If there is one area in which it is both easy and hard for me to help my husband, it’s with our finances. I’ve always had an interest in all things related to math and accounting. I took accounting courses in college and most of the jobs I’ve had have been in bookkeeping. So it is a joy for me to serve Brian by sticking to a budget, frugally managing household resources, and keeping him informed so that he can intelligently oversee our finances. However, at the point where my helping and his leadership intersect, I am sometimes tempted to respond in an unhelpful way.
Several nights ago, Brian suggested allocating some of our resources to do something special for me. As grateful as I was for his thoughtfulness, it wasn’t my preference to use our money in this way. I already had other plans for these particular funds. I informed Brian about the money we currently had available, and explained that I thought it would be better to hold off on this expenditure for now.
Brian listened and considered, but after hearing the facts, he still thought that this was the best way to go. So I have an opportunity this week to help Brian—not just by serving him with the administration of the finances, but also by making it easy for him to lead in decisions about our finances.
I am learning that as helpful as I might be to my husband with my aptitude in financial matters, I can help Brian best by trusting God for his leadership. I must trust God that He is the one who has ordained for Brian to lead and me to follow. I must believe that He will work all decisions—even (and often especially) the ones I disagree with—for my good and His glory.
If I exercise faith toward God for Brian’s decisions, I will radiate peace and joy and make it easy for Brian to fulfill his God given role. I am still growing and learning, but I pray that God will continue to give me grace to be a truly helpful helper to my husband!
On Tuesday I wrote about how a jazz concert inspired me to delight in my role as helper to my husband. In her book, Feminine Appeal (pages 109-111), Mom elaborates on the importance of our role as helper, and it’s implications for us as home managers. This is one of those nuggets of advice that I have found to be consistently relevant.
“Scripture has provided a job description for us as managers of our homes, and it is surprisingly simple, We are to be our husband’s helper (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:7-25; 1 Cor. 11:8-9). As Douglas Wilson elaborates:
‘The man needs the help; the woman needs to help. Marriage was created by God to provide companionship in the labor of dominion. The cultural mandate, the requirement to fill and subdue the earth, is still in force, and a husband cannot fulfill this portion of the task in isolation. He needs a companion suitable for him in the work to which God has called him. He is called to the work and must receive help from her. She is called to the work through ministering to him. He is oriented to the task and she is oriented to him.’ (emphasis mine)
Douglas Wilson, Reforming Marriage (Moscow, Ida.: Canon Press, 1995), p. 16
When we understand that our main objective as home managers is to be oriented to our husbands, this clarifies our responsibilities. We can easily determine what we should do and how we should do it by asking ourselves, ‘What will most help my husband?’ The answer to this question is usually obvious and uncomplicated…
Orienting our lives to our husbands not only helps them, but it helps us as well. When we adapt our lifestyles to serve our husbands, it helps to keep our schedules manageable. Oftentimes we feel pulled in multiple directions by the demands of family, friends, church, school, and community—not to mention our own desires. We try to please everyone, only to feel frustrated and frazzled at the end of the day. However, when we build our lives around helping our husbands, all other ‘needs’ have to assume their proper place on our calendars—that is, if they even belong there at all.
So why don’t we ask our husbands today how we can best help them? And let’s not assume that we can ascertain their preferences through this one-time inquiry. Rather, we ought to frequently solicit their thoughts and opinions so we can manage the home to their liking.”
That last paragraph especially is a good reminder for me: to not assume I’ve got this helper thing down, but to consistently ask myself “What will most help my husband? and to regularly ask Steve as well.
Q. I am 18 years old and would like to know how to be “just friends” with the guys in our church, but don’t know how. Can you give me any advice?
A. It wasn’t so long ago now that I was navigating my way through the teen years and into early adulthood. One issue always lurking in the shadows was “friendships with guys.” How do these relationships look different from those with my girlfriends? How much time do I spend with them? Is it okay to hang out one on one or talk on the phone?
I always wished for a simple set of rules—just a little list of “do’s and dont’s” that I could carry around in my pocket. These rules would guarantee me success, and I would no longer have to worry about that little conscience of mine. However, I learned early on that this one was a wisdom issue, and that Scripture was the primary source for that wisdom.
In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Paul tells Timothy that he should, “Treat…younger women like sisters, in all purity.” Now if the guys are going to treat us as “sisters in all purity,” then we in turn must act like sisters, in purity! Here in this verse is the wisdom we so desperately need. We must ask ourselves—do I treat my guy friends as I would my own brother? Am I walking in absolute purity toward all young men?
For myself, I realized that my heart often had many competing motives at work in my relationships with guys. Instead of thinking and acting like a sister, I sometimes found myself wanting the attention of a particular guy. I also wanted other girls to think I had a sufficient number of guys that called me “friend.” Often times, the motives behind my relationships with guys were not God-honoring.
That is why it was so helpful that my mom and I kept a running dialogue on this issue. We didn’t have some kind of formal debriefing once a week, but talking about my guy friends was a regular part of our lives. These conversations were most critical for me in the accountability that they provided and the counsel that my mom brought. For those of you who may not have a godly mom, I would encourage you to have these types of conversations with another older, wiser, woman in your church. As Mom said last week, we aren’t called to live the Christian life alone. We need the help, encouragement, and counsel of others.
I also quickly learned that my friendships with guys needed to look quite different than my friendships with girls. I recall a conversation that I once had with my singles pastor. He told me, “Janelle, guys read into things just as much as girls do. When a girl shows consistent attention to one guy, it can cultivate affection in that guy’s heart.” While I may have been considering my guy friends as brothers, they may have been thinking that there was something more. I remember my mom telling me to relate to all guys as “another woman’s husband.” I found this little phrase to be a very helpful heart-check in relating to my guy friends.
All of this said, friendships with guys are not wrong. In fact I would argue that friendships with godly young men during these years are a gift from the Lord and something to be enjoyed. Paul is obviously assuming that Timothy will relate to other young women in the church, but he makes clear what those relationships ought to look like.
As one of three girls (until my favoritist little brother arrived on the scene 12 yrs. after me) I’m very grateful for the guys that were my “brothers” during those years. If we pursue the biblical principles of purity and brotherly love, we can be free to enjoy godly friendships with godly guys as blessings from our heavenly Father.
The Mahaney women love little boys. Between us, we have five of them. My mom led the way by having Chad twelve years after me, her third girl. Kristin and Nicole quickly followed suit upon marriage—Kristin with her three boys and Nicole with her first also being a boy. My father, so long outnumbered by his women, now has many reinforcements: 1 son, 3 son-in-laws, and 4 grandsons. Boys have overtaken our family and we love each and every one of them.
I just found out that I am going to break the trend:
The sonogram says its a girl...
Yesterday evening I attended a free jazz concert at the Library of Congress. I don’t love jazz, but my husband does. I went because I love my husband. To me, jazz is a little like hockey—a snooze to watch on television (can anyone actually see the puck?), but an adrenaline rush if you are sitting two feet behind the glass. Likewise, jazz on cd can put me to sleep, but watching these guys play was an exciting experience.
The capacity of these five men to make intricate, high-speed arrangements appear effortless was phenomenal. I knew I was watching authentic masters of their instruments. But it wasn’t their music I was most impressed with. It was the way each member of the band was eager to make the others a success.
The band-leader—a legendary jazz pianist and the reason we’d all trekked downtown on a Monday night—modestly directed the other musicians to display their talents. The drummer seemed ecstatic just to keep time so the flutist could make his flute sing. When any band-member received applause following a lengthy solo, they would slightly bow and then point to the others, as if to say, “I couldn’t have done it without their help.”
I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately about our “helper” role as women. Equal in worth to men, we nevertheless have a different assignment from God. Genesis 2:18-22 tell us that Eve was created as “a helper fit” for Adam. We wrote in Girl Talk that: “As women, we have been specially equipped to provide strategic, effective, and valuable help and aid to those around us. We are God’s handpicked support staff for creation.”
For those of us who are married, we have been called to help a particular man, our husband: to support, assist and encourage him in fulfilling God’s call on his life. But as we’ve often said here, we don’t receive our helper certificate on our wedding day. All women come stamped with this helper design, which we are to fulfill regardless of the sphere of life in which God has placed us.
Far from being a demeaning role, our helper role is vital and honorable. Yet, following the concert last night, I realized that I don’t often delight in my helper role as much as those musicians obviously enjoyed helping one another, for the sake of great music. While I firmly believe this is my calling from God, I don’t often relish and savor the satisfaction of making it possible for Steve to serve God.
So I want us to steal a sheet of music, so to speak, from these legendary musicians. For teenage girls and singles, who can you joyfully help today—your parents, your siblings, someone in your church? For married women, what is one way we can help our husbands today? Together, let’s delight in our helper role and craft some beautiful music of our own, music pleasant to the ears of God.
No, Janelle has not had her baby yet. (She’s not due until February.) And, no it is not Nicole nor Kristin revealing that one of them is pregnant. And you can be sure that I am not making known such news about myself!
However, we do have a birth of sorts to announce. That being, the arrival of CJ’s most recent book: Humility: True Greatness.
In my view, writing a book is like giving birth to a baby. Hard labor is required in both endeavors. And the rounds of edits before final publication are not so unlike transition. So there is celebrating going on in the Mahaney household today, because CJ’s writing labors for this book project are now behind him.
But more importantly, we are praying that many lives will be changed by reading and applying God’s Word on this all-important topic of humility. Isaiah 66:2 reads: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” As my husband says in chapter one: “Here we find motivation and purpose [for being humble] rooted in this amazing fact: Humility draws the gaze of our Sovereign God.”
If you are interested in reading more about this book, you can go to the website of Sovereign Grace Ministries to read an interview by Justin Taylor, a review by Tim Challies, and a sample chapter from the book. You may purchase the book by clicking here.
And we hope you will join us in thanking God for this new arrival in our family.
I haven’t been posting much lately as my boys have been busy providing future Friday Funnies for me to share. I’m just not laughing yet. But give me a couple weeks (months?) and maybe I’ll tell you about them. Let’s just say paint was involved and leave it at that for now.
Here’s a Friday Funny we received from one of our most encouraging readers, Cindy Campbell. As she herself points out, the theology is askew but it’s a good opportunity to laugh at ourselves.
“A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer. Suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, ‘Because you have been faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.’
The man said ‘Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over anytime I want.’
The Lord said, ‘Your request is very materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honor and glorify me.’
The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, ‘Lord, I wish that I could understand my wife. I want to know how she feels inside, what she’s thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says “nothing’s wrong,” and how I can make a woman truly happy.’
The Lord replied, ‘You want two lanes or four on that bridge?’”
Have a restful weekend everyone (and especially you moms out there!)
(for Carolyn, Nicole, and Janelle)
Yes, this is still your site for commentary on biblical womanhood, food insights from Janelle, and Friday Funnies. It’s just no longer the most unprofessional looking blog on the web. Girl Talk has finally received a much needed makeover. I’ve been spared a few wrinkles too, as I will no longer reflexively cringe every time I view our site.
I was pretty happy with our little site at first. We designed it ourselves (a minor miracle). It was pink. A completely original picture graced the masthead. (Yes, those really are our hands you’ve been staring at all these months.)
But as time went on we realized the picture only looked centered on my laptop. If you checked out Girl Talk on my husband’s computer, the picture came about three inches short of the right margin. Cute. I also got really tired of seeing our hands every day, as Mom is the only one not desperately in need of a manicure.
So, thanks to our friend Peter Lewis (check him out at www.peterlewisdesign.com), I no longer have to think about the state of Janelle’s cuticles. And I don’t have to worry about a new set of wrinkles. I may actually smile when I log on to our site. We hope you do to.
Apparently it was my lack of interest in CJ that, among other things, first captured his interest in me.
He couldn’t understand why I was being rude and unkind about simply fixing him a hot dog. He was curious. Intrigued. He wanted to find out more about this girl. He began to look for ways to interact with me.
I, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with him and purposed to avoid him.
Little did CJ know that he fit the profile of the kind of man I had vowed I would never marry—a preacher. See, growing up in the church I had observed many men in pastoral ministry who had mishandled finances, or committed adultery, or neglected to make their families a priority. Consequently, I had determined at a young age that I would not marry a man who was a pastor.
However, God in His great mercy had different plans for me.
As I began to listen to CJ preach over that week I was captivated by his passion for the Savior. So much so that by the time he asked me to take a walk with him several days later, I actually agreed. I was now the curious one. I wondered: Was this guy as passionate in real life as he appeared to be on stage?
My questions were quickly answered in that one walk. Because the only topic of our one-sided conversation (he did all the talking!) was about Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins. And it was this same topic that dominated our conversations in many walks to follow.
I was smitten, and began to rethink my vow not to marry a preacher.
By the time CJ had completed his week of teaching at the conference center, he had communicated his interest in me, I had introduced him to my parents, I had decided not to go to Bible college and was rehired to my previous secretarial position, and a courtship had begun!
Or so I thought. However, I did not hear from CJ for several weeks after his return to Maryland.
You see, before CJ had met me, he had concluded that the most effective way he could serve the Savior was to remain single. So, when he got back home, he began to deal with a raging conflict in his soul. He began to wrestle with the question: Was he being unfaithful to God’s call on his life by pursuing marriage?
Thankfully, through the help and wise counsel of others he was able to resolve this issue and conclude that he wasn’t neglecting his God-given call by pursuing me. However, he had some big-time explaining to do when he finally phoned.
After we surmounted this hurdle, the courtship took off. However, the long-distance factor of our relationship, made the times together too infrequent, the good-byes extra difficult, and the phone bills way too high. So it was sweet indeed, when CJ asked me to marry him. Or more accurately, he asked: “Will you be engaged to me?” I think he had difficulty getting that word “marry” out of his mouth. But after my asking for clarification, he was able to say: “Will you marry me?”
I said “yes” and by far it is the best “yes” I have ever uttered.
In spite of the fact that each of us wanted to be somewhere else the day we met, that I didn’t want to marry a preacher, and that C.J. wasn’t sure he should get married, God’s quiet providence had other plans in mind. C.J. and I were married on May 17, 1975. He was 21 and I was 19.
This year we celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary, and this post is not long enough to tell you of the love we have for each other today. However, I have included a tribute to my husband, given at the occasion of his turning over leadership of Covenant Life Church. In brief, it tells the story of our thirty years together.
For those of you checking in for Q & A, we are still answering the relationship question from two weeks ago. Q & A will return with a new question next Wednesday.