We are writing this post together today because we are together. (Yeah!) Thanks to the generosity of our friends Scott and Lesa, and their daughter Isabelle, we are enjoying our family vacation at their home in Dandridge, Tennessee. Ever heard of it?
Hey, Dandridge is a bigger deal than you think. Not only is it the second oldest town in Tennessee, but it also boasts of being the birthplace of our very own American hero, Davy Crockett. (If you ever pass this way, be sure to visit the Davy Crockett museum.)
But even if you don’t vacation in Dandridge, we must all have a biblical perspective of vacation. “Whether you eat or drink, [or go on vacation] or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
Rest is a gift from God. So we glorify Him when we receive our vacation with gratefulness and thoroughly enjoy it. We also please Him when we focus on others: when we relate to one another and not just relax, serve each other instead of be selfish, and make memories together rather than do our own thing.
In the end, vacation for the Christian is not all that different from any other day. It is simply another opportunity to glorify God.
So whether you’re at the beach, the mountains, or the lake, or whether you’re in the office, the kitchen, or the classroom today, consider how you can live for His glory, whatever you do!
(And C.J./Dad - Thanks for many years of priceless vacation memories. But more importantly, thank you for leading our family in enjoying vacations to the glory of God! We love you!)
This story made me smile. I hope it makes you smile too!
“What Happened Here Today?”
One afternoon a man came home from work to find total mayhem in his house. His three children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house.
Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink. Breakfast food was spilled on the counter, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.
He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she may be ill, or that something serious had happened. He found her lounging in the bedroom, still curled in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.
He looked at her bewildered and asked, “What happened here today?”
She again smiled and answered “You know every day when you come home from work and ask me what in the world I did today?”
“Yes,” was his incredulous reply.
She answered, “Well, today I didn’t do it.”
May God give you abundant grace to enjoy Him and rejoice in the gospel this weekend!
Carolyn (for Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle)
Yesterday was my mom’s 83rd birthday. My sister and I took her out for breakfast to celebrate. She loves to go out for breakfast. And as usual, the three of us talked lots and laughed even more. Then I seized a moment in our conversation to say “thank you.” That’s when my mom became uneasy. She always does, but that’s okay. I pressed through the awkwardness and thanked her for her faithfulness.
I thanked her for providing an example of unwavering devotion to God.
I thanked her for loving my dad and being faithful to her marriage covenant of 60 years.
I thanked her for constantly and tenderly caring for her 5 children and now her 17 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
I thanked her for modeling biblical womanhood for me.
As if in hopelessness, Solomon poses this question in Proverbs 20:6—“A faithful [woman] who can find?”
Well, I found one—my mom. And realizing how rare she truly is, I am thanking God today for the life she has lived and the legacy she has given to me. I’m also asking God to help me to be faithful and to pass on this same legacy to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren….
To try and thank my mom, as well as encourage other women to follow her example, I wrote a tribute which I included in my book, Feminine Appeal. You can read it in it’s entirety by clicking here.
Who can you thank today for living a life of faithful biblical womanhood?
Thanks so much to everyone who has emailed us with an encouraging word, a funny story, a suggestion, or a question. We are sorry we aren’t able to answer every email, and that the ones we do answer aren’t very prompt. However, we continue to read and consider and enjoy each one.
Although we can’t answer every question, we would like to take a crack at one question per week. If you have a question you would like us to consider, please email us by clicking on the link in the left hand side-bar. So, to inaugurate our weekly Q&A we thought we’d start off with an easy one which comes to us from Leah Hudgins in Birmingham, AL.
Q - “I was just wondering, who is the oldest, middle, and youngest daughter?”
A - “Nicole is the oldest at 29 (just barely hanging on in her 20’s), Kristin just turned 28, and Janelle is a youthful 24.”
Thanks for your question, Leah.
Check back next week when we may even try to answer a more challenging question!
Have a fun day,
Nicole (for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle)
“What do I do when there is so much that needs doing?” It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately in the midst of the countless chores that come with moving.
My mom passed along some practical advice that she heard Elisabeth Elliot share many years ago—advice that really helped her in the busyness of motherhood (or anything else for that matter).
It’s simply this: Do the next thing. Rather than being overwhelmed by all there is to do, rather than sitting still in self-pity, or frantically trying to do three things at once—draw upon God’s grace to simply do the next thing.
Here is a little part of the poem from which this advice was taken:
“Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment my moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’
Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ’neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’”
Now that I have completed this post, I’m off to do the next thing—unpack one more box!
Hey all. Just in case you were wondering, the audio message that I mentioned in my last post (“In Every Season of Life”) can be found by clicking here.
I don’t like to fly.
This wasn’t always the case. My dad’s ministry responsibilities took our family many places over the years, so I am a veteran airline passenger. And I used to love it—the excitement and adventure of it all.
But that changed in the summer of 1999 on a family trip to Orlando, FL.
We were nearing the end of an uneventful flight when Dad noticed we had been circling for some time. Shortly thereafter, the pilot announced that we had experienced “hydraulic failure” and would have to make an emergency landing. We were circling the airport to use up the maximum amount of fuel before the descent.
The oh-so-helpful man sitting beside Janelle and me told us that hydraulic failure meant the brakes had failed. The flight attendants’ anxious manner wasn’t any more comforting.
As the plane began its descent, we were instructed to place our hands on the seat in front of us and lean our head on our hands. Upon our approach the flight attendant began yelling into the intercom system, over and over again: “Brace. Brace. Head down. Stay down. Brace. Brace. Head down. Stay down.”
In the end, the landing felt no different than any other (except for the yelling flight attendant). We never found out what “hydraulic failure” meant, but the only result was that our plane had no power to taxi to the gate. We had to be towed.
So now you understand why I wasn’t exactly excited about flying to Denver earlier this week to attend the International Christian Retail Show with my parents and Steve. Unfortunately, you can’t drive from Virginia to Colorado for a two-day trip.
God was giving me an opportunity to trust Him.
My wonderful husband Steve helped prepare me with a verse to meditate on from Matthew 10:29-31:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
As we landed in Denver, and then in Baltimore again last night, I repeated to myself (in place of the “brace brace” mantra): “He sees the sparrows. He sees the sparrows. He sees the sparrows.”
This specific promise for my specific fear (see Mom’s post “Fighting Fear”) reminded me that nothing has changed, except my feelings about flying. Airlines aren’t less safe than they were before 1999. But more importantly, God hasn’t changed. He is still faithful, and sovereign, and good. And He still holds my life in His hands, whether I’m in the air, on the ground, or asleep in my bed at night.
God hasn’t promised that I won’t die in an airplane someday. But He says that I am of more value than many sparrows, and that the hairs of my head are numbered. He has told me not to fear.
So I am actually looking forward to flying again. It will be another opportunity to declare my trust in my Heavenly Father: the Unchanging One.
Yesterday, Mom encouraged us to run our race for the glory of God (Heb. 12:1-2). One key aspect of running the race is to live intentionally. And a simple, yet important way we can put this into practice is by regularly taking a personal retreat.
This is an exercise that Mom has helped me to develop, and it has served me greatly in every season of my life—from high school years, to single days, and now in my marriage. In her audio message “In Every Season” Mom speaks about living intentionally from Ephesians 5:15-17, and provides practical suggestions for taking a personal retreat.
We use this message in the discipleship course we developed for the single women in our church. In addition we provide worksheets for the women to use when taking a retreat. You can download the worksheets for your own personal use by clicking here.
I would encourage you to carve out time for a personal retreat. It may be only for a day, or you may even be able to swing an overnight. But the most important part is finding a place to have extended, uninterrupted time seeking the Lord. Ask for His grace and guidance to live intentionally for His glory.
Last week, Mom, Nicole, and I decided to go blueberry picking at a local fruit farm. So we loaded Jack into the car seat and drove off. Upon arriving we waited for the little tractor which carries you to and from the blueberry field. As we waited, dark clouds began to creep up, but we chose to ignore them. You can figure out the rest. After our bumpy trip to the field we began picking, and almost immediately, it began pouring. But we weren’t going to let a little rain stop us. We picked two full buckets and returned home completely soaked.
This little story is simply to give you a very yummy blueberry muffin recipe that we have always enjoyed making…
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mashed blueberries
2 cups whole blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease both muffin cups and tops of muffin tins around cups. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with milk to butter mixture. Stir in blueberries. Fill muffin cups and sprinkle tops with sugar and nutmeg mixture. Bake about 25 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before removing from tins.
My friend Sandra Groveman asked how she could pray for me. “You know that this is a season of transition for C.J. and me,” I began. Yes, she knew. As a member of Covenant Life Church, Sandra was present on that Sunday morning last September when my husband passed the leadership of the church—the church he had lead for twenty-seven years—to the man he had trained to replace him (our new senior pastor, Joshua Harris). It was a day full of joy and one I will never forget. It was also the beginning of another chapter in our lives.
“So in light of this new season,” I told Sandra, “please pray for wisdom to know God’s will. And most of all…grace to walk humbly before our God and finish our race well.”
“Of course I will pray for you,” Sandra replied. I’m confident she will. She always does. Then Sandra told me a story:
“When I was a little girl my father would lead me and my nine brothers and sisters in long talks over dinner—talks that left an indelible mark on my life. I still remember sitting at the table, stealing glances out the window, watching my friends play and the sun set, as my father dispensed wisdom about life-issues. These conversations could last up to three hours. It was at one of these dinners that he shared a piece of advice I’ll never forget. He was a runner. And he told us: ‘a good runner, he always saves his best stamina for the end of the race.’’”
My son-in-law Steve, who ran track in high school, explained this to me in greater detail. “As you approach the finish line, that’s when you run with everything you’ve got. The idea is to finish the race with nothing left.”
Last month I turned fifty. I am finishing many tasks. I am seeking to discern what new tasks God would have me take up. And this is my prayer…that God would help me, now, to give Him my best effort. That I wouldn’t be tempted to slow down or stop to rest, but continue to run with everything I’ve got. And that one day, when my race is over, I would truly finish with nothing left. Because of His perserving grace, I am confident God will answer my prayer.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2