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Messages - Sandra

Seriously? That's what you ask me after this?
So, having actually BEEN a single parent for most of my son's life, I've got to say I'm disappointed (but not at all surprised) by the way this conversation has gone.

But what really doesn't help the situation and is pretty disheartening, is the way other people talk about us and our kids. As though we're not even there. Especially when it's in the church. We have to qualify our single parenthood, to make sure it's appropriately justified. We get to listen to other people tsk-tsk at our lives and the statistics floating around social media this week. Oh, it's just horrible that these kids are raised by only their mothers. They'll probably grow up to be illiterate, sociopathic criminals, doncha know.

And yet, the Church is directly charged with caring for the widows and orphans. Guess what? Single parents are our modern-day widows and orphans. Did you know that 2 out of every 3 single moms do NOT attend church at all, even if they did before becoming single moms? Apply that juicy factoid to your statistics on how many single mothers and children of single mothers there are in the country and how fast that demographic is growing.

It's not because the service times don't work or because of the usual worship wars.

It's because of how we're usually treated. Most people aren't even aware of how they sound and act. I can't believe people are surprised that good, Christian girls get abortions when we talk about unwed mothers who choose to parent their children the ways we do.

The constant harping by church people about nuclear families and the need for 2-parent-households and isn't it terrible how these statistics look, more young women should place their children for adoption to avoid it. When this is how we talk about "family" and how any other makeup of "family" is horrible, less-than, and sinful, it makes a person feel judged and excluded when they don't fit the proper Christian mold. And it's not like there's anything that can be done about it (most of the time). It is what it is. So the whole thing becomes a vicious cycle, until they walk away and entirely write off the church as not for them. There's enough to keep busy with, there are more important things to worry about.

"Single" only describes a person's marital status because "single" parents are doing double-parent duties. There is NO downtime, no being off-duty - ever, and no back-up. If you as the sole parent don't do something, it doesn't get done -- from figuring out food for supper to paying the water bill or getting the oil changed in the car (and hopefully the service shop doesn't scam you). If you have a bad day at work and come home to kids melting down with anxiety over homework and the dog crapped on the floor while you were giving the baby a bath and there no one has clean pants for tomorrow so you have to stay up late and do laundry and...  It's literally exhausting, and there is no time or energy for anything else. Depression and isolation are quite common.

I'm (only a little bit) sorry for being so blunt, but it's incredibly frustrating to watch and listen to grown men yammer on and on about the dangers facing children of single mothers without a "male influence" in their lives -- but who never lift a finger to actually help one (not necessarily the conversation here, but it's happened countless times over the years on social media and in person). It REALLY bothers me how we talk about some of these issues in the church, because it has direct effect on other people and most times we're too busy being self-righteously indignant about "those people" to even notice how our words hurt others.

Yeah, things can be tricky these days with child predators, but churches would be a place to really facilitate opportunities by getting appropriate background checks, etc. If you want single parents to participate in activities at church, don't talk about families like this. You can hold up the ideal still, but acknowledge that other types of families matter and can do good things too. Provide childcare for all your events and meetings. For FREE. Maybe start an outreach program one Saturday every couple of months where single moms can get a free car checkup and oil change. A monthly babysitting afternoon could always helpful. Tutoring for older kids. Mentorship programs with other adults at church (who have been appropriately screened, of course). My pastor once called me and asked if he could take my 14 yr old son to lunch one Saturday. Just the two of them to hang out. I still get tears in my eyes thinking of it because it was the FIRST TIME (in his entire life) that a man who wasn't my dad or brother had EVER taken an interest in my kid and did anything with him. It doesn't even have to be a program through the church. Got a single parent in your neighborhood? Shovel the driveway and sidewalks. Rake the lawn.

Stop wringing your hands. Do the things. It will be appreciated more than you can imagine.

Your Turn / Re: 1517 Media Announces New Imprint
January 29, 2020, 11:56:11 AM
It'll be fun distinguishing between and 1517.'s media.
Your Turn / Re: Youth Ministry Activities
October 11, 2019, 10:23:28 AM
Quote from: Dave Benke on October 10, 2019, 06:54:49 PM
Agreed for the most part, especially about the central Gospel message and the importance of being a teaching Church for children, youth and families. 

Several provisos - one, the responsibility to teach the faith is a given; the effectiveness of the teaching is not only based, however, on the lesson - it's based on the relationship with the teacher(s), which must be one of trust, and as a followup, on the relationships going on in the communion of saints of all ages.  And both the lesson and how it's taught and the relationships mentioned are functions of the Holy Spirit as articulated in the Third Article of the Apostles' Creed and its meaning as written by Martin Luther.  It's not in other words pro forma presentation.
100% agree. No lesson plan is as important as actually answering questions, even if it takes you off track 2 minutes into the lesson. This isn't a race. There's no final exam at the end of the quarter.

Secondly, at least where I am and probably where Pastor Ed is, the audience/student body comes in with a wide variety of interest and religious background.  We taught a "hymn" as a way to encourage "holding fast" to Jesus with the faith that has been given to you - kids aged 5-12.  Here's the hymn (not, at least at this time, in LSB):  We put it on the screen and then went through the various stories and the point of the stories.  Every child was riveted to that hymn and those stories, and they all picked up the primary relationship of trust in Jesus. 

Your Turn / Re: Youth Ministry Activities
October 10, 2019, 01:37:02 PM
Really, social activities are fun and all, but that's what everyone does. Kids don't NEED fun and games to accompany lessons, and they often can easily detract from them...let's get through this stupid thing that Pastor/Leader wants to do and then we can really do what we came here to do. It also teaches them that church is supposed to be fun, and when they're out on their own, that will be the primary criteria by which they choose a church home of their own, whether or not the Gospel is preached in its purity there (probably not - Lutherans don't tend to excel at the fun stuff like other denominations).

So teach them the Gospel. They won't hear that ANYWHERE else in the world. Study the Scriptures with them. Study the Confessions. Teach them the "advanced" level of theology post-confirmation. Teach them history and why we believe what we believe and why we practice as we do. Go on a tour of the sanctuary and teach them what everything is and why it's there. Walk through the hymnal and show them how the liturgy is almost 100% quoting Scripture, the resources in the front pages with the lectionaries and prayers, and how to use it outside of Sunday mornings. Talk to them about other denominations and religions so they can talk to their friends who are part of them. Answer ANY AND ALL questions they have, and bring them all back to the Gospel of Christ crucified for their sins.
Your Turn / Re: Youth Ministry Activities
October 10, 2019, 01:17:27 PM
The most effective fundraiser I ever did as a youth director was to just write a letter, breaking down the various costs of our intended use for the funds (Higher Things conference), and simply asked for money. No one had to buy anything, it was great. People were happy to give for a specific purpose and we raised more from that letter than for multiple years' of fundraising combined.
Your Turn / Re: Nadia Bolz-Weber's new book on Sexuality
November 07, 2018, 10:55:36 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 06, 2018, 07:33:18 PM
How do you distinguish Gospel from taking a particular moral stand on self-harm, dating abuse, suicide, addiction, sexuality, etc. Would your position on those issues be any different than a Mormon or Orthodox Jew or Muslim?

I must not have been clear. As mj4 has said, we bring the Gospel to bear on those issues, we don't just teach that they're bad and so don't do those things. A Mormon, Orthodox Jew, or Muslim is not going to tell them that they are forgiven in Christ if they have fallen prey to these difficult temptations. They're not going to tell them that they already have victory over these struggles because Christ took their sins upon Himself, suffered for them and they have a God who knows what suffering is. They're not going to tell them of their new life in Christ, free from bondage to sin, death, and the devil. They're not going to remind them of the promise God Himself made to them in their baptism to make them His beloved children and they are not alone in their struggling or suffering, they have the whole community of faith to help bear them up.
Your Turn / Re: Nadia Bolz-Weber's new book on Sexuality
November 06, 2018, 03:06:46 PM
Quote from: Dave Benke on November 06, 2018, 02:34:09 PM
Thanks for these words, Sandra.  I take them as encouragement to keep on keeping on.  I'm in a predominantly Caribbean Basin culture congregation.  In that setting, there's a high degree of pretense that things be done according to the rubrics received back on the island(s) - the only parable is the ant and the grasshopper.  Don't be that grasshopper!  Be the industrious ant!!  Absolutely what you say - "law upon law."  What troubles me is that the adults have plenty of problems of their own and with their own offspring, but focus instead on pointing the finger; guess what, the young adults and youth vote with their feet. 

So those young adults whom we train and work with to minister with the youth and children promote as they can a more listening and encouraging attitude, not abrogating inherently Christian values, but without the judgmentalist banging .  And they have to be OK with the language even as we explore a different "higher things" linguistics. 

Exactly. By all means, don't abrogate Christian values. Just express them while being respectful of those who may not share them. Even when they're "kids."
Your Turn / Re: Nadia Bolz-Weber's new book on Sexuality
November 06, 2018, 02:06:34 PM
Quote from: Dave Benke on November 02, 2018, 02:42:57 PM
This is on the money, Don, in terms of Christian theology.  I will admit that dealing with realities of today's young adults and belief systems is a challenge for me.  My nature is to find points of attachment for conversation and lead to what we call the "mysteries".  What it seems to me is being propounded is a network of personal theologies/philosophies that has points of convergence on issues of importance (to that person or group), without an underlying objective theological framework.  And I think "objective" is not allowed in those settings, because what was deemed objective - the writings of Scripture, the documents of the faith through the centuries as driven down to doctrine - is now deemed not to be or have been objective all along, but rather the organization of facts by whichever person or group was in power.   So community is durable on whichever issues connect people, but pro tem at best in terms of underlying objective truth or doctrine. 

Kurt Marquart (not somebody I am probably viewed as quoting!) used to argue at length about "biblicism," that is, a raw objectifying Scripture without the lens of the confessions and the Church through the ages.  It's that larger body of data and decisions made in community that most of us on this forum take as "objective."  How to connect that with the kids I know who wrestle with this incredible data-heavy, informationally overloaded bunch of stuff that comes at them and boiling it down to Jesus is a challenge, and one that the Church must be up to by God's grace. 

Dealing with matters of faith and today's youth is definitely a challenge. There's a LOT of bad stuff going on and part of "normal" teenage life now. But, there's also an openness to it that there hasn't been before. At HT conferences, we regularly have breakout sessions addressing difficult mental health topics like self-harm, dating abuse, suicide, addiction, sexuality, etc. And they are always well attended, and the young people are definitely seeking comfort and ways to bring the Gospel to bear when they encounter those kinds of issues in their own lives and in their friends. What they often get from "church people" is law upon law, covered up with hypocrisy, spoken with superficial platitudes. And so they turn to their peers, where they are at least understood and not judged for not fitting the right mold.

When you, as an adult, learn about these things, displays of shock or dismay or, worst, disgust will often shut down the conversation. You will be instantly deemed as one who can't handle talking about that topic, and they'll often shut down and move on. That includes the language used. Also, watch how you talk about these kinds of issues in general. They're watching and listening. When the news comes up with a new crisis in our culture, how you talk about it in general is how they see you talking about them (and their friends) dealing with that crisis personally.
What about things revealed in counseling that are not even the person's sins? For example, a wife tells her pastor that she's being abused by her husband and some of the things that he's been doing and asks for help. Is that privileged information?

I ask, because this happened to a friend, who was in court to determine custody of her children during her divorce proceedings from her abusive husband. After her husband called on his pastor who was happy to testify to his negative "impressions" of her (they had never met for counseling, she didn't attend church there, and had only had conversations with the man in passing when she occasionally visited), she called on our pastor as a character witness to corroborate that she had claimed in multiple counseling sessions that her husband was abusive before a certain date and other actions had taken place. Lacking the resources for a lawyer, she questioned the pastor herself, "Did I ever tell you that my husband was abusive?"

He declined to respond to her question on the basis of it being privileged information.
Given that many male pastors insist (and for good reasons, I'll grant) on meeting with women with a door open or in a public space where someone could walk by and see/hear them together NOT doing anything inappropriate... could an argument be made that there can be no expectation of privacy for the penitent/counselee in such a situation, especially since the reason it's done is to avoid being in a truly private setting?
Your Turn / Re: a hesitant offering
August 02, 2018, 02:09:34 PM
Thank you for writing this. I'm still reading through it but am finding it extremely helpful. Thank you for modeling patience and putting the best construction on the words and actions of others, even when the same courtesy has not been shown to you and others in similar situations.
On April 25, 1518, Luther's fame was secured. While his 95 Theses, written six months earlier, had caused some rumblings, it was the Heidelberg Disputation that was, arguably, the match to the gasoline that was the Reformation. Friend and foe were made at Heidelberg. In his Twenty-Eight Theological Theses, and Twelve Philosophical Theses, Luther tears down the Medieval religious system, and he burns everything down to the true Foundation: Jesus Christ, who died and rose for sinners.

This special edition offers a historical introduction to the Heidelberg Disputation, written by Pastor Donavon Riley, Higher Things' Online Content Manager. The Theses and their Proofs, written May 1518, are translated with readability in mind by Pastor Aaron Fenker, Higher Things' Media Executive. The purpose: to open the Heidelberg Disputation to all Christians, and not just to those trained in theology!
Your Turn / Re: Women and Military Service
March 30, 2018, 04:42:16 PM
Let's be clear here, while this conversation occurred in another social media forum, it's not like it was a private conversation by any means. Pastor Ramirez's post is public (unless something changes), which means that anyone (whether FB friends or not, or even whether a person even has a FB account or not) may view it. He even tagged NINETY-FIVE people when he posted it. Anyone may go and see who commented in what way, why we must go through and name names when they're publicly visible is beyond me.

The point of Deaconess Schave's comments was to bring light to some of the ideas and attitudes in our Synod that faithful women are finding distressing: that feminism had NO benefit to society; that women should not serve in certain (defensive) noncombat roles and in other civil vocations such as law enforcement; painting everyone on the CTCR as a feminist or "soyboy" and not a "real" man, woman, or Lutheran if they didn't fight the statement tooth and nail; suggesting that members of the CTCR concluded as they did because they personally have wives/daughters in the military; concluding that the document was written by men who are ruled by their wives/daughters, that any and all forms of feminism are, prima facia, evil; that allowing women to decide for themselves in their circumstances to serve in the military will necessarily lead to them to decide that women should be ordained; and then congratulating one another for speaking so lovingly and clearly about this issue -- even with the sharp wit that may chafe on those who hold to unbiblical positions in our midst.

It's pretty distressing, as a woman (and to other women in the LCMS) to observe the creeping overlap between the new manly-man masculinity growing in the patriarchal-minded people of synod and the disgustingly misogynistic red pill mens' rights movement in the secular world. I've watched this happen over the last couple of years and it truly frightens me. There is no compassion, empathy, or nuance (much less, Gospel) for those who do not share or even question these narrow interpretations of doctrine and vocation. Such concerns are effeminate and sinful, doncha know, and because they are so feminine they must be checked under appropriate godly male authority. The concerns do not even need to be heard, but are just dismissed outright because having and expressing a concern at all is the result of sinful rebelliousness against the clear Word of God on the order of Creation.

Deaconess Schave didn't invite you to contact her husband, she simply asked that IF you must contact her husband, to wait until he was no longer on vacation. I'm sure they're grateful that you at least waited until their vacation was over. But many of us are baffled as to why you felt this was SUCH a problem that it was something to make a phone call over, days after the fact, and that you had to bring her husband into the conversation -- who was apparently supposed to take your side in the controversy and make her get in line with more appropriate (in your mind) behavior.

Your Turn / Re: New LCMS Catechism -- A Question
January 20, 2018, 06:07:53 PM
Quote from: mariemeyer on January 20, 2018, 05:21:34 PM
As I have stated in the past, there is reason to review how the LCMS defines the husband/wife relationship and applies it to man and woman.  The problem may not be in how abusive husbands misuse or misinterpret Scripture, but the lack of clarity on LCMS writings on marriage. The question is whether or not submission, self-sacrificial love and servanthood  are mutual in marriage and in the relationship between man and woman in the Church?

I agree, and have said before in many places that those church bodies (like the LCMS) that espouse a "traditional" view of the roles of men and women in marriage absolutely MUST differentiate their teachings from those that are abusive dynamics. It may be nuanced, but it is important that it is done.
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