Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Speaking the truth in love

Speaking the truth in love does not mean saying something so nicely that someone will be willing to receive it well. That's not how it works. The truth hurts because all men are liars. Few of us react with measured grace when we're on the receiving end of a truth that causes us pain. Speaking the truth in love means loving someone enough to want them to know the truth, even though it means taking on the pain of the anger they will probably act out.

I've had my mind changed about two very big things in my life, and it really hurt both times.

When confronted with truths I hated, I flared up with caricatures and insults.

When I realized that caricatures and insults were all I had, I wanted to run from the truth and never hear it again. 

When the demands of life would not allow me to avoid the truth, I faked a superior detachment as if it were of too little importance to merit my attention. 

When my conscience pointed out how ashamed I was of my total inability to defend my cherished misbeliefs, I just stayed quiet. When the truth would bump into me, the pain was raw and screaming. 

When someone spoke the truth gently, I considered him a soft-minded ninny whose facile thinking was irrelevant to one so intelligent as myself. When someone spoke the truth pointedly, it was proof that everyone who thought that way was an intolerable jerk whose ideas were invalid on the basis of being held by a holistically bad person.

When I had to live the truth, I hated knowing that I would someday be glad I had. I hated that I was actively betraying myself. I hated that I was going to become what I had not only never wanted to be myself, but had wanted no one to be.

When there was no chance that I would turn back to what truth demanded that I leave, I was still contemptuous of my former enemies for being so much righter than I was, and resentful over what I was working so hard to believe was not really a loss.

Even when I became comfortable and cautiously happy, I was bewildered by the new language I had learned to speak. I understood neither its idioms nor its deep structures. I was confounded when I would discover there was something I was chronically mispronouncing, that my syntax was still garbled, that my lexicon was peppered with errors.

I remember many specific events along the way of both conversions: lightning bolts, epiphanies, puzzles, and throwdowns. There are people I wish I could thank for having helped me, even if it is because they enraged me. There are people to whom I would apologize if I ran into them again (and I do run into them sometimes, and I do apologize).

The jerks, the simple, the cerebral, the zealous, the wise, the patient, the dismissive, the gentle: they all spoke the truth in love, because He who is the Truth is the God who is Love.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

So, like, what do you do?

Here's part 2 of the question we had on Issues, Etc., from an entity called the Joyful Lutheran Housewife. The question is what to say when people ask you what you do in your house all day, every day.

What a housewife does in the absence of considerable wealth is operate on a different economic model. Her household's primary resource is time rather than money. She donates her work to her family, rather than selling it to someone outside the family and purchasing from someone else the work the family still needs. To make up for the monetary loss, she saves.

Saving doesn't look like it used to. Most of the things women produced when households were centers of production have gotten very expensive to produce. Buying a pattern, fabric, and notions for a dress costs more than buying a disposable dress from H&M, and that's without accounting for the time of making a dress, and assuming you've already got a sewing machine and everything else you need for sewing.

A job well done. Source
What the housewife might do is put in a lot of time at thrift stores. She might discover that mending is better than ending, and learn to fix things instead of buying whole new sweaters and chairs and kitchens. She makes do instead of starting new. She spends all day making a supper that doesn't look like an all-day project, but didn't come from boxes. When somebody leaves a contractor bag of green beans on her doorstep in July, she forgets her plans and puts in a hard day to give her future self a freezer full of free and easy veg. She forages, no joke. There's other stuff too, but maybe you get the idea.

The other thing is that the layout of a housewife's day is completely different from someone who goes to work and comes home. It is not very structured, especially if there are kids around. It is unpredictable because it is flexible. If someone in the house asks her to do something, or someone from outside the house calls or stops by, she stops what she's doing. She stays home to be available to a neighbor who might need her. Responding quickly to a person in need is her immediate priority.

One thing we say to people we love is, "I'm there for you." To a housewife, there is a place, not a friendly abstraction. She is physically there for real people who need real things. For families in which some financial tightness is accepted in exchange for the lady's availability, she contributes whatever resourcefulness at which she excels to their internal economy. There's a thing about that with pennies.

The Joyful Lutheran Housewife still needs an answer to her question. How about, "I operate on an economy of extreme resourcefulness so that I can be available to my neighbors." That's catchy!

Monday, June 15, 2015

From What Do You Do? to Why Do You Do It?

A kind Issues, Etc. listener asked how we respond to the question of what we do all day as stay-at-homers.

My sister and I are both going to respond to the question in our own ways, so stay tuned later in the week for Part 2!


My brief answer on the air was that I carry the conversation to a question that I would rather answer which is this: Why do you spend your time at home? I steer that way because then it ends up being a conversation that I really like to have!  :)

I spend my time at home for several reasons. First, though, I should mention that I have the luxury of the stay-at-home option. I thank my husband for this regularly. And he thanks me for what I do. That's cool, too!

Of course, just because I'm able to stay at home would not mean that I am required to do so. Even with my husband being employed, I could pursue work outside the home. I don't, though.

Being at home means I get to spend more time with my husband. This is good for our marriage, and by extension, it is good for the kiddies. When my husband comes home for the day, I'm here. I like that a lot. Being at home also means I get to spend more time with our four children. I like that a lot, too. So that would be Why 1 and Why 2, 3, 4, 5.

Beyond the benefits of the loads of time that I get to spend with my absolute favorite people on the planet (which I consider to be the most compelling motivation for my stay-at-home life), there are other perks, too.

Why 6 - I get to make our home a place that is nice for all of us to live in. I'm not a super-de-duper decorator or cleaner or cook, but I have plenty of time to do all of those things at the level that works for me/us. I really like to make desserts so I do a lot of that. It makes me happy to have our laundry managed efficiently, and I'm glad I have the time to make that happen. I'm not into mopping or pulling weeds, so I don't do those chores often and no one seems to care. :)  I get to determine how I invest my time and attention in the keeping of our house/making of our home.

Why 7 - This may sound backwards, but another thing I like about my stay-at-home status, is that it actually frees me to be away from home without feeling too thinly-spread. If one holds a certain number of "hours away from home" chips (and I do not know what that number would be for anyone else), then I can use them much more freely since I'm not already burning through bunches of them on the 9 to 5 track.

I have a part-time job that is accomplished almost always from my desk (or couch) at home when the kiddies are in bed. Sweet gig! But I travel for this job every now and then. That works! I am usually at our home base, so when I'm occasionally called away from it, I set sail knowing that all are well there and they will be just fine during the few days that I'm gone.  I also serve on a board that requires me to be away from home a few times a year. This, too, is easier to do because I'm not gone often during the other 355 days of the year.

I have more wing-spreading-space and I do not feel at all confined.

Why 8+ -Another neat thing about having a very flexible schedule and plenty of time at home means that I can volunteer for our church, community, etc. Volunteers have it good because they get to pick what they do and how they do it. I can use the Volunteer Spot Sign-Up's at whatever level I choose, and I don't feel over-taxed doing so. I help with our church's women's group when the usual leader is on vacay because she knows I'm happy to use a bit of my abundant time that way. I let folks on our street know that if they need help, please call. And they do! I make meals for people who could use them, and they thank me even though the dessert is probably the only slam-dunk on the tray I take over. I get to do these things quite often because I'm not being pulled too hard in another direction. Again, it is a privilege and I recognize this.

Why do I stay at home? It's good for me/us and it also seems to help the neighbors in the rings beyond our home nucleus. I am thankful for the blessings that come with this life!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dear LadyLike: How then shall we live in this sick sad world?

Question posted to Issues, Etc.:

In a world that has so feminized men, and masculinized women, where men have gotten so comfortable yielding their roles to women, and women appear so eager to take the reins, how would you recommend that men, and women, go about restoring their lives together to be more what God desires for them?


Dear Christopher,

Or a brother sometimes. :D

My recommendation (worth exactly what any person's recommendation is worth) is that we just don't play. Christian boys need to act like boys and Christian girls need to act like girls. It can feel weird and lonely. A lot of it we have to figure out on our own since it's not what most of us are used to seeing, and most other people are playing the "do what you aren't" game.

What does this look like, though?

It means we quit feeling bad and embarrassed about what Scripture teaches.

It means that if there's a board without a woman on it, or a faculty or administration page with all male photos, no men apologize and no women complain (and no women apologize and no men complain).

It means that we quit cheapening the currency of women's talents by stooping to the world's doltish tokenism.

It means women defer to the God-given authority of men, and work always to see and take comfort in the wisdom of the divine order. It means that women confess that our resistance to this is real and sinful. It means that all Christian men and women be willing to receive in trust what our good God has appointed for us.

It means that we work to live out the goodness of God's order without compromising in advance in the name of potential exceptions and abuses.

It means the husband is the husband and the wife is the wife, and no being silly about what that means. We're not so far removed from this experience or memory that we don't really know. But the next generation might be, so we need to be deliberate about teaching them by exhortation and example.

It means that the wife doesn't pull the hurt feelings card when her husband acts within his duties and rights as the head of the family, and the husband doesn't call it nagging when the wife is appeals to him for something. It means no manipulation, and grownups acting like grownups.

It means men run churches, and women don't "step up" and do men's jobs. It means if the pastor can't find a man to fill the vacant elder spot, the team of elders gets one person smaller. It might mean a church closes, or a woman takes her family to another church (the one in Thyatira, maybe).

It means pastors do pastor stuff and the rest of us don't. Anything that looks like a pastor thing is a pastor thing. He conducts the service, he tends the flock. The Good Shepherd says, "I know my sheep." Pastoral duties by which the shepherd comes to know his sheep, and by which the sheep come to learn and love his voice, should never be farmed out to a hired hand (even a generous, willing, capable, Christian hired hand).

Probably some other stuff too. :)

This way of life puts Christians into a kind of prisoner's dilemma. It costs us human esteem and money not to play the game everyone else in the world is playing. But those are things Christians have never been into anyway.

Thanks for a really good question.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Because I can't afford a real auditor, and I don't think they even make them for time

We talked about this some in response to a question on the final show in Issues, Etc.'s Biblical Womanhood series, but I think absolute transparency is in order. The question is, aren't we pretty bad hypocrites for saying how everybody ought to be all traditional, and then going LCMS-Kardashian while our kids are schlumping through ditches for Mr. Pibb cans with some drips in the bottom?

There's a part of me that wants to say it's nobody's blamed business how I spend my time, but that's the American part of me. I think radical individualism is bad for families, and that radically individualistic families are bad for the church and for society. I paid close attention to the time (especially off-site time) I put into this book because I believe it matters very much, and I think I'm able to give a pretty accurate account, so here's my audit.

Sitz im leben: our oldest child goes to Lutheran school three half days and one full day every week. The next three go all day four days a week*. The younger three are home all the time. For a number of years I have been an indexer for the Concordia Commentaries, so that has been a regular task in my life long before LL existed. Indexing has never required me to leave home and rarely requires time during the kidlight hours, although I sometimes do it then to avoid things like putting away laundry.

On a normal day, I spend the morning doing house stuff while kid-minding.

In the early to mid-afternoon, I do specific things with non-school kids who don't nap (ie lessons/attention of various kinds). Then I set them loose and have a little bit of free time, during which I sometimes write or index. 

Mid to late afternoon the rest of the kids come home, and I have kid and house stuff.

UPDATE: My husband audited this audit and found it highly false due to my failure to mention Cocktail Hour at this point in the report. Mom and Dad have cocktail hour here and now every day, no exceptions, and you should too.

Evenings we usually read together until the little kids go to bed. Then I do individual things with big kids (music and homework). Then they have to leave me alone until they go to bed.

Then I write/index while my husband watches gun videos. Now I am also using that time to deal with book stuff like writing this engrossing post.

Book-related extras, over the course of 18 months:

When we were offered the contract with CPH**, I asked my MIL if she was OK with it. She lives next door to us but, for all kinds of reasons, we try really hard not to exploit her. I asked if I could maybe have one morning a week when she took the little kids so I could write. She very generously agreed, but we didn't really end up doing it. I have always been a night writer and that's how it stayed.

I took one full day shortly before the deadline to get formatting and final edits done on the manuscript. Dad and Grandma were on kid duty all day.

Rosie and I went to CPH two times, once to talk with our editor about the idea of the book before we signed the contract, and once afterwards to record some video. Each of those trips took something like 4.5 hours (I live about 50 minutes from CPH; Rosie is closer).

We met with CPH's marketing people for lunch once. Four hoursish departure to return would probably more than cover it?

We did the breakfast in Creve Coeur, Mo., for St. Paul Lutheran in Des Peres on a Saturday. I left my house around six and got back around noon. Dad took one kid to a school thing and the rest were with Grandma.

We recorded a one-hour podcast with Katie Schuermann at my house and then went out to lunch at the bar where my husband holds a Bible study every Wednesday morning, 110 seconds from our house. Grandma had the non-school kids during that time.

We did four in-studio sessions at Issues, Etc, which is close to where both of us live (35 minutes for me, under 10 for Rosie). One of those days we also went out to lunch. The dad/uncle team drank kids and watched beer.

I have had a couple of short phone interviews (under 15 minutes) during which time Dad was on duty for home kids.

We have one more phone interview coming up next week, and we plan to be at the Issues, Etc. conference in a few weeks on Saturday morning

I will probably drop off a box of books and a hat with a "Please pay if you're nice" sign at the Gottesdienst conference at St. Paul Lutheran, Hamel Ill., the week after that. It is about six minutes and 45 seconds from my house. I will also have a box of books in my lame-o Econoline this summer to take on our family vacation to Michigan (UP and LP!), during which we will in fact attend church on Sundays even though we're on vacation, if I remember to order the books. Some of my kids will get yelled at not to step on the box of books while they get in or out of the lame-o Econoline, so that could go in the "Damage To Psyches Of Children" column too. Would CPH buy it if I called that a book tour?

There's my audit.

And look, I like to try to be funny because it helps stuff not be so boring, but I'm more than OK with this being a serious question. Anybody who likes is welcome to contact me personally and ask such questions as may be necessary to the public good and welfare. ladylikings at gmail.com

You could also talk to one of my actual factual neighbors and see what they have to say about their perception of operations at our house. Then tell me what they said, unless it's that I look terrible all the time. I already know that.

*Does this sound like an awesome, family-prioritizing Lutheran school to you? It is.

**Neither Rosie nor I pitched, queried, proposed, or otherwise dreamed up or effected this book.