When I was in elementary school, our dear librarian Miss Kisiel had a rule: you had to read three biographies before you were allowed to enter the special closet where the Nancy Drew collection was stored and select one of the precious books from the shelf.
I am not aware that either of the Churchills were believers in Jesus Christ, and there are aspects of their family life I would not want to emulate. However, through these letters you get a glimpse into a marriage that was, in many ways, remarkable.
For fifty-seven years, through two world wars, countless political campaigns, two terms as prime minister, relationships with kings and presidents, and travels around the globe, Winston and Clementine maintained a loving and affectionate relationship. The record of which can be found in their countless letters to one another.
One letter from Winston to Clementine, early in their marriage closes with these words: “My dearest you are very precious to me and I rejoice indeed to have won and kept your loving heart. May it never cool towards me is my prayer and that I may deserve your love my resolve” (p. 75).
Fifty years later, Winston received this note from Clementine upon his return from a trip: “My Darling, The Time has seemed long without you—I shall be on the door-step to welcome you Home. Your devoted Clemmie” (p. 643).
Every biography, every life teaches. It warns or inspires. The marriage of Winston and Clementine, although not perfect, encouraged me to show even more affection to my wonderful husband. For it struck me that this couple’s consistent expressions of affection for one another over half a century were as much a means of preserving their love as a reflection of the love they already shared.
Now I only write one letter to Steve a year—on our anniversary. But almost every day I try to put a little note in his lunch. And I cherish the emails or text messages he sends me just to say, “I love you.” As a result of reading this book I’m inspired to email him more often. I’m thankful for the encouragement to grow in expressing tender love for my husband.
You may be longing for the day when you can move away from your parents or get rid of your roommates in exchange for a husband and home. Or maybe you can’t wait until you and your husband can finally afford to purchase a house rather than pay rent on an apartment. Or possibly you resent being stuffed into a small house with a large family. What you wouldn’t do for a larger dwelling place!
Do you (like me) find yourself tempted to be discontent with your home?
If so, then this counsel author Randy Alcorn once gave a discontent couple is for you (and me) today:
“When I was a pastor, a couple came to my office and told me they wanted to be able to give more money to the church and to missions. “But we’ve always had this dream for a beautiful home in the country,” they added, “and we can’t seem to shake it. Is that wrong?” No it isn’t. In fact, the dream of a perfect home is from God. It’s just that such a dream cannot and will not be fulfilled in this life. Our dream house is coming; we don’t have to build it here. In fact, we can’t. (In Light of Eternity, pp. 155-156.)
We may never have that perfect home we desire here on earth. But “our dream house is coming!” It’s in heaven, waiting there for us, as Jesus promised: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2) Dear Lord, may my mind and affections be set, not on the things of this earth, but on my eternal home in heaven where I will one day be with you. This is my ultimate dream house—and not just a dream, it is a certain hope! Thank you for the work of your Son on the cross, which brought me into your family, and, one day, will bring me into your home forever!
Chad and I went to the dentist this morning. What was I thinking scheduling a dentist appointment the day after coming home from a getaway with my husband?! Talk about assaulting the senses—to go from the bliss of romance with my husband to sitting in the dentist chair in less than 24 hours! At least Chad and I didn’t have any cavities, which was the only redeeming aspect of our visit.
Anyway, I forgot to bring the book I’m presently reading, so I ended up flipping through one of the magazines on display in the waiting room. The theme of this particular issue was “Planning your Dream House.” As I surveyed the glossy pictures of these gorgeous homes I began to imagine what my dream house would look like—situated on the waterfront, with a large front porch and plenty of rooms for my children and grandchildren to visit.
After a moment or two of fantasizing, I came to my senses. How quickly I had been drawn in by the worldly, self-centered agenda of this magazine! As a Christian woman, my “dream house” shouldn’t be one of mere aesthetic beauty, or luxurious comfort. Rather, I should aspire to have a home like the one Peter Marshall once described as possessing “an atmosphere in which it was impossible to keep from thinking of God.”
I want those who live in and visit my home to experience peace, order, beauty, joy, and laughter—all reflections of the gracious character of our Savior. Now that’s a house worth dreaming about—and working for!
The fam was going many different directions this weekend. I checked in with the crew this morning and here’s the low down…
Dad and Mom were in one of our favorite places, Chatham, Massachusetts this past week, thanks to a gift from some friends. They are flying home today. No, we were not jealous at all.
Steve and Nicole celebrated their six-year anniversary on Saturday. Congrats, y’all! Nicole also had a doctor’s appointment this weekend, which found baby Whitacre to have a super strong heartbeat. Yeah!
Kristin is a nut! Yes, she is the big football fan in our family and last night the Redskins were set to play the Cowboys at 8 p.m. Well, Kristin’s power mysteriously went out at 6:30. Within minutes that girl was on the phone with PEPCO (our local power company). My power was out too, but calling the company didn’t even cross my mind. I mean, these people are all over this stuff! But one call was not enough for Kristin. After being assured that someone was on the way, she called again (yes, again) to make sure that he had arrived. We all told her that she was crazy. (Sorry, Kristin, I just couldn’t resist!) Her precious power was restored just in time for the big game. (Which by the way, you really have to be on top of the remote these days. The immodesty of the cheerleaders was grieving to say the least.)
It’s a big day for my nephews. Brian, Steve, and the kids are making the trek to Strasburg, PA as we speak to see a real Thomas the Tank Engine. They get to take a ride on the big blue train and meet Sir Topham Hatt. Can it get any better?
I had a super weekend hanging out with Caly and Chad. (Chad has been staying with us while my parents were away.) Last night was the kick-off meeting for our children’s ministry at church, led by my amazing husband. Great job, Mikey! After the meeting it was Redskins vs. Cowboys (and we won’t talk about that pathetic game) with some pizza and cheese sticks on the side. Yummy!
We discovered this cute video at The Rebelution website, however there is much more in the way of substantive content to be found there. Twin teenage brothers Alex and Brett Harris are the co-authors of this outstanding blog for young people. The Rebelution is, as they describe it, a “teenage rebellion against rebellion,” and they truly live up to their name. Themes such as godly character, purity, biblical manhood and womanhood, coalesce with insightful cultural analysis, profiles of courageous teenagers, and a pretty sleek looking new web-design.
In addition to Alex and Brett’s obvious gift for writing, they have a resource section chock-full of wonderful articles from other authors. So whether or not you have a teenager, check out The Rebelution. But first watch this little video for a smile this Friday.
Catch you all on Monday!
Nicole for my favorite girltakers Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle
So did you accept our challenge and answer last week’s question: “What is one area of your life you need to submit to God’s will, praying as Mary did, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ (Luke 1:38 NKJV)? We hope that God used this question to remind you that His plans for your life are good and perfect—designed to make you more like Christ.
This week’s chapter profiles a truly special woman named Anna. I wish I could have known her. However, I can think of several women who remind me of Anna—“a woman uniquely devoted to declaring the Word of God”—first and foremost my mom. So for next week’s question, we want to hear about an “Anna” in your life. Tell us about a time when this woman’s faithfulness to share God’s Word with you strengthened your faith in Christ. As an added bonus, you and your “Anna” will receive a signed copy of Twelve Extraordinary Women.
Twenty-five years ago a single woman named Kathy Houghton came into our home for a church hospitality. After just a few hours, my sister and I were so attached to her that shortly thereafter my parents asked if she would babysit us on a regular basis. From then on Aunt Kathy—as we began to call her—became a part of our family. I remember her not just as a babysitter: she was our “fun coordinator,” constantly planning creative outings. An evening with Aunt Kathy was always a memorable event. Fast-forward a few years. Aunt Kathy married a godly man named John. Together they adopted three beautiful children: Gabe, Joe, and Amanda. Then it was Nicole’s and my turn to fill the babysitter position, although I’m not sure we were ever quite as fun as Aunt Kathy! For the past eighteen years we have had the privilege of watching these young children become godly teenagers. Today, the babysitting role has changed hands once again, and now Amanda sits for my boys. My kids always have a blast when she comes over. They affectionately call her “De-da.” Though my mom, being the wonderful grandma that she is, watches the boys for our date night, Amanda makes it possible for me to serve alongside Brian in various ministry responsibilities. Kathy’s willingness to serve our family all those years ago built lasting ties between her family and ours. As a single woman, she opted to give up precious free time in order to care for three little girls. The ultimate outcome was a special friendship between Kathy, my mom and us girls. And now that friendship extends to her daughter Amanda and my children. So who can you serve today? You never know—it might just be the start of a life-long friendship.
I want to tack on one more fun fall idea to yesterday’s Autumn Festival recap. Because I dislike cold weather, you’ll not find me (of my own volition at least) romping through the woods on a crisp (translate: freezing cold) fall day. No, once the temperature dips below 65 degrees, my only reason for going outside is to get to another warm place—fast. I’m partial to indoor, preferably by the fireplace, autumn activities. Books (thick ones), movies, games, family time, chats with friends, and indoor shopping malls are all delightful options.
Therefore, my fun fall idea—which will make a wonderful girl’s night in for moms and daughters, sisters, or a whole bunch of friends—is a new BBC miniseries entitled Bleak House. Don’t worry. It’s not as dreary as it sounds! Based on the novel by Charles Dickens (one of my favorite authors) it has fascinating characters and surprising plot twists. Although we rarely recommend movies here at girltalk as there is so little to commend, our family has thoroughly enjoyed this film. We think you will too.
So why not whip up some of that yummy caramel popcorn and hot apple cider, light a fire in the fire place, get the girls together on a nice cozy couch with loads of blankets and pillows, laugh at the howling wind outside, and enjoy a movie night together? And if it’s not too late (or early morning) when you finish, you can discuss how the main character, Esther Summerson embodies the qualities of biblical femininity.
How fun is that?! You don’t even have to go outside.
There is a definite chill in the Gaithersburg air today—a reminder that autumn is fast approaching. Last year at this time, we had a week long “Autumn Festival” here on the blog, which included a variety of recipes, poems and traditions. Check it out if you are looking for some ideas to liven up your fall.
One missing element from last year’s festival was autumn décor. Actually, when it comes to holiday décor, we girltalkers can tell you what not to try. I remember one year, my mom placed a small bale of hay, some pumpkins, and a few ears of dried corn on the front porch. Really cute. The chipmunks thought so too. Yep, those little guys got their Thanksgiving feast early that year and the corn was no more.
Then there was the December when my mom placed a lovely wreath on the front door. Well, Christmas came and went and the wreath still hung on the door. (Kinda like those people who leave their Christmas lights up year round—why take them down when you will have to put them up again next year?)
With the arrival of spring a sweet little bird decided to call our Christmas wreath “home.” That wreath was gonna have to stay. The nest was perfectly constructed within the wreath and mommy bird proceeded to lay her eggs. Three of them. Every time someone opened the door, she would fly away in a huff! The eggs eventually hatched and we watched as the little babies grew and finally left the nest. They left behind one huge mess. Bird poop and feathers were everywhere. That was the end of that Christmas wreath!
As you can see, we have not had much success with outdoor seasonal décor. But we hopped on the web and found a couple sites (here and here) which have some pretty cool ideas for making your house look “fallish” on the inside. Happy autumn!
Where were you on the morning of September 11, 2001?
No doubt each of us remembers with perfect clarity. CJ and I were eating breakfast at a restaurant in Chatham, Massachusetts, when we noticed that people were gathering round the television in the lobby area. My husband went to check out what was capturing everyone’s interest. His face was grim when he came back to our table. “You’re not going to believe what has just happened,” he told me. “A plane has crashed into one of the buildings of the World Trade Center.” Of course we now know that was only the beginning of the horrific events that unfolded that day—a day that has forever changed our country.
Evil and suffering of this magnitude raises another, far more weighty question:
Where was God on the morning of September 11, 2001?
How do we understand 9/11, or any tragedy for that matter, in light of the sovereignty and goodness of God?