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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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May 10, 2013

This Mother’s Day, Make a List of Things You Resent about Your Mother

Oh, and then throw it away.

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When I was four years old, I got my left ring finger stuck in a belt sander. It sanded off my finger nail, and much of the skin beneath it. My mom made woodcrafts, and I’d been “helping” her while she sanded something down, cleaning off the sawdust from the table, the floor, and in a not-so-brilliant move, the powered-on sander. The cloth I was using to dust got stuck in the rotating belt, and my finger quickly followed. My mom turned it off as quickly as she could, and as tears rolled down my eyes, her soft, strong arms carried me from the basement up to the living room. We sat in the big pink chair in our living room for what felt like an eternity, my mom rocking me back and forth, holding a cloth to my hand, me crying, and eventually, her crying as well.

That’s the kind of mom she was, and still is. She felt my pain so deeply, it caused her pain as well. I’ll never forget that day, and the intense love I felt as my mom wept over me. I remember thinking that I’d never felt safer.

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April 3, 2013

The XX Factor: Girl Power

When your husband’s companionship doesn’t cut it, female friendship does

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I’ve been married for almost two years, and I finally made it out of the honeymoon phase this past month. The first sign I had made my exit was when I got annoyed that my husband, Jeremy, stole all of my covers the other night.

The second sign was when I started yearning for more girlfriends in my life. For almost two years, I was perfectly content to spend every waking moment with my husband (only a slight exaggeration). For the most part, my social needs were met, or so I thought. What actually happened, though, was that I ignored my need for deep, encouraging friendships with other women. As a result, I’ve become pretty lonely.

After college, I moved away from my closest friends for graduate school. After graduate school, I married Jeremy. Now two years later, I am desperately thirsty for a friend—and not just any friend. I want a friend who knows my deepest thoughts without me even telling her; a friend that will confront me when I’m not honoring God in my life; a friend I can encourage and come to know just as deeply as she knows me.

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April 1, 2013

Five Tips to Avoid Drowning as a Single Parent

How one woman has learned to cope with raising five children—alone.

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Somehow I missed the single-parent swimming lessons. I feel like someone just picked me up and threw me in the deep end—then threw five children on top of me! I’m a pretty strong swimmer, but I’d love someone to blow the whistle for a signal break so I can go sit in the hot tub.

This isn’t the pool I’d planned on jumping into. I don’t know if the pool analogy works for you, but I think it works well as a metaphor for my daily life of drowning in exhaustion, work, laundry, parenting, and paper. Occasionally I get a gulp of fresh air, but then I have to dive back down.

My body is tired of paddling. My mind is murky from too many decisions and too little sleep. My emotions are numb from trying to carry my children’s pain and heartache as my own. My spiritual life is in an SOS state as I continually throw my hands up for help. So how do I get out of the pool? Or better yet—to the lounging chairs?

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February 13, 2013

Single Women: You Don’t Want What You Think You Want

Sexual chemistry and infatuation can cloud your judgment of your man’s character. Here’s how to avoid disillusioned dating.

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We know it sounds like a cliché, but in this case it’s true: single women are often initially attracted to qualities in a man that become problematic in marriage. Most won’t realize this until the fog of infatuation lifts. How can you single women be sure this won’t happen to you?

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January 24, 2012

Why Young Men Aren’t Manning Up

It’s difficult to turn boys to men. What to do about those who are M.I.A.

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Where have the good men gone? Chances are you’ve counseled a frustrated young single woman in your church who has asked you this question. Or perhaps you’ve asked it yourself. This question is the catalyst for Kay Hymowitz’s book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, an indepth analysis of the state of the average middle-class American male in his twenties.

By her analysis, he has simply decided to remain a “pre-adult,” stuck between adolescence and adulthood. After reading her book it’s easy to understand why. In a nutshell, women, who graduate college in greater percentages (earning more degrees by a ratio of nearly 3:2) and with higher GPAs than men on average, are quickly making up ground in our current “knowledge economy,” which places a premium on educational credentials. While young women have been energized by historic, unprecedented opportunities for a self-supporting career in the workplace, young men have been gradually shrinking from adult responsibilities such as marriage, job, and family in favor of entertainment and diversion.

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January 3, 2012

I Lost Everything in a House Fire

I was forced to decide if I truly could be grateful in all circumstances.

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One year, just after Christmas, our house caught on fire. Our then preschool-aged son turned on the stove that we thought was broken and had tucked away in the basement. As its burners heated up, so did the box of photos I had set atop them months before. It was this box—all of our family’s memories—that ignited the entire basement. My sons, then 3, 4, and 7, and I fled across the street to the safety of our neighbor’s home. From her living room we watched as smoke billowed from the windows while firefighters worked to douse the flames. Life as we knew it ended that day.

With virtually all of our material possessions destroyed and damaged (my neighbor literally gave me the coat off her back), we checked into a hotel. At dinner that first night, my husband looked at each one of us. With a catch in his voice, he said, “Everything I ever needed, I still have around this table.”

In that moment, I understood what it means to be thankful in all circumstances.

Two weeks later, we moved into a fully-furnished apartment with a short-term lease. All we brought with us—our family of five—was a laundry basket of clothes.

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September 6, 2011

Praying Grandparents

Stand in the gap for the next generation.

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This past summer, I had the privilege of watching two of my grandchildren for a week. Anticipating that time, I felt much fear and trembling. Did I have enough energy to keep up with two preschool kids? Would they obey me or be wildly out of control? Would they miss their parents so much that they’d be miserable? All of these were valid concerns, but I garnered much prayer support for the week and my fears disintegrated. Other than my energy being taxed, it was a fabulous week.

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November 17, 2010

The Most Romantic Thing My Husband Ever Said to Me

I happened to be throwing up at the time.

We have funny ideas about romance. We think of it as candlelight, being showered in gifts, and a stolen kiss. That may be sort-of romantic, but at my age those things have worn kind of thin. And I think they have for a lot of people.

Take Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, for instance. He’s probably the most romantic figure in fiction. Women hold him up as the ideal that they’re looking for. But what is he like? For most of the story he’s cold, distant, and insulting. He certainly never does the candlelight and gift thing. He doesn’t even steal a kiss! But he’s a man of action. When it comes right down to it, he moves heaven and earth for the one he loves at great cost and inconvenience to himself.

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