Lows, And How ‘Digital Temperance’ Can Help

Here are several links about the whole SAHM thing.
I write a piece arguing that No, Stay at Home Moms Don't 'Waste' Their Education and talked about the article on Issues, Etc
Soon after, I read this interesting piece that objects to the term "stay-at-home mom." Read it and see why. What do you think?

Lora Horn just had a piece in The Federalist in which she told people to stop being so sensitive about miscarriage and other sensitive issues on Facebook. It's worth a read.

OK, to finish things off, I have a recipe for you. It's for the most delicious cookies ever. They would be fabulous on the table at your Easter luncheon.

Mar 31, 2017

We Have another Winner

Naomi Schemm, check your e-mail--you've won the drawing for a copy of Gene Edward Veith's The Spirituality of the Cross!

Tears on a Bathroom Floor (from our Archives)

This piece first ran in 2016

By Alison Andreasen

There we were. Two people of two different sizes sitting on the bathroom floor, one of us in tears and the other on the verge. I had asked my young daughter to do something. My “something” was not the “something” she wanted to do and we were at a standstill. Head to head. Someone was going to get her way and we were both determined to be triumphant.  

I tried what I could to hasten the obedience I asked of her. My empathy was met with anger; my explanation was met with disdain. My attempts at comforting her made her cringe and my giving her space while I checked on other children was irksome. It was clear that at that moment, it wasn’t about me or what I did or didn’t do. This was her battle. No one else could do it for her, but one thing was sure--she did want me there. So there we sat.

Her internal struggle showed itself on the outside. Expressions of anger that I even suggested she do something other than what she wanted were replaced with questioning looks that seemed to say, “Why would you ask me to do something so hard?”

Just as I was about to answer the unspoken question, a burst of stubbornness erupted and I prepared myself for the coming act of disobedience and the subsequent consequence I would have to speak to the little girl whom I love so dearly. But, alas, it didn’t come. She just hunkered back down in contemplation.  

I could have forced her do what I wanted and gone on with the rest of my day. After all, I had dishes to do, laundry to fold, food to fix, and other kids to play with. But today was too important.  The struggle she faced--of whether or not to trust and obey me--is what mattered, and I could not help but think that our future would be better for allowing her to fight this battle today.

Mar 28, 2017

Congratulations to Our Giveaway Winner

Katie Schelp, check your inbox for an e-mail from us! You won a copy of Anthony Esolen's Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.

Our second giveaway is still running--there's time yet to enter and win a copy of Dr. Veith's The Spirituality of the Cross.

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