Jul 15, 2016

Nurturing Intergenerational Friendships (Q and LA)

Sometimes our readers send us questions about which they would like to talk to other Lutheran women. Today’s question is,

"How can we help form inter-generational friendships and relationships within the church? For instance, can you suggest ways that kids can be encouraged to get to know older people in the congregation, or older women can successfully mentor and connect with the younger women?"

We’ve asked a few writers to respond. This Q and LA (questions and Lutheran answers) session is meant to be informal and conversational, rather as if we were all having coffee together. Feel free to chime in via the comments.

Kaethe Ward (Kaethe is a mother of six who is not above bribing her toddler twins with more cookies during the church fellowship hour if it buys her time for tea and adult conversation).

Such a thoughtful question! Church is one of the few opportunities many of us have to really interact with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ of all ages. Inter-generational friendships are a wonderful blessing within parish life, especially for those of us who do not live close to our own extended family.

Regular church attendance is the primary way to strengthen those bonds. It often helps to sit in the same area each Sunday. (I know! So Lutheran of us!) and to regularly make conversation with the people near us each and every week. This may be awkward or difficult when you have children pulling on you after church to hurry up and escape to the toy room, but even a few minutes of asking those next to you questions like, “What are you doing to enjoy this beautiful weather?” or “How was your week?” pays off. If you can share something about your own family’s lives, even better. Church potlucks, Lenten/Advent meals, or Sunday School picnics are also times families with young children can purposely seek out older adults to sit nearby and get to know better. Some may be more than willing to hold a baby while parents eat!

Jul 12, 2016

The Day My Third-Graders Read About Adultery

By Heather Judd

From time to time a note from a concerned parent comes my way: “I’m not sure my child should read that literature book.” Among others, I have received objections to Beowulf (gory monster battles), The Magician’s Nephew (the beautiful queen makes evil seem appealing), and Greek mythology (paganism and the immorality of the gods). I am always glad to see parents actively involved in monitoring their children’s reading, and such situations are good opportunities to talk with them about why certain books are in our school’s curriculum.

Literature is, indeed, a wild and awesome land. As it is wise not to turn your children loose in a remote forest alone, so it is wise not to allow your children to read whatever they happen to pick up. Nature is splendid, but also deadly. Books are marvelous, but also dangerous.

However, children should go outside to play, and children should read books. I suppose you could remove all the rocks and sticks from your yard, check that there are no bees or mosquitoes present, cover your child with sunblock, slap on his helmet and kneepads, warn him not to climb trees, and sit him on the carefully manicured lawn with your blessing to enjoy himself, but it seems doubtful he would grow up with any great love of the outdoors. Similarly, efforts to edit books so that they are “clean” or “safe” for young readers almost inevitably efface some essential aspect of the real, majestic, dangerous work of literature.

Saint Paul’s commendation in Philippians 4:8 is often held up as a guide for book selection, and it is fitting to remember that we should think upon whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy; however, it is also wise to understand that no book we pick will perfectly meet all these criteria.

As a test case, take the book that contains the best of those virtues. Any family who has read straight through the Bible for devotions will have experienced portions of Scripture that make the pious squeamish.  Even if we give ourselves a freebie and skip over Song of Solomon, Scriptures are full of sexual content, violence, religious mockery, worship of pagan gods, disrespectful youths, drunkenness, stealing, suicide, witchcraft, and other PG-13-rated content.  Much “classic” literature reveals a similar inventory of disagreeable subject matter.

Jul 8, 2016

Making Peace with the Vocations We Don't Have

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

Barbara Cooney’s classic picture book, Miss Rumphius, tells the story of a lady who fulfills all three of her childhood goals.
“In the evening Alice sat on her grandfather’s knee and listened to his stories of faraway places. When he had finished, Alice would say, ‘When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.’ 
“‘That is all very well, little Alice,’ said her grandfather, ‘but there is a third thing you must do.’  
“‘What is that?’ asked Alice.  
“‘You must do something to make the world more beautiful,’ said her grandfather. 'All right.’ said Alice. But she did not know what that could be.’”

Jul 5, 2016

Getting Married: Transitioning to a Different Head of the Household

By Adayla Starzl

Growing up, I looked to my father for everything. He is a smart man, a hard worker, and a faithful pastor. I asked for his advice before I did anything, bought anything, or went anywhere. I went to him with many questions. What vehicle should I buy? Where should I apply for a job? What color should my room be? There were deeper questions, too, especially after coming home from Bible study. I had many spiritual questions while growing up in the church and I always went to the head of our household to ask them.

My dad was also the pastor of our church and helped me through challenges like teenage relationships and my stressful work as a nursing assistant. I went and talked to him in the church office several times, as he wore his black shirt and clerical collar and I sat there awkwardly, trying to figure out how to talk to my pastor about things I didn’t want to talk to my dad about.

He was my dad, my pastor and the head of my household. In times of decision, whether small or big, there was no question about whom I should look to for counsel.  

Until I got married.

When my boyfriend moved away from his family to live closer to me, we both started going to my father for wisdom and advice about our future plans. We soon became engaged and went through premarital counseling with my father. I’m not sure if I was just too excited to remember if it was mentioned or if we didn’t really discuss it, but I had not thought about the transition we were about to make concerning my new head of the household.

Jul 2, 2016

Patriotism and Jane Austen: Off-site Highlights

(Compiled by Anna)

Independence Day is almost here. Disheartening as is the current state of our nation, we have much to be thankful for as American citizens. We attend church freely. We can easily access the teaching of faithful pastors (even if we need the internet to do so), and we can even read Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions online for free!

Let us give rejoice in the many good gifts God has given us. Let us even thank Him for placing us in this time and place, because we know that the work and plans of our Lord are good.

1. Speaking of Independence day, last year we ran a Q and LA on patriotism and parenting. If you are still looking for more ideas on celebrating the Fourth with kids, check out Mollie Hemingway's piece on that topic.

2. Do you follow Issues, etc.? You should! Podcasts can make supper clean-up a lot more intellectual. I was on the air recently, talking about my Federalist article about book bans and trigger warnings. You can listen here.

3. I stumbled across Our Broken and Beautiful Adoption by Natalie Patterson, and found the author's story moving. She writes about slowly deciding to adopt a foster child whose needs had made her feel that she would be an inadequate forever-mother, and who, in fact, she had difficulty loving as well as she thought she ought. In the end, although the author does not use Lutheran language, it is a story of learning about grace through vocation.
"[God] gave loads of grace to the people in my innermost circle and helped me to understand that I was not loved for my ability to be inspirational or always have a cheerful disposition or mark everything off of my to do list with perfection. 
"While I was learning how to love [my foster daughter] well, I was learning to allow myself to be loved well. As I grew a mother’s love for this child, I grew in my understanding of the love my Father has for me." More.

4. I almost always click on things that reference our dear departed Jane Austen. I enjoyed reading "What Jane Austen Can Teach Us About Modesty" by Angelina Stanford.
"But there has never been a time when women did not want to attract the attention of men. And there has never been a time when there wasn’t conversation about where the line of propriety lies. There was no golden age of history when everyone agreed on what constituted appropriate, modest behavior and dress. Even an old fashioned dress can be alluring and inspire lust in the right circumstances. . . . 
"In the character of Elizabeth, Jane Austen reveals that the real issue is wisdom, not rules. It’s easy to get caught up in hard and fast rules to ensure virtue (and happy outcomes), but life is never that simple and neither is Christian living." MORE.

5. Speaking of Jane Austen: Last year I put together a Jane-Austen-themed "bachelorette" party for my sister. The idea is that the participants must complete the plot of an unfinished Austen manuscript by figuring out who marries whom. We had a lot of fun. Should you need an activity for a summer tea party or bridal shower, feel free to use my materials. Plus: Have you read this? It's pretty funny: If Jane Austen Got Feedback from Some Guy in a Writing Workshop.

6. You may have seen this via our Facebook page, but here's another of my recent pieces: "Would Your Kids Recognize An Ideological Kidnapper? Five ways to teach children to enjoy good stories without getting brainwashed." It's a subject about which I feel strongly and upon which I have many, many opinions.

7. Did you miss Cheryl's piece, 8 Ways to Help Grieving People?

8. Curious about the medieval source of our main site image? Check it out here.

Jul 1, 2016

Life, Liberty, and Happiness in Christ (from the Archives)

(This post first appeared in July 2014)

By Allison Kieselowsky

I embrace a certain giddiness surrounding the celebration of our country’s Independence Day.  Picnic?  Absolutely.  I appreciate my relatively peaceful existence in a beautiful country, and I think our republic warrants an outdoor food spread to beat the band.  Speaking of bands, I also love a good parade to celebrate the inception of a great experiment, the result of which has allowed my family food, health, shelter, and education. Most of all, I am extremely grateful that the church in our country gathers regularly to receive God's gifts without much thought of persecution.  I think this merits a resounding display of fireworks and a few whoops of delight.

Within the irrepressible American spirit, however, lies a kernel of irony:  our collective patriotism rests squarely on an undeterred sense of individualism. In the 238 years since Colonial leaders sent notice to King George III, citizens of this nation have passionately embraced the words, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."  Modern Americans, though, silently modify the last part to "[my] life, [my] liberty, and [my personal] happiness."

American independence has become entwined with self-reliance and the individual’s sense of fulfillment.  I've led American literature classes through the works of Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman and Fitzgerald, so I'm well aware of the theme. It finally slapped me across the face, this absolute acceptance of personal rights, when after a series of genetic screening, a perinatologist declared a 1 in 500 chance our unborn daughter had Downs Syndrome.  Since I was nearly 22 weeks along, he said, I needed to decide if I wished to terminate my pregnancy. He said it to me, not to my husband sitting next to me.

Jun 28, 2016

Why You Should Take Your Kids to Funerals

By Alison Andreasen

People often cringe at the thought of bringing kids to funerals. How will they explain all the sad people? What if the children talk during the service? What if they do something unthinkable like knock the casket over or scream something completely inappropriate?

While I don’t have all the answers to those questions, I would like to offer a few reasons why you should take your children to funerals and address a few concerns (warranted and not) that people give for not doing so.

Children are part of the Body of Christ: We are told to mourn with those in our Christian family who mourn and to rejoice with those who rejoice. It is fitting that children see how the reality of death affects others. They are, after all, part of the Body of Christ. You might be surprised at the empathy that toddlers and children exhibit as they wipe tears from your eyes and give you a hug. Older children, too, feel the desire to show compassion to someone grieving the loss of a loved one.  

Funerals attest to the broken world we live in and give an opportunity to discuss the Gospel: The Fall into sin has forever changed our world, and creation gives testimony to that brokenness. Allowing children to see this brokenness gives an opportunity to speak of Jesus, who has redeemed us and all Christians and is now preparing the New Heaven and New Earth where all of the brokenness we see will be nonexistent. It is hard to imagine why a child would long for such a place if everything she has experienced has been sparkles and unicorns. Not that we intentionally put our children into places where they will see extreme brokenness, but we also don’t pretend the brokenness isn’t there. The Lutheran funeral is a carefully designed liturgy that is more about Jesus than the individual who has passed away. At funerals, children hear about Christ who died for us so we could live forever, is the firstborn from the dead, and has promised to return and make all things right. What Christian parent doesn’t want their kids to hear about Jesus?

Jun 24, 2016

Friendship, Grief, and the Mother of a Miscarried Child (from the archives)

(This article first appeared in 2014)

By Dawn Gaunt

There was a time, not all that long ago, wherein society possessed elaborate social protocols for dealing with bereavement and grief. When a family member died, those connected to him were expected to enter a period of public mourning. This mourning occurred within clearly defined parameters. Widows and orphans, parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins twice removed—each knew what was expected of him regarding rituals of dress, manner, and propriety. To depart from these rituals was to invite the disapproval of one’s fellows, because death was a community affair. The grieving process was structured and controlled; everyone on all sides knew what to say, how to behave, and what to expect.

The above approach seems rigid, perhaps, considering our modern ways (“Fie, Death! What business have you with me? I’ll not think of you today!”). But, oh, for a bit of guidance in speaking to the bereaved! It is paralyzing not to know how to approach those who mourn (does she still mourn? does he wish to be noticed at all? do I dare, and do I dare?). And thus is it far easier to approach a mourning person as though nothing is amiss. Let us speak of the weather, or of the dessert table—of anything but the confusion and sorrow that lurks in the absence left by him who has died.

On December 26, 2005, my third baby left my body in a torrent of blood. Three days prior, I had submitted to an ultrasound only to find that my child, who was to have been 11 weeks along, was too small even to be adequately seen. The pregnancy was not viable, the doctor told me. My joy was my sorrow. My child was dead.

Jun 21, 2016

The Ninth Commandment: Being a Good Neighbor

By Cheryl Magness

You shall not covet your neighbor's house. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

As Lutheran Christians we tend to define “neighbors” in a very broad sense as those we are called to serve while carrying out our various vocations. But this past year I have developed a greater appreciation for the more common definition of neighbor as someone who lives near me.  

Over the course of almost 30 years of marriage, my husband and I have lived in 10 different residences, seven of which we rented and three of which we bought. We purchased and moved into our current home only about six months ago, and since then we have met and interacted with more neighbors than in any other place we have ever lived. 

Shortly after we moved in, several people stopped by to drop off baked goods and provide their phone number in case we needed anything. When my mom fell six weeks later and I called for an ambulance, a gentleman a few houses down came over within minutes to see what was wrong. Recently, when our new riding lawn mower broke, that same gentleman offered to lend us his. (And when we accidentally drove his mower into a small sinkhole in our yard, causing minor damage, yet another neighbor lent his!) We have been given fresh-caught fish, invited to pick produce at will from a garden that is not ours, and told we can dump yard waste into someone else’s burn pile. Perhaps best of all, my 12-year-old son has more playmates than he has ever had. He roams freely and I don't worry. And I am not a free range parent! But there is something about this neighborhood that feels safe. It is different from any other place we have lived, including the house we owned in Illinois for 13 years. Why is that?

Jun 17, 2016

What Does Headship Look Like? (Q and LA)

Sometimes our readers send us questions about which they would like to talk to other Lutheran women. Today’s question, submitted via our recent survey, is,

"What does the headship/helpmeet dynamic look like in your marriage and home? What has helped you learn and grow as a couple in this area of life?"

We’ve asked a few writers to respond. This Q and LA (questions and Lutheran answers) session is meant to be informal and conversational, rather as if we were all having coffee together. Feel free to chime in via the comments.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...