Charisa wrote in a while ago to ask “Do you have any encouragement or practical advice for married women with no children who work full-time?”
She goes on to explain: “I have a strong desire to be home caring for my husband and having children. I want to have time to fold my laundry and vacuum my floors, volunteer, make meals for friends in need, babysit my niece, and spend time with other ladies. But I’m often too exhausted to do so. How do I practice biblical womanhood in a season where my husband has requested me to work?”
There is so much that could be said on this topic. I know that working full-time and caring for a home is intense. I’ve been there. For what they are worth, here are a few of my thoughts…
First of all, your desires to work in your home, care for a family, and serve others are wonderful. God gave you those desires. He is the one who appointed women to manage the home (1 Tim. 5:14, Titus 2:5). So it is good and right that you desire to be a home-worker. However, if your husband needs you to work outside the home for a season, then you can be reassured that by serving your husband, you are fulfilling your call to be his helper.
It is important that you both recognize that this decision to work full-time will come with limitations: you won’t be able to serve your husband in all the ways you desire right now. However, you are no less his helper than the woman who is at home full-time. We must all resist the temptation to compare ourselves with others. We must trust that God’s plan (and timing) for each of us is best—even if it isn’t what we had in mind.
Remember that God’s grace is available to you. He has called you to serve this particular man at this particular time in this particular way. That means he has particular grace available to enable you to complete this task. He has promised to equip you with everything you need for doing His will (Heb. 13:20-21).
Faith in God’s sovereignty and His strengthening grace will enable you to help your husband in humility, dependence, and joy. (In fact, we’re in the midst of a little series on these topics, which will continue tomorrow.)
And on a practical note, here are three strategies that served me:
1. Keep things simple. Look for ways to streamline your home responsibilities (shopping on the weekends, freezing meals, etc.). In humility, recognize that you won’t be able to do it all and accept the limitations that come with your season. This doesn’t mean you’re not being a good wife—you’re just serving your husband in a unique way!
2. Consistently re-evaluate. The home is the priority for us as women, and Steve and I always viewed my working full-time outside the home as less than ideal. Therefore, we periodically re-evaluated our financial situation to determine if I could work part-time or come home. And I would encourage you and your husband to consider when you might be able to be home full-time.
3. Seek counsel. Find other women who have worked (or are working) full-time and ask for practical (and spiritual) suggestions. Make sure your husband is informed about the challenges you face juggling both work and home responsibilities. Encourage your husband to get counsel from your pastor regarding this decision to have you work full-time and the implications for your marriage and home-life.
There is so much more that could be said. Most of all, I pray God will give you grace to say with the Psalmist: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6).
I think I figured out what may eventually put me into labor…basketball. Yes, I said basketball.
No, I am not a sports fan in general, but when it comes to watching my
little brother play, I feel like one of those fans who paints their
faces or dyes their hair the color of their favorite team. You see,
because of the large difference in age, Chad has always been more like
a son than a little brother to my sisters and me (although he fulfills
that little brother role quite well, with all of the pranks he likes to
play on his big sisters!).
Chad had his first basketball game of the season last night, and it
was a nail-biter. It came down to the last minute and we were trailing
by just a couple of points. I could hardly handle the pressure. I was
so nervous. The refs kept making all of these calls, none of which I
understood. But I’m happy to report that we won! Go Cougars!
At the end of the game, I leaned over to my mom and said, “This is
what will bring this little baby into the world…basketball!”
It happened again this Thanksgiving. Domestically inspired, I did way too much. Not content with “plain old” pies (my Thanksgiving meal assignment), I made pumpkin cream cheese pie with a homemade cream cheese pie-crust and a black-bottom banana cream pie that required you to “chill for 30 minutes” after every step. Then there was cranberry sauce, seven-layer dip, mint squares… Enough said.
It happened again this Thanksgiving. I neglected my times with the Lord. I failed to depend upon Him by practicing the spiritual disciplines. I self-sufficiently rushed at my to-do list: chock full of really-do-matter and even more really-don’t-matter items and pushed aside (as our Lord told Martha) the one thing that matters most: sitting at His feet.
It happened again this Thanksgiving. I resolved afresh that Christmas would be different. I don’t want to spend the next three weeks “running around like a chicken with my head cut off” (I’ve never actually seen one, but I imagine the resemblance is probably striking). This doesn’t mean I won’t work hard on behalf of my family. But I want to do so, expressing dependence on God by a faithful pursuit of the spiritual disciplines. Charles Spurgeon describes the way I want to live: “We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune.” (Morning and Evening, January 24)
It happened again this Thanksgiving. But I pray, by God’s great grace, it won’t happen again.
Now that we have barely shut the door on Thanksgiving, the Christmas season is at our door with a loud, demanding knock. And with that knock comes a whole new set of responsibilities that can be even more daunting than the ones we just completed: Making lists, shopping for presents, wrapping those presents, putting up Christmas decorations, trimming the Christmas tree, addressing Christmas cards, attending Christmas parties, baking cookies, preparing for out-of-town guests…. Not to mention, we must squeeze all of these tasks into the already-full-schedules of our daily lives! How is it possible for a woman to do everything she needs to get done this time of year?
I still remember the wise and helpful counsel my husband CJ shared with me many years ago when I was having one of those “I just can’t get it all done” breakdown crying sessions. When he finally got the chance to speak, he said: “Carolyn, only God completes His to-do list. We are not God. We are finite creatures with serious limitations. Therefore we need to humble ourselves by accepting our limitations and draw upon God’s strength to simply do what we can.” CJ’s advice not only helped me then, but continues to benefit me to this day, especially with the Christmas season on my front doorstep.
Here are 3 simple ways we can be mindful of our limitations as we make our to-do lists this holiday:
1. Separate the-really-do-matter items from the really-don’t-matter items—of course doing the really-do-matter items first.
2. Simplify the really-do-matter items where possible (i.e. purchasing already-prepared cookie dough rather than making Christmas cookies from scratch).
3. Trust God for all the things on the list that don’t get done.
Let’s honor God by answering Christmas’s knock at our doors this year with humility—joyfully accepting our limitations and simply doing what we can.
Janelle: Welcome, ladies to our post-game coverage of the 2005 Mahaney Turkey Bowl. The teams were led by captains Kristin Chesemore and Chad Mahaney. Chad’s team had Mike and Janelle Bradshaw and Carolyn Mahaney while Kristin’s team had Brian Chesemore and Steve and Nicole Whitacre. It was intense!
I’m standing here with the permanent quarter back, C.J. Mahaney. Mr. Mahaney, what was your perspective on today’s game?
Mr. Mahaney: It was yet another close game. The score was tied at 28 when darkness began to settle in over the field. Appeals were made to end the game due to darkness and frostbite. But I don’t believe in tie games, so a unique “sudden death” format was created: a one-on-one challenge between Kristin and Chad. Each player was allowed 4 downs and the game would go until someone scored. On first down, I threw a long pass to Kristin who made a spectacular catch. But Chad came back with a vengeance over the next three downs, denying Kristin a touchdown. When Chad’s turn with the ball came, Kristin took a rather violent approach to her defense, mugging Chad as he attempted to catch the winning pass. Though not allowed in college or pro football, this kind of defense is permitted by the ladies only in the Turkey Bowl. But in a dramatic fashion, on fourth down, Chad caught a long touchdown pass and years of frustrating and humiliating defeats came to an end.
Janelle: Thank you, Mr. Mahaney. Let’s turn to our winner, Chad Mahaney, and see what he has to say…
Chad: I want to congratulate Kristin Chesemore and her team for a hard fought battle on the field today. It is possible, that my sister’s proud comment prior to the game played a role in the outcome of the game.
Janelle: Thank you, Chad, and congratulations on your win. I tried to secure an interview with Kristin Chesemore, but she declined to comment. (Just kidding. In a fine display of sportsmanship, she offered her opponent a warm congratulations.)
Thank you, ladies, for joining us this evening. For further information on today’s game, scroll down to view some pictures of the competition.
A meal before the big game
The men preparing to warm up
Can you say “FREEZING?”
Serious about their game
Here are a few snapshots of our Thanksgiving day…
Breakfast with the nephews (affectionately known as “the crazies”)
Nicole’s cranberry soup…I mean sauce
Cooking time with “Kess” and “Nic”
Observe this amazing display of multi-tasking
Andrew talking to his cousin
Happy Thanksgiving, Jack!
Just before the big feast
The men helping with dishes
The happy end to a wonderful day
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! This is the big Mahaney holiday of the year. While many couples trade off spending Thanksgiving/Christmas with one side or the other, we have chosen to focus on Thanksgiving which allows our daughters to make their in-laws a priority at Christmas.
For anyone who is interested, we will be posting a photo-diary of the Mahaney Thanksgiving over the next several days. We’re sure to provide you with a few laughs, and you’ll want to find out who triumphs in the great football rivalry: Kristin or Chad!
We could think of no better way to conclude our Thanksgiving Countdown than with a quote from our favorite Mr. Charles Spurgeon, on gratitude to God:
“The fear of a man who really knows the love and goodness of God, will be somewhat of this kind: He will fear lest he should really be, or should seem to be, ungrateful. ‘What’ he asks, ‘can I do? I am drowned in mercy. It is not as though my ship were sailing in a sea of mercy; I have been so loaded with the favour of the Lord that my vessel has gone right down, and the ocean of God’s love and mercy has rolled right over the masthead. What can I do O Lord? If thou had given me only a little mercy, I might have done something, in return, to express my gratitude. But oh! Thy great mercy in electing me, in redeeming me, in converting me, and in preserving me, and in all the goodness of thy providence toward me;—what can I do in return for all these favour? I feel struck dumb; and I am afraid, lest I should have a dumb heart as well as a dumb tongue; I fear lest I should grieve Thee by anything that looks like ingratitude.”
May your Thanksgiving be full of moments of gratitude as you contemplate the drowning mercies of our God!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone,
Carolyn, Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
Did you know that it was actually a woman to whom we owe this holiday? Enjoy the following story of the origin of Thanksgiving.
“The Woman Who Brought Us Thanksgiving”
by Harold Ivan Smith
Most Americans associate Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims. Fifty-one survivors of the Mayflower gathered to celebrate after their first fall harvest. Governor William Bradford proclaimed it a day of thanksgiving.
But during the next century and a half, thanksgiving was an irregular celebration, varying from community to community, dependent at times upon the religious and political climates and the attitudes of individual governors.
Then the victory of the Americans over the British at Saratoga in October, 1777 prompted the Continental Congress to set aside December 18 as a day of thanksgiving and praise to be observed by all the colonies.
On September 28, 1863, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale wrote President Abraham Lincoln urging him to make the annual Thanksgiving “a national and fixed Union Festival.” By this time, she had built the circulation of her magazine, Godey’s Ladies Book to 150,000. Hale’s letter could not be ignored. Nor her editorials. Her annual Thanksgiving editorial in Godey’s opened with Nehemiah 8:10: “Then he said unto them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord; neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”
Hale argued, from her strong Episcopal faith, that if Nehemiah set aside a time of thanksgiving in a time of national stress, “in a time of national darkness and sore troubles, shall we not recognize the goodness of God never faileth, and that to our Father in heaven we should always bring the Thanksgiving offering at the ingathering of the harvest?”
Lincoln weighed the matter and decided that the timing was right for something that would promote national unity. He ordered Seward to draft the proclamation.
Early on October 3, Lincoln read the proclamation: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and helpful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
Seward wrote, “No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gift of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
Lincoln commended Seward for a project “well done” and then focused on the last paragraph: “I do, therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Hey everyone, we have a winner! Well, actually, I should say winners. Thank you so much for all of you who participated in this contest. We had so much fun reading about your traditions. After much agonizing, we were able to narrow it down to three women. Enjoy…
As for our tradition, let me provide a little background to my family dynamics which may help you appreciate my mother’s effort a bit more. When I was 12, (I am now 29) my father died from a malignant brain tumor. My mother had 4 children at the time. In the same year that my father passed away, a gentleman named Galen lost his wife in a hit and run car accident. She was walking with a friend alongside a country road and was hit by a car and killed instantly. Galen had three boys at the time. My mom was “fixed up” on a blind date with this gentleman, and about four months later, married him. My mom and her four children, myself included, moved an hour from where we grew up, changed churches, schools, friendships, everything to begin a new life altogether as a new family of 9. This all took place within a year’s time of my father’s death and Galen’s wife’s death. My mom now was at home with 7 children ranging in age from 2 to 15!
Needless to say, the transition was anything but smooth. In the world’s estimation, there was no way this was going to or should have worked. But, I believe despite all the many difficult bumps in the road, God gave abundant grace to both of my parents to hem us together as one family. I believe one pivotal way God used to bring this unity as a family about was in creating “new traditions.” Both sets of families came together having their own traditions. My mom had a very difficult task in paving the path for new traditions to emerge. Initially, my older sister and I in particular were resistant to yet more changes, but I am grateful now my mom did not give up. I can say today, 17 years later, that these traditions hold such a cherished place in my heart.
So, here are a few:
1. The day after Thanksgiving, while the rest of America shops, we stay home and bake all our Christmas cookies. Because most of my sisters are out of the house now and some of us with children, we each bring two cookie dough recipes all made up and just bake them all day to “simplify” things. My mom has an Amish made table that extends about 13 feet ( a much needed item for a family of 9) and the table is FULL of cookies by the end of the day. We bring our own Christmas tins and pick an assortment of cookies to take home with us for the holiday season.
2. My mom initiated a “memory box” for our Christmas celebration. Each of the kids and now the ones who married into the family, all have to write one or several favorite memories from the year that is ending. We all put them into the “memory box” and then as a family we read them before we open our gifts. Each year we laugh and cry and are reminded of how good and faithful God has been to us in the last year.
Each year at Thanksgiving we get together with my mom’s sister and her family, as well as my grandma (mom’s mom) and her husband. For years, when this time rolled around, the most important job for older children (me and my sister, who are 6+ years older than most of the younglings of the family) was keeping the little ones occupied while the adults chatted/watched football and prepared the meal.
Consequently, every Thanksgiving took a lot of preparation on my part to come up with something fun and interesting that the little guys (3 boys 4 girls) would enjoy. The problem was the age range—it went from 4 to 9—and I could never quite find something that they all enjoyed, until one year when I came across something in a magazine.
It’s really just a simple, easily constructed treat to make with your kids around Thanksgiving.
Ingredients: (per child)
- 1 large red apple
- orange slices
- any other kind of candy that can be speared onto blunt toothpicks
- blunt toothpicks
- construction paper (orange, red, and brown)
The first step is giving the child a pen/pencil and paper and asking them to draw a turkey head and turkey feet. (I’ve heard of this being modified where people use a large marshamallow for the head and draw a face on it) Needless to say, the results vary and are quite amusing. We cut these out and tape them to toothpicks, inserting the feet horizontally (so the apple can still rest on it’s base/core) and the “head” in the middle/side area. The fun part is the next step. Each child spears the candy in creative patterns (like shishkabobs or however you spell that) onto the toothpicks and inserts them (all over the opposite end of the apple from the head) upright like a turkey’s tail. After proudly displaying the creations to the adults, the “turkeys” are placed on the mantlepiece where they rest (so cute!) while we eat our dinner. Then, when the adults are still eating/talking and the kids get restless, they are allowed to go and begin devouring their respective works of art.
It has kept them occupied every year, and even now that they are older, we still enjoy this little tradition!
p.s. we always wind up with a lot of leftover apples, which we like to cut up and saturate in apple-pie ingredients like cinnamon, sugar, lemon, etc. and roll in tiny pieces of lightly buttered leftover apple-pie crust and bake. mmmm!
One of the traditions we have that makes the day more fun and less overwhelming is that we all share the work.
A basket goes around with “before dinner jobs” written on little pieces of paper: peel potatoes, set the table with china, silverware; fold napkins, take beverage orders, put ice in glasses, make relish tray, put food in serving dishes, make the gravy, carve the turkey, mash the potatoes etc.
Then, when everyone is stuffed, the “after dinner” basket goes around: scrape plates, put silverware in dishwasher, pick the turkey carcass, put leftovers in plasticware, wash pots and pans, wash serving dishes, serve coffee/tea, take orders for pie etc.
There is always a lot of laughing and trading of jobs, and of course if a young child gets “carve the turkey,” the person who got “fold the napkins” will graciously trade. There is always one slip of paper among the “after dinner” jobs that says “crawl under the table and take a nap,” so everyone hopes for that one!
Weren’t those great? Thanks so much for the ideas, ladies! Be sure to check back in tomorrow as our “Thanksgiving Countdown” continues.
While you are going about your preparations this week—cleaning your house, making your pies, or getting your family ready for an out of town trip—why not listen to a sermon? Our recommended choice for your listening pleasure this week is a message by Eric Simmons, one of the pastors from Covenant Life Church. He recently preached an excellent message on the topic of evangelism (“Invite and Invest, Pt. 3”). This sermon will help prepare you to relate to the non-Christians who may be participating in your family holiday celebration. Actually this message will equip you in your efforts to reach out to any non-Christian, regardless of the context. It certainly has been helpful to me!
P.S. Janelle will be posting the winning entries for our Thanksgiving traditions’ contest later today. Be sure to check back!