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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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May 6, 2013

Conflict, Bitterness, and Resentment: Overcoming Fall-Out with a Friend

Negative thinking blinded me from seeing my friend as she really is

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I’m not one to confront conflict with courage. So I was not looking forward to meeting with one of my church friends last week. It would be no ordinary get together. No cooking experiments or shopping—it was a meeting to figure out why we couldn’t get along.

The conflict began innocently enough with a careless word that led to a misunderstanding. Now more than 18 months later, this unresolved hurt has festered into an unhealed sore, and it has tainted every encounter between us.

Continue reading "Conflict, Bitterness, and Resentment: Overcoming Fall-Out with a Friend" »

February 27, 2013

Too Fat, Too Thin, or Just Right?

Discerning a healthy approach to body issues

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From the perfectly-sculpted and scantily-clad women smiling at us from the glossy covers of magazines to the consistent drone of news stories about America’s obesity epidemic, we live in a swirl of confusion about our bodies. Should we aim to be sexy, thin, and “perfect”? Or is trying to get fit a “worldly” goal, incompatible with the spiritual life of a God-focused Christian?

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February 25, 2013

Stress Relief through Storytelling

A new study by the American Psychological Association shows that 20- and 30somethings are the most stressed generation in America. Here’s how the church can help them cope.

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A recent study revealed the youngest generations of adults in America are also the most stressed. In one sense, this is no big surprise, given the economic and social factors influencing quality of life and near-future prospects for Millennials—adults ages 18 to 29—and for Gen Xers, whose scores are virtually tied with those of their younger counterparts.

In January 2013, the unemployment rate for Millennials reached 13.1 percent. This compares to 7.9 percent overall. And among employed Millennials, many are underemployed, working jobs that don’t make full use of their college degrees, making it hard to pay off student debt.

On the other hand, in general, Millennials carry far less responsibility for others compared with adults in mid-life, who are more likely carrying large mortgages, raising kids and putting them through college and managing mature careers. And those who are well into the second half of life often find themselves caring for aging parents and facing their own health issues as they age. Older adults have plenty of reasons to stress out.

So is there something more behind all the stress on younger adults?

Definitely.

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October 29, 2012

Zombies Are for Real

After diving into Scripture this fall, I’ve found there’s more to the zombie craze than what’s on TV—essentially, the truth of Christ's resurrection.

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As a child, I always looked forward to Halloween. It was exciting to turn into a comic book super hero and receive a sweet reward for saying three words: Trick or Treat? Unfortunately, today the innocence of hunting for candy now competes with culture’s fascination with dark macabre.

I’m particularly intrigued by the growing “zombie craze.” Film critics promote innovators to the zombie film genre like 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, and most recently, the AMC television series The Walking Dead.

CNN asked Max Brooks, author of World War Z, about the current fascination with zombies. Brooks explained that young people often use zombies to discuss global problems in a fun and exciting way. For example, it’s now possible to purchase a zombie survival kit, or to learn how to pack your own.

And according to Dr. Ali Khan at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, that’s important because, “If you are equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”

Considering Dr. Khan’s statement, I wondered, Do zombies have anything to do with our Christian faith?

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October 8, 2012

Danger: Being Too "Nice" Can Wreck You & Your Relationships

How to respond when being a good Christian girl goes bad

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It sounds like a plot from a bad soap opera: there’s the crazy ex-boyfriend who won’t move on, and the nice girl he claims he can’t live without. The phone calls I received over the course of the past six months didn’t concern a television show, however—they were reports from my family, and the girl was my younger sister, Lucy.

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September 4, 2012

33 Days of Spending Less

What I’m learning about simplicity and Target through my shopping fast

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I worry about what others think. I don't like being inconvenienced. I may be addicted to “new” and “more.”

And I learned it all while fasting . . . from spending.

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May 23, 2012

Seeking God in the Wake of Divorce

Facing the unique challenges in the death of a marriage

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“Weddings have invitations, ceremonies, and receptions. Babies’ births get announcements, showers, and dedications or baptisms. Graduations have announcements, commencements, and open houses. Deaths are marked by obituaries, wakes, and funerals. Divorces, on the other hand, are as life-changing as any of these milestones, and yet they can pass by as non-events to the world at large,” a recently divorced Christian friend “Lori” shared with me.

When her world fell apart, the rest of ours kept moving on.

There’s no funeral for the death of a marriage, no “obituary” in which Lori can publicly acknowledge all the pain she’d privately carried and dealt with for years in a difficult marriage, no “shower” of gifts to restock her home now that half of her possessions have left with her husband.

In a day, Lori’s life was redefined. She moved from wife to single-mom status. And now she’s supposed to just pick up and continue with life in this new, strange normal.

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January 24, 2012

Giving Up Worry

A coworker’s words recently led me to an unnerving discovery: I have a anxiety addiction. Here's what I--by God's grace--did about it.

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I’ve always been a little on the anxious side. As a child, I used to ask Jesus into my heart every single day, because I was afraid that I hadn’t actually done so—that I’d imagined it or dreamed it—the day before. I would sit on the dining room floor, cross-legged, picturing my four-year-old soul barreling toward hell, and in fear, I’d beg Jesus, once again, to come into my heart. I know, I know. Alert Freud.

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December 20, 2011

Does Alzheimer’s Let Us off the Hook in Our Relationships?

Figuring out the mess of illness in the midst of God’s creative work on us

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Earlier this fall CBN’s chairman Pat Robertson started quite a scandal when he told his 700 Club viewers that he wouldn’t “put a guilt trip” on someone for divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease. He called Alzheimer’s itself “a kind of death.” A week later in the midst of the uproar his comments had made, he made an attempt to apologize for his remarks yet left many feeling betrayed.

What Robertson failed to understand and express is really about the symphony of love that God created and designed for our relationships. The symphony of love begins with giggling children who mimic emotions by chanting, “I’ll love you forever.” Teenagers may steal a kiss at dusk. The symphony becomes stronger when adults ignore butterflies and hold hands before a minister and vow to love, honor, and be there for each other through thick and thin, sickness and health.

Continue reading "Does Alzheimer’s Let Us off the Hook in Our Relationships?" »

December 12, 2011

Vindicated

Is taking matters into our own hands the solution?

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“Woman Walks through Market Holding Severed Head of Man Who Tried to Rape Her.” The 2008 headline resurfaced on Facebook recently along with the story on an online news site, and I found myself wanting to cheer. No, scratch that. I didn’t find myself wanting to cheer; I cheered.

Apparently, a man in a village in India had been stalking and harassing a woman for three months. One day while she worked in a field, he attempted to assault her sexually. She fought back and sliced off his head with her sickle. And then she went to the local market covered in blood and walked through the vendors’ stalls with the man’s head hoisted high, vindicating her actions.

I’m not proud to admit that I smiled picturing her parading the man’s head like the Bruins raising the trophy after winning the Stanley Cup. I shouldn’t be smiling, I thought. I should be feeling bad for the headless man and his family, who are probably mourning deeply over his death.

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November 29, 2011

How Reality TV Affects Girls

Here’s a surprise: reality TV isn’t good for girls.

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In keeping with researchers’ proclivity for telling us what we already suspect, in October the Girl Scout Research Institute released results of a survey about the effects of reality TV on tween and teen girls. Their research found that “tween and teen girls who regularly view reality TV accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance.”

For anyone familiar with “reality” TV, this should come as no surprise. It is one of the great ironies of our age that one of the communication media least committed to truth is so committed to “reality.” So-called reality TV has become a staple of the media diet for Americans—and other places around the world. These shows began proliferating in the 1990s and exploded over the last decade. And with them have come a host of celebrities who are famous simply for being famous.

Continue reading "How Reality TV Affects Girls" »

October 24, 2011

Praying for Hollywood

What if we viewed the entertainment industry as a mission field rather than a battle field?

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Before turning to the more solitary confines of writing and editing, I worked as a professional actress. In college I felt strongly that Hollywood needed missionaries, undercover professionals to infiltrate the industry with the love, truth, and saving power of Christ. I wanted to be a Hollywood missionary. But I felt alone and didn’t know of anyone else thinking about Tinseltown that way.

Without the prayer support of people viewing the entertainment industry as a mission field, I eventually burned out, tired of the constant demands on me to compromise my beliefs and what I would or wouldn’t say, do, or show.

After I left that business, I met a producer, Karen Covell, who was just such a missionary. Karen told me about an organization (Hollywood Prayer Network) she was involved with that prays daily over the people working in that industry—not only for those far from Christ, but for other missionaries there. I was thrilled by her story. Someone else had felt the same burden I’d had.

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August 3, 2010

The Good Old Days

Were they really as good as we think?

On a visit to the St. Louis Gateway Arch this summer, I bought a copy of a book I couldn’t help noticing in the gift shop: The Good Old Days—They Were Terrible! This book, written by Otto L. Bettmann and published in 1974, contains photographs and written descriptions of life in the “Gilded Age” in the United States, during the years 1870–1889. This was a post-Civil War period of rapid change, growth, and increasing wealth in this country, and an age for which we sometimes have a collective and nonsensical yearning.

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March 25, 2009

A Church Without Issues

If you could pick one issue for the Christian church to represent, what would it be? Abortion or same-sex marriage? Environmental stewardship or poverty? Morality?

Some evangelicals are tossing this question around in light of the passing of the old guard: Jerry Falwell died last May, and many other prominent Christian leaders including Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Tim LaHaye have retired or handed over the reins of their ministries. Earlier this month, James Dobson resigned as board chairman of Focus on the Family.

The mere mention of these men elicits either a warm smile or a cold shoulder because they all were vocal on some issue. For good or bad, their words have shaped the image of the Christian church in America - both the way we see ourselves, and the way non-Christians view us. As we await new representatives who will become spokespeople for the church, one thing is highly probable: We'll identify these leaders as proponents or opponents of some issue.

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