Jul 25, 2017

Summer Camp, Sons, and the Coming of Age

By Rebekah Thielen

Let not the world’s deceitful cares
The rising plant destroy
But let it yield a hundred fold
The fruits of peace and joy
Almighty God Your Word is Cast, LSB 577



Suddenly it all makes so much sense.  In the experience of one child psychologist, the two most common times for parents to seek his help with their sons are ages four and fourteen.  It would’ve been nice to know about this supposed testosterone surge that passes through a boy’s body sometime between the ages of three and four, and then of course again about a decade later, give or take a year or two, depending on the child’s unique makeup, and, I might add, the Lord’s divine timetable.

Time now past begins to flash before my eyes.  The toddler years were physically demanding, especially when bathing them or changing their diapers.  But it wasn’t the terrible two’s that would test and reveal the weakness of my mental wit and emotional strength. It was the exasperating threes, extended out through age four for good measure.  It’s the perfect training ground, really; walking through an emotionally charged mine field while operating on one to two years of sketchy sleep.

It’s the perfect training ground, sure, and a recipe for total disaster.  I chew on the recent podcast interview for several days, reliving my dark hallway horror stories of testosterone filled four year-olds and rage-filled mothers.  I engage the great and powerful Google with more questions, this time coming up with varied answers.  According to eight years of extensive on-going Internet research done by one mother of three sons, the testosterone surge in young boys has turned out to be a myth, something too often used to excuse bad behavior.   “Whatever,” I think to myself. I let out a sigh, roll my eyes, and close the browser.  One says this, another says that.  It’s so typical of everything you read about parenting.

Jul 21, 2017

"Save the Life of My Child!"

By Leah Sherman

Though it never made the New York Times,
In the daily news the caption read:
“Save the life of my child!”
Cried the desperate mother.
Paul Simon, “Save the Life of my Child”



My husband and I have spent a lot time in cemeteries. They are solemn and quiet, and the headstones bear witness to the centuries of grief and sadness a community has experienced. Many of the headstones in the country cemeteries near us are old and worn, yet the names and dates of the deceased are still legible. One cemetery has an entire row of small white headstones, all bearing the same surname. The dates on these stones reveal that child after child born to this mother and father, died within days, months, or years. What tragedy!

While I have not experienced the loss of my own child, I have seen the tragedy it brings. I have woken in grief and terror many a night from dreams where my child dies just out of my arm’s reach. I have watched grown men cry as they held my babe, remembering a son’s infancy, and recalling his untimely death. I have mourned with mothers who have suffered miscarriages, and whose children have died hours after birth.

The loss of a child is devastating.

Jul 18, 2017

Why We Break the 11th Commandment

By Alison Andreasen

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Has someone ever tried to convince you to keep quiet about your beliefs because they might hurt someone’s feelings? People like this argue that pointing out differences causes divisions.There is no good pointing out the truth, they say, because all thoughts are equal. It is frustrating to be labeled as intolerant, cold-hearted, and stuck in your ways even though you are only describing what you believe. It makes you wonder how stating what you believe can be so offensive. It makes you question if the other party is being as tolerant as they claim since your thinking is so disturbing to them. Yet that is exactly how you are labeled--a haughty person who thinks her beliefs are better than others’.

It is almost as if there is an 11th commandment that says, “Thou shalt not think you are in the right.” There is a fancy name for this, too. Jeff Mallinson speaks of it in his section entitled “How We Know” in the book, Learning at the Foot of the Cross: A Lutheran Vision for Education. He says that epistemological relativism, a common way of thinking in our day, stands on two premises: 1. That there are many thoughts on one subject, and 2. That there is no way to determine whether one has a better view than another.

With this thinking, it is a terrible sin to claim you possess the truth. But being an epistemological relativist is not an ideal Christians should strive toward.

Jul 14, 2017

Being a Christian in College: The "Culture War" and the Gift of Faith (from our Archives)

Note: This post first ran July of 2015

By Caitlin Magness

Remember when you were a child, and being good was a simple matter of doing what your parents said and treating others the way you wanted to be treated? It wasn't easy, of course, but at least it was straightforward. Then you blinked, and now you're in college, surrounded by conflicting messages about seemingly countless issues people like to get upset about. Everyone seems to have a slightly different opinion, so no matter what you do or say or think, you'll still be offending someone. What's worse, everyone seems to expect you to have a fully-formed worldview now that you've reached 18. After all, 18 means you're an adult, and adults know what they think, right? (Right?)



Last year was my first year attending public college. I'd been homeschooled in a loving, traditional, Lutheran family until then, so the transition was a bit rocky. As a chronic overthinker, I was already struggling with some tough questions, but even the Internet, books, and my overactive brain couldn't prepare me for the diversity of thought on a college campus. Perhaps most unexpectedly, the experience actually taught me to place my trust more fully in God.

Jul 9, 2017

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (Podcast Episode)

Hi Everybody! This time around, I got to be the guest. Kaitlyn and I talked about kids, imagination, individualism, and vacuum cleaners on the first book club episode of Living Our Vocations.

You can listen-in here in this post or head over to iTunesLibsyn, or Stitcher.

Have you read Ten Ways? We'd love to hear your own comments or questions. We anticipate airing a second episode, with a different guest, about the later material in this book.




Jul 7, 2017

We Need to Imagine (from the Archives)

Note: This piece first ran in September of 2015

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

My twenty-one-month-old son is filled with a burning desire to imitate adults. Yesterday he stirred his alphabet magnets around in a large colander before placing a single magnet on each of the coasters on my coffee table. After clasping his hands and declaring “Amen” over the repast, he pretended to eat it. The game delighted him. It referenced both reality (he knows all about eating) and mystery (he doesn’t really understand the process of cooking or the purpose of the fascinatingly dangerous stovetop). By entering an imaginary world molded from a combination of the mundane and the magical, he is able to experience the joy of wonder.

Toddlers think that everything is fascinating. They will study yesterday’s food smears or a piece of gravel with an intensity that adults reserve for the Grand Canyon or a potentially counterfeit one-hundred-dollar bill. Kindergarteners spend hours playing “pretend.” Eight-year-olds can be electrified by a teacher’s announcement that they are going to make something out of a shoebox. This eagerness drives the young child to tackle the learning curve between spitting-up and more grown-up skills. Yet somehow as a culture we take it for granted that most human beings are transformed by middle school and, ever after, will be rather embarrassed to admit to a love of learning or too strong a sense of wonder. It isn’t cool to be too impressed or too satisfied with anything.

Such numbing of the heart and brain, such stifling of curiosity, is a deadly thing. At the very least, it feeds a tendency toward self-absorption. It makes it difficult to see beyond the self and the material. Sarah Clarkson writes that when employees of Planned Parenthood speak casually of crushing and dismembering the unborn, they reveal a fatal “failure of imagination.” Women like Dr. Nucatola (seen on the recent undercover videos) see only the flesh and tissue from which a tiny human is constructed, not the larger and immaterial reality that makes a baby a wondrous thing. Perhaps they themselves have experienced being unwanted and unloved, and they cannot see beyond that to imagine the tremendous love that God has for both themselves and their small victims.

Jun 27, 2017

Caring for Yourself while Caring for Others

By Rebekah Thielen

“God works through people, in their ordinary stations of life to which He  has called them, to care for His creation.  In this way, He cares for everyone--Christian and non-Christian--whom He has given life.” Gene Edward Veith

Woman Reading on a Settee, William Worchester Churchill

It is vital in our callings as caregivers to respect the fact that we are finite. We need regular times of restoration for our minds, bodies, souls, and morale. It isn’t always possible or practical to completely get away or get a break from our responsibilities. We can, however, create a more sustainable way of life as we learn to weave refreshment and renewal into the fabric of our daily lives. There are many ways to do this, and each woman’s way is going to look different depending on her family, personality, and season of life. Here are ten suggestions to get us thinking on guarding against burnout by fostering inner and outer peace and rest.

Jun 25, 2017

Audio Article: Sex, Romance, and Choosing Books for Teenage Girls (Podcast Episode)

Happy Presentation-of-the-Augsburg-Confession Day!

We are making strides toward finding our podcasting rhythm. As part of that goal, we will occasionally release a short read-aloud episode for those who don't have time for online articles. Hopefully this will help us reach a wider audience while also lightening the editing load during weeks when life gets in the way of full podcast glory.

We'll be bringing you another interview-based episode next time (a discussion of this book: read the introduction and first chapter if you want to prepare).

Meanwhile, here is a reading of one of Anna's articles: "Sex, Romance, and Choosing Books for Teenage Girls." See the show notes below for links and additional resources.

Like what you hear? Do us a favor and leave a review on iTunes so that other listeners are more likely to find us.

Jun 23, 2017

Feeling Like a Bad Mom Doesn't Make You One

By Anna Mussmann

It’s a well-known sociological phenomenon: young men insult each other as a way of making friendly conversation, but young women make friendly conversation by insulting themselves. You know how it goes. “Oh, I’m so bad at that.” “My hair’s a mess today.” “Yeah, I’m kind of the loser mom, ha ha.” Whether or not it’s true that women lack the confidence of our male counterparts, we are quicker to admit to self-doubt and guilt.

And for those of us with kids, nothing sends us down the byway of insecurity more quickly than the question of whether or not we did a good job at being intentionally present, educational, patient, wise, authoritative, gentle, and fun as a mom today. If you’ve ever felt like a bad mom, you know what I mean.

Yet I don’t think most of us really think we are “bad moms,” whatever that really means. It’s just that sometimes we feel like we are feeling like bad moms. Or something. Really, the words are shorthand for a range of causes and feelings.

Sometimes they’re simply the result of being pulled farther than we can yet reach. When physical therapists help their patients stretch, it can hurt. So likewise motherhood can stretch us just as painfully. It’s hard to feel good at something that is hard. The really tricky thing about this stretching is that it catches us by surprise. The line between “fine” and “ouch” is an inconsistent one.
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