Where the Church is Built

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably aware now that SCOTUS ruled yesterday that state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. Based on media coverage and businesses’s rainbow displays, you would think this ruling was in a strong majority. It wasn’t. The court was once again divided and passed the ruling 5-4.

However, the ruling also doesn’t take me by surprise. I have many friends and family members who fully support the SCOTUS decision. I’ve known where they stand on this issue for many years. But I also have many friends and family members who disagree with this decision.

For those of us who disagree with this decision (and yes, I’m one of them), it’s easy to let our fears run away with us. I have heard fears expressed that our fellow citizens will turn on us for holding an unpopular belief. Or that the government will force the Church to embrace this ruling. . . or else. Or even that this ruling ultimately will bring the fall of Christianity.

It would be easy for me to succumb to these fears. But then I remember that we have always lived in a sinful world, the SCOTUS  decision certainly didn’t bring about sin. We have always been battling the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh. And marriage has been far from perfect for a long time–really, since Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. That doesn’t make the SCOTUS ruling okay, just remember that there is nothing new under the sun.

Likewise, it’s important for me to remember that Christianity isn’t about the issue of gay marriage. It’s about love. And not this Love Wins nonsense going around the internet. No, it’s about God showing His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). It’s about the life-giving faith found in the waters of baptism. It’s about the forgiveness of sins given to us in Holy Communion.

Finally, I remember that God’s church doesn’t depend on the United States being a “Christian” country. The Church is built on Christ. He is our cornerstone, not the laws of this nation. I find my peace in this.

Built on the Rock the Church shall stand
Even when steeples are falling.
Crumbled have spires in ev'ry land;
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the souls distressed,
Longing for rest everlasting.

Here stand the font before our eyes,
Telling how God has received us.
The altar recalls Christ's sacrifice
And what His Supper here gives us.
Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim
Christ yesterday, today, the same,
And evermore, our Redeemer.

Grant, then, O God, Your will be done,
That, when the church bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come
Where Christ His message is bringing:
"I know My own; My own know Me.
You, not the world, My face shall see.
My peace I leave with you. Amen."

-"Built on the Rock" LSB 645:1, 4-5

On (In)Discrete Public Nursing

Often parents have ideas about how they will rear their children before having a baby, only to completely change their minds once they are actually rearing their children. I had many ideas about how motherhood would look for me prior to getting pregnant with Babykins that actual experience is changing. Nursing in public is one of them.

Before I started nursing, I was firmly in the “Public Nursing is Just Fine as Long as the Mother Covers Up” camp. Oh, how enlightened I was by embracing breastfeeding while accounting for socially acceptable behavior. After all, breastfed babies should be able to eat anywhere that bottle fed babies can, but a woman must maintain her modesty. Nursing covers seemed to be the perfect solution. How hard could it be to nurse a tiny baby under a big blanket?

*Insert maniacal laughter from experienced nursing mothers*

First off, breastfeeding may be natural, but it does not come naturally to most mother/baby pairs. When a baby is first born, he or she needs help properly latching onto the breast so they can get milk and not injure the mother. In order to help the baby, the mother needs to be able to see her breast. Covers, even the ones with boning that allow you to see the baby, make this task almost impossible.

In a couple of months, the baby will be able to latch on without any help and will have better head control. So then a mother should be able to cover without any problems, right?

Sure, except that around 3 or 4 months old, the baby will become more aware of his or her surroundings. That means every unusual sound MUST be investigated and that pesky cover is just an annoying hindrance that MUST be escaped.

indiscrete nursing

So what options are left for a mother if she cannot nurse with a cover and cultural norms demands that she keeps her chest covered? She must find a private place to nurse. Sometimes a changing room can be used, although it is cramped. Sometimes secluding herself in a car will work, but it can be hot and uncomfortable. And sometimes it comes down to trying to find a quite–but not private–place to wrestle with her nursling and the cover. There seems to be no good solutions as long as she cannot simply nurse her baby uncovered.*

I’m no longer firmly in the “Public Nursing is Just Fine as Long as the Mother Covers Up” camp. I personally still prefer to either find a private place to nurse Babykins or battle the nursing cover. However, if a nursing mother prefers not to cover up while nursing in public, she’ll hear no complaints from me! I understand now that she’s just trying to feed her baby.

*You might be wondering why bother with public nursing when you can just give the baby a bottle.  There are a whole slew of reasons: pumping is annoying, some babies won’t take a bottle (*cough* Babykins *cough*), and the fact that babies get hungry unexpectedly are just a few reasons. 


Will You Treasure These Moments With Me?

I know this is a favorite topic of mommy blogs everywhere.  Post after post have been written about young mothers’ abhorrence of being told to “treasure every moment”.  Why is this?

Because it’s freakin’ annoying to be told that you should love every moment of motherhood.  Because it’s a lot of pressure to feel like your heart should be overflowing with happiness during every tedious task.  And mostly because the people telling you to “treasure every moment” are the ones who are least likely to know your parenting struggles.

Last Sunday morning provided a fine sample of moments to “treasure”.  The 2 a.m. feeding for Babykins, which wouldn’t have been bothersome except that it was followed by a 3:30 a.m feeding and a 6:15 a.m. wake up.

Awake

The battle to get ready for church with an overtired Babykins.  The half-mile walk to church over icy roads in a desperate (but ultimately futile) attempt to get Babykins to sleep before church.

The failed attempt to discreetly feed Babykins in the Sunday school area.  The poop on my hands when I changed the blowout diaper.  The wrestling match to get Babykins in a clean outfit because the poop on my hands got on her.

diaper change

The mad dash to leave after service before Babykins had a meltdown.  The half-mile trek back home over icy roads in which Babykins finally fell asleep.

Granted, last Sunday morning was a particularly difficult one for Babykins and me.  But are those the moments I’m really meant to treasure?  Am I a bad mother for not enjoying Sunday morning with my baby?

For once, I’m not racked with self-doubt by these questions.  I realize the “treasure every moment” mantra is said with nostalgia and the expectation to love every second of motherhood is foolish.

There are many moments that I treasure with Babykins.  I treasure the moment when my husband excitedly told me “Girl!” as he saw Babykins for the first time.  I treasure her smile that she readily gives me but has to be coaxed to give strangers.  I treasure having her by my bedside at night (when she’s peacefully sleeping, of course).  I treasure the snuggles.  I treasure her bright eyes and long fingers.  I treasure many things.

But I don’t treasure everything.  Like any vocation, there are crappy moments (figuratively and literally) and it’s a ridiculous sentiment to treasure every moment.

But those precious, treasure-worthy moments make the gut-wrenching, frustrating moments worth it.


Why I Don’t Make New Year Resolutions

I was going to write a sarcastic post about how New Year resolutions never work out or how they always focus on the wrong things, but several other blogs and Facebook statuses beat me to it.  It’s a good thing they did, because it gave me time to think about the actual reason why I’m not fond of New Year resolutions.

The problem is that I’m not motivated by the changing to a new year.  In fact, I’m so unmotivated by this change, I haven’t even bought a new wall calendar yet.  I believe part of this has to do with the flow of our life right now.  January is in the middle of our yearly-life increments.  My husband has already started his winter quarter and I’m 4 months into my job.  It’s hard to feel like starting over when we just started over in August.  And why try to make life changes when life will force us to change again this summer?

Since I’m so unimpressed by January’s arrival, its never going to motivate me to change.  If I put off doing something until the beginning of a new year, I’m most likely to find another excuse not to start my resolution once January arrives.  But it’s not really fair to those who are motivated by the new year to make sarcastic and cynical comments about how generally people don’t keep their New Year resolutions.  If you are person who finds  the encouragement to make life changes on January 1, good for you!  Go run those miles, organize those files, read those books, or whatever you resolved to do.  Just don’t mind me as I sit on the couch eating cookies while I ignore the chaos I call my office.  I’m just waiting for something else to motivate me.

new year resolution


Don’t Lose Your Head

Pressure:  it’s everywhere.  Be loyal to your family.  Be committed to your job.  Be supportive of your husband.  Take care of yourself, take care of others.  Be active at church.  Be happy at church.  Be outgoing at church.  Make your life here, make your life there.  Put husband first, put work first, put family first (that is, first after God).  Stay calm.  Don’t be anxious.  Don’t worry.  Enjoy the here and now.  Look forward to the future.   Give 100%. . . to everything.

The pressure is frustrating.

pop

 

Oh yeah, I forget, don’t lose your head.

smoking head


Book Review: Broken

talking to people

Well, I’m technically not busy right now, but between some in-depth post ideas, trying to help pull together the seminary wives newsletter, and this weird thing called “actually interacting with people,” I feel like I have about a million things whirling through my brain.  Consequently, today you’re getting my review of Broken:  7 “Christian” Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible by Johnathan Fisk.

I read Broken several weeks ago, quickly calling “dibs” on it as soon as my husband bought it.  It was awesome!  Pastor Fisk takes a close look at our culture today and discusses the root of the problems within our churches instead of attacking the symptoms.  Additionally, he shows that these root problems (a.k.a. the “Christian” rules to be broken) are not new to our culture, but are commonly old heresies that deviate from God’s Word and hide under the guise of modern ideas.  The opening chapter states, “This [disappearance of belief in a pure Word from God] is nothing new.  It has happened before, and it will happen again.  But every time it happens, every time Christianity declines in a society, it happens for the same reason:  because genuine believers tried laying a foundation on something other than God’s Word,” (pg. 14).  With topics like mysticism and prosperity, Pastor Fisk shows how easily we Christians wrongly try to replace God’s Word with something of our own creation.

While Pastor Fisk’s metaphors get a bit long at times, his proclamation of  the Gospel at the end of every chapter bring comfort to any Christian struggling to make sense of our chaotic world and the disturbing trends we see in American Christianity.

Image from amazon.com


Why I’ve Been Trying to Avoid the Bad News of This Week

On September 11, 2001, a teacher came to inform my homeroom of breaking news only minutes after the first attack on the Twin Towers.  My fellow students and I spent the rest of the day shuffling from classroom to classroom, continuously watching the news coverage.  I saw the second tower fall, I saw the Pentagon in flames, I saw the burning remnants of Flight 93.  I was in 8th grade and I spent that September 11 watching the horrors of the worst terrorist attack on American soil unfold.  My 9th grade brother and 5th grade sister spent their September 11 much the same way.  When we got home from school, my mom was not pleased to hear that we watched the news all day.  “It’s not doing anybody any good to keep watching coverage on something like this,” she told us.  My dad must have agreed, because our television stayed off that evening.

It turns out that my parents instinctively knew what studies are beginning to show:  Surrounding yourself with news of traumatic events can be harmful to your physical and mental health.  Yet even as studies start to prove this, it becomes harder and harder to avoid the constant bombardment of news when disaster strikes.  With so many ways of getting information, from television news to radio programs to blogs, it’s incredibly difficult to avoid a constant stream of coverage.  Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter makes this nearly impossible.

But I am trying.  My husband and I found out about the Boston Marathon Bombing 30 minutes after it occurred.  He knew that he would have to discuss the story with people at church, so he wanted to watch as the news developed.  I told my husband that there was no sense in following the story that soon–it would take hours or days for anything definitive to form.  I read one article about the fertilizer plant explosion and then avoided the story.  I know next to nothing about the poison sent to a senator and the President.  I turned off NPR yesterday morning once I realized that they were doing constant coverage on the Boston Bomber manhunt.  I will admit that I am fairly ignorant of the current events of this week.

However, this does not make me a heartless person.  I mourn with my country this week for all that has happened to my fellow Americans.  But these events only show what I already know; that we live in a sinful world where tragedies will always happen.  I don’t need constant news coverage to tell me this.

Through long grief-darkened days help us, dear Lord,
To Trust Your grace for courage to endure,
To rest our souls in Your supporting love,
And find our hope within Your mercy sure.
“When Aimless Violence Takes Those We Love”, LSB 764:5  

What’s So Wrong About Encouraging Young Marriages?

Have you read this letter-to-the-editor?  Susan Patton, Princeton alumna, wrote a letter for Princeton’s student newspaper that encouraged female students to look for a husband during their undergrad years.  Needless to say, many people have responded in outrage.  After all, Ms. Patton has suggested a method that seems like a throwback to the 1950s–go to college to get a MRS degree.  It appears demeaning to the progress that woman have made in the last 60 years.  It seems shallow that women should spend their undergrad years finding a husband instead of focusing on their studies.  It seems old-fashioned that women should try to get married before starting a career.

Dealing with marriage statistics is becoming trickier and trickier.  Marriage as a whole is on the decline, with people who are less educated being slightly less likely to get married than those with higher education.  Throw in the fact that more and more couples are opting to live together and start families before getting married, and the average age of a first marriage is at an all-time high.  To actually encourage women or men to get married in their early 20s seems very counter-cultural.  Nina Bahadur agrees.  But while Ms. Bahadur does make some reasonable counter arguments against Ms. Patton’s claim (like how men on campus actually need to be interested in getting married as well), she seems to ignore common traditions in our culture (like the fact that men typically marry younger women or the fact that the majority of people do hope to get married someday).

My husband and I were newlyweds at
the age 24 and 22

However, what ticks me off the most is this expectation in our society that college students or recent graduates can’t possibly be ready to marry because they haven’t grown up.  We expect college grads to be adult enough to have a full-time job, live on their own (despite the rise of boomerang children), and start paying off their massive student loans, but it’s crazy talk to expect them to be mature enough to get married.  Of course, this sentiment about marriage comes from our culture’s belief that marriage is more about love and less about commitment–there isn’t room for the idea that young married couples can have the chance to grow together after they make their vows.  And yes, I know about the divorce statistics for young couples, but again that stems from the belief that a marriage should be first and foremost based on love (which is another topic for another day).

Likewise, in our society’s eagerness to give women equal opportunity in the workplace, we have inadvertently demeaned women who provide a vital service to society by becoming wives and homemakers.  Instead of respecting all the work that women achieve, we still only laud the paid work that women do.  Never mind the hours of unpaid childrearing stay-at-home moms and working moms provide.  Never mind the untold support wives can provide for their husbands (and vice versa).  Never mind the fact that most mothers would prefer to work part-time or less and believe that having a mother working full-time isn’t ideal for a child.  Nope, we’re going to keep pushing women to build a career before they get married, and then watch them struggle as they try to juggle the demands of work and family.

Now I’m not saying that all women should give up their dreams of a career and only try become a homemaker.  Nor am I saying that everyone should be hitched in their early 20s lest they become old maids and undesirable bachelors–young marriages aren’t for everyone.  However, wouldn’t it be nice if young adults were given as much encouragement to create a successful relationship and get married as they were to make a career?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we explained to young adults that taking time to find a job they like is fine, but that work actually isn’t everything?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we told young adults what a joy it can be to get married young and build your adult life together?  While Ms. Patton’s focus on only encouraging young women to find a husband might be a bit misleading (after all, it takes two people to get married!), I don’t think we can deem her sentiments about getting married young as unnecessary and old-fashioned–She just might be a much needed voice of encouragement for young couples to take the leap into marriage.


Did God Actually Say That?

In the second half of Genesis 3:1, Satan asked Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  Did God actually say–the world’s first temptation.  Of course, it all went downhill from there:    The devil convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, she gave it to Adam, they brought sin into the world, and they died.

Today we hear an echo of Satan’s words throughout our society.  Did God actually say that homosexuality is a sin?*  Did God actually say that a baby is a baby at conception?**  Did God actually say that women can’t be pastors?***   You would think that Christians would have learned from Eve’s example to use caution when hearing the words Did God actually say?  But no, often those who consider themselves Christians slowly start accepting our society’s tenets of truth that do not follow God’s truth.  They start to believe that marriage should be based on love, even when that love goes against God’s command about marriage.  They start to think that women have the right to choose anything, even when that choice goes against God’s creation of life.  The start to think that anyone should be a pastor if they so desire, even when it goes against what God has said about pastors.

To be clear, I am not starting a debate with non-Christians about these issues.  That’s another discussion for another day.  What I am concerned about are the Christians (and even those who call themselves Lutherans) who have decided to abandon what the Bible says about these controversial issues.  First off, I feel deserted by them.  We are supposed to be brother and sisters in Christ, yet they have abandoned me as people decree that my beliefs make me a bigot and a woman-hater.  It hurts to feel so outnumbered and despised in a nation supposedly filled with Christians.

But I also worry about these Christians.  What is actually keeping them in the faith?  See, there are times when I want to give up and start listening to the Did God actually says around me.  Wouldn’t it be easier to just embrace society’s beliefs and pretend that God didn’t actually say those things?  But then my mind starts thinking about all the Did God actually says.  Did God actually say that He will care for me always?****  Did God actually say that he sent Jesus to die for my sins?*****  Did God actually say that His Son rose from the dead?******  Did God actually say that the Bible is His Word?*******  Eventually I would have to ask Is God even real?  I quickly realize to question one part of the Bible, no matter how unpopular that passage may be with the rest of society, means I have to question my entire faith.  That scares me more than any sort of worldly scorn.  That’s what also makes me worry about the Christians who so readily toss out any part of the Bible that makes them uncomfortable.  On their last day (because everyone knows that we all will die someday), will they die a blessed death in Christ?  Or will they die in a made-up religion built on Did God actually say?

*“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers  nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”  1 Cor. 6:9-10
**“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, everyone one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:16 
***“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches.  For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. . .If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” 1 Cor. 14:33-34, 37

****”And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
*****”But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
******”For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
*******”All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16



A Sad Day in a Broken World

By now most of us have heard about the tragic Connecticut school shooting.  I was actually quite behind on the news on this incident. By the time I got home from work yesterday (where I have no contact with news programs and was therefore ignorant of the shooting) and logged onto Facebook, people had already started to pull this tragedy into their causes:  gun control (for and against), school safety (and I don’t mean parents worried about how their children will react to the news, but those discussing why schools aren’t better prepared for these attacks), mental illness, religion, and even abortion.  Since I was behind on the news and was trying to absorb the shock of this tragedy hours after other people, I wondered why couldn’t we just mourn over this atrocity.  Why does it have to quickly become part of a cause?  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to learn from this shooting and try to figure out how to prevent a killing spree like this from happening again, but couldn’t we wait at least a day before doing so?  Can’t we ache for the families directly affected a little while longer before trying to find the bigger picture?

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.