God doesn’t make mistakes—His plan is perfect, His execution unparalleled. When the fallen nature of the world and all of humanity comes into play, however, the exquisiteness of His perfection becomes clouded and subject to complication—but it is not hidden altogether. This is true across creation but perhaps most poignantly in the realm of the parent-child relationship.
It was a month or so after our second child was born, and my almost two-year-old decided he wanted to join the rest of the family and stop sleeping too. Fighting bedtime, skipping his nap, waking up at night, you name it. We were all feeling cranky and out of sorts.
For individuals who have answered the call to serve in churches and schools in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, financial burdens can be substantial. Today, you will learn more about MinistryFOCUS, an organization whose mission is to help. Executive Director Eric Longman and Chair/President Ken Krueger answered questions to bring this organization to light.
My seventh-grade teacher used to tell my class about the concept for a book he’d always wanted to write: the “what ifs” of history. What if … Columbus had actually made landfall in India? … the South had won the Civil War? … Archduke Ferdinand hadn’t been assassinated? Any number of present circumstances might differ: the side of the road on which we drive, the language in which you’re reading this, and so on.
I’ve never been a person who really relied on or noticed patterns in my life. I never struggled with feeling too scheduled or the opposite feeling of overwhelmed with no structure. That is, until I became a parent. Our first daughter was born during our year of vicarage, and so, when I left my in-person job for maternity leave, I also left that position permanently. Navigating being a new mom with no weekly or daily sense of rhythm (except the endless time-loop of feeding every two to three hours), I felt that I needed to mark time passing in a new way.
The vocation of parent is the ultimate paradox. It is at once viscerally sweet, compelling, and satisfying—and then also just not. Not at all any of those things. In fact, parenting is often the very absence of those things, especially when life goes sideways in any of the many ways that life can.
“In 2024, I plan to . . .” Fill in the blank. Maybe you’re hoping to exercise more, eat healthier, start a new job, go on a big family trip, spend more time with your spouse, spend less time on your phone, finally finish that house project, read the Bible every day, join the church choir, make a friend, call your parents more, and so on.
During the summer of 2023, Concordia Gospel Outreach (CGO) had the opportunity to provide resources to a group of students and teachers from Lutheran High School South in St. Louis for their mission trip to the Dominican Republic. This group took children’s resources to share with the local Lutheran school, church, and seminary and to help put the Gospel into empty hands.
I never had any interest in watching the 1946 James Stewart Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, until college. Many adults and teens in my life had droned on about how boring they found this particular movie, so when one friend insisted we watch it as a group, I was ready to pretty much zone out. Instead, I was blown away. Now, for my husband (who also watched it for the first time that day) and me, it’s a tradition. (Though we do have to overlook the whole thing about people becoming angels when they die, and then angels having to do good works to earn their wings.) As George Bailey rushes into his home full of life and cheer, I am always holding back at least one tear. And maybe one or two spill over. Why does this happy ending elicit a tearful response?
“Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). It’s a good verse, right? Isaiah sets a prime example of what our attitude toward the Lord’s will should be—what our degree of willingness ought to look like when God nudges us in a direction according to His plan. We like to think we’d say the same thing to God as this spectacular prophet of yore when asked. But let’s be honest.
We’re all pretty awful at doing that.