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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Encouragement

A Parent’s Love

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Our Saturday started out as a “normal” day, whatever that means in our household. My oldest was off with marching band, I gave the dogs a bath with the assistance of my sixth grader, and the girls were riding their bikes. Nothing unusual thus far. But while I was fixing lunch, my kindergartner burst in to inform me that my third grader had fallen off her bike and was bleeding. Okay, I’ve patched scraped knees before. I can handle this. But when I saw her, it wasn’t just her knees that were scraped. Her lip was bleeding too, and when I wiped the blood away I knew we were looking at a trip to the hospital for stitches. So much for a normal day. My entire afternoon was effectively wiped out by the hour-long trip to the children’s hospital and the time spent there, and I’m sure the bill from our ER visit will be exciting when it arrives, but it was totally worth it. After all, she’s my daughter.

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Snorkeling in Stormy Seas

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In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t the best move to try snorkeling for the first time in choppy waters. Every time a wave came at me, my instinct was to gasp in a quick breath. Breathing through my mouth into a snorkeling tube was completely unnatural, and immersing my face in the water while breathing through that tube was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. I was sure I would drown. I didn’t have the rhythm of the breathing down yet, and the waves added to my discomfort. I was fairly hyperventilating into the tube, which as anyone can tell you, is most certainly not the way to snorkel. I clung desperately to the floatation device our instructor threw out, scarcely daring to let go when I dared to peer underwater. Once when I took my face out of the water, I spit out my breathing tube and promptly sucked in a huge mouthful of saltwater. If I thought snorkeling was terrifying before, I assure you, it’s nothing compared to the feeling I had after swallowing saltwater. I coughed violently and couldn’t take in air. I sounded like I was having an asthma attack (or maybe even like I was dying), so much so that our instructor swam over to me, ready to save my life. Yeah, nothing to see here, folks. Just your typical novice doing everything the wrong way. The trouble was that I wanted to trust myself and my own instincts rather than trusting the equipment to do its job.

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Sine Nomine (from the archive)

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(This post originally ran on November 2, 2015, but is entirely apropos for us as we again celebrate All Saints’ Day in the church year.)

I love All Saints’ Day. The Scripture readings speak of the saints in white robes around God’s throne in heaven, we recall the faithfully departed, and we sing some of my favorite hymns. One such hymn is “For All the Saints.” The words are so poignant that I get tears in my eyes every time I sing them. Even the tune name sounds majestic: Sine Nomine. Anything in Latin sounds scholarly, like there’s a great meaning or message there. Growing up, I knew nomine meant “name,” so I figured it was something like “A New Name” or “A Holy Name.” I didn’t realize until I was an adult what it actually meant- “Without a Name.” What? Obviously at some point, someone realized the tune wasn’t named and (quite originally) named it “nameless.” They did at least put it in Latin so it looks more sophisticated, but still. Without a name? Really?

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How Luther Went Viral

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By all rights, the Ninety-Five Theses really oughtn’t to have had the impact they did. Martin Luther was a relatively unknown professor doing a completely ordinary thing for someone in the academic world of his day. There was nothing unique about him nailing these statements to the door of the local church in Wittenberg. He wasn’t looking to start a reformation. He was merely hoping to spark a bit of public debate among his colleagues regarding the practice of indulgences. Yet within a few short months, the Ninety-Five Theses had been reprinted in Nuremberg, Leipzig, and Basel. While the originals were printed in Latin, Nuremberg also reportedly published a German translation of his theses, which was unprecedented. Copies were being widely distributed and read by not only intellectuals, but also commoners. The higher-ups were taking notice of this small-town professor, realizing something had to be done about him before he rallied more people to his cause. He quickly became a household name. Put in today’s terminology, Luther went viral.

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When Everything Goes Wrong

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Yesterday was not my day. We have one of those faucets in our kitchen sink you can pull out on a little hose. Well, we had one. I came out from taking a shower to find that my toddler had broken it. Now it resembles a drinking fountain when turned on lightly and a fire hose shooting across the room when turned on full strength, thus rendering it largely useless. My son, who had been sick earlier in the week but felt better Friday and Saturday, was throwing up again. He’s old enough to leave at home during church, so the rest of us went without him. We returned home to find our house flooded. My first thought was the kitchen faucet, but no. It was the washing machine, which had overflowed. Awesome. So now I’m down a kitchen sink and a washing machine, two things I use a lot. My oldest son and I shop-vacuumed the tile part of the floor and used the carpet cleaning machine for the carpets where it had seeped into the rooms. We pulled up over ten gallons of water. I could have spent all day working on the carpets and steam mopping in the wake of the murky water, but that was not to be. I had to be at our church for the LWML fall rally, which we were hosting. So four and a half hours later, I returned home exhausted only to put in a few more hours on the carpets, and still they are sodden and nasty and have the distinct odor of a wet sock. Like I said, it was not my day.

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How to Raise Kids Who Care

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People lament that kids in America are selfish, irresponsible, and entitled; that a day without video games is unthinkable to most American children. So how can you raise kids who defy those odds? who care about others and want to help? who put others before themselves? By modeling this behavior yourself.

If you’ve ever wondered these things about your own kids, here’s an article I wrote for the website Raising Godly Children. It is possible to raise kids who care. It just takes some work on your part, and the article is full of suggestions to get you started.

Playing Second Fiddle

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Recently my son joined the high school marching band even though he’s only in the eighth grade. This is a great (and challenging) opportunity for him as he hastens to learn the music and the steps everyone else learned a month ago. In one sense this is, of course, a promotion. He’s moving up from the middle school band to the high school band. But in another sense he’s moving down. He went from being first chair trumpet in middle school to playing secondary parts with the high school, and that’s an adjustment for him. He’s used to playing the melody. The harmony for “Phantom of the Opera” doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous as the melody. My son is learning what it’s like to play second fiddle… er, trumpet.

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Intentional Living

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If you give a mom a free day, she’ll drop her kids off at school and come home to enjoy a cup of coffee. While she’s drinking the coffee, she’ll start to unload the dishwasher. As she’s putting away the glasses, she’ll remember that the dog needs food and water. She’ll fill his dish. While she’s outside, she’ll realize it’s a beautiful day. She’ll take the dog for a walk. When she comes home, she’ll take a long shower. As she’s getting dressed, she’ll discover she has no clean socks and get a load ready to throw in the washing machine. She’ll take out the clothes that have been in the dryer for three days and start to fold them. Halfway through, she’ll hear her phone ding. She’ll need to catch up on texts and emails. Then she’ll move to Facebook. A comment on Facebook will remind her of her favorite movie so she’ll decide to watch it. When the movie is over, her stomach will remind her that she hasn’t eaten yet. She’ll go to the kitchen to make a sandwich only to realize there are no clean plates in the cupboard. She’ll remember she still hasn’t unloaded the dishwasher. Instead she’ll take a swallow of her now-cold coffee as she glances at the clock to realize it’s time to pick up her kids from school. And chances are, when she gets the kids from school, she’s going to wish for another free day.

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Preparing for Harvey

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I was completely unprepared for Hurricane Harvey. Granted, we don’t live in the immediate danger zone, but being only a few hours from Houston, we knew we’d be getting heavy and persistent rains. The country roads in our area get washed out during heavy rain, and other roads flood, making them impassable. Kids basked in the novelty of having their first day of school cancelled. Flash flood warnings popped up all over. Towns not too far from us had forced evacuations due to rivers flooding. In the face of such inclement weather, certain preparations are advised. Stock up on food in case you’re stranded for any length of time. Make sure you have plenty of potable water on hand should your water be contaminated by the fallout. Keep bags of ice handy in case the power goes out and you need to keep your refrigerated food from spoiling. All excellent advice. And I didn’t do any of it.

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