in this living room

My dad has a phrase. “Well, in MY living room . . .”

These four words are the ones that define how he lives his life, how he acts and talks and thinks in the space that is uniquely his, and the way in which he determines how he’s going to live it outside those four walls too.

In his living room, he reads devotions with his family.

In his living room, jokes are king and laughter reigns.

In his living room, the Wall Street Journal expands minds and books are plentiful.

In his living room, truth and decisiveness are the order of the day.

In his living room, ideas fly back and forth, and you’d better be able to keep up.

In his living room, bluegrass and the Texas two-step are always playing, and your foot better be tapping.

In his living room, his wife serves a plate of nachos each night with cheese so thick your arteries will wave the white flag before you ever open your mouth.

(To be fair, the phrase sometimes breaks down. In his living room, we opened Christmas presents from 6:00 a.m. to noon and skipped church. But, you know, stuff.)



His point is this: Every day, we make choices.

We choose to learn or not.

We choose to talk about the faith with our children, or we don’t.

We choose to speak truth, or we remain silent.

We choose to work hard, or we choose not to.

We choose to embrace a healthy disrespect for authority, or we go with the flow.

We choose to speak boldly about what we know is right, or we stay quiet.

We choose to live big and full, with Del McCoury as our soundtrack, or we stay on the sidelines.

In his living room, he makes the choices.

And because of what my sisters and I learned in that living room, we now make choices in ours.

And even if our dad got Christmas wrong, even if it took us years of doing nightly devotions to discover the jewel that is the orthodox faith, even if we disagreed with each other and disobeyed him and our mom, we learned how to make choices nonetheless.

We learned that there is more to life than the daily grind, that hard work pays off, that swimming against the current like a salmon can be very freeing.

We learned that good music and good food and good books can be heartily rewarding, that singing hymns with your family teaches something.

We learned that Christ forms and shapes all we do in this life, that pastors need our prayers, that a healthy sense of indifference can sometimes go a long way, that politics are fun to argue.

We learned that hugs and “I love you”s go hand-in-hand with “That was a poor choice” and “You can do better,” that sacrifices are worth making and front porches are the best for thinking.

We learned that a day doesn’t go by without a prank, that food is a pleasure to be enjoyed, that spontaneity is key.


In his living room, we girls learned how to be articulate, content Lutheran women. We learned to love our husbands and our Lord, to care for others, to be bold in what is good and right.

That’s what we learned in his living room.

I’m curious.

What did you learn–and, more importantly, what are you teaching–in yours?

2 thoughts on “in this living room

  1. In my father’s living room we learned that discussions of religion and politics took priority. If you wanted to discuss other topics (sports, fashion, movies, et al.), you needed to “take a number.”

    In our living room, in which we homeschool our children, you get out your Bible, hymnal, and catechism each morning after breakfast (Sunday being the obvious exception), and you may want to be prepared to sing Matins.

    By the way, my father got Christmas Day wrong too.

  2. What a sweet post! I won’t share what I learned, but I can say I’ve been trying to unlearn much of it as a Christian adult. Trying our best to teach our children better.

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