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Picture this: A young American couple arrives in York, England with their two-year-old son to start their new life—the mother to return to school and earn a PhD at the University of York, the father to become a stay-at-home-dad. Amidst a light drizzle, they walk the streets of York on their first day in the country, obtain library cards, relax at a café, and then saunter back to a quaint bed and breakfast. They fall peacefully into a deep and restful sleep, and visions of their delightful prospects dance through their dreams. They, indeed, are ready to live out England’s World War II motto: Keep calm and carry on.   Read more
My friends Paula and Eric welcomed their first baby just three weeks ago. Visiting them a few days after they returned from the hospital, I held baby Avery tightly and stared at his tiny face and unusually thick white blond hair—for only ten minutes before I was overcome with anxiety that I would drop him. Struck by the enormous responsibility that my friends now face, I gratefully (and gently) transferred Avery back into his parents' arms.  Even with nine months to prepare for their new son, in an instant, Eric and Paula’s lives were dramatically and irrevocably changed. All of my friends who have welcomed babies into their lives have embraced the responsibility with joy and patience. Observing them adjust to diaper changes, middle-of the-night feedings, and crying fits has been a lesson to me about trusting God, and having grace for one another and ourselves as we navigate new challenges. Read more
“I made an A on my math exam!” your child exclaims.  “Great! You are so talented!” you respond. Or you might say, “That studying really paid off. You’ve worked hard!” On the surface, both sound like compliments. Both congratulate the child on a job well done. Both convey your pride. Yet, they are different in ways we often do not recognize. The first response praises a quality that is inborn and not subject to change—something that is part of the essence of who the child is. An inborn quality is likely to endure and be replicated the next time she or he takes an exam.  Read more
Even though my husband and I had exhausted (or so we thought) the topic of co-parenting our new son together, we kept finding the discussion needed some clarification. And we often found that the topic needed finessing during a diaper change or feeding session in the wee hours of the morning, when both the need for sleep and our emotions were running high.  Read more
Throughout Scripture we see numerous relationships which are as strong and loving as any biological bonds. In the Old Testament, Ruth's loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi and Jonathan's friendship with David are well-known. The prophet Elijah mentored his successor Elisha so well that when he was carried to heaven in a whirlwind, Elisha cried out, “My father! My father!” (Years later, King Jehoash of Israel spoke these words on his deathbed to Elisha, no doubt evoking strong memories for the prophet). In the New Testament, a young couple from Nazareth was entrusted to create a healthy, loving home environment for their first born, so that during his earthly life, he could speak with authority about a loving Father, praise women outside of their childbearing roles, and declare that anyone who obeyed God's words—regardless of their status—were his sisters and brothers. Read more
“God is a woman,” my son, Micah, announced one day last summer when he was still three. Then he added, “You can see Mama, but you can’t see God.” My husband had just explained that it was God who made the peas we were shelling in the shade of our tree. Intrigued by Micah’s response, I assumed he associated my love and closeness to the feelings of warmth and care he experiences from God. Read more
The Browns’ church held strongly to the view that “women should be silent” (1 Cor. 14:34), and that all leadership in the church should be male. The congregation was taught that God was male, as Jesus called him “Father” (John 10:30). And, for the first years of their marriage, Norma obediently adhered to the teachings of her church and to the lifestyle she had experienced in her patriarchal childhood home. She submitted to Charlie as he made all of the family decisions and controlled the finances, and she embraced her role as a stay-at-home mother.  Read more
In pondering humans’ relationship with God, the ancient monk St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) describes four “degrees” of love (which can apply to all other relationships as well): Level 1) I love me for my benefit. Here’s an infantile, self-involved person with a severe personality disorder—excessive self-love and the inability to recognize or acknowledge the distinct individuality of others. This is narcissism—pure ego—unaware of, or indifferent to, differing experiences, ideas, interests, concerns, etc. which are the reality of friends, neighbors, and family. This relationship proceeds from and results in the demoralization of all concerned—it is all about me; there is no you. Read more
Late February 2008: “Someday you will write,” Mother said, “and your tears will be the ink you use.” A static cell phone connection, and 190 miles could not mask her deep emotions as she spoke to me. After hours of grief, my eyes were swollen. I was silent. She did not understand I was trying to breathe. “Honey, are you there?” Read more
My roommate and I like to watch the TV show Friends. Correction—my roommate and I are addicted to the TV show Friends. All throughout college, our group of girlfriends had this show on loop. It was on in the background when we were doing homework, or studying for tests, or eating dinner, or getting ready for the day. It became a bonding experience, a shared moment. Read more