This is a prayer that I adapted from The Valley of Vision which I pray regularly for my four adorable nephews and look forward to praying for my little baby as well…
“Apply Your redemption to their hearts, by justifying their persons, and sanctifying their natures. Teach them to place their happiness in Thee, the blessed God, never seeking life among the dead things of earth, or asking for that which satisfies the deluded; but may they prize the light of Thy smile, implore the joy of Thy salvation, find their heaven in Thee.”
—From prayer entitled “Fourth Day Evening: God All-Sufficient”
Arthur Bennet, ed. Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975, 2003), p. 392.
I have never been a big fan of the month of February. I know, how can I like one month and not another? But stick with me here. February is just one of those months that seemed to somehow sneak into the line-up. I mean, we have September through November and the leaves are turning and you get to drink apple cider. In December and January we get holidays and days off school and work. March begins to give us hope for spring which arrives with April and May. June, July, and August are full of heat and vacations. What about poor little February? It’s just stuck in between January and March. Someone probably put Valentines Day in there in hopes of helping it along.
A couple of weeks ago, February took on new life for me. February is exactly nine months away. Lord willing, February will be the month in which my first child is born.
I know, I know, time for all of the girlie details. Well, a couple weeks back, I was getting a little suspicious so I decided to go to the grocery store and get one of those pregnancy tests. Of course, at the store, I kept seeing people that I knew so I grabbed a bag of Doritos and hid the test behind the bag so that no one would see. I got home and stared in amazement as the little test had two lines. What an incredible combination of excitement and panic all mixed into one. (You see, the panic comes from many years of being present as my Mom, my aunts, and now my sisters, sit around and reminisce about all of their labor and delivery stories—not helpful for one that faints upon seeing a doctor’s office.) Back to my story. After my Mom reminded me that there was “no way out but through,” I began to plot how I wanted to tell my husband, Mike. This was a Thursday night and Father’s Day was only two days away. It just couldn’t have been more perfect. I decided that after he fell asleep on Saturday night, I would sneak out and decorate his car so that when he left for church on Sunday morning he would be totally surprised. Sure enough, from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday night/Sunday morning, I could be seen blowing up what seemed like a million balloons, hanging bibs from mirrors, and writing on all of the windows with soap. So I didn’t sleep much that night, but it was worth it. The next morning, Mike headed out the door to church (he goes in pretty early cuz he works at the church) and before I could even pull up the blinds to watch, he ran back in, shocked and totally excited. (You see, he didn’t have any of the panic cuz there is no hospital with needles awaiting him.) It was such a memorable Father’s Day for us both. Mike drove around for days with our decorated car until the rain washed all of the soap off.
I, meanwhile, feel as if I am living a different life. I’m pretending that my belly fat is already the baby showing. I can take naps whenever I want and people just smile at me. I eat everything that the baby wants and I am fervently praying that I don’t get sick!
Each day is an opportunity for me to thank the Lord for the way that He has so richly blessed me, and to acknowledge His sovereign hold upon the little life that is growing inside of me.
I can’t wait for February!
Here are some shots of Mikey and the car…
Yesterday we talked about using our God-given gifts to serve others. Who are the people in your world that you have the privilege of serving today? Remember—as you serve others, you are ultimately serving the Savior. Below are two quotes from Charles Spurgeon that I hope will encourage you in this endeavor.
“I think I know of no delight on earth that is higher than that of knowing that you really are with all your heart adoringly serving God.” Tom Carter, Spurgeon at His Best (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 188.
“As long as there is breath in our bodies, let us serve Christ. As long as we can think, as long as we can speak, as long as we can work, let us serve him. Let us even serve him with our last gasp. And, if it be possible, let us try to set some work going that will glorify him when we are dead and gone. Let us scatter some seed that may spring up when we are sleeping beneath the hillock in the cemetery.” Tom Carter, Spurgeon at His Best (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 189.
So let’s “serve the Lord with gladness” today! (Ps. 100:2)
I thought you might enjoy this recipe for fresh-squeezed lemonade that I served at my luncheon.
Fresh Lemonade Syrup
3 c. sugar
1 c. boiling water
3 c. lemon juce (about 16 lemons)
2 T. grated lemon peel
In a 1-1/2 quart heat-proof container, dissolve sugar in boiling water. Cool. Add lemon juice and peel; mix well. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Yields 5-1/2 cups syrup (number of batches varies depending on concentration of lemonade).
To prepare lemonade: For 1 serving, combine 1/4 to 1/3 cup syrup and 3/4 cup cold water in a glass; stir well. For 8 servings, combine 2-2/3 cups syrup and 5 cups cold water in a 2 quart pitcher; stir well.
(This recipe was given to me by my friend, Jenny Detwiler)
On Sunday, I hosted a luncheon for twelve women in my church (Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, MD) who have faithfully and sacrificially served in the Titus 2 Women’s Ministry that I have been privileged to lead. The purpose of this luncheon was to say “thank you.”
There was no way that the food, the gifts, or my words could adequately convey my gratitude—or more importantly, the Lord’s pleasure—for their service. However, I made a feeble attempt to express my heart. While seated around my dining room table, I shared with each woman one phrase (which I then elaborated on) that I thought best captured her unique contribution.
For example, to Barbara I communicated: You beautify everything you touch; to Dawn: Your heart for hospitality is only matched by the delicious food you serve; to Clara: Your wit and wisdom are priceless gifts to me; to Betsy: You are my Barnabas, my faithful encourager; to Marie: You are a servant of servants, and so on.
As I was reflecting on each woman, I was struck by the diverse—yet indispensable—assortment of gifts represented in this one group. How kind of God to give gifts! How kind of these women to use their gifts for God’s glory!
I couldn’t help but think of 1 Peter 4:10-11: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace….in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
May I present you with 3 simple challenges?
1. Remember that you have been given a gift by God.
2. Ask God how you can use your gift to serve others in your local church. (Of course there may be limitations if you are “in the middle of motherhood.”)
3. Don’t let this day end without thanking someone close to you for using their God-given gifts to serve others and glorify God.
As I wrote yesterday, there are, sadly, many women who seek attention through immodest dress. However, by the grace of God, there are also women who have chosen to glorify God by dressing modestly. The following is a letter my Dad received from one such teenager, Emily.
“I wanted to thank you for the message on modesty that you presented at my church several months ago. I have a fourteen-year-old brother who is always asking me, ‘why do the girls dress like that?’ I usually consider myself as dressing modestly. I check my clothes with my Dad and my brother before I wear them. But I had to go back, with the ‘Modesty Heart Check’ you provided for us. It has been a challenge, a means of grace for my friends and me. I have seen it hung on the mirrors of many of my friends as they exclaimed, ‘if you stick it there, there is just no way of getting around it.’ It has also been much easier to bring things to people about their clothing, or point something out to them, because they have heard the message. I have seen a lot of changes in the way some of the girls dress as a result of your message. Thank you!! Emily”
The thanks goes to you, Emily, and to every woman committed to honoring God through modest dress!
(Per request, you can download the “Modesty Heart Check,” that Emily mentioned by clicking here.)
The other night I saw a report about the trend among high school girls to request breast implant surgery as a graduation gift. It got me thinking.
Though we would not choose to walk out of our graduation ceremony and into the plastic surgeon’s office, I don’t think there is a woman alive who hasn’t wished she could change at least one perceived physical flaw. I probably think about it more than I want to admit.
When it comes right down to it, I don’t think these girls—or any of us for that matter—want a different body for it’s own sake. Rather, because of the sin in our hearts, we long to find happiness in the applause (worship) of others. We think beauty is our ticket to bliss.
But it won’t take us anywhere. Beauty doesn’t satisfy. Proverbs says that it is “fleeting” (Prov. 31:30, NIV). Charles Bridges elaborated: “Beauty—what a fading vanity it is! One fit of sickness sweeps it away. Sorrow and care wither its charms. And even while it remains, it is little connected with happiness.” (Charles Bridges, A Commentary on Proverbs (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1846, repr. 1998), p. 627.)
This is why the well-meaning advice to simply “learn to love your body” doesn’t cut it. Even with supposed “Christian” packaging (“Jesus loves you just the way you are, so you should love yourself”)—it’s hollow. It’s an erroneous diagnosis. It doesn’t satiate our desperate, sinful thirst for attention. Even if it seems to for a moment, it won’t last. You might as well hand an exhausted marathon runner an empty water bottle.
But there is hope—for these high school girls and for every woman consumed by the quest for physical beauty. There is hope for me. For “[Christ] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).
Because of the gospel, we can be free from this fruitless and rebellious search to find satisfaction in receiving admiration for our physical beauty. We can live for Christ instead. And thus our hearts can “be fixed, where true joys are to be found” (Book of Common Prayer, 1662).
So what difference should the gospel make in how we think about beauty today?
First, instead of complaining to the mirror about our imperfect body, let’s consider how we can live for Christ by trusting Him and serving others. True joy will inevitably follow.
And secondly, if we’re tempted to envy (or self-righteously judge) the beautiful, immodestly dressed co-worker, classmate, or fellow mom, for the attention they receive, let’s pray for them instead—that they too would find true joy in Christ.
(This short post only begins to address a biblical perspective on beauty. We’ll no doubt return to this topic. But if you want to read more about it, Mom has taken a closer look in our book, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood.)
One of our “Philly Friends,” Jeanne Welch, wrote to congratulate me on being “found” last week. She related an experience we thought you all should hear about—just in case any of my fellow tired moms go missing!
“I am so glad you found Kristin,” she wrote. “Once, when my boys were little, I fell asleep on the floor of my bedroom and ended up UNDER my bed, sound asleep. Next time you lose her check there….”
So, if you can’t find Mom, make sure to check under the bed!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this first week of the Girl Talk Blog. We’ve had a blast!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to email us. Even though we have not been able to reply, we read each one, and are truly grateful for your comments.
The purpose of this post is to officially announce our blog weekend policy. And that is: no posting. We trust you understand. We have (between us) four husbands to love-on and five boys to raise into manhood; not to mention the busy joys of church life. Simply put, we’re committed to living out biblical womanhood before we write about it.
But, come Monday, we look forward to another exciting week. We already have tons of ideas about things we could post. And we’ll have at least one surprise.
So, thanks for reading. We’ll see you Monday!
Carolyn, Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
The following email appeared in my inbox on my fiftieth birthday (a few weeks ago), from a close friend, Nancy Loftness.
It was one of the most meaningful birthday gifts I have ever received.
“As I was praying a few weeks ago thinking about your 50th, the idea came to me to spend a day fasting and praying for you…. So happy birthday with a gift I anticipate God using, not because of any merit in me obviously, but because He loves to fulfill His own promises from His word, which is mostly how I’ll pray. Love, Nancy.”
Charles Spurgeon once said: “No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” Tom Carter, Spurgeon at His Best (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 143.
Who can you show kindness to by praying for them today? (Don’t forget to tell them you’re praying!)
PS: Today is Nancy’s 50th birthday. Happy Birthday, my dear friend!