2006 at 7:45 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
This picture, sent to us by Suzanne from Tennessee, reminded me of my Grandpa’s sense of humor. He has since passed away, but while he was alive he never ceased to keep us entertained. On one occasion he was having a meal at our house when Kristin had the chicken pox. He very seriously informed Kristin that the chicken pox would cause her to turn into a chicken. She fell “hook, line and sinker” and it took some convincing on my parent’s part to make her believe that Grandpa was just kidding. If my Grandpa were still alive, this sign would surely make him laugh!
on behalf of Carolyn, Nicole, and Kristin
2006 at 4:46 pm | by Kristin Chesemore
I’m tired and I need more rest. But when? How? These were my questions as family and friends recently sought to counsel me through this exhausting season with three energetic boys.
A typical day begins early and goes non-stop until naptime. My kid’s naptime, that is. While my little ones are resting and recharging their batteries, I am usually trying to bring order back to the house, do laundry—you know, start something and finish it without interruption. Then it’s a whirlwind of dinner prep, dishes cleanup, and jammies on. Usually there’s a meeting, or home projects to tackle, and before you know it, it’s time to do the same thing all over again. Except, I still haven’t recovered from the day before.
For me and every other exhausted mom, we must find our rest and our strength in Christ. One of our pastors wives, Nancy Loftness, reminded me of 1 Peter 4:11, “Whoever serves, [should do so] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” I MUST consistently seek God for joy and stamina to serve my family another day. There is no other way to bring glory to God as a mother.
However, my mom, sisters, and faithful friends have also been helping me take practical steps to alleviate my tremendous tiredness. In a word, simplify. Get strategic and get creative about eliminating needless work. Make rest a priority so I’m better able to serve my husband and my little men.
Over lunch the other day, Mom, Nicole, Janelle and I brainstormed about my daily schedule. We talked through the trouble points and they threw out all kinds of ideas such as buying pre-packaged food for my boy’s lunches, getting help with babysitting, and developing a plan for staying on top of laundry.
This brainstorming session has made a significant difference in my life of late, and I want to encourage other moms to try it as well. Gather a couple of friends and fellow-moms together for a strategy session (make it a fun night out!), or ask several “older” women for ideas. Examine every aspect of your day and figure out how you can simplify your life and schedule. The practical changes that serve you best will probably be different than for me. However, by minimizing your workload where possible, you’ll find reserves of strength to serve your family, and more peace along the way.
Simplifying my life has provided me with much-needed rest. It has also required a healthy dose of humility, an honest admission that I’m not “Super Mom.” I’m just an ordinary woman seeking to serve with the strength that God provides—in whatever way it comes. May God be glorified!
2006 at 4:42 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Spiritual Growth Motherhood Teenagers
We’ve already spoken about Chad’s birthday several times this week. Before we leave this event to the family history books, we want to share one of Chad’s letters with you. As Mom explained on Monday, she and Dad wanted Chad to hear the “voices” of godly men he respects on this special occasion. To read Chad’s book of letters is to realize what a precious gift he has received in the lives and the words of these men.
One of the men who kindly wrote Chad a letter was Dad’s friend, David Powlison. While each letter was uniquely moving, Dr. Powlison’s words were not only applicable to a thirteen year old boy progressing toward manhood, but have been an encouragement to us all. So much so, that Dad even used this letter in a recent counseling situation, and we couldn’t refrain from asking permission to share it with all of you.
Please don’t skim this letter or read it too quickly. It is priceless biblical guidance from a wise man for all of us—young and old. I’m willing to bet you won’t get through it without being moved to tears as you contemplate the mercy of God in your life. So, please read it as if it was written to you. Then share it with a friend.
2006 at 1:39 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
“But women will be saved through childbearing.” (1 Timothy 2:15, NIV)
Ever wondered what in the world this verse means?! If so, you’re not alone. As Bible scholar Andreas Kostenberger admits, “This simple statement has mystified average Bible readers as well as Christian scholars for centuries.”
However, it was included in God’s Word. Therefore, truth relevant to our lives is to be gleaned from this verse. Thanks to Dr. Kostenberger’s extensive study, we can better understand its meaning, and its significant implications for us as women.
At first glance 1 Timothy 2:15 can appear to contradict other Scriptures that clearly state salvation is by grace, through faith, and not of works (Eph. 2:8-9). But sound interpretive principles tell us this can’t be true. So what is this “being saved” exactly, and what about single women or those who can’t conceive? Most importantly, what does this verse mean for my life today?
Dr. Kostenberger concludes that Paul is not referring here to final salvation, but rather that “‘women shall be kept safe by childbearing’ is the likely rendering of 1 Timothy 2:15.” Furthermore, “it can be argued that what women are to be kept safe from is being deceived, ultimately by Satan himself.” He goes on:
What does it mean, then, for a woman to be “kept safe [from Satan]”? It means, among other things, that she will not yield in her mind to false notions of what it means for her to be a woman and in particular a woman of God. It means that she will respect divinely set boundaries in the exercise of her spiritual gifts and ministry calling in trust and obedience to God’s Word. It means that she will find fulfillment in her domestic calling, in her relationship with her husband, in her role as mother and maker of the home, and in proper ministry involvements in God’s “household,” the church (see 1 Tim. 3:15)
Suddenly, we realize the tremendous implications of this so-called “difficult” verse. We are “kept safe” from Satan’s lies when we hold fast to Scripture’s definition of womanhood. We are kept safe when we “respect divinely set boundaries” and “find fulfillment in [our] domestic calling.” What powerful motivation for biblical womanhood!
Having said this, Dr. Kostenberger responds to the most likely objection:
Does that mean that women are to be “confined” to the home? Not at all. The mandate for women to center their calling around the home does not mean to limit it to the home. As passages such as Proverbs 31 make very clear, women will participate in a great variety of activities from their home as a base and thus be great blessings to their husbands and children. More than that, women, by bearing children and thus fulfilling their natural procreative and biological functions, actively participate in humanity’s rule over creation (see Gen. 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it”). Single women, likewise, can take an active part in God’s work as they devote themselves to matters pertaining to “God’s household” (1 Tim. 3:15; see 1 Cor. 7:29-35).
Properly understood, this verse can serve as both a warning and a comfort. It is like a divine “green zone” for us as women—protecting us from danger outside and providing joy and peace within. When we as women—single and married, the childless and the mother—“find fulfillment in [our] domestic calling,” both in the home and in the church, we are kept safe from Satan’s strategies to rob us (and our families) of peace and joy.
There is much more that can be said about this verse, and Dr. Kostenberger says it in the September 1997 issue (yes, almost nine years ago!) of the CBMW newsletter. You can also find a link to an even more scholarly explanation of this text at Andreas Kostenberger’s weekly blog (you just have to scroll down to last week’s entry). Finally, we want to take this opportunity to recommend the books Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 edited by Andreas Kostenberger, Thomas Schreiner and H.S. Baldwin as well as God, Marriage, and Family by Dr. Kostenberger, which Dad says is the single best book he’s read on this topic.
Thanks be to God for verses such as 1 Timothy 2:15!
2006 at 6:10 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Q. “I am curious what you ladies might have to say on the topic of dealing with the grief that comes from the ending of a relationship, particularly when a woman believed it would end in marriage.”
A. This question immediately brought back memories of a similar season that I experienced in my relationship with Mike. Although the Lord ultimately planned marriage for us, there was a period of time when it appeared our relationship was over for good. And while I realize that not all stories have the same ending, the issues God was after in my heart are the same for all of us—whether or not we eventually get married, and regardless of the nature of our disappointed hope.
When Mike and I ended our relationship, it was after many months of mutual feelings, and much time spent pursuing marriage. Before the decision to call things off, we would both have been pretty confident marriage to each other was in our future (Read the long version of our story here.) So, upon ending our relationship, I was immediately faced with the temptation to despair. What was God doing? Why was I so confused? I thought Mike was the one! The tears were many, just ask my mom.
This decision marked the beginning of one of the biggest battles I had yet to face in my walk with the Lord. The fight for FAITH. Did I really believe what I had been taught from Scripture about God’s sovereignty? Did I trust God that He had a perfect plan for my life? Was I confident that He would reveal His will to me, in His good time? Could I be happy if His plan didn’t include marriage? I’m sorry to say that my answer to many of these questions was often a resounding “no.” I thought that my ideas and plans were best. If only the Lord would speak more clearly. If only He would do it this way—MY way.
How grateful I am for the mercy of God upon my life during this struggle. Through the leadership of my parents, I began to press into God’s Word in a most intense way. I spent hours studying “faith” and “sovereignty” in the Bible, and talking through the issues of sin in my heart with others. The book Is God Really in Control? (previously entitled Trusting God) by Jerry Bridges became a faithful friend to me. I read this book over and over again. Quotes like these fed my soul…
“God in His infinite wisdom knows exactly what adversity we need to grow more and more into the likeness of His Son. He not only knows what we need but when we need it and how best to bring it to pass in our lives. He is the perfect teacher or coach. His discipline is always exactly suited for our needs. He never over trains us by allowing too much adversity in our lives.” Page 122
“If we are to experience peace in our souls in times of adversity, we must come to the place where we truly believe that God’s ways are simply beyond us and stop asking Him “why” or even trying to determine it ourselves. This may seem like an intellectual “cop out,” a refusal to deal with the really tough issues of life. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is a surrender to the truth about God and our circumstances as it is revealed to us by God Himself in His inspired Word.” Page 126-7
Slowly, I cannot tell you exactly when, my heart began to change. I still didn’t know if marriage was in my future, but my heart was at peace in the sovereignty of my good and loving Father. I wanted His perfect plan to be fulfilled in my life.
If you find yourself in a similar situation today (and this fight for faith is certainly not limited to the arena of marriage), I would encourage you to take drastic action. Renew your mind with the consistent study of God’s Word. Purchase Jerry Bridges’ book and pursue the counsel and help of a pastor and godly friends. Grace awaits you!
“The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
2006 at 1:55 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
As you all know, my little brother, Chad turned 13 this past Sunday. While Dad and Mom took the occasion to encourage and challenge him in his walk with God, his birthday wasn’t all serious. This special event also called for some big-time celebrating! So on Monday morning the whole family (silly nephews and sweet niece included) took Chad away for an overnight at an indoor water park. Fun times! We returned home late last night, happy and water-logged. I’ve included a couple of pics below to give you a little taste of our time.
Happy birthday, Chuckie!
2006 at 12:15 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
My little brother Chad may have recently merged onto the highway to manhood, but he’s still my little brother. Actually, he’s a bona fide, card-carrying member of the little brother’s club. He’s earned badges for mercilessly teasing his sister, imitating Mom’s voice on the telephone, and refusing to obey any command I give him. Then he’ll do something sweet, and wrap me back around his little finger again. He’s good.
Predictably, when March Madness comes to town, Chad loves to tell me why my picks stink and my bracket is sure to tank. He started in this year as usual. “I can’t believe you picked Davidson!” and “You know Mason isn’t going to make it past the first round.”
But now, everything has changed. For I picked George Mason to make it to the sweet sixteen. What’s more, their campus is only a mile from our house! Instead of being the unathletic, sports-ignorant big sister, I’m suddenly living at the epicenter of the NCAA tournament. Literally. Our walls were shaking Sunday night from the fire works at the George Mason campus. My sister-in-law is a nursing student there. I even buy groceries at the “University Mall” Giant. I’ve probably been at the salad bar with Coach Larranaga and not even known it!
After Mason won their first game, I immediately called Chad to gloat. In typical little brother fashion, he pretended not to care and told me why they wouldn’t go any further. When Mason advanced again, he reluctantly admitted he’d been wrong. But in the true spirit of sportsmanship, he called me after Sunday’s fantastic win over Connecticut to congratulate me. That’s how Dad taught us to lose, with humility.
So, this post doesn’t really have a point except to hold it over my little brother who is losing in the family pool (and blaming his poor picks on some ESPN sports announcer). It’s probably the only chance I’ll ever get, so I’m taking it. And I’ll be rooting for George Mason on Saturday. Because a victory for Mason isn’t just a victory for the home team, it’s a victory for me, and for mercilessly teased big sisters everywhere.
(Love ya, Chad!)
2006 at 2:57 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Birthdays at the Mahaney house have always been simple celebrations focused on family time. The birthday boy or girl chooses their favorite dinner menu which they eat on a “You Are Special Today” plate, and we hang a “Happy Birthday” banner over the garage. Over cake and ice cream (or mint chip pie for Kristin and Janelle) we go around the table—often twice—and encourage the honoree.
When each child turns thirteen, we put “simple” aside for the occasion. We mark this entrance into their teen years by challenging them to walk in purity, pursue godly friends, serve in the church, be a difference maker, and live passionately for the Savior. Not that these exhortations aren’t being delivered on a regular basis, because they certainly are! This milestone birthday simply provides another chance to impress these issues on a child’s heart.
Yesterday was Chad’s thirteenth birthday. Over butter-drenched seafood at Red Lobster, CJ and I presented Chad with a notebook, filled with letters from godly men both old and young. Friends of CJ’s, men Chad respects, as well as godly teenagers just a few paces ahead of him all wrote to encourage and charge Chad to honor God with his life. This gift becomes yet another tool CJ and I can use to spur Chad to love Christ more. We will reread these letters with him to remind him again and again of the wisdom they contain.
Parenting requires many things, dependence upon God, faithfulness, and a compelling example to name a few. But it also requires us to be tacticians: to seize any opportunity for gaining ground in the spiritual lives of our children. Birthdays can be just such a golden opportunity.
Now, I am not suggesting that every parent should do birthdays just like we do! I’m sure there are more effective and more creative ideas out there. However, we must all make the most of the brief time we have with our children. We must, in dependence upon God’s grace, make the most of every opportunity to our children’s spiritual advantage. Even birthdays.
PS – Happy birthday my son! I love you, Mom.
2006 at 8:59 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
In light of all the unfair abuse we blondes get, we were
delighted to receive this “smart blonde” joke from Amy—probably a
smart blonde herself!
A blonde walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer. She says she’s going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000. The bank officer says the bank will need some kind of security for the loan, so the blonde hands over the keys to a new Rolls Royce. The car is parked on the street in front of the bank, she has the title and everything checks out. The bank agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan.
The bank’s president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the blonde for using a $250,000 Rolls as collateral against a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then proceeds to drive the Rolls into the bank’s underground garage and parks it there. Two weeks later, the blonde returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says, “Miss, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely,but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multi-millionaire. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?”
The blonde replies…..“Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?”
Finally, a smart blonde joke.
AND THAT’S WHY SHE’S A MILLIONAIRE.
Well, now you’ve read the Friday Funnies, so you know that’s it for us this week!
I promise Mom and Kristin will be back on Monday!
See you then,
Nicole (for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle)
2006 at 4:33 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
The first day of spring was this past Monday—although it doesn’t feel like it here in Maryland. The yearly arrival of spring was greeted with much excitement in the Mahaney house during our growing up years. This was because of a unique Mahaney family tradition known as “Spring Celebration.”
Every March, on the Saturday following the first day of spring, my mom prepared a special breakfast. There were individual boxes of cereal, not just any cereal mind you, but “sweet cereal.” (For girls raised on Grape Nuts and Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops and Cocoa Krispies were a big deal!) There were also cinnamon roll bunny rabbits. Check out the picture below.
(A small disclaimer here—this sample bunny was made by Nicole and does not look exactly like the original. For example, Mom’s icing was light pink, not fuschia, her bunny face didn’t have icing, and she didn’t burn her cinnamon rolls.)
Mom created these delicacies by using those pre-made cinnamon rolls that come in the little tube. After cooking the rolls, she would decorate them. A few drops of food coloring made the icing pink. Two halves of one roll made the ears. Raisin eyes, a cherry nose, and little almond whiskers completed the project.
In addition to the special breakfast, each place at the table had a basket filled with candy.
We weren’t allowed in the kitchen until everything was ready, so we waited at the top of the stairs, yelling down every thirty seconds or so to find out if it was “time yet.” When Mom FINALLY gave the word, the party began!
First things first—we ate and ate some more. After the food was taken care of, it was on to the activities. There was an egg hunt with those little plastic eggs that you can fill with candy or some other treasure. We would dye hard-boiled eggs, and play games together.
My mom always worked hard to make it a day to remember, and her efforts were not in vain. As you can imagine, for three little girls, this day was one of the highlights of our year. Actually, writing about Spring Celebration makes me a little nostalgic. I just might throw myself my own little party to welcome spring this year!
2006 at 11:20 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Suffering
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah.” (Psalm 68:19)
I’ve been suffering from various mild ailments for what seems like a month now. This is an especially busy week for me and I have been tempted to self-pity over my lack of strength.
This morning my husband prayed this verse for me. The note from my Reformation Study Bible sent me to Isaiah 46:1-4. Here the Lord contrasts the “bearing ability” of idols to that of the One True God:
“Bel bows down; Nebo stoops; their idols are on beasts and livestock; these things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts. They stoop; they bow down together; they cannot save the burden, but themselves go into captivity. ‘Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.’”
What is your burden today? They come in countless shapes and sizes—from clingy colds to crushing cares. But one thing’s for sure: our idols cannot bear their load. Leisure and escape don’t provide true rest. Sinful anger cannot relieve the pressure. Even friends are not strong enough to bear up under their full weight.
But have we forgotten? We have been borne by Christ since birth. He carried us from the womb and will not stop even when we are old and bent and gray. He alone has borne the full weight of our sin, and He alone can bear the burdens of life in a sinful world.
He doesn’t pop in once a week or every month to relieve us of our heavy load. Daily, everyday, today, He promises to bear us up. He will carry and he will save. Today. So big or small, let’s cast our burdens on Him. God is our salvation.
2006 at 6:07 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Well, it’s Wednesday, and once again, we’re punting on Q&A. (Did you even notice that we completely ignored it last week?) We trust you will pardon us. Actually, you can do one better than that. Might we be so bold as to ask for your prayers on Mom’s behalf? As we mentioned several days ago, she will be speaking a total of five times in the next week and a half. Your prayers for God’s strength and help would be greatly appreciated.
Although we were unable to answer a question today, we do want to suggest another link as a sort of peace offering. Two weeks ago I posted comments by Al Mohler on the “Mommy Wars.” Well, today, the Focus on the Family radio program is re-broadcasting Dr. Mohler’s program on this very issue. It is sure to be a stimulating discussion on a topic that literally hits close to home.
2006 at 11:06 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Jack has a habit of standing in front of our open pantry and planning his own lunch menu out loud: “Hmmm. Let’s see,” he says, pondering the options: “fishies and hot dog and pretzels and cookies!”
Now my three-year-old is not allowed to decide what he has for lunch or any other meal. But what truly scares me is how perfectly he mimics me deciding what he will have for lunch. He has my voice and inflection and wording down exactly, as good as any a-list actor.
What else might he be “picking up” from me? Will he soon begin to impersonate my anxiety on an especially busy day, or my impatience when someone interferes with my best-laid plans? My example will inevitably leave an imprint on my little son’s life. The question is, what kind of example will it be?
In this month’s Crosswalk.com article, Mom takes a look at the significance of a mother’s example to her children, and it’s profound potential for ill or good. Originally written for our book Girl Talk on the mother-daughter relationship, it is equally applicable to mothers of three-year-old boys with a penchant for imitation.
2006 at 11:03 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Joy
As girltalk blog regulars know, I live on the other side of the great Potomac River from the rest of my family. Thankfully, all I have to do is drive across the American Legion Bridge to see them, which I do, with Jack in tow, at least once a week. (Can you sing, “Over the river and through the woods to MomMom’s house we go”?)
My husband Steve and I are blessed to be a part of Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax (Virginia) where our senior pastor is a man named Mark Mullery. Mark and his wife Lesley are dear friends of ours, and Mark is an exceptional teacher of God’s Word who often speaks at Sovereign Grace Ministries conferences and teaches hermeneutics to the Pastors’ College students. Each year, at our church’s annual banquet to honor the small group leaders, Mark treats us to a brief, personal meditation on God’s Word. It’s always memorable.
This year’s meditation was entitled “Come In” from Hebrews 10:19-22 and Mark has graciously given us permission to make it available to you. I highly recommend saving this for your quiet time. Mark’s words are worth pondering in an unhurried manner. I’ve provided the first paragraph to whet your appetite. Mark writes:
Here’s where I was the other night: felt discouraged, weary, slightly overwhelmed. My joy-meter was reading in negative numbers. The cause? No great suffering or trials here, just the everyday experience of looking ahead to the next couple of weeks with a lot to do and not enough time to do it all. A couple of projects at home, no time to do them. A teaching assignment to prepare for, but the slots I’d set aside got used up by unexpected meetings. Teenagers who desire and require lots of conversation, but always after I’m in bed and wanting to be asleep. Can you relate to this? I think Pilgrim’s Progress calls this ‘The Slough of Despond.’ God calls it unacceptable.
If you can relate to Mark’s experience, then read on, and allow this wise pastor to pastor you through the “Slough of Despond” to joy and faith in Christ.
2006 at 3:13 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
For years our home was populated primarily with girls—four to be exact (yes, I am counting myself as one of the “girls”)—with one lone male, my husband, CJ. Thus a whole lot of “girltalk” took place in our home (and still does, of course, when all the girls come for a visit!). But in 1993, the trend shifted. To our surprise and delight, twelve years after our youngest daughter’s birth, our son Chad entered our world. Over the next few years three wonderful sons-in-law and four delightful grandsons were added to our family. Now, there’s a whole lot of “guytalk” (although the guys don’t call it that) going on.
If you read our blog last week you already know that we linked to some “guytalk” related to sports. The conversation has now shifted from sports to Sundays, and we think it’s well worth listening in on, for fathers and mothers. Simply tune in to blog.T4G.org.