Earlier this year, I attended a soft skills training on “stress management.” It was a small class (3-4 people plus 2 instructors), so everyone in the class got to share a bit about what makes them stressed. I found myself talking a lot about my kids. Working to support my kids, commuting long distances to support my kids, living on a tight budget because of my kids, and the endless grind of the life of a single mother with so few breaks from the kids.
At a different point in the class, the instructor asked us to write down what makes us feel happy, and at the top of my list was . . . my kids. When my little boy giggles at me, when my daughter is being goofy, when we do something together as a family. The source of my greatest stresses in life is also the source of my greatest joy.
The third Advent candle represents joy. The pink also reminds us to look ahead to Christ’s sacrifice. The joy of the Savior’s arrival in this world is linked to the anticipation of his sacrifice for us all. We can’t have one without the other.
Tonight, I’m gathering my children around to light the third Advent candle and sing “Joy to the World.” May you find joy this Advent Sunday.
I’ll never forget the definition of love that was given to me at a youth conference, years ago, when I was maybe 12. It must have been a good youth conference, because that definition has stayed with me my entire life.
“Love is choosing the highest good for the other person.”
In our society, talk is cheap. A classic hallmark of emotionally immature people is saying “I love you” too early in a relationship. This kind of thing can even be a mark of abusive behavior, called “love-bombing.”
Today is the first Sunday of Advent for the year 2015. We enter into my favorite season from a past year that has been one of continuing transition for my family. I switched jobs (just two weeks ago), started a certificate program at the local community college, have made good progress on my thesis with a solid goal of finally finishing my MA degree in May 2016, and have gotten acclimated to the life of a single mother and divorcée. My brother, who lives with me and had been my primary caregiver for my children, went back to work for the first time in six years, which has meant putting my son in part-time child care and my daughter in after-school care. As I look to the future, I am pondering the possibility of returning to my family in Seattle next summer, after I finish both my programs. It would mean trying to line up both a job and a place to live before making the cross-country move, so I am apprehensive about the future.
Yet, I am hopeful. My favorite passage in the Bible reads (emphasis mine):
Jeremiah 29:11-13 ~ “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Hope is a powerful thing. The Reformer Martin Luther once said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Often we think that we have no hope, but if this were true, we might not choose to keep going. And when we look to God and his promises for our hope, he can do amazing things in our lives. On the dawn of Christ’s coming, Israel looked to God for the hope of the promised Messiah.
A short but significant account of a female prophet occurs in 2 Chronicles 34. In this chapter, King Josiah of Judah makes the decision to restore the temple of the LORD. In making repairs to the temple, the high priest Hilkiah comes across “the Book of the Law of the LORD”—probably all or at least part of the book of Deuteronomy. When the book was read to King Josiah, he “tore his robes.” Apparently the people of Judah were unaware of the Law and had not been following the commands contained therein. King Josiah then orders Hilkiah and four other top-ranking Judean officials to “Go and inquire of the Lord” on behalf of himself and all of Israel and Judah concerning the teachings found in the Law of the Lord.
Hilkiah and the other officials seek out the prophet Huldah, who tells them, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people—all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made, my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’” (NIV) She then adds as a message to King Josiah, “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.” (v. 24-25, 27-28)
I am a Christian egalitarian. I believe that God calls women as pastors, elders and deacons so that we should be ordained as such, and I believe that leadership of a Christian household should be shared between husband and wife with neither having final authority over the other and Christ being regarded as the head of the household. My position stands in contrast to Christian hierarchist  positions which restrict women from certain church leadership and teaching roles (usually pastor, elder, and sometimes deacon) and teach that the husband possesses some kind of final authority or leadership role in the home.
I arrived at this position through years of prayer, study, and personal experience. Here are 12 reasons why I am a Christian egalitarian today:
(1)Because the Creation narrative teaches that, before the Fall, men and women were created equal.
In the first Creation narrative in Genesis 1, both the man and the woman were created in the image of God (1:26-27). Both were commanded to have “dominion” over the earth (1:28). There is no trace of hierarchy in the text here. The man and the woman are equals in paradise, and God calls it “very good” (1:31).
I attended a women’s theology conference in February 2014. The theme of the conference was “purpose,” and the other women at my table were chatting excitedly about figuring out God’s calling in their lives.
I didn’t feel like I could join them. I’d had my son on September 29th of the previous year and asked for a divorce exactly one month later. As I sat at that table, my car was in the shop, undergoing expensive repairs. I didn’t have a job. My estranged husband was looking into apartments so that he could move out, and I had no idea how I was ever going to care for my children. I wasn’t chatting excitedly about mission or ministry; I was thinking of those two human beings whose lives depended on me and how I was going to feed them.
When it came my turn to talk about what I believed was God’s purpose for my life, through my tears, I told the other women at my table my fears and concerns. I said that I really wasn’t sure what God had for me in terms of mission or ministry anymore because I was just struggling to survive.
And one of them said, “Right now, God’s mission for you is to take care of those children. Don’t you worry about anything else for the time being.”
I don’t normally use Weighted Glory to discuss local Illinois politics, but this is a matter that affects me and my family personally.
I am a Republican and a person who voted for Bruce Rauner for Governor. I have voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every presidential race since I turned 18 in 2000, and unless Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, I will be voting Republican in the next presidential race. I have faithfully served the Illinois GOP as a Republican election judge and administrative election judge in four elections since 2012.
I bring this up because it may seem at odds with what I am asking now: I am asking my friends and family in Illinois to please call their local state representative and urge him/her to vote in favor of overriding Governor Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229.
TONTITOWN, ARKANSAS — A Wednesday afternoon bout of “Dark Web” dumpster-diving through leaked Ashley Madison user files yielded the timely revelation that disgraced fundamentalist reality show personality, Josh Duggar, was the likely owner of multiple AM accounts.
“I am shocked and appalled that a man who could molest his sisters and then go on to become a family values spokesman could do something so hypocritical as cheating on his wife as a family values spokesman,” wrote one distressed commentator. “Josh Duggar has lowered the high standards we’ve come to expect from creepy patriarchal southern fundamentalist Bible-thumpers everywhere.”
In the wake of Tuesday night’s Ashley Madison leak, comments across the Web had just about proven conclusively that not a single one of the 37 million users registered at AM–whose business motto is “life is short, have an affair”–was actually on the site with the intention of having an affair. Blogs, Twitter, and news articles erupted with comments from users who had joined Ashley Madison for something other than the site’s well-advertised main purpose.
“I’m a single woman and I was on the site to meet single men, because in spite of the site’s reputation, it is a DATING site,” wrote one woman. When queried as to how she knew for certain that the men she met were also single, she replied, “Why would a guy like that lie?”
Upon waking to the news that the Ashley Madison hackers had made good on their threat to release their stash of stolen personal information, my reaction was pretty much:
For those of us who had our lives ripped apart by affairs, it’s hard to not smile at the sight of Team Sidef*** getting some much-needed comeuppance. It’s hard not to chuckle at the spectacle of people who were lying to and betraying others being lied to and betrayed by Ashley Madison. (more…)
I was barely into the second trimester of my pregnancy when I first told my then-husband that I was separating from him. I had not held a full-time job in 7 years. Our rent history, credit history, and low income had kept us out of large, amenities-laden apartment complexes and forced us to utilize dishonest landlords who took advantage of their tenants. Our then-landlord was a source of enormous stress to me and I wanted no more of it.
My dreams were simple:
A job with good benefits. Any job, just so long as it had good benefits.
A two-bedroom apartment in a nice complex for me and my children. I would share the master bedroom with the baby, and my daughter would have the second bedroom.
I would paint the walls of my room deep forest green because I found it soothing, and the baby would have a nice, sturdy crib that could be changed into a toddler bed when s/he got older. 
No more borrowing money from friends, no more “please send money” pleas to family.
It may sound pathetic, but at the time it was all I wanted—a decent roof over my children’s heads free from the stress of bad landlords, a way to provide for my family, and personal space that was entirely mine. But it didn’t matter how simple it was. Pregnant and unemployed, it was entirely out of my reach; any apartment complex I applied to me would have denied me based on lack of income alone.