Oct 21, 2016

When You're Fried from All that Cooking

By Alison Andreasen

I used to love to cook. As a newlywed and as someone who did not have much experience cooking, I loved learning how to create something edible out of ingredients that are not considered tasty on their own. I enjoyed trying new recipes, I was thrilled to hone my skills, and I reveled in making something that my husband devoured. The latter task wasn’t hard as he seemed to love everything I fixed--except for one peanut butter, cinnamon, and chicken dish. That was just gross.

Soon I found myself at the stage where I attempted to cook everything I could from scratch. Bread, gravy, coffee creamer, yogurt--you name it, I made it from scratch. Did you know you can even make sweetened condensed milk from more basic ingredients? Been there, done that. I often dreamed of supermarkets filled with only basic essentials and where you couldn’t buy pre-made tortillas even if you wanted to.

Fast forward ten years and three kids with another in the oven (haha, get it?!?) and cooking has become less than exciting to me. That’s putting it nicely. Some days I flat out dread it. Part of the struggle is that it is a job that never ends. Hour after hour and day after day more cooking needs to happen to fill the little mouths that need sustenance. Another reason I despise it is that there is just not enough time in the day to do it all. I have resorted to buying premade groceries a lot more than I ever thought I would and to heating up frozen meals that I can pull out at a moment’s notice.

Oct 18, 2016

What are Little Boys Made Of?

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

The ancients considered dancing a manly skill. King David, warrior and leader of men, played the harp. In the days of Shakespeare, writing poems about love was a male-dominated activity. Caring for horses once fell largely into the domain of men and boys.

Dancing, playing the harp, writing poetry, and dreaming about horses aren’t considered very masculine pursuits anymore. The male sphere has shrunk.

I have a little boy. He’s adorable and thoughtful; he’s fond of Duplos and Cream of Wheat. Sometimes I wonder how to raise him. Where will the transition come between beautiful toddler and boy? Between boy and teen, then teen and man?

I want my son to have plenty of room in this world. Room to dance and write poems. Room to hold doors for ladies. Room to wrestle and tease. Room to someday find a wife and raise children. Room to be not just a decent human being, but a good and decent man. How will this happen in a world that is obsessed with gender while at the same time treating biological sex as an impediment to progress? Some nations and some U.S. states allow individuals to choose “other” when it comes to sex. My son will grow up in a culture filled with books, movies, and T.V. shows eager to push the envelope of gender-bending, gender-swapping, and gender-erasing values.

We live in a time in which both progressives and conservatives are dissatisfied with the way that America’s men behave. The former speak of rape culture, the glass ceiling, and angry old white men. The latter speak of porn culture, the war on boys, and the increasing number of adult males who choose not to work for a living.

All of this can make me afraid. Sometimes I wonder how I, who have never been male and don’t always understand the attitudes and behavior of guys, will help my son grow into the right kind of man.

Of course my husband is an integral part of raising our son. He’s an amazing dad and role-model. Yet it is I, and not Daddy, who is home all day and whose choices and parenting habits shape the culture of our home. I establish rules and choose picture books. I draw the line between a funny joke I’ll laugh at and a joke that’s sent out of the room. I have enough power to make me nervous.

I find it a tremendous relief to view the issue through the lens of vocation.

Oct 14, 2016

Morning by Morning: I was going to do it right

By Rebekah Thielen

 I was supposed to be a good wife and a good mom.

That was my plan. That was my dream. I wanted to be the wife ready to greet my husband, tired after his long and draining day, with a warm meal and a warm heart. I’d admire his quiet strength, his stable spirit, and his steadfast love and dedication to God and family. I’d daily be thankful for how hard he worked and how much he sacrificed to provide for me and the children. And I don’t know about you, but motherhood was going to be my crowning joy and shining achievement. I wasn’t going to be like those other moms. I was going to be the beautiful mom who loved. I’d rock my babies to sleep in the night and whisper sweet lullabies in the quiet of dawn. The children and I would spend our days singing and reading and cuddling under blankets and sipping hot chocolate and going on walks through the gentle breeze of summer.

Great expectations sure make for great stories. Girls are not the only ones to begin new chapters with such high hopes. A shepherd boy from Bethlehem had his own heart full of dreams. The anointed one’s story began before his time. The children of Israel had begged God for a king, and they got one, but King Saul’s reign hadn’t gone so well. The king was only human, which also meant he was deeply flawed. Spending years on the run as an innocent outlaw, David knew first-hand how bad things could get when the Lord’s servant goes astray. Following the tragic falling away of King Saul, David sets his bar high, hoping to redeem the image of God’s king.  Young and newly crowned, the man after God’s own heart opens his lips, and out flow the words of Psalm 101:

Oct 11, 2016

Excellent Things to Buy for Baby Showers: A Guide

Compiled by Anna

Welcoming a brand-new little one into the world is fantastic. Who doesn’t love choosing adorable outfits for a  baby? Yet clothes aren’t always the most useful gift. Every now and then, someone on the way to the store will call me and ask which of the presents from my first born’s baby shower came in most handy.  

I decided to do some crowdsourcing. My Facebook friends rose to the occasion, and I am delighted to share their wisdom with you.

Here is your handy-dandy-SDMW-prepared guide to buying excellent baby shower gifts!

Oct 7, 2016

Teaching the Faith at Home (even when devotions aren't going well)

By Alison Andreasen

After hearing about families who have enacted devotion time in their homes effectively, our family has attempted to do the same many times. We’ve had our plan in place and were excited about the new strategy we would employ to lead our children in the daily habit of being in the Word.

Enter real life. The time we thought would work was the toddler’s bedtime. FAIL! My husband has a job that requires him to be away from home at least two nights a week and the allotted time was in the evening. FAIL! We tried lunch time, which happens to be WAY too close to the toddler’s naptime and husband’s job often means he is away from home at lunch breaks unexpectedly . . . . FAIL again! Stomach flu wreaking havoc, unexpectedly moving houses, mom being exhausted and pregnant and doing well just to keep everyone alive. FAIL, FAIL, FAIL!  

If you are like me, you have felt the sting of failure from our struggles with the world, our sinful flesh, and Satan. If you feel that you have neglected this duty and are sorry for not implementing this in your family, my advice to you is to confess your sins to God, our Father, knowing that He is faithful and just and will forgive you your sins!  If you struggle against the world’s requests of your time and are weary from work (whether inside the home or out), tell the Lord your struggles and ask for the God of peace to grant you rest, trusting that He has and will provide that rest. We all ask that the One who conquered Satan would curb his action in our lives so he would not be granted an opportunity to tempt or prevent our being in the Word.

Oct 4, 2016

Getting Kids to Behave in Church (from our Archives)

(This piece first ran in May of 2014. It's a great reminder for those of us who are wrangling little ones on Sunday morning and possibly focusing on the wrong goal).

By Ruth Meyer

A little over a year ago I posted the following on Facebook: “I totally get the challenge of keeping kids quiet in church, but letting your kids play Angry Birds on silent mode on your phone rubs me the wrong way.”  There followed a lively discussion on said topic, with some excellent points made all around.  It got me thinking about kids in church, and I realized I’d been asking the wrong question all along.  I had been asking, “How can I keep my kids quiet in church?” when I should have been asking, “How can I teach my children what church is?”  We don’t bring our children to church to “keep them quiet.”  We bring them there to hear God’s Word and receive His blessings.  If they’re quiet in the process, that’s wonderful, but that shouldn’t be our ultimate goal.

When our oldest was a baby, I had a bag full of tricks for every church service.  I had Cheerios to stuff in his mouth the second he started squawking, a sippy cup to keep him occupied, and books and quiet activities galore.  Frankly, I missed a goodly portion of the service because I was so concerned about keeping him quiet.  But then a curious thing happened.  We had another baby, and as he got older, so did our oldest.  Suddenly I realized that the oldest, now 3, was old enough to not need Cheerios or books.  I wanted him to be participating as best he could.  He could stand when we stood, fold his hands when we prayed, even recite the Lord’s Prayer with us.  But he wasn’t.  He was trying to snitch Cheerios from his younger brother or sneak books out of the diaper bag.  Something had to change.

That marked a turning point for me.  I realized that to get kids to behave in church I had to show them why we were there in the first place.  And the sooner they learned that lesson, the better.  I didn’t want them to associate church with quiet play time.  I wanted them to remember what we do in church.  We sing hymns.  We pray.  We listen to God’s Word read and proclaimed.  We go up to the communion rail together.  We aren’t there to color or read other books or play Angry Birds or even stuff Cheerios into our mouths.

Oct 1, 2016

A Book That Helped Me Understand My Friends' Legalism (Review of Marry Wisely, Marry Well)

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

This week I read a book that was illuminating in one way but frustrating in another. I received a review copy of Ernie Baker’s Marry Wisely, Marry Well (Shepherd Press, August 2016). The premise seemed promising: the author explains that many young people have asked him whether or not successful marriage is even possible in this age of cohabitation and divorce, and this book is his answer.

His central thesis is that if individuals will commit themselves fully to seeking the wisdom that comes from building a relationship with God, they will be able to make wise choices when it comes to choosing a spouse and will have the relationship skills and habits necessary to build a stable marriage.

The funny thing about this book is that it left me with a better understanding not of the central topic, but of the theology behind the way my non-denominational friends talk about living out their faith. Perhaps it’s no surprise that a book about marriage would provide a clear revelation of an author’s understanding of what it means to be a sinner and what it means to be a Christian. It left me wanting to sit down with my own friends and talk to them about the burden that poor theology brings.


This book contains several promises to the reader. It might be better to call them half-promises. They gave me a window into the mindset of some of my dear friends.  

Sep 27, 2016

So Much Better Than a Self-help Book: Review of Family Vocations

by Heather Judd

Christian bookstores are filled with books on building better marriages, raising godly children, and running well-ordered families. Some are self-help volumes of checklists and tips hardly distinguishable from secular pop-psychology. Others base their advice on the Scriptures but focus almost exclusively on passages that impart menacing commandments or admonishing proverbs. Such books seem to offer biblical, practical advice, and yet most do not last long before being replaced by some better self-improvement system or new crop of Bible passages to direct your family life to bliss, piety, and neatly-organized sock drawers. Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood by Lutheran father-daughter team Gene Veith and Mary Moerbe is a far different—and far better—kind of Christian book on family relationships.

As it engages the three main family relationships of marriage, parenting, and childhood, Family Vocation always begins from sound theology and moves outward to apply the general scriptural truths to the thorny practicalities of life within human families. Counter-intuitive though it seems, this approach actually proves far more practical than starting with specific concerns and then trying to paste on theological truths. The authors rightly believe that all Christians benefit from understanding what God says about husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. Because this is not a self-help book for some specific demographic, it is able to encompass all the variations of family relationships, both healthy and broken, and to speak to them with broadly applicable truth rather than presenting a specific to-do list that works for some and leaves others out in the cold.

The key to this all-encompassing view of Christian family life is the concept of vocation, which Veith and Moerbe explain well in their opening chapters and apply consistently throughout the book. As they illustrate time and again, understanding all familial roles as God’s “callings” means that we look for the ways in which those roles allow us to show love and service to our neighbor, which most certainly includes husband, wife, parents, and children. Thus, this book is not just for those who are married (though it may be most useful to them), but for all Christians, because every human being by virtue of being born a son or daughter has practical, God-given ways in which he or she is called to love and serve others.

Sep 24, 2016

Off-site Highlights: Reading Books and Chasing Heroes

(Compiled by Anna)

The internet may be helping us all to lose our attention spans, and so on,--(squirrel!)--but without it, I'd miss out on a lot of fascinatingly thought-provoking writing. Here our your semi-weekly reading recommendations. As always, I don't necessarily agree with every author in entirety, but I appreciate what they have to say.

1. I love this piece about learning to slow down and to read in a more human way.

Where Her Whimsy Took Me: Learning to Read with Dorothy Sayers by Veery Huleatt
"I had trained myself to gallop through books and journals, armed with multicolored hi-liter pens and a stack of Post-its. Technology had only accelerated my slide. Thanks to Google Books, I could ditch the hi-liters and give the impression of having painstakingly combed through Fear and Trembling—“impressive reading and research,” one professor commented—with only a few minutes of scrolling. I had perfected the skill of tweaking, recasting, challenging, interpreting—a skill that had saved my life more than once in the over-caffeinated hours of early morning. But I had sold the soul of the literature for it." More.

Sep 23, 2016

When Someone You Love is Gay (from our Archives)

By Rhiannon Kutzer

Every family has “that” person. The uncle who lives with his girlfriend but refuses to marry her, the brother who brings a different woman to every family gathering, or the cousin who comes out as a lesbian after years of medicating her loneliness with alcohol.

How should Christians deal with non-Christian friends and family who have "big" sins in their lives?

Two responses are typical, but neither of them works, because in both cases, Christians make the mistake of treating non-Christian sinners the same way they’d treat Christian sinners.

My Cousin, the Lesbian

In my case, it’s my cousin “Jenny,” who recently celebrated her “wedding” to another woman with family and friends back home. I live out-of-state and wasn’t able to attend, but I wouldn’t have attended anyway.

Make no mistake, I dearly love my cousin Jenny. We grew up in the same town and lived there as friends for twenty-five years until I moved away. When we were kids, after attending a family funeral, we made an important promise. It developed because of what we saw in the previous generation. Until our parents’ cousins flew in from California for that funeral, they had not seen our parents for probably twenty years. My mom complained to us that she only saw her cousins for weddings and funerals, and even that was probably putting it generously.
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