Before you receive

This is a companion post to last week’s “Before you give,” and makes several assumptions. For instance, that you’re celebrating and will exchange gifts. It also assumes that you have space this holiday to think about this unessential part of living. Because of time, energy, money, or emotion, you may not have been able to prepare for next week like you wanted. There is still one way you can, though. Prepare how you will accept gifts. Years ago, I gave a sweater to a girl at a going away party. I didn’t know her well. She squealed and exclaimed. It was outrageous how pleased she was, and how much she liked it. I’d never experienced a reaction like that, and click to continue reading…

Before you give

I scratched this post last week because I was still working it out in my heart. I want to preface “Before you give” and next week’s “Before you receive” posts with the caveat that I do neither well. So it’s coming from a broken place. They also take a great deal of privilege for granted. Talking about gift giving assumes you are not at war, or barely surviving. It assumes you have someone to give a gift to, or someone to spend a holiday with. It assumes that there is enough space in your life to think about this extraneous part of the holiday. My sister and I have a birthday three days apart. We mostly celebrated together, and I click to continue reading…

Pardon me, do you have any change?

I heard recently about a mom who liked to ask her kids something when she was alone with them. It was to reach out as they developed their near-adult opinions and essentially asked, “What do you no longer believe, that you think I still believe?” and, “What have you started to believe that you think I do not believe?“ I wish I had thought to ask my kids questions like those when they were still in high school. But honestly, I don’t think I would have been completely sure how to answer for myself. I thought I was certain about everything I believed in my thirties. What I believe now is stronger because of the decade of questioning that followed. click to continue reading…

His story is a pearl

I think as a child I heard gossip explained to be a situation where you pretended to like someone, but spread lies about them behind their back. It was also called “two-faced” because you don’t really like them but wanted their ruin. But what about gossiping about someone you don’t despise and want to ruin? Or someone you might even love and want to help? I feel like there is another way to share and request information, especially in church culture, that we wouldn’t call gossip, but it works the same because it uncovers things that should remain private. It’s concern for the purpose of prayer. Of course, there is the obvious example of sharing someone else’s prayer request, so click to continue reading…

Living second-date-able

This post will need a few clarifying statements at the beginning and end. First, it is for unmarried as well as those in a relationship. Second, it is not for guilt toward rocky marriages. When my husband and I took part in premarital discipleship with our church, I didn’t know about clarifying statements. I would say things like, “Try to make your home a shelter for your husband.” Isn’t that lovely? Isn’t that sweet? I’ve since learned, like with inclusive language, sometimes what you don’t say is as important as what you say. So, make your home a safe place—unless there’s abuse. In that case, don’t suffer alone in shame, hiding what goes on and calling a petri dish for click to continue reading…