2005 at 8:48 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Spiritual Disciplines
Here’s one of my favorite quotes about the spiritual disciplines to go with your morning cup of coffee:
“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished . . . I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.” —George Mueller George Mueller, A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealing with George Muller, Written by Himself, Jehovah Magnified. Addresses by George Muller Complete and Unabridged, 2 Vols. (Muskegon, Mich.: Dust and Ashes, 2003), 1:271-1:272.
May this morning find your soul happy in God!
2005 at 3:24 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Spiritual Disciplines
Before we answer this week’s question, let me thank all of you who have sent in questions recently. We have received a number of thoughtful and weighty questions, and we will attempt to answer as many as possible in the weeks to come. Thank you for your patience and your great questions!
For today, Kathy emailed us and asked, “what do your times with the Lord look like, particularly since you each represent different seasons of life?”
Over the next few days each of us will post our personal practice of the spiritual disciplines. However we thought it might be helpful to first post some helpful, practical thoughts about the spiritual disciplines from one of our favorite authors, John Piper.
Dr. Piper says: “Many good things do not happen in our lives for the simple lack of planning…. Most Christians neglect their Bibles not out of conscious disloyalty to Jesus, but because of failure to plan a time and place and method to read it” (emphasis added).
“I earnestly recommend that it be in the early morning, unless there are some extenuating circumstances. Entering the day without a serious meeting with God, over his Word and in prayer, is like entering the battle without tending to your weapons. It’s like taking a trip without filling the tires with air or the tank with gas. The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not the heart. The spiritual air leaks from our tires, and the gas is consumed in the day. We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.”
“Pick a place of seclusion…. It needs to be secluded so that you are not distracted, and so that you can speak out loud and sing and cry. If your family situation or home does not have such a place, then create it, not by space, but by rule…. One saintly mother with a large brood of children would use her apron to make a tent for her head and her Bible at the kitchen table and the children were taught, when mother is in her tent, make no noise.”
“There are many ways to read the Bible. Any is better than none. Coming to the appointed place and time with no plan for how to read the Bible usually results in a hit-and-miss approach that leave you feeling weak, unreal, and discouraged. For many years I have read through the Bible once each year following The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan.... The design is to read daily from two Old Testament and two New Testament books. I find this variety helpful. Others don’t, and would rather use some other approach. That’s fine.”
As Dr. Piper indicated, there are many methods for prayer and Bible reading, and so please keep this in mind as we post for the next several days. There is no one “right” way to do the spiritual disciplines, and we certainly don’t think our way is the best. However, our hope is that you are freshly inspired to pursue the spiritual disciplines on a daily basis.
All quotes taken from John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 115-117.
2005 at 7:52 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
A friend asked what we did on vacation and I told him that we played a whole lot of “Take Two.” Then I realized we hadn’t told you about the Mahaney’s favorite game (right now at least). Another name for this game is “Speed Scrabble.” It’s Scrabble on caffeine, basically. I’ve heard different versions, but these are the Mahaney house rules:
• Chuck the Scrabble board.
• Place all the Scrabble pieces face down in the center of the table.
• Each player draws seven pieces and keeps them face down in front of her.
• Someone yells “start” (Yes, if you’re a Mahaney you won’t say it quietly).
• Each player turns her pieces over and begins assembling her own individual Scrabble board. (Same rules as Scrabble apply here.)
• The first person to use all her Scrabble letters to make real words yells “take two” and everyone grabs two more letters.
• This continues until all the letters have been used up (if necessary everyone can “take one” the last time around).
• Once the first person has completed her Scrabble board, everyone else must stop.
• Then each person counts her letters (across and up and down) and subtracts the letters she wasn’t able to use (if any). This is her total score for the first round.
• Play as many rounds as you like. The person with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
Also, trading letters is allowed, but don’t trade a “z” or a “q” for an “e” or you’re sure to lose.
Hope you have as many fun hours of playing “Take Two” as we have!
2005 at 11:41 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
I hate bugs! I don’t just find them annoying or a little gross. I’m the kind of girl who will see a bug when I’m home alone and with half closed eyes, stick a paper cup over it until my husband, brother, or dad arrive to flush it down the toilet. I will then rush to the bathroom to wash my hands with soap and water even though I don’t actually touch the bug. Are you getting the picture? Well, this picture should set a pretty good scene for my nightmare experience the other day…
Mike and I are moving into our town house this week, so I was busy cleaning out our bedroom at my parent’s house. I was home alone (of course this would happen when I was alone!). I pulled out my drawer that housed my candy collection and as I was going through it, I popped a piece in my mouth. All of a sudden, a million tiny moving brown specks caught my eye. My candy drawer was covered with baby ants. As you would expect, I panicked. I had no idea what to do (aside from spitting out the piece of candy in my mouth). I knew that I needed to get the drawer outside. However, as I didn’t want to touch anything with my hands, I grabbed a trash bag, picked up the drawer and ran it down to the front porch. When I ran back upstairs, I discovered that not only were the little guys in the candy drawer, but also in the other drawers, as well as on the floor around the dresser. I continued running up and down the stairs, using paper towels and bags to carry all of the infected articles to the front porch. My neighbors were having a party that day and I can only imagine what they must have been thinking. Next I grabbed the vacuum and began vacuuming them up. Even when I didn’t see any more ants, I kept the vacuum running because I was afraid that they could crawl back out. Things seemed to calm down at this point and I began to recover from my ordeal.
Later that day, my sister Nicole came to pick up Jack (my mom and I were babysitting), and I was helping her put the car seat in her car. All of a sudden, I noticed that the car seat was covered in black ants. Yes, this is a true story. This did happen to me twice in one day. I wonder if the Lord is after something? I was no less grossed out, but a little more prepared this second time around. I dragged the car seat to the porch and turned on the vacuum. Those little guys didn’t stand a chance!
Needless to say, for the rest of the evening, I constantly felt like I had an ant crawling on me. I finally made it to bed, and had dreams about ants all night long. It was a day that I wasn’t sorry to see come to an end, and it’s a day I hope not to repeat in the near future.
I know that Proverbs tells us to observe the ant to learn about diligence. This command has been a difficult one for me to obey. I would prefer to read about these little guys in my Bible or watch a special about them on TV, but I can pass on the living demonstrations in my own home.
2005 at 3:58 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Homemaking Family Time
Thanks so much to those of you who sent in ideas for memorable family activities. Here are a few of our favorites:
"Sometimes for our family night dinner, I have the kids design the center piece. It is usually made of lego spaceships, k-nex robots, lincoln log cabin, art work, playdough sculpture, etc. They LOVE this. Each child (3 boys, 1 girl) takes turns explaining his or her contribution to the center piece. (Another benefit is that it keeps them occupied while I cook.)" —Laurie Reyes
"One of my favorite family activities has always been birthdays. From the time we were very young, my mom was very intential about how we celebrated birthdays. She wanted it to be a day where we celebrated the life of the birthday boy/girl and showed them how much they were loved and cared for. So on our birthday we were allowed to choose the menu for the entire day; a cake decorated however we wanted; and an activity for the whole family such as putt-putt, games, swimming, sightseeing, bowling, etc. As homeschoolers, we even got the day off school! Birthdays were set aside as holidays and were something the entire family was excited about. Looking back, my mom put a lot of time and effort into making it special; but those days are some of our most treasured memories. Now even though some of us are adults with jobs or children, we still make every effort to keep each birthday completely open on our schedule so that we can keep up the tradition!" —Alyssa Sieb
"My special memory was a one-time event. We were traveling from Iowa to Denver, Colorado for a family vacation. Just as us kids were starting to get bored in the car, Mom pulled out a fancy book with blank pages. She had put it in her purse just for this purpose! She wanted each of us to write or draw pictures about the trip, as we were traveling. We each took our turn at that time. Then we would take the book again, as the mood would strike, throughout the trip. By the end of the week, the book was filled with stories and pictures and ‘inside jokes’ that everyone knew about. That special book made such an impression on me, because Mom had planned it as a special secret to keep until just the right time. It was a treat that lasted the whole week and beyond. It may have not been the most exciting thing we did on that vacation, but it turned out to be the most memorable." —Dawn Brincks
2005 at 12:46 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Living Intentionally
Maybe it was reflecting back on family nights last week. Or possibly it was attending my nephew’s wedding this past Saturday. But for whatever reason, I have been thinking a lot about the brevity of life.
It seems only a short time ago that CJ and I were sitting on the floor playing Memory Game with our 3 girlies. It feels as if it was just yesterday when I caught Marcus (my nephew) hoisting up his co-conspirator cousin (my daughter Janelle) to fetch the forbidden candy on the top shelf of the cabinet.
Yet each of my daughters and now Marcus are married. As one author fittingly stated: It’s only a snap of the finger from diapers to tuxedos and wedding gowns.
In Holy Scripture we find David and Job comparing the span of our lives to a breath (Ps. 144:4; Job 7:7). A breath takes only a second or two! At least Moses gave us a little more time when he likened the length of our days to grass that lasts from morning to evening (Ps. 90:5,6). Even still—a half day is not very long!
Now if our lifespan is comparable to about 12 hours that means the seasons of our lives are only minutes long. Think about that. Whether you are a teenager, a single adult, a new bride, a mom with preschool children, an empty nester, or whatever your season—you have only a few minutes left before this season ends.
The problem is that sometimes we get so bogged down with daily life that we forget life is passing quickly. In fact many of us function as if our present season is going to last forever.
John Calvin has a word for us in this regard. He said:
“Whence proceeds the great stupidity of men, who, bound fast to the present state of existence, proceed in the affairs of life as if they were to live two thousand years…. In short, men are so dull as to think that thirty years, or even a smaller number, are, as it were, an eternity; nor are they impressed with the brevity of their life so long as this world keeps possession of their thoughts…. How speedily our life vanishes away. The imagination that we shall have long life, resembles a profound sleep in which we are all benumbed.”
John Calvin, Heart Aflame, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 219.
Let’s “wake up” to the fact that we have only a short time left in our present season. More importantly, let’s live as if we have just a few minutes remaining.
2005 at 7:08 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
This Friday Funny is lovingly dedicated to all the moms with kids in sports. (Thanks to Terry M. for letting us share this!)
About 5 1/2 years ago (1999/2000), I attended an away game at Sandy Spring for Covenant Life School’s JV basketball team. Ten minutes before the game, I decided to stop by the restroom. I found the ladies room easily enough—a small but sufficient 2-stall bathroom. I entered a stall, pulled my pants down around my knees and sat down to business. That very moment, the entire Sandy Spring JV boys basketball team flooded into the restroom. What was I to do? They were using this restroom for pre-game coaching, and I was trapped. This can’t be, my thoughts protested; they didn’t even mark the door. Suddenly, the walls to my stall seemed short, and the basketball players even taller than usual. Looking up, I could see the backs of heads of players who had not yet turned around, looked down and detected me. Options raced through my mind. I could draw my feet up, and hope no one looked under the door. But they were taller than the door; they would look over it if curiosity prompted them. If I were dead silent, I might go unnoticed. But that sounded like an empty hope. Besides, the more time passed, the more embarrassing the discovery would be. They might think I had been planted by the opposition team to steal game strategies. These and other outrageous thoughts whirled through my head. I was being ridiculous. They’d never believe I’m a spy; I’m a soccer mom, lost and wandering through basketball season. Paramount at the moment was getting my pants up before being found. Stealthily, I snatched up and latched my jeans and emerged, startling them all. I exited, muttering parental scolding about putting a sign on the door, and knocking. I might have heard a bashful apology from one of them, but was in too much of a hurry to acknowledge it. I have no other recollection of the game, but I’m sure the Covenant Life School Cougars beat the pants off Sandy Spring!
May the grace of God be with you this weekend!
Carolyn, Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
2005 at 2:45 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Homemaking Family Time
Just mention the phrase "Family Night" and tons of wonderful memories flood my mind. No fair having to pick favorites, but these three come pretty close…
"Progressive Dinner"- This one works great for the little guys. We ate
each part of our dinner in a different room while doing an activity.
In the first room we ate hot dogs and put a puzzle together. The
Memory Game and deviled eggs came with the second room. Apple sauce
and story in the third room. We concluded with apple cider and talked
about the meaning of each of our names in the last room (to my sisters’ delight that is when I discovered that my name means "gift from God").
"Fall Fun Night"- This evening consisted of a fall theme relay. The
first person to complete the following activities—unscramble fall
related words, drink a cup of hot cider, bob for apples, find two
hidden gourds outside, and eat a bowl of caramel popcorn—won a prize. Just my kind
of relay with plenty of food involved. I can’t remember who won, but
it was probably me.
"Silly Night"- On this evening we had to come dressed "silly" for dinner. I can remember running around my house that afternoon trying to put together all of the craziest stuff that I could find. This was right down my alley (probably not one of Kristin’s favorites). We all assembled for dinner looking ridiculous—mismatched outfits and crazy hair. Next we had to eat our meal backwards. This meant starting with dessert (a practice I still enjoy) and ending with our salad. The backwards meal was made more hilarious when mom had us use the wrong utensils for eating our food. This led into a series of silly activities. We drew a picture in the dark. Mom turned out the lights and gave instructions. "Draw the outline of a house. Put a door on the house. Put a tree in the yard…" You get the idea. Not exactly art museum material. Next we all had to draw names and give a silly command to the name that we drew and the evening ended with a lovely family picture. This is a "must do" family night! In fact I might see if the fam is up for resurrecting this one.
I am so grateful for the hours my mom spent making family nights so unique and fun. I can’t wait to do these same activities with my children. I trust that each of you have enjoyed these ideas and that ideas have been sparked in your own minds for your families. Have fun!
2005 at 2:12 pm | by Kristin Chesemore
Homemaking Family Time
My favorite family night didn’t start out so well. In fact, Dad and Mom sent Nicole and me to bed. We were six and seven at the time, so you can imagine that we weren’t too happy to see that two-year old Janelle was allowed to stay up, and was actually playing! She was smugly pushing her toy shopping cart up and down the hallway in front of our room—no doubt attempting to rub it in.
But after a few minutes, Dad and Mom came back to our room and announced we were going somewhere in the car. But they told us NOT to change out of our flannel onesies. We were going on a PAJAMA RIDE! Talk about excitement! I felt a little strange walking into Dunkin Donuts in yellow pajamas, but the glazed donut cured all my embarrassment.
I think what makes this particular memory still so vivid twenty years later is the element of surprise. Dad and Mom weren’t just out to build special memories, but they created a little culture of anticipation amongst my sisters and me! We never knew what they were going to plan next!
Dad and Mom were also very intentional about building a culture of encouragement. One family night in particular was built around a theme of encouragement. At dinner, we took turns encouraging each member of the family. Then we made sugar cookies using alphabet cookie cutters. We had to spell out a word that described a character quality of one particular family member we had been assigned to encourage. Then, we had to honor that person sometime over the next week.
My final family night memory is more recent. In fact, I was courting Brian at the time, so he participated in this one. It was “Mystery Night.” The suspense began with dinner. Each family member had been assigned a particular aspect of the meal (appetizer, main course, side dish, dessert, etc.) the week before. We could decide what we would make, but we had to keep our dish a secret. So, when we showed up for dinner, we had a surprise of a meal—including peanut butter sandwiches, fancy salad, green bean casserole, shrimp cocktail, and kool-aid. To set the mood we had mystery music in the background. The game for that evening was an invigorating round of Clue. We finished off with a frightening Alfred Hitchcock flick.
Maybe Brian and I will have mystery night with our boys someday. What fun activities has your family enjoyed? Please send us your ideas!
2005 at 3:42 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Motherhood Young Children
A mother of school age children wrote to ask: “Would you be able to provide a sample conversation that you might have with your child when they have done something wrong? There is a phrase that I often hear said, “showing them their need for a Savior.” How do you go about doing/saying that exactly?”
When our child sins—and sin they will—it’s an opportunity to teach them about the gospel. To do so, we must not simply correct them for disobeying Daddy and Mommy in the particular situation. We need to point them to their bigger problem: their inclination, and their pattern of sin against a holy God. They haven’t just disobeyed their parents. They’ve disobeyed God. This particular sin is simply another piece of evidence that they need a Savior—just like Mommy needs a Savior. But the good news, the best news, is that God has provided just such a Savior for Mommies and their children in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. We must tell our children that if they repent from this sin, and from all other rebellion against God, and trust in Christ as their salvation, they will be forgiven from all their sin and disobedience.
So you see that what can often begin as an unpleasant situation caused by our child’s sin can be transformed into an ideal moment to “show them their need for a Savior.”
In short, there are three essential points we are trying to communicate to our children:
1. God – He is the Creator of the world, and because He is perfect, holy, and pure, He cannot tolerate sin (Ps. 5:4-5).
2. Sin –All human beings are sinful from birth and our inclination is to evil all the time (Gen. 6:5, Jer. 17:9, Rom. 3:23).
3. Cross – Because of His love, God sent Jesus Christ to earth, to live a perfect life and die in our place that we might be forgiven from our sins and reconciled to God (John 3:16, 1 Cor. 15:3-4).
How can we weave these three points into a real-life conversation? The following is one possible way. But let me issue a disclaimer: this is not a script! This is merely a sample of how a mother might apply the gospel in a situation where a child has sinned. It will sound different EVERY time and for every age group! But let’s just say, for example, that our child is disrespecful:
Mom: Do you realize that you were disrespectful towards Mommy?
Mom: Do you know what the Bible has to say about what you have done?
Mom: God says in His Word that disrespect toward parents is a sin against Him. It isn’t just breaking Mommy’s rules. It’s breaking God’s commands. But this isn’t your biggest problem. You and Mommy both have a bigger problem. Do you know what it is?
Mom: Well, God says that if we break His law even once, we deserve death. But you and Mommy, we haven’t just broken God’s law once, have we? We’ve sinned many times. In fact, the Bible says that we were born sinful, and that because of our sin, we deserve the judgment of God. This is a big problem, isn’t it?
Mom: But what do you think God did about our problem?
Child: He sent His son Jesus to die for us.
Mom: That’s right. Jesus lived a perfect life. He was never disrespectful toward His parents! But that’s not all. Jesus died on the cross. He took the punishment that we deserved for our sin. He endured God’s wrath for our sin. And then He rose again from the dead. That’s good news, isn’t it?
Mom: You and Mommy both need a Savior. But God has provided a Savior! So what do you think God would want us to do?
Mom: Yes, God says if we repent from our sin—not just disrespect, but all sin, He will forgive us. So would you like to pray to God and ask Him to forgive you?
In the preceding conversation, I am assuming that the child is demonstrating a humble, responsive posture to the correction and teaching. But this is not always the case with our children, is it? That is why each conversation with each child will sound different. But if we keep the main objective in our minds of showing them their need for a Savior, we can practice gospel-centered mothering.
2005 at 8:31 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Homemaking Family Time
My sisters and I always looked forward to family night with childlike eagerness.
My all-time favorite was "Mahaney Family Olympics." When the 1984 Olympics took place, I was eight and Kristin was seven. We were captured by the sheer excitement of it all. I think that’s why this particular family night is so vivid in my memory.
In our flannel nightgowns we ran races around the dining room table. We threw ping pong balls into a bowl of water. And we we had a relay race with toothpicks and lifesavers. (You had to put the toothpick in your mouth, put the lifesaver on the toothpick and then transfer it to your partner—no hands). The climactic moment came when Dad would line us up in the foyer and hum the national anthem while awarding us our "medals." I can’t imagine the athletes felt more happiness than we did.
Another favorite family night was the time we switched places at the dinner table. My mom had us draw the name of another family member and we had to sit in their seat at dinner and behave like them throughout the meal. I remember it being so funny to see my dad imitating my Uncle Grant (who lived with us at the time) and my mom acting silly like Janelle.
We repeated this family night again about fifteen years later along with the two pastors’ college students who lived in our basement. It was even more hysterical the second time, and enlightening too, to see everyone’s idiosyncracies acted out by another member of the family.
Finally, "Backwards Night" was inspired by the definitions of the word "backwards": "doing something in the reverse of the usual, the right way," and "toward the past." We, of course, did everything backwards for that particular family night. We had breakfast for dinner. And we had to have fulfilled a "backward assignment" during the day and tell about it at dinner. The options were to wear an article of clothing backwards (one that people could see!), eat our lunch backwards in the pesence of a friend, walk backwards around the outside of the house three times (while it was still daytime!), or wear a nametag all day with our name written backwards. Then, at dinner, after we reported on our humiliating "backward assignment," we looked backwards over the past year and recounted one specific example of God’s goodness.
These and countless other family nights formed a childhood rich in laughter and fun. I am so grateful for the time and effort my parents invested in these rich memories for my sisters and me. And I hope Steve and I can provide Jack with many funny, happy memories too.
2005 at 9:28 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Homemaking Family Time
From the time our children were very young we have had a weekly “family night.” This is an evening we set aside each week where we eat a special dinner together and do a fun activity. The purpose is to build family closeness and create special memories. Now some 25 years later, we have a whole collection of memories that we review often with fondness and laughter.
I must tell you, though, that some of our laughter comes from remembering family nights that went awry. We had times when our fun activity became a “resolving conflict activity” or times when the fun activity turned out to be not so fun after all! Like the time I planned for everyone to paint those little plaster houses to display under our Christmas tree. I had picked up this great idea from another mom, only I neglected to consider the fact that her family is very talented when it comes to doing crafts while my family is not. Our painting project did not go well. By the end of the evening, we had not succeeded in producing pretty painted Christmas houses; sinful attitudes were being displayed instead. Given how dreadful the houses looked, we eventually threw them away.
Though we weren’t laughing on this particular family night, we have certainly laughed about it many times since. This goes to show that even when a family night doesn’t go as planned it can still be a fun memory someday. And we want to provide our families with a whole lot of fun memories! That’s why family nights are well worth the time and effort it takes to make them happen.
As Tedd Tripp points out:
“The most powerful way to keep your child from being attracted by the offers of camaraderie with the wicked is to make home an attractive place to be. Young people do not run from places where they are loved and know unconditional acceptance. They do not run away from homes where there are solid relationships. They do not run from homes in which the family is planning activities and doing exciting things.”
Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Wapwallopen, Pa.: Shepherd Press, 1995), 195.
Now I am always on the lookout for creative ideas for family nights, and I’m sure many of you are as well. So we thought we would post some of our favorites over the next several days, and we’d also like to hear about yours. If you have a fun family activity you’d like to share with everyone, please email us by clicking on the “Email me” link on the left sidebar. We will post some of the best ideas next week. We look forward to hearing from you!
2005 at 8:32 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Speech
We’re traveling home from vacation today, so we thought we’d leave you with one more quote to wrap up our series on speech. This one is our favorite!
"Our use of the tongue is a sure evidence of the condition of our heart. It is the hinge on which the door into our souls swings open in order to reveal our spirit. In effect our words are like so many media people rushing to file their reports on the condition of our soul." Sinclair Ferguson
We hope you have a grace filled day! See you tomorrow!