This week's list includes articles on theology, missiology, writing, mental illness, and the myth of having it all.

Maya Salam writes about the age old dilemma of women and work, “As a girl, the prospect of having a thriving career, a happy marriage and a couple of well-adjusted kids — all while maintaining my friendships and hobbies — was sold to me as an ultra-glam aspiration that left me daydreaming of a well-oiled life with me at the controls.”

Lucy Austen compares John Chau and Jim Elliot, “But it also means that Christians must seriously consider what the best means are not just for sharing the story, but for sharing it with respect. It is not easy to know what this looks like in practice, particularly in someone else’s cultural context. This makes thoughtful questions about our missionary attitudes essential.”

Matthew Y. Emerson and R. Lucas Stamps articulate a Protestant view of Mary, “In this manner Mary stands as the antitype to Eve. Where there was death and disobedience, there is now fruitfulness and faithfulness. Even more explicitly, Gabriel’s announcement to Mary (Luke 1:26–38) reverses the Serpent’s questioning of Eve. No longer do sin and death reign through Adam and Eve’s choice; rather, God has brought Life to the world through opening Mary’s untouched womb.”

Fleming Rutledge writes about why it is good to focus on John the Baptist in Advent, “If your loved one is in the habit of buying you expensive Christmas gifts, you might not be so crazy about the idea of Jesus coming back before Santa Claus gets here. But suppose you had been a Christian in prison in the Soviet Union. Or suppose you had been a black person in Apartheid-era South Africa directed to pack up your meager belongings and take them to a so-called homeland that wasn’t your home and that wouldn’t offer you dignified employment. Suppose you were elderly and handicapped in the South Bronx and had just been robbed and terrorized for the third time. In circumstances like those, you might say Maranatha and really mean it.”

Anglican Bishop Jim Hobby describes his experience of attending the recent Call and Response Conference, “Our stories, like blinders on a horse, determine what we see. They also powerfully influence how we act, and how we interpret the world around us. Our experience, then, either confirms our story or helps us to rewrite it. We say to ourselves after an experience, 'See, there's another example of ...' or we say, 'That's not what I expected.' Experience confirms or challenges our foundational narratives.”

Amy Gannett blogs about the obedient call to ordinary work, “In the hidden places of my heart I believed that ministry was for professionals and that you could only be truly effective when you spent your nine-to-five within the walls of the church. True ministry, I secretly and shamefully believed, was vocational ministry. It was a wicked belief, one that does violence to my own kind in ministry and to the God who has sent His call to Kingdom work far and wide.”

Kathryn Butler writes dementia, “We know that when Christ returns, the synapses of the dementia-stricken mind will be repaired. The brain will heal, the present will snap into relief, and the memories will take their proper place. In the interim, those struggling with dementia need us to reflect their personhood as eternal, not dependent on remembering or forgetting, fact or deception.”

Wendy Alsup writes about the practical purposes of entering into covenants, “The vows we make in front of God and family in our white dresses and tuxes, with filtered spring sunlight illuminating our pictures, aren’t for these days. The sweet days of filtered sunlight and happy smiles don’t require binding agreements to keep folks together. No one has to twist your arm to love your spouse, care for your child, or persevere with your church on such beautiful days glowing with the warmth of new hope and promise for the future. No, covenants aren’t for those days at all.

Anne Kennedy enumerates seven reasons to write, “The seventh reason to write is to glorify God. Maybe you’re good at it. Maybe you have a knack. Maybe you want to and are working hard. All your work can be offered to God in praise for the gift of life and all other gifts that he gives. You can pour yourself into it just like any other useful work can be used to glorify and praise your maker.”