Growing like weeds

These days, everything in the Conger household is growing. In case you hadn’t heard, our family is growing by two come spring. With a June 1 due date, the twins will probably be here around May 1 if they’re patient.

I’m growing (no really, the belly gets bigger overnight); the girls are growing (they’re carrot-sized this week!); and soon, our home will be growing!

We’re moving in a few weeks into a two-bedroom apartment to make room for our growing family. I’m so excited to actually have a nursery and start planning for the arrival of our little girls. I’m daydreaming in grey and yellow, cheery and calming. Now to practice self-control while browsing Pottery Barn Kids.

Nursery daydreaming also brings me to more practical planning. With two on the way, I could easily let myself think we need two of everything, but with a little research I’m learning that’s not necessary.

I’d love some input from been there, done that moms– especially those with small spaces or multiple children. We won’t have a lot of storage space, and I don’t want half our things sitting unused once we discover Baby Girl A only wants to be in the bouncer and Baby Girl B only sits in the swing. So, before we register and start filling our nursery, what do we need to know?

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Rachel Goble: Saving children from a life of slavery

I‘m delighted to share a story I wrote for Verily Magazine about Rachel Goble, president of The SOLD Project, which rescues children from a life of slavery by focusing on prevention.

Rachel spoke with me over Skype from Thailand to talk about how she went from being ignorant of human trafficking to doing something to stop it.

27 million: That’s how man slaves are trapped in injustice today. Many of us, when we hear about human trafficking, are overwhelmed, torn between the desire to help and feeling unable to make any lasting impact. I know that’s where I was for a long time.

I love Rachel’s story because it’s an answer to the persistent question of what in the world one person can do. You go. You serve where you are, walking boldly through open doors, with the gifts God gives.

You can read Rachel’s story here. And if you’ve never read Verily, stick around and read some of their other wonderful articles. They’ve got everything from relationship advice to cultural commentary to fitness, and it’s all good! Verily is a refreshing countercultural read that has what most women’s magazines are missing, and I love it.

p.s. If you’re getting this in your inbox, please excuse the formatting snafus. WordPress’s email-to-post function seems to have a few html bugs that I haven’t quite figured out how to prevent. 

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Women don’t want the “top jobs” — and that’s ok

With Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In came a fresh round of debate over women in leadership, and it seems the louder voices have been in favor of women climbing the corporate ladder regardless of how they choose to prioritize family. So I was interested when a study came out recently showing that just 15 percent of young women aspire to the top jobs.

Most of the 21-to-33 year old women surveyed by the Zeno Group said they didn’t want the No. 1 job at a large organization. They don’t want to be Cheryl Sandberg, as much as they might respect her. The women said the job wouldn’t be worth giving up personal goals like children, with more than half saying they felt the sacrifices made by women leaders aren’t worth it.

That part was interesting enough, but what really caught my attention was the way these results were treated. The story by BusinessNewsDaily went on to quote Zeno Group CEO Barby Siegel, who addressed young women’s reluctance to sacrifice personal goals as a failure of recruiters.

“We need to think about doing things differently when helping millennial women develop their careers and weigh the sacrifices that may or may not be required,” Siegel said. “We do not want to risk losing this talented generation of professionals.”

Let me be clear. I don’t have a problem with women choosing to pursue a career. I don’t think moms working while their kids are little is a bad thing. It’s an individual choice, and I’m not about to say all women should be stay at home moms.

What I do have a problem with is a culture that discourages motherhood and family to the point that a woman’s desire to give up career goals for personal ones is considered a problem for job recruiters to fix.

Much of our culture has lost the idea that motherhood is even a vocation. Stay at home moms are viewed as antiquated or prudish, while working women are viewed as liberated and modern. We celebrate the achievments of women with desk jobs, and sneer at the food stains and ponytail of the mother of toddlers, thinking how nice it would be “not to work.”

But motherhood is a vocation — an absolutely essential one. A mother may not spend her day running companies or negotiating deals in the board room. It’s not usually so sexy. But whether she’s cleaning up spilled juice or reading fairy stories, a woman who spends her day with her children is shaping human souls.

Previous generations had a firmer grasp on the value of motherhood. Author G.K. Chesterton described it as the duty of enlightenment — explaining the whole world to a new human being.

“How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe?” he wrote in What’s Wrong With the World. “How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.”

Posted in Culture, Journalism, News | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Sometimes in the city

Sometimes on spring days in the city, when the sun comes out for just a day, the patio tables at every cafe within walking distance fill up and people buy Starbucks coffee not because they want it, but so they can claim a chair in the glow.

Friday was one of those days, and everyone else seemed to share my sneaky idea of taking a late lunch break and snagging a table as lunchers headed back to the office.

I finally spotted a newly-vacated table and sprinted across the street to take it. The only problem was, I didn’t have anything from the cafe. If I left the table, it would get taken.
If I left my book to claim the table, someone might just take that!

I scribbled a note on a blank envelope and went inside to get an iced tea.

When I came out, there was a red-headed, well-dressed young man lounging in the chair across from me. He smiled and said casually, “I thought we could share.”

I found it amusing and since tables were scarce, I shrugged and let him stay. I read my book and he ate his sandwich, and we parted without even knowing each other’s names.

Sometimes in the city, you work a short walk from Living Social’s headquarters, and you get to meet friends at their five-story, exposed-brick hipster building for a tea tasting.

Tea tasting? I’d never heard of such a thing, but it was wonderful. We learned more about tea than I thought there was to know.

We sampled Genmaicha green tea (my new favorite — did you know toasted rice used to bulk up tea leaves to make tea cheaper?), oolong, earl gray, ceylon and camomile. They even taught us how to pair food with tea: savory with green tea, sweet with black.

And as we left, they loaded us up with samples. Needless to say, I’ve been drinking tea nonstop ever since.

Sometimes in that same city, on your way back from tea tasting, you walk by the White House. And even though you’ve lived in the city for almost two years, you still have to stop and admire the park grounds and the romantic architecture, and marvel again that you live in the nation’s capital.

Please excuse the lack of pictures — I had some technical difficulties uploading them this morning, but I’ll fix it after work! 

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Encounters With Reality

We had one of those weekends you remember for a long time afterward because of sweet sudden glimpses of eternity that make ordinary things more beautiful.

We went swing dancing at a 100-year-old fairground that still looks like it did in the 1930s, with a live band playing Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald songs. We took a walk around the fairground in the warm evening quiet, where we could still hear the live music from inside the ballroom.

I cuddled babies and kissed sweet baby toes, which always leaves me feeling refreshed and content with life. Those hours in the nursery at church reminds me of the reality of life, community, and love, which are more real even than the important work of politics, farming, journalism and business because the first are eternal and the second are passing away. Those babies are human souls who, Lord willing, will grow up to love Jesus and enter into the community of the church as we wait for Jesus to come back.

We had dinner with a friend who is getting married this summer, and as we looked back over a year of marriage and talked about engagement and being newlyweds, I was so very conscious of how lucky I am and how blessed we are. Marriage between two Christians is such a powerful testament to the unselfish love of Christ for his bride.

Speaking of eternity, I was so encouraged recently by what a wiser journalist told me about why our job is important in its way: "The Bible says the darkness cannot stand the light, and that’s why I am a journalist: to shed light on darkness."

That thought helps me invest in my work and see how to work as unto the Lord, and not to men — to see the eternal in what is passing away.

To be happy at home, as Johnson said, is the end of all human endeavor. As long as we are thinking only of natural values we must say the sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal, or two friends talking over a pint of beer, or a man alone reading a book that interests him; and that all economics, politics, laws, armies, and institutions, save insofar as they prolong and multiply such scenes, are a mere ploughing the sand and sowing the ocean… the society into which the Christian is called at Baptism is not a collective but a Body. It is in fact that Body of which family is an image on the natural level. — C.S. Lewis, Membership

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