Dec 9, 2016

When We Can't Even Talk to Each Other

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

How quaint it seems that once, most Americans called our country the best place on earth. It is not that the U.S. was free from injustice or cultural battles, but that the majority of the population felt united by common ideals. These days, the one thing we all have in common with our political foes is a fear of what “the other side” will do if given half a chance.

Some of us see political activists determined to free our country from the influences of Judeo-Christian beliefs by demonizing all who would live by those precepts. It is a fear that is mocked by many progressives even as they appear to further that agenda.

Some of us see the coming of xenophobic public policies and the rise of an “alt right” based on white identity politics. It is a fear that is dismissed by many conservatives even as they seem unconcerned about the sufferings of non-whites.

All our fears are heightened by the apparent blindness of our neighbors. How can we talk about a problem that others can’t see? The impossibility of communication erases the possibility of an answer that includes us all. What can be done when each faction insists it is the victim of a looming hegemony, and all of us are angry at the those others who claim the status of victimhood?

Dec 6, 2016

The SDMW Guide to Lutheran Stocking Stuffers

(Compiled by Anna: this list is adapted from last year)

When I was growing up, Christmas stockings were very important to my sisters and me. We spent hours drawing cards and crafting little gifts to put in them. Some of the youngest girls found the thrill of dropping things into the stockings so irresistible that they would insert random rocks, Duplos, and hair clips. 

As a Christmas-stocking-enthusiast, I wanted to provide you with some good, hearty, Lutheran-influenced ideas for the stockings in your life.*


What Lutheran child wouldn't want to receive fish in a barrel
in honor of Katie Luther and her escape from the convent?

Dec 3, 2016

Off-site Highlights: Advent and Christmas

(Compiled by Anna)

Dear Readers,

It's nice to be back after the brief hiatus. I hope everyone's Advent is peaceful and preparatory. My children are very excited about our Advent wreath (last year, the elder kiddo kept trying to sing "happy birthday" instead of "O Come O Come" and was very confused about the whole process), which is delightful to see. Here is your weekend supply of recommended reading from around the web.

First, however, two quick notes:

1. Have you considered sending us an article? You can check out this piece for a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when you submit your work. I would love to hear what you have been thinking or learning about as you live out your vocations.

2. Notifications about the SDMW Advent Book Exchange have been sent out. Hopefully I kept everything organized, but if by some mischance you e-mailed me about participating but didn't get your recipient's info, let me know (sister-daughter-mother-wife (at) googlegroups.com). 


When all else fails, feed them doughnuts.:

Dec 2, 2016

Suffering in Advent (from our Archives)

This post first ran in 2014

By Melanie Sorenson

Suffering is not a topic most people like to address, especially not as the Christmas lights begin to go up and the entryways to all the stores are filled with the ringing of the Salvation Army bells and the smiling faces of volunteers. We know, thanks to all the TV commercials, that this is supposed to be a magical season filled with feasting and family. Except sometimes it isn’t. 

I suspect the Advent and Christmas season of 2001 was one of those years where feasting, gift giving, and church attendance took on a new intensity. America had spent three months grieving the tragedies of September 11. The Bush vs. Gore Presidential election, which threw the state of Florida into chaos with the massive recount due to the “hanging  and dimpled chads,” was only a year past. Thanks to a new president and a foreign attack on our own soil, people needed Christmas more that year, and I think they hugged each other a little tighter, and stoked their fires warmer. 

I was a senior in high school that year. I remember the tragedy of September and the election the year before, but my memories of both events mostly center around my father. He was an attorney, politician, and the former executive director of the republican party of Florida. He was an expert in election law and, as a result, was catapulted into the national spotlight during the Florida recount, doing interviews with news stations across the country. He worked to help clean up the Florida mess while also running his own law firm and being a dad to his five kids. So when the airplanes crashed into the twin towers in 2001, I rushed home to see my dad. I needed to see his face in order to know how big of a deal this all was. I remember walking through the front door and realizing that all the lights in the house were off except one small ceiling fan light in the living room where he sat staring at the glowing screen. A dark house in a family with five kids is strange enough, but seeing him sit there in the TV’s glow while images of smoke pouring from the towers right before they collapsed replayed over and over, was unnerving. As I walked in my dad’s head sank into his hands and he began to weep.

Nov 22, 2016

Blessed Thanksgiving & Note to Readers

Dear Readers,

Blessed Thanksgiving!

This is just a note to let you know that SDMW will be on break for the rest of November. We look forward to posting again in December.

Don't forget that you can still be part of the Advent book exchange!


Nov 18, 2016

When You've Lost that Can-do Attitude

By Alison Andreasen

I recently talked to a new mom who was overwhelmed with caring for her little one. I suggested, “Just try something, and you’ll feel better because you are at least trying.”  

A can-do attitude can help boost the feeling of control. Even if a given tactic tried doesn’t work, we still feel a sense of control because we are trying. This may be enough to get us through a “slump” and we soon find that things aren’t quite as overwhelming anymore.

But what about when you don’t even have the wherewithal to try? Have you ever been there?  The smallest tasks seem to take the most effort; getting out of bed, fixing food for little mouths, or even just lying on the floor while children run cars over your back seems like too much to ask. The word “overwhelmed” doesn’t quite cover it. You also feel trapped, closed in on both sides, and stuck. Thinking of something to do that might make the situation better just adds one more thing to the to-do list. Even suggestions of “change your outlook on the situation” or “be grateful for what you have” seem to add to the sense of guilt you feel about not being able to be as resilient as you think you should be.  

What then? What do you do when you’ve lost that can-do attitude?

Realize that the world, Satan, and your sinfulness are trying to focus your attention in the wrong place.

“Be in control, don’t let life control you.” That is the message the world wants us to believe. While this may be sound advice to avoid falling into a victim mentality, it is not what everyone feeling overwhelmed and trapped needs to hear. There are times when the last thing a person needs to hear is that she is in control. When we look at ourselves, we see sinfulness, weakness and an inability to do anything correctly. We desperately fear our future and fall into despair. Or we blame others. Or we examine our recent history and try to see when things went wrong, often longing to return to a time that is behind us instead of living in the here and now.    

Nov 15, 2016

Join Us for an Advent Book Exchange!

Wouldn’t it be nice to spend some time this Advent with a new book? We all need the humanizing influence of stories in our lives, and we at SDMW would like to host a book exchange.


The rules are simple. I will collect the names and addresses of all participants. With the help of my husband’s spreadsheet skills, I will randomly pair each participant with a recipient to whom to send a book. Adding a little note about why you like the book would be a nice extra touch. Everyone will send one title and receive one title.

The book should be:

·         One you enjoy and want to share with a fellow-Lutheran woman
·         Story-driven (i.e., novel, memoir, non-fiction narrative)
·         Either new or used, but in good reading condition
·         Reasonably cheerful (avoid anything excessively disturbing. The overall message should be hopeful even if the characters experience suffering and tragedy)

It’s sort of like a secret Santa Christmas exchange, except that it’s not secret, affiliated with St. Nick, or for Christmas. Ahem.

Anyway, are you in? It will be fun!

Send me your name and mailing address by Thursday, December 1st (sister-daughter-mother-wife (at) googlegroups.com). 

I will reply with your recipient’s info within a few days, and you should mail a book no later than Thursday, December 15.


Happy reading!

Nov 11, 2016

When Kids are Smarter Than Adults

 By Ruth Meyer

Sometimes I’m ashamed to be an adult. Adults, for all our “wisdom” and higher education, are incredibly ignorant at times. We legalize things that are blatantly wrong, we fail to stand up for our beliefs, and we tell our kids to look the other way when we are confronted with people whose lifestyle and morals don’t agree with our own. And then there’s this year’s presidential election. Even my children knew that both of the two major candidates were poor choices at best. This was the best our country could do? It hurts to admit it, but at times, children are far smarter than adults.

The fact is that many children see things in black and white. Either something is right or it’s wrong. Unfortunately, the world is slightly more complicated. There are a lot of grey areas. But the black-and-white approach isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As we get older and supposedly more educated, we’re taught to practice tolerance and acceptance. Now, I’m all for an open mind, but not if it means I have to compromise my own values or beliefs as a result.

How am I supposed to answer my 12-year-old when he says, “So let me get this straight. One of our presidential candidates was involved in an FBI investigation, and the other one can say whatever he wants with no consequences? Mom, if I said that kind of stuff, you’d ground me for life.” That’s for sure, and he doesn’t even know the half of the offensive comments.

Or how am I to explain to my 10-year-old why our country now says same-sex marriages are okay? “Why would a man marry a man, anyhow? That’s not how it works.” Exactly. A 10-year-old sees what adults don't or won’t admit.

How should I have a conversation with my boys when they worry about playing sports in middle school and high school because they’re concerned about transgender bathrooms? “How does that work, Mom? You’re either a boy or a girl. That’s just how God made you. Why should we have to change clothes in front of a girl?” I haven’t the faintest. I wonder the same thing myself.

Nov 8, 2016

Praying for Nero on Election Day

By Heather Judd


Here’s a surprisingly uncontroversial statement for an election year: Things do not look good in the American political scene. Christians and non-Christians, Republicans and Democrats alike cringe at the probabilities of what is to come for our nation. What ought we as Christians to do? What can we do?

Of course, we know that we ought foremost to pray, but I have lately been reflecting that how we pray for our nation is important. The most specific instruction we are given about praying for the political realm is Paul’s urging to Timothy “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). What caught my attention is that we are commanded to pray for God to bless not our land or nation but our rulers—the people, not the place.

From a Christian perspective, this is perfectly fitting. Nations rise and fall. They are ephemeral, but people are eternal. Ultimately, should we care whether America survives if all her people are lost to sin and death? Of course not! We don’t want to be like the atheists or agnostics who see the preservation of the earth from environmental disaster as more important than the preservation of the people (present or future) who inhabit it.

Yet praying for leaders I dislike and distrust is a bitter pill to swallow. Much pleasanter to pray that God would bless America than that He would bless President Obama or Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump. Patriotism has imbued in me a trust that bad leaders can be weathered so long as I love my country dearly enough. And thus I reveal my own idolatry: I have placed my love and trust in my country when it rightly belongs to my God.

Nov 4, 2016

Because Homemaking Does (and Doesn't) Matter [from the Archives]

This piece first ran in July 2015

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

Many women live a conglomerated life. For homemakers especially, the vocations of wife, mother, and keeper-of-the-house are so intertwined that it can be hard not to feel that a weakness in one area makes us inadequate in them all. Often we have no other outlet--no other employment, no cordoned-off hours of the day--that can make us feel successful at something unrelated to our families. In addition, the homemaker’s daily tasks involve serving the people whom we most love. These are not the people for whom we are content to do a “good enough” job.

Perhaps this is why conversations intended to defend the importance of a homemaker can lead to feelings of guilt. When someone declares that the stay-at-home mom is fulfilling a sacred calling by creating a place of order and beauty for our husband and little ones, we might hear, “You’d better not fail, sister. By the way, when did you last clean your oven? Does your child get enough iron to prevent learning disabilities? Is that apple organic?”

When a discussion of homemaking comes from a religious context, it can seem as though we are being handed a subtle message that God wants us to keep a perfect house filled with fresh cut flowers and happy, obedient children. Because we know how imperfect our homemaking skills often are, this can be a burdensome or even crushing message. Basically, our soot-encrusted oven is merely one more example of the way that we are failing not only our beloved kids, but God Himself.

Yet when it comes to our salvation, the state of our home is about as important as last year’s junk mail. After all, when God looks at us, He sees a beloved child redeemed by His blood and made righteousness through the righteousness of Christ. He doesn’t see our oven.

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