Parenting

The Typical Mother

I am blessed to be on the receiving end of an eleven-year-old’s homeschool journal assignments, and here is what this wise, young girl recently wrote in response to the prompt, “Describe what you think of as the typical mother.”

The typical mother should raise her children in the Lord, take them to church and Sunday School (we’re talking about this right now in Catechism). She should love her children, and treat them kindly. She should punish them when necessary, and reward them when necessary. She should submit to her husband as to the Lord. This is what I think of as the typical mother.

I agree.

A blessed Mother’s Day this Sunday to all of you typical mothers out there! xo

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Child #9

You already know I’m a huge fan of burgers and veterans.

Well, at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steak Burgers, I get to celebrate my love for them both.

Freddy, of burger and custard fame, not only fought in WWII and inspired my favorite dipping sauce to date, but he also happens to be the youngest of nine children.

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See? Contrary to what the world believes, thinks, and confesses, even child #9 has value in a family.

And not just in a family but also in a community and in a state and in a country and in the suffering world around him.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Simon, for welcoming all nine of your children into the world, because that ninth child is especially important to my country, my freedom, and – let’s be honest – my burger-lovin’ palate.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3 (ESV)

 

True Love

heartWe’re confused about something in this generation. There’s the mistaken belief that loving someone means permitting them to do whatever they want, that love equals acceptance and tolerance.

Case in point, religion according to Lady Gaga instructs us to embrace and celebrate people as they are today – to tolerate and accept their feelings and actions – because they’re simply born that way. “I’m beautiful in my own way,” she sings. “I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way. Don’t hide yourself in regret. Just love yourself, and you’re set.” She expounds, “Oh, there ain’t no other way.”

If this were true, then a government which loves its citizens would provide a hotel room rather than a jail cell for the man in his forties who desires to bed preteen girls. After all, he was simply born that way.

If everyone is “on the right track, baby,” then we would not limit abortion to just babies in the womb. We would cease such unloving discrimination by age and, instead, allow adults to abort other adults who don’t fit into their own life plan.

If “loving yourself” is all that’s required to be set in life, then paying taxes to support the livelihood of policemen and firemen and soldiers and other civil servants would be bogus.

If we are to avoid hiding ourselves “in regret” for our in-born passions, then racists and terrorists and sociopaths should be hired to run our daycare facilities, schools, and businesses.

If “there ain’t no other way” than loving yourself, then parents should not be bothered with loving and protecting their children. They should create as many embryos through IVF as they want and do with them whatever they want. The important thing is to see their own desires answered and their own dreams fulfilled, not those of their kids.

Lady Gaga, in her effort to trumpet and memorialize and idolize the very passions with which we are all born, endorses the very opposite of love, for true love doesn’t tolerate and accept and serve the self. True love denies the self and its passions and dies for the good of their children.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13 [ESV]).”

Sometimes, the greatest act of love we barren mothers can perform for our children is to suffer the absence of them rather than create them to die.

An Example to Follow

Saint_Joseph_with_the_Infant_Jesus_by_Guido_Reni,_c_1635Thank you to Pastor Michael Diener for showing us the example Joseph gives to men today in being a faithful husband and father by trusting in God.

“WWJD – What Would Joseph Do?” 

Joseph provides men with a wonderful example of seeing and trusting in God’s grace through the eyes of faith. In Matthew 2:13-15, Joseph gives men today an example to follow in the vocations of husband and father – an example of faithfulness and trust in God. “Now when they had departed, behold, and angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him’. And he rose and took the child and His mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son.’”

When the angel of the Lord informed Joseph of God’s plan to save the holy family from wicked King Herod, he did so without all the details. The angel only gave God’s promise to guide him. Joseph didn’t question God’s plan. He didn’t take time to ask why. He didn’t offer God a better alternative that would fit nicely into his own plans. He trusted God. Joseph was asked to be faithful. And by faith, Joseph was led to see God’s plan unfold. God gave Joseph the means to be faithful in taking care of his wife and child which certainly led to his being faithful in his vocations as father and husband throughout his life.

God gives fathers today means to be faithful as well – the means of grace. God’s Word and Sacraments provide the faith that furnishes guidance, comfort and strength; pointing them to the cross where sin is forgiven and to the empty tomb where there is rejoicing in the promise of eternal life. Where men fail – God’s grace restores. When the daily grind leads men to worry and become stressed out – God’s grace gives comfort and strength in the midst of struggles. In other words, God gives everything men need to be faithful husbands and fathers.

Men are called to be faithful just as Joseph was – faithful husbands to their wives and faithful fathers to their children. Even though men may not see blueprint of God’s plan laid out for them, they are given something better – God Himself in His Word, in the promises of Baptism and the nourishment of Christ’s body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of sins.

As men fulfill their God-given roll as spiritual heads of the household, they are wise to look at Joseph’s example. By remaining faithful to God, as Joseph was, men are remaining faithful to their wives and children. There is no greater gift a man can give to his wife and children than to point them to God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament. And more than just pointing their wives and children to God’s Word and Sacrament, men are to be an example of faithfulness by leading their families by the hand, as Joseph did, to God’s Word daily and in receiving the Lord’s Supper regularly. In doing so they are strengthening themselves, their families, and the church.

God’s Word does not give much information about Joseph, not even a word from Joseph himself, but it does give men an example to follow in their vocations as husbands and fathers. Sometimes a good example is worth more than a thousand words. To be a Godly husband and father a man ought to ask himself “What would Joseph do?”

Pastor Michael Diener

“Joseph’s Worthiness (and My Own)”

mentor1-1Thank you to Kelly Stout for reminding us of all that comes with being chosen as an adoptive parent.

“Joseph’s Worthiness (and My Own)”

I carry around a strange sort of guilt – one that only those blessed by adoption can probably understand. Why in the world did God and my son’s birthmother choose me? Oh, it is loaded with guilt. When I fail as a mother, I fail my child, I fail God, and I fail my child’s birthmother. I don’t talk about it often, because it makes people uncomfortable. My reality of feeling guilty for being chosen when others have been waiting weighs on me. I see my friends struggling to conceive, I see my friends waiting with great anticipation to be chosen as adoptive parents, and I see myself failing so often in my vocation.

We don’t know very much about Joseph’s emotions as being chosen as an adoptive father. We all know Mary asked, “Why me?” Given my own guilt about the vocation of caring for a son entrusted to me through adoption, I can only imagine that Joseph felt unworthy. “The Son of God? You want me to be responsible for raising the Son of WHO? Why have I been chosen when all those other men are so much better than me?” At least, that is how I feel at times. “Those other women would probably do a better job than me…” When, in fact, that guilt is very far from the truth. 

In teaching our toddler son about his infant adoption, we tell him, “Your birthmother loves you so much that she asked God to help her choose a mommy and daddy for you. And you know who He chose for you? Us, your Mommy and Daddy!” When I say those words, I am not only teaching my son about God’s love for him, I am also reminding myself God did indeed choose us. We were given this child, not because we deserve him, not because we are better than anyone else, but because before he was conceived God knew him and knew all the days numbered for him even before there were any of them. He gave us the vocation of father and mother. He entrusted this little babe to us. He will provide us with the wisdom and strength needed to raise him in the way of the Lord. 

When Joseph looked around, saw his own sin and failure, and wondered, “God, why was I given this Gift when others were not,” I hope he was reminded that those others, all others indeed, were given the same Gift. The Gift bore our guilt on a cross, died, and rose again, so that with Joseph, we need not question our worthiness in our vocations. Our worthiness is declared through Him.

Kelly Stout

The Nourisher of Our Lord

IMG_1443Thank you to Pastor Ryan McDermott for reminding us that we, like Joseph, are sometimes called to take on the legal and ethical responsibility of caring for children that are not our own.

“WWJD: What Would Joseph Do?”

It occurs to me that, as a husband, a father, and a pastor, I fulfill many of the same roles as St. Joseph. And yet, at the same time, my roles are nothing like his. I cannot imagine the situation of living with and taking to wife the Mother of God, let alone raising God Incarnate as my son.

St. Joseph is known as the Nutritor Domini, the Nourisher of our Lord. He was responsible for protecting and providing for the physical well-being of Jesus from the time of the Annunciation onward. This child was not his, and yet Joseph took on the legal and ethical burden. This is not unlike the vocation of a pastor toward his congregation. My people are not, strictly speaking, my people – they are the people of God, the children of our heavenly Father. And yet, they are mine because they are entrusted to me by that same Father. It is my charge to bring to birth, bathe, feed, teach, and nourish them in the faith, just as Joseph was charged with the same duties for our Lord Christ. I hold them as a trust from the Lord, to deal with them according to His command.

As a father, I am in much the same position. My children are my own – biologically, legally, and ethically speaking. And yet they are not mine. Although they come from my flesh, they are the children of God entrusted to me for only a lifetime. It is my vocation to bring them to birth, feed, bathe, clothe, house, and raise them in the fear of the Lord. They are a gift, a trust from the Lord. They are His, and finally I must surrender my will, my hopes and fears, my desires and wishes for them, and I must let His will be done for and to and through them.

To be married to the Mother of God is something I cannot fathom. I have no words to talk about that because it is truly extraordinary. However, I know the love that flows between a husband and wife. And I know the sacrifices and difficulties, as well as the triumphs and unspeakable joys, that happen in a marriage. There is something to be said about Rome’s idea that a priest is wedded to the Church. St. Paul speaks of the marriage relationship as a living icon of the relationship between Christ and His Church. It is my duty and privilege to stand before my wife and before my congregation as their Defender against evil. It is my vocation to provide them with all that they need to support their daily life. It is my privilege to speak to them, both privately and publicly, the Word of the Lord to forgive their sins and strengthen their faith. It is my duty to stand in the gap, between them and the evil forces of this world, to beat back the darkness with the Light of the World.

Lord God, our heavenly Father, thank you for the example of St. Joseph, the Guardian of our Lord and the Protector of the Church. Strengthen all faithful men to be guardians of Your people and defenders of the Faith as You have given to us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pastor Ryan McDermott

Over Population

We were greeted by this bumper sticker in Yellowstone last week.

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As Pastor McGuire once said to a morning Bible class I attended in Dallas a few years ago, you can’t take these people seriously. If they were really concerned about over population, they would kill themselves.

But they don’t.

Instead, they go right on living, driving navy blue pick-up trucks, consuming natural resources, sticking non-biodegradable plastics onto their bumpers with toxic glue, urinating birth control hormones into public water sources, and stomping carbon footprints deep into the grass-green earth, all the while encouraging everyone driving behind them to contracept and abort children for the sake of children themselves.

We are such a silly, selfish people.

Auxiliary

Four Hands Joined TogetherThank you, Pastor Mohr, for reminding us of the gift God gives us in auxiliary parenting.

I move my right arm and feel a tug at my wrist. I look down, but nothing is there. For five days, a plastic band surrounded that wrist – a fetter to remind me of my bound service to my wards. For 139 hours and 15 minutes, I had charge of five young men and a college chaperone as we attended one of the largest events in our lifetime – the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod National Youth Gathering.

And now I don’t.

My young charges have been returned to their parents. The wrist band has been cut off. I have been set free. But still, I feel it tugging. I still sense the urge to turn around and count- 1-2-3-4-5-6 – to confirm I have them all safely with me.

After our closing devotion upon returning home, one of the mothers commented to me, “Why haven’t you adopted a child, yet? I see how great you are with these kids. God has given you a gift.”

He has indeed – but in the barrenness of my being single, my gift is not to bring a child purposely into the brokenness of a single parent home. No, I walk beside these parents, auxiliary to them, helping them raise their children. I stand next to them in bringing Godly children to adulthood. And God has blessed me with these children, for a brief time.

With great wonderment, I pause and marvel that God would be so kind to have given me such a great gift. But still, these several days later, I feel that wristband tugging. And that’s when I look down at that wrist with its phantom tugging and smile as the epiphany slowly dawns – my boys are still my boys. The gift of my auxiliary role is not yet ended. I still get to count them, 1-2-3-4-5-6, each and every week. Only now, the question behind the count is not, “Are they safely with ME,” but are they safely with Him Who gave them to me? Are they in the Word… are they receiving the Sacrament… are they growing in their faith?

For 139 hours and 15 minutes, I had charge of these young men, but I shall stand auxiliary to them for a lifetime, encouraging my brothers in faith to grow in the Lord. They will always be “My Boys.” Thank you Lord, for Your gift to me in these young men!

Rev. Michael Mohr