2006 at 1:04 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
“We are going to have to do a C-section.” In all of my thoughts anticipating labor, I never expected to hear those words. But I was grateful to live in a day and age where doctors were able to deliver my little girl safely. After surgery, my doctor told me to expect full recovery to take six to eight weeks. I smiled and nodded my okay, all the while thinking that two weeks or so should do it for me. But I soon learned that the doctor (a med school grad) knew a little more than me (a high school grad).
My first few days at home found me so excited to be out of the hospital that I imagined myself on the fast track to full health. I did stairs a few too many times (no, I won’t say how many) and visited with people by the hour. Things were going great until, well, shall we say my body informed me that five days wasn’t quite enough recovery time. I began to feel faint and shake uncontrollably. Not a good sign. My husband and sister sent me straight to bed with strict orders to stay there for the next couple of days. This was the end of week one.
I was sure week two would be better. I could do this. I decided that all I needed to do was wake up before the baby. Yes, this would really help. I could have a quiet time and shower before she was awake and I would be ahead of the game. After all, who needs more than a few hours of sleep anyways? Wrong again. The end of the second week found me exhausted and a bit weepy.
If I was ever going to recover, change was needed. My husband sat down with me and went over all of the things on my “to do” list. He helped me to determine commitments that I needed to eliminate and other things that needed to be laid aside for a while. My mom, sisters, and friends gave me strict instructions to sleep and sleep some more.
Today marks week number four and after two weeks of applying the loving counsel of those that know me best, I am really beginning to feel better. This last month has been a wonderful lesson for me. A lesson in humility. In my pride and self-sufficiency, I wanted to show others that I could handle this. I had it together. A small thing like having a C-section and a baby couldn’t stop me. I wanted those around me to be impressed by my strength and ability.
The Lord had other plans and I couldn’t be more grateful for His divine wisdom. He showed me, once again, that my strength and ability are found only in Him. Second Corinthians 12:9 tells me, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I am weak. Each day is a new opportunity for me to humble myself before the Lord, acknowledge my inability, and receive the strength that only He can give. As I learn to “boast” in my human weakness, the Lord has promised to fill me with His power.
“We are going to have to do a C-section.” The Lord had more plans behind these words than just the safe delivery of my little Caly. He had work to do in Mommy and He’s not finished…
2006 at 5:05 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
Well, March Madness is in full swing and even though I’m doing well in my bracket, Chad tells me that it is meaningless because it is only the first round. Oh well. I’m used to losing every year anyhow.
For Friday Funnies we want to leave you with one more collection of ultra-cute "letters to God." As my husband would say, "Have a great weekend sports fans!"
for my three girls: Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
2006 at 10:20 am | by Nicole Whitacre
You’ll forgive us if we devote one more post to sports this week, won’t you? Our recent focus on this topic is unprecedented in the girltalk blog’s ever-so-brief history. However, I believe it is warranted. All of us—if we aren’t sports fans ourselves—are probably the wife, mother, or friend of a sports fan. We live in a sports-obsessed culture, so whether we like sports or not, it is important to understand it biblically.
There was one more stop this week on the Al Mohler/CJ Mahaney “sports express” and we wanted to let you know about it. Yesterday, the two discussed the culture of sports and took questions from audience members around the country regarding what place sports should have in the life of a Christian. The conversation is insightful and entertaining—even for those who aren’t avid sports fans.
However, the first fifteen minutes of the show are devoted to the subject of abortion and a recent newspaper article and radio appearance by a woman name Elizabeth Weil. Dr. Mohler’s compassionate, charitable, and yet articulate Christian approach will equip you to relate to unbelievers on this tragically important topic. You can listen to yesterday’s broadcast online at AlbertMohler.com.
2006 at 2:35 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
My husband has recently been reading a book about experiencing God’s grace in midlife called Lost in the Middle, by Paul Tripp. Steve is only 28, but he wants to serve the people he pastors, some of whom are in that season. I haven’t read it myself yet, but little bits that Steve has passed along to me have been swirling around in my brain for a while.
As a young woman, midlife is something I don’t want to think about. I would rather just enjoy being young—or at least on the tail end of youth (I’ll be thirty this May!). But really, the time to face midlife isn’t when I’m fifty; it’s now. The middle years are a season of reaping what we have sowed in our early years. Decisions I make now will grow up to bless me or come back to haunt me twenty years from now.
So, am I walking in obedience to God’s Word in order to reap a glorious harvest in midlife? It’s a question all of us twenty and thirty-somethings can’t afford not to consider.
This article from a recent issue of World Magazine by Andree Seu asks if we’ll be ready to shoulder the God-assigned responsibilities of the older woman. Will I be a fruitful tree in late autumn?
2006 at 9:29 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Prayer
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. Psalm 5:3
As I read this verse during my morning devotional time, I was struck by the last 2 words: and watch. It dawned on me that normally I only apply the first part of this verse: O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you. But rarely do I follow up my praying with “watching” – which to summarize Spurgeon means to be on the look out for the answer to our prayers; to expect that God’s grace will come.
So, I am asking for the Holy Spirit’s help not only to pray, but to be on the look out for God’s gracious response to my prayers. May I encourage you to pray and watch today?
2006 at 4:18 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Hey all, it’s just Mom and me posting this week as Kristin and Janelle are with their husbands on the Covenant Life Church pastors and wives retreat. Mom is preparing to speak five times in the next two weeks, and I am caring for one of Kristin’s boys while trying to beat back the flu. So, instead of Q&A today, we want to offer some links for your reading pleasure:
2006 at 12:09 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Suffering
Yesterday, CJ received the following note from our dear friend and The Journal of Biblical Counseling editor, David Powlison:
I’ve just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. After some further tests, we’ll discuss treatment next Monday, and it seems likely I’ll be soon for surgery.
Perhaps you saw John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” that he recently posted. I’ve added a paragraph of my own to each of his 10 paragraphs, doubling it in length. It is in light of this that I hope for prayer, for healing, for growth in faith and love, and for this latest news to be spread! I pray especially for God to work the spiritual grace of ‘endurance,’ that holy, vibrant bearing up under weaknesses. A body whose fragilities continually reveal a lack of physical endurance and resilience provides a God-designed proving ground for me to learn the true inner endurance, that I too often lack, and that I long for the Spirit to teach me.
Feel free to share whatever of this note seems to you to be constructive. I value so much the love of the brethren.
You can download David Powlison’s annotated version of John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” here. May we all be instructed by these two men and their Godward response to suffering. As we thank God for John Piper’s successful surgery, let us pray for David’s impending treatment, and for complete healing for both their bodies and strength for their souls.
2006 at 10:46 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
With playful grins, CJ and Chad asked me on Sunday afternoon: “Where are our special snacks for Selection Sunday?” I looked at them with that perplexed expression, which they’ve seen countless times, and responded: “Uhhhh…what’s Selection Sunday?”
After expressing their disbelief at my ignorance of Selection Sunday, and communicating their surprise at my not having their favorite snacks prepared, they proceeded to inform me that this event was more important than even the Super Bowl. Yada. Yada. Yada. It was all a big charade—because they know how much I don’t know about what’s happening in the sports world!
Now, in case there are any girltalk readers who are as uninformed about sports as I am, here’s an explanation of Selection Sunday (which I’ve simply copied and pasted from the internet): “Selection Sunday is the day when the NCAA College Basketball tournament participants are announced, placed and seeded accordingly. The NCAA committee gathers to select and place 65 men’s teams and 64 women’s teams that they deem worthy of an invitation to the NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments that take place in March and April.”
Sadly, not only did my husband and son not have their favorite snacks on hand, but it turned out that their beloved Maryland Terps did not get selected for the tournament, or in their words, “were not invited to the big dance.” I don’t think this Selection Sunday will go down as one of their most memorable. However, their disappointment was somewhat abated by carrying on a Mahaney tradition immediately after the big NCAA announcement: filling out the tournament bracket. Chad printed out a bracket for his dad, himself and me (yes, they insisted that I participate in this all-important tradition), and then we headed off to Noodles & Co. for dinner, where each of us filled out our bracket while drinking our sodas and eating our pasta. I was the first to finish. I think that’s because my method is not quite as complicated as theirs. My selection process goes something like this: Let’s see…I’ll choose Florida to win since that’s where I grew up. Tennessee is a good choice, because we love to vacation there. West Virginia is a fun state to visit, so I’m going with them. You get the picture. Most likely, it’ll not be a winning bracket!
As you may gather, the men in my family enjoy their sports. However, I am so grateful that my husband doesn’t simply enjoy sports; rather, CJ uses this medium to cultivate his friendship with Chad and more importantly to teach our son about growing in godly character and discernment. Over at the Together for the Gospel blog, CJ attempts to share how he goes about this. I thought it might be helpful for all of you mothers with sons to read and pass along to your husbands.
I love all the fun, laughter, teaching, learning, and growing friendship that happen in our home around sports. In fact, next year, I think I’ll just find out ahead of time on what day Selection Sunday falls, and I’ll have CJ and Chad’s favorite snacks all ready to serve up when they come asking. They will be stunned!
2006 at 12:18 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Joy
“Are you consistently keeping your soul happy in God?” It was an unexpected question. If Mark, our pastor and small group leader had asked, “Are you consistently practicing the spiritual disciplines?” I would have given a simple “yes.” But this question required a more thoughtful response. Do I emerge from my quiet time happy? Hmmmm. “In all honesty, I would have to say ‘no.’"
This question that Mark put to our care group several weeks ago was drawn from the personal reflections of nineteenth-century pastor, George Mueller:
“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.”
It was easy for my friends to diagnose my lack of joy in God, for it’s a common malady. I had unconsciously “shifted from the gospel of grace” (Col. 1:21-23). My quiet times had become a dreary recounting of all my sins from the previous day, a period of morbid introspection over the cause of those sins, and an anxiety over my lack of progress in mortification. No wonder my soul wasn’t happy!
So I decided to, as my dad says, “restrict my spiritual diet;” to stand squarely on the bedrock of my joy—the glorious truths of the gospel. Because, as our dear friend Mr. Spurgeon writes:
“Here in the cross is where every enemy of joy is overcome: divine wrath, as he becomes a curse for us; real guilt, as he becomes forgiveness for us; lawbreaking, as he becomes righteousness for us; estrangement from God, as he becomes reconciliation for us; slavery to Satan, as he becomes redemption for us; bondage to sin, as he becomes liberation for us; pangs of conscience, as he becomes cleansing for us; death, as he becomes the resurrection for us; hell, as he becomes eternal life for us.”
You know what? Now I come out of my quiet time happier than when I went in! I’m still the greatest sinner I know, but I am a sinner clothed in the righteousness of Christ. And that truth, as it sinks in, permeates my soul with joy.
So how about you, is your soul happy? Is it spin around, laugh out loud, grin ‘till it hurts, happy in God? If not, then come with me to the cross. And gaze awhile.
2006 at 9:06 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
Well, we’ve come to the end of another week here at girltalk and I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that it is Friday night and I can get some extra sleep. Yes, I must be getting old.
This morning, as I do most Friday mornings, I taught a writing class of middle school students, which includes my brother, Chad. The student’s homework assignment was to write a letter to a person of their choosing, real or imagined. Mean teacher that I am, I ignored their groans and insisted that the letter be FIVE paragraphs long! I’m eager to read these epistles next week to see what clever ideas these guys and girls come up with.
Jenny Briggs, a faithful girltalk reader from England, sent us some "letters to God" written by kids much younger than those in my class—which is probably why they are so funny!
May you all enjoy rest to the glory of God this weekend!
See you when Monday rolls around,
for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle
2006 at 1:40 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
It’s time to take a closer look at how to cultivate the wifely affection that we talked about yesterday. And who better to ask what makes a husband feel cherished than husbands?
Chapter two in Feminine Appeal contains responses from different men about how their wives show them this tender love. I have included some of them here to get you thinking…
“If I’m sick in bed, my wife prepares tea and meals for me without my asking and waits on me hand and foot. It’s as though her world stops so she can take care of me.”
“Each time Karin catches my eye in public with a smile and subtle wink, or greets me with a warm embrace upon my arrival home from work, or hangs on my arm when we go out on a date, the message comes through loud and clear: ‘I enjoy being with you and want you to know that I love you.’”
“With just a handful of exceptions, Lisa has written me a note in my lunch every single workday for over ten years.”
“My wife shows me affection through a constant stream of small surprises—showing up at work with my favorite Starbucks drink, making her famous brownies on no special occasion, arranging to borrow a friend’s convertible sports car for our anniversary. Not all have been extremely costly, but all have been very meaningful.”
“I am cherished by my wife through her fervent and faithful intercessory prayer for me. Her conviction is that no one can care for me like my heavenly Father.”
And here’s one more fun idea I recently came across. My mom was given this t-shirt as a gift and immediately began wearing it. After my husband saw it, he began dropping hints about how he might like me to have the same shirt. This Christmas, one of his gifts under the tree was this t-shirt which I proudly wear! (Although we can’t heartily endorse all the t-shirts on the website, you can purchase your very own “i love my husband” t-shirt here.)
So, we have no more excuses, ladies! There are plenty of ideas here for showing affection to our husband. Let’s get started today!
2006 at 5:32 pm | by Kristin Chesemore
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;? you hold my lot.? The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;? indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6
This past Monday (which is my husband’s day off) I went out for dinner ALL BY MYSELF. It was wonderfully lonely! As I walked out the door, Liam was crying and complaining about his dinner. I left, quite grateful he wasn’t going to be joining me! The peace was so refreshing. I sat in the restaurant and watched the cars go by. It was very entertaining. Only a mother with small kids would say that.
You see, last week my husband was in California, and the kiddos caught those colds they always get this time of year. On the first night after my husband left, all three boys woke up at the same time. Then they got into my bed—all three of them, all at once! That didn’t really work so well with our queen size mattress. At three o’clock in the morning, Liam decided to play "Simon Says" (his new favorite game). In a VERY AWAKE voice, he would say, "Simon says, go to sleep" and then make loud snoring sounds. It did make me smile, even though his timing was very poor!
The Lord was very gracious to provide me help through my mom. She came different times and brought me lunch or dinner and even took my laundry back to her house. Moms are the best! Anyway, enough about my week. I’m sure you had your own challenges last week, many of which make mine look easy. But this gives you a little idea of why I was happy to get out on Monday evening.
I ate dinner and went shopping at Toys R Us. I thought back on the week and remembered how many times my flesh cried out for another “lot”—or at least a break from the one I did have. It didn’t always FEEL fun.
Yet, as I looked around the toy store, I realized how much I LOVE this season with my little ones. For a few short years, I get them all to myself. It can be very hard at times, but it is also precious and fleeting. It will be over before I turn around, and I know I’ll miss it.
Martyred missionary Jim Elliot’s motto comes back to me: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
After this past week, I am freshly aware of my need to daily draw upon the Lord’s strength and grace to embrace His calling for me today—to rejoice in my lot and live motherhood to the hilt!
2006 at 2:09 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
The final topic in our mini-series on marriage is affection. When I asked my husband, Mike, if affection was among his “top three,” I received a resounding “oh definitely!” I suspected as much.
I find it interesting that Scripture highlights an affectionate love as a priority for us as wives. In Titus 2 we are commanded to love our husbands, and the word for love there is the Greek word, phileo.
My mom defines phileo for us in Feminine Appeal: “This word describes the love between very close friends. It is a tender, affectionate, passionate kind of love. It emphasizes enjoyment and respect in a relationship.”
It is also interesting to note (as my mom writes) that phileo is used instead of agape. You see,
“The Greek word agape refers to a self-sacrificing love. It’s a love that gives to others even if nothing is given back. Yet Paul didn’t use agape in describing the love we are to cultivate for our husbands. He chose phileo. In fact, in commands specifically related to wives, agape is never used. Now this does not mean we have been released from needing to extend this kind of love. [However] I believe women are generally weaker in exhibiting an affectionate love—thus the instructions given to us in Titus 2.
In fact, women will often continue to sacrifice and serve their husbands even if all tender feelings for them have subsided. I have met women like that! They obviously do not respect their husbands. They certainly do not have tender feelings for them. Yet that does not hinder these women from continuing to wash their husbands’ clothes, cook their meals, and clean the house for them.
How often I am guilty of this same thing! I frequently get bogged down with serving Mike, all the while neglecting one of the things that mean the most to him. For all you wives who can relate, we’ll try to inspire you tomorrow with some ideas for showering your husband with a tender love.
2006 at 2:08 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Hey everyone, I’m back! I’m emerging for a moment from my new world of spit-up, diapers, and lack of sleep. It is amazing how much work is generated by a tiny 7lb person. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This little girl has turned my life upside down, and I’m loving every minute of it (okay, I may not LOVE the middle of the night feeding, but you know what I mean).
On a more serious note, I want to thank all of you who prayed for me during my labor and delivery experience. I wish that I could thank each one of you in person. In God’s great kindness, my heart was filled with peace through each step in the process, even as I was being wheeled in to the OR for my C-section. The day after Caly’s birth, my mom arrived at the hospital with a stack of e-mails from the blog, each one communicating your care and encouragement. You will never know the extent to which your prayers and e-mails blessed me. Thank you!
Here is my favorite recent picture of my sweet girl…
2006 at 10:53 am | by Nicole Whitacre
The following humble email came in yesterday:
I have appreciated the last few days about encouraging our husbands. I’ve been struggling with this for the entirety of my 10-month marriage, and I have really seen how my critical spirit tears my husband down. I would really love to begin encouraging him, but I’m not sure how. Are there any practical ways to do this?
There are many answers to this question, but I think that Ephesians 4:22-24 lays it out very simply: we are to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self.” By God’s grace we are to “put off” critical thoughts, which lead to unkind words and “put on” loving thoughts that lead to encouraging words. Meaningful encouragement begins with our thought life.
The apostle Paul understood the influence of people’s thoughts on their feelings and behavior. He exhorted the Philippians in this way: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8).
If we think Philippians 4 thoughts about our husbands, then encouraging words are sure to come out. I love what Shirley Rice has to say along these lines:
“Are you in love with your husband? Not, do you love him? I know you do. He has been around a long time, and you’re used to him. He is the father of your children. But are you in love with him? How long has it been since your heart really squeezed when you looked at him? Why is it you have forgotten the things that attracted you to him at first?...Your husband needs to be told that you love him, that he is attractive to you. By the grace of God, I want you to start changing your thought pattern. Tomorrow morning, get your eyes off the toaster or the baby bottles long enough to LOOK at him. Don’t you see the way his coat fits his shoulders? Look at his hands. Do you remember when just to look at his strong hands made your heart lift? Well, LOOK at him and remember. Then loose your tongue and tell him that you love him” (emphasis mine).
So how do we begin to encourage our husbands? First, we “change our thought pattern” and then we tell him how much we love him!
Also…we did a little series back in July on speech: corrupting words versus encouraging words. You can read it here.