Distracted: July 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar

We’ve all felt the struggle. When you’re sitting in an awkward waiting room, when your kid asks you the same question over and over, when you’re tired at the end of a long day—we struggle to be present. We struggle against the distraction in our pockets, that glowing rectangle that can instantly fix our boredom. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. Smartphones are seemingly essential in today’s world, but they also make it so hard to stay focused on the people around us. We are easily pulled away from reality, easily disinterested, and easily tempted to avoid giving someone our full attention.

4 Tips for Planning Youth Service Projects

There are endless possibilities when it comes to service projects. Some are as quick as sharpening pencils in the sanctuary for ten minutes during confirmation class. Others involve weeks-long trips to foreign countries. One of the more challenging questions for youth leaders is how to choose service opportunities. As valuable as service opportunities are, they have to be provided in a thoughtful and deliberate way. There are four rules we suggest for finding appropriate service opportunities.

Calling Out to the Father: June 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar

“Daddy! Daaaaaaaaaaaa-deeee! Daaaaaaaa-daaaaa! Dada! DADA!” My two-year-old cries out in the middle of the night. We can hear her over our audio monitor getting more frantic. She is unsure if this will be the time she’s abandoned or if one or both of her parents are on the way. My husband and I both know she won’t go back to sleep unless one of us enters her room, lets her know we heard her, and gives her comfort. My husband gets up to make sure she gets back to a good night of sleep.

Sharing the Gospel through Spanish Arch Books

I’m sitting at Newark Liberty International Airport as I write this, en route to the U.S. for a biennial stretch of “home service.” About a week ago, I had the foresight to request a few books at the public library in the St. Louis suburb where my parents live. Real, print books. I can already hear the protective plastic coating crinkling as I crack the spine, feel the creamy paper beneath the pads of my fingers, and smell the comforting must engendered by the raw materials of bookbindery and heightened by years of metal shelving in climate-controlled air.

How MinistryFOCUS Offers Help to Ministry Leaders

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.  

If Truth Be Told: Musings of a Missionary

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.  

Patterns: February 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar

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 Perfect Parent: God the Father Looks Out for Us

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.

Change: January 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar

“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.

Jesus Bears Our Burdens: Everyday Faith Calendar December 2023

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?

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