Mar 31

Friday Funnies

2006 at 7:45 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Fun & Encouragement | 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!

Until Monday,
Janelle
on behalf of Carolyn, Nicole, and Kristin

Zoo_sign

Mar 31

Simply Does It

2006 at 4:46 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Time Management

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!

Mar 30

A Letter for Chad (and for you)

2006 at 4:42 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth | Motherhood | Parenting 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.

Mar 30

Saved through Childbearing?

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!

Mar 29

Q&A - Disappointed Hope

2006 at 6:10 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Singleness | Relationship Advice | Q&A

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

Mar 29

Birthday Trip

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!

Chaddadgrtwlf_1








Calygrtwlf








Mikechaddrewgrtwlf








Jackgrtwlf








Liamgrtwlf

Mar 28

The Thrill of Victory

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!)

Mar 27

Chad’s Birthday

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.

Dsc_0001_1 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.

Mar 24

Friday Funnies

2006 at 8:59 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Fun & Encouragement | 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)

Mar 24

Spring Celebration

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.

Cinnamonbunny_1(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!