My daughter was certain a puppy would bring her joy. Fix her loneliness and boredom. Her therapy dog, we joked. Love in the time of COVID.
Okay, we agreed. We’ll get another dog.
But YOU—we told her—will be in charge of training it.
Of course, yes, I’ll do everything, she said. And for the most part, God bless her, she has. From the moment Bodie the mini Goldendoodle entered our family three weeks ago, my 14-year-old has taken the lead on all potty training, crate training, behavior training, and puppy acclimation tasks required.
She adores this pup. We all do.
Yet sometimes we want to drop-kick him into the neighbor’s yard.
No longer young. No longer middle-aged. Not quite elderly.
Life feels much more…temporary. Fragile even. Long-term planning and dreams of the future, my future, seem at times irrelevant.
But still I ponder my future. I continue to ask myself the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” As I look ahead, my answer is no longer just “…a teacher, an explorer, a president, a mom!”
It’s not that these types of goals are wrong- not at all! In fact, goals like these are necessary for all of us, and yet, there should be more. We need something else that is able to take us across the finish line of life with a flourish. Now my answer is qualified with, “I want to be faith-filled. I want to be a blessing to those around me.”
Faith-filled. A blessing.
As I have spent time around the elderly, (which is fast becoming my peer group!) I have noticed many bitter, depressed, cranky old people. And I get it. So much has been taken from them.
“How do you handle if you work hard long hours and all your husband wants is sex when you get home?”
As a wife of 38 years, try answering that one in front of a church-going crowd. It didn’t help that a mom and her two kids got up and walked out at that point.
This was the scene just last Sunday at our quarterly “Fire Away” where people ask live questions on a particular topic, and in this case, it was on marriage. And sex. And it was directed to me, Pastor’s wife, while sitting next to the Pastor in question.
I was told there were a lot of questions about sex and they only pitched one of them to us. But why shouldn’t we talk about sex from the pulpit? It’s important, and it's God’s idea!
Well, I was unable to ...ahem… answer very clearly, but the next day, the following article by Shaunti Feldhahn landed in my email. I think it perfectly answers the question: How do you respond when your husband wants sex right when you come home- even before dinner?
I am in the process of getting rid of roughly half of what I own.
Half of our furniture has been sold. Half of the kid’s toys have been given away. Our storage bins of household decor have been trimmed down to one. I’ve let go of old letters, broken Barbie dolls from my childhood, and my bulky assortment of bridesmaid dresses tucked in the back corner of my closet.
I’ve laughed in the process, reminisced, and even shed a tear or two along the way. I have always claimed that “things” do not define me- that I am not attached and they don’t play a defining role in my happiness. That mindset works until the spot where the trampoline sat for summers on end is now an empty space in the back corner of the yard, or that hand-built family piece pulls away in the back of a truck.
Power is a loaded word that can bring many different thoughts to mind. Maybe you think of a superhero with incredible strength and ability or a huge machine hard at work. Maybe you think of a lightning bolt illuminating the night sky or the simple flip of a switch that eliminates darkness. The word may bring to mind an influential person or makes you think of God. Or perhaps your life feels like a musical, and the 90’s song lyrics “I’ve Got the Power” has been playing in your mind since I mentioned the word.
Not many of us think of ourselves when we hear the word power. Instead, we feel tired, worn out, and overwhelmed. Our days are filled with cups of coffee and sighs of discontentment as we reach for a feeling of control over our families, jobs, and nation to no avail.
In a way, it’s as though we have given up and thrown in the towel as the illusion of control plays out in our day to day. Certainly power is not a word that describes us.
Women love beauty! Beauty is important to us as we decorate our surroundings and adorn our faces. It seems hard wired into us. Somehow beauty makes us feel valued, wanted, and even powerful.
I don’t believe our desire for beauty is a bad thing. A truly beautiful woman is meant to display the attractiveness and desirability of the Gospel, and in turn men should be able to illustrate its power and strength to change lives.
I’m a huge advocate for drawing on God’s Word to train our kids. The Bible makes it clear: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Amen! The Bible is our source of wisdom—yes, by all means, let’s apply it to our children’s lives!
In doing so, though, we need to ensure we’re using Scripture not just to convict but also to equip and encourage. Think of it as the difference between a hammer and a paintbrush. One pounds holes in the wall; the other transforms it.
It’s not very often that having to make a big decision is easy. Most of the time, it leaves me feeling like a deer caught in headlights with eyes wide open and frozen in time, unable to make a move. As a family, we recently walked through just that.
As you may have already heard, our family has decided we are giving up everything that is comfortable and familiar to us, packing up, and heading South. We will be moving down to Clarkston, Georgia for the next three years to set up a youth ministry program for the refugee population that lives there. We will be partnering with an organization called Envision Atlanta. Technically, we will be missionaries.
To go on vacation or not to go on vacation — that is the question. Hundreds of thousands of schools, universities and other public institutions are closing worldwide, so should we really take that trip out west we have been planning for months?
I cried today. And I’m not someone who cries often. At first glance, it would seem to make sense. I’ve been sick for almost a month and I’m both physically and emotionally drained. I’ve been in and out of doctors’ offices, lots of tests, and a lot of unknowns. But that’s not why I cried.
Join me for Finding God Friday with my husband, Eric, as we discuss 5 lessons we have learned in the last 21 years of marriage. Having a child with a disability can put a lot of strain on a marriage, we can honestly say that it has not been easy but it has been worth it and are grateful for the lessons we have learned along the way.
As a ten-year-old, I was too young to understand the reasons for my parents' divorce, so it was a very confusing and complicated time for me.
Entering adolescence would have been hard enough already, but on top of that, due to the divorce I moved around a lot and my new family relationships were complicated. I struggled with insecurity, because I wrestled with where I had come from and where I was going.
We drive down a tree-lined gravel lane that seems to appear out of the blue in rural Wisconsin. The closer we get, the more we can hear the sounds of children. As we pull into the yard, we are met with the sight of happy chaos - nearly a dozen children jumping on trampolines, riding bikes around the yard, and running in and out of the house. Beautiful children with all shades of skin tone, from the fairest of fair to deep ebony.
At first glance, one might think they’ve pulled into a daycare, hidden deep in the woods. But they would be wrong.
These children are one big, beautiful, love story.
Our society is awesome at drowning us in the notion that the "perfect body" is not only something that’s expected of us but is also something that’s attainable. A couple months ago, I was taking a pleasant little nature walk up north, looking for the perfect instagrammable leaf. After walking around, leafless, for a good 10 minutes, I realized that I had painted this predispositioned picture of the "perfect leaf" in my mind. There were none to be found, as even the seemingly "perfect" leaves were discolored or dismembered somewhere. The perfect leaf was not attainable.
What if I told you that perfection will never be attainable for our bodies either?
The following was submitted during the open call for writers from the Appleton Alliance congregation.
After dropping my son off, I was walking to my vehicle when I spotted a good friend across the parking lot. I smiled and waved only to be greeted with a half-hearted wave and maybe a smile. I was going to approach her and chat, but this response made me hesitate. Very quickly the thought entered my mind- I wonder why she's mad at me? followed by a host of insecurities and negative thoughts.
My hair stood on end on a beautiful 80 degree day. This wasn’t the first time it had happened that week. On day nine of what I had been referring to as the “trip of a lifetime” to Israel, I found myself standing in an empty tomb.
This wasn’t just any tomb but was the suspected tomb of Jesus- the place where the burial and resurrection took place. I had seen it on flannel boards and raised my hands in remembrance of it with the Easter Sunday choir over the years, but to stand in that place was a powerful reminder of the cornerstone of my identity and faith. The spiritual significance of the moment sunk deep into my being…..
I knew after hearing God loudly on a trip to Africa in 2014 that Burkina was the place where I was always to return. Having that knowledge, I signed up for the very next trip leaving AAC in 2015. However, due to turmoil and unrest in Burkina as well as prayer and discernment, the decision was made to pause trips to Burkina from AAC. Our original team was offered another opportunity to go on mission to Peru in 2018. I didn’t feel any particular call to Peru, and other family conversations led me to decline this offer.
Then in late November 2018 I got an invitation to facilitate a trip to Peru for 2019 – my immediate response was, “No. If it’s not Burkina, I’m not interested.”
Over the past month we have received many thoughtful and inspiring blog submissions from our AAC women. The final deadline for submissions is October 4th, and we still want to hear from YOU.
If you have something you would like to publish on our blog site here are a few qualifiers:
Maybe you’re facing a backward roll into dusky waters right now. It could be the disorientation of a cross-country move, losing a parent to a long illness, struggling with addiction or that sinking feeling that life just hasn’t turned out the way you’d planned.
For me, it was being side-swiped by infertility with the unshakable feelings of confusion, anger, and pain. There is physical pain of tests, treatments and fist-fighting with your own body. The rollercoaster each month of surging hormones and the exhaustion of devastating disappointment. There is the emotional pain of feeling that hole in your heart where you know a child belongs. Facing friends and family who appear to have the family of your dreams. Realizing no amount of hustle or positive thinking can fix it or make it happen. There is the spiritual pain of having big questions for a God who seems silent. Crying out to God in the disappointment of broken dreams. Feeling like I’ve followed the rules and this is what I get for it?
Our blog has been up and running officially since February 2019! Our writing team comes from various backgrounds and circumstances, so hopefully we can speak into a broad range of topics that affect the women at AAC.
Some of you have asked if we would take contributions from you as well. The answer is “yes!”
We all want to make a difference in this world, but sometimes we feel so small and insignificant. Here at AAC we want to encourage women that you were indeed created to make an impact.
I want to introduce you to Lori Loux: She is a wife, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor, and she attends AAC. Lori recently joined the AAC staff part time as an administrative assistant with Global Connections.
I graduated from college and two months later began the greatest journey of my life. Four airplanes, an overnight train, and thirty-six hours took me to a place I never would have imagined I could call home.
I spent the summer teaching English in what is considered one of the “four ovens” of my host country because of the high temperatures and humidity. My days were spent teaching elementary educational methodology to local teachers on the fourth floor of an unairconditioned concrete building.
The remainder of that year had me in three layers of winter clothes in the far northern corner of my host country teaching spoken English at a private university. Both had me completely out of my comfort zone, but to date it remains one of my favorite years of life!
Cheryl began working on staff at AAC in 2007.That was also the year doctors discovered Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer in her body. Cheryl had three months of radiation treatments that seemed to take care of it, but in 2010 a remaining tumor was discovered above her left eye.
Our AAC Women’s Ministry staff hopes you had a refreshing weekend with your girlfriends at Encounter: A Weekend for Women! Speaker Sharon Jaynes explained that even though we have lies thrown at us daily, through Christ we can capture those thoughts and be reminded of our identity as God’s daughter. We hope you carry this truth with you into the hustle of everyday life. Check out some highlights and comments from Encounter 2019 below.
It started out as a normal summer day and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Hubs and I had just purchased our very first home. And it was yellow. I had prayed for yellow. Moving day was set, our boxes packed. We were moving right along with our list of goals: New house, check. Jobs, check. Furniture, check. Search for a dog, check. Our future was looking bright.
And then it happened. Something didn’t feel quite right. My energy started to fail and I found myself getting easily fatigued. Over the next few weeks my knees began to swell until they became the size of cantaloupes. As the swelling increased, the pain grew. It hurt to walk, it hurt to stand, it hurt to move.
I spent my 30th birthday and a good part of that year battling a crippling disease. Instead of gracefully waltzing into a new decade, I hobbled my way through. Within two weeks of our move I became confined to our couch, utterly fatigued without even enough energy to make myself a sandwich. Even hobbling across the floor to the bathroom became a tremendous feat. My body was rapidly breaking down before my very eyes and there was nothing I could do about it.
We have many godly older women at our church that have encouraging faith-filled stories to share with us. This is the testimony of Marion Koepke as we interviewed her about her life. May it inspire you as it has me.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES FOR YOU AS A WIFE AND MOM IN THE 1960’S?
I was married to a successful businessman in November 1959 and we had 3 children. During the 1960’s most women did not work outside the home unless they were divorced or single, so I stayed at home with my children. Don was gone a lot for business and I was left to raise the children practically by myself. Not only that, but the business world proved to be a big temptation for Don and he became an alcoholic.
It wasn’t until I moved north that Fall took on a whole new meaning. The charming season now warms a special place in my heart. The very word conjures up memories of apple picking, pumpkin carving, hot cider, and the delicious aroma of Grandma’s pie baking in the oven!
Every year I look forward to pulling out my weathered box from its nestled place in the basement, rediscovering the rustic decor that will soon adorn my home. This year, as I sat down to admire my handiwork, my eye caught a glimpse of the trees out back. Tall and proud, they line the yard with their fiery blaze of reds, oranges, and yellows announcing that summer is officially gone and winter is sure to come.
Soaking in the moment, I was suddenly struck by the irony of it all. The very leaves I admire are actually dying before my very eyes. The thought was slightly disturbing and fascinating all at the same time.