Last week all of the couples of Covenant Life Church gathered for our monthly Family Room meeting where we receive excellent teaching on marriage and parenting. Fred Cunningham is a regular actor in much of the CLC drama and he is a crowd favorite. This night was no exception as we enjoyed a little presentation from Fred on how to give your wife a great date night. So, call your husband over for this one and get ready to laugh.
Janelle for the girlies
If you were expecting a review of Doing Things Right chapter fourteen today, I have good news and bad news.
The bad news first: we’re postponing this discussion for several weeks. I know. You’re disappointed. But wait, here’s the good news: we’re doing so in order to announce that the author, John Ensor, has graciously agreed to an interview with you, the girltalk readers!
No doubt, as you were reading this book you wondered, “so how does this apply in my situation?” or maybe you wished he would expand on a point that particularly spoke to you. Here’s your chance to ask the author himself.
If Mr. Ensor’s answers (read that outloud!) are anything like his book, we’ll be treated to more fresh, compelling and biblical truths about how guy-girl relationships should work—before and after marriage.
Because I love to take pictures, I often lie awake at night trying to think up new ideas.
I was recently intrigued by some images done by a professional photographer where she used a couch in the middle of a field. I wanted to give it a try, but could it really be as easy as it looked? During one of my brainstorming sessions (while I should have been sleeping) my mind went to the red couch residing in my sister Kristin’s basement. Perfect! A family picture on her red couch at one of my favorite local parks.
But how? We don’t own a truck and it didn’t fit in any of our parent’s cars. Did I mention that this is a good size couch? I turned to my husband who solves all of my quandaries and helps make all of my crazy ideas happen. “How about a U-Haul truck,” he suggested? “What? A U-Haul truck?” Mike and I are actually in the middle of a move and needed to rent a U-Haul truck anyways, “So why not move and take the couch pics in the same day?” he suggested.
My sweet husband got a U-Haul, went to my sister’s house where he and Brian loaded the couch onto the truck. We then prodded all of the kids into Brian and Kristin’s van and set off for the park. Smooth sailing, right? Almost. If the picture could talk, you would have heard Owen complaining of a stomach-ache, Caly screaming because she couldn’t play on the couch, Brian telling Andrew to stop with the silly faces and me making up stories about eating crickets for breakfast in hopes of getting the boys to smile. Meanwhile, Kristin was watching her couch and cringing as her boy’s dirty feet gave the couch some extra character.
So, I had to ask myself: “Was it worth it?” Yes, I think it was.
My middle son Liam can’t wait for his birthday to get here. He’ll be five. And he’ll get to go to Noodles and Co. for his favorite buttered noodles with Parmesan cheese. Actually, he didn’t quite understand why we didn’t go to Noodles today. I tried to explain that his birthday is still five days away. He keeps asking, though, not quite comprehending the delay.
Watching Liam eagerly wait for his birthday this week made these thoughts from Iain Duguid all the more relevant:
“Those of us who have very young children know how difficult waiting can be. We live through their annual anguish of waiting for birthday parties. Each day of the week—or, in some cases, the month—before their birthdays roll around, they wake up with the question, “is it my birthday yet?” Finally, the great day arrives, and you immediately have to convince them that 6:30 a.m. is not the ideal time of day for a party. By 6:45 a.m. they are thoroughly convinced that you don’t love them, and that all this talk of a party is nothing but a cruel hoax. At this point, you know it’s going to be a long day!
Don’t we often act toward God like little children? We kick and fuss and scream because we want what God has promised, and we want it now. Never mind that preparations need to be made and that other people need to be invited. But, like a patient and long-suffering parent, God bides his time, neither delaying nor hurrying, until everything is in place. Then—and not a moment sooner—he gives us the good things he has promised.”
Liam only has to wait five days for his birthday. You might have to wait five, or fifty years for a good thing God has promised. But just as sure as Liam’s birthday will come on October 1, so God will not fail to fulfill His promises to you. So let’s all learn along with Liam this week to wait…patiently.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” Psalm 37:7,9
A few weeks ago when I posted about a small difficulty, a kind friend sent me this meditation by Paul Tripp on Psalm 27: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” It had encouraged her as she waited to have children and she thought it might encourage me as well. It did. So much so that I sent it to another friend whose husband is waiting for a job.
What are you waiting for today?
May these thoughts encourage you to make it a “Productive Delay:”
“Waiting on God isn’t about the suspension of meaning and purpose. It’s part of the meaning and purpose that God has brought into my life. Waiting on God isn’t to be viewed as an obstruction in the way of the plan. Waiting is an essential part of the plan. For the child of God, waiting isn’t simply about what I’ll receive at the end of my wait. No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I’ll become as I wait. God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what He’s promised. Through the wait He’s changing me. By means of the wait He’s altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires. Through the wait He’s causing me to see and experience new things about Him and His kingdom. And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in His redemptive hands.”
Instead of focusing on what we’re waiting to receive, let’s turn our gaze to God and ask Him to make us “a more useful tool in His redemptive hands.”
And if these thoughts encouraged you, why not send them to a waiting friend.
Last week, while we were busy interviewing Mary Mohler our friends at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood launched a brand new website. It’s pleasant and inviting and easier to navigate, but it still retains the same great old vision: “to help believers and local churches benefit from glorious biblical truths about God’s design of men and women.”
The new website is chock full of great content—so much so that it was difficult to tear myself away to write this post:
You can listen to audio messages like “The Joy of Homemaking” by Jodi Ware
There are books to download, such as Carolyn McCulley’s handbook for single women Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?
Back issues of the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood are now online. We’d recommend you start with Volume 11, No. 2—with articles by women for women.
And finally don’t miss today’s blog post: Confessions of a Recovering Feminist.
Well, I’m headed back to cbmw.org to browse some more. I hope you’ll join me.
Well, here we are at the end of another week and it’s time to sign off with the Friday Funnies. See you Monday!
Nicole for the girls
Navy wife Andrea snapped this rather humorous picture in Japan…
Today we offer the final installment in our interview with Mary Mohler…
What are you currently studying in your times with the Lord? What is one aspect of God’s character you’ve learned about this past year?
I studied Hebrews this summer. What an amazing testimony this work is to God’s faithfulness. As I read it, I imagine what the Jewish people must have thought as they heard the case for Christ so convincingly made by the compelling style of the writer who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God’s faithfulness is one of his many attributes for which I am profoundly grateful. As I studied the “roll call of faith” in Hebrews 11, it was sobering to realize how God faithfully led His people through seemingly impossible circumstances according to His perfect plan. If we will just trust Him, He will do the same for us even when the path seems unclear. We already know the end of the story!
Many of our readers prayed for Al when he was in the hospital several months ago. How is he doing and how did God meet you in the midst of this trial?
Al is back on track, praise the Lord. He just finished his last dose of blood thinners a few weeks ago so it was a lingering journey. I get chills when I think back to the moment when one of the nurses looked at me with an eerie look and said “if he was my husband and he had thrown bilateral emboli, I would get him up to ICU!” The crisis unfolded so rapidly. I waited in the hallway while they prepared to transfer Al to ICU and used his cell phone to call his closest friends whose numbers were readily available on speed dial and asked them to pray. Before long, seemingly thousands of people were praying for him and God graciously answered our prayers. The outpouring of love and support that we received was absolutely amazing.
Just as He promises, the Lord gave us a clear sense of His presence through it all and made us both ever more dependent on Him for each day. The children were drawn closer to their dad in a whole new way and learned to pray as never before!
One very important question: As you mentioned earlier, you are a big sports fan (unlike your husband!). How did you come by your interest in sports, and what’s your favorite sport/team?
My precious father was the youngest of four sons raised on a farm in rural Nebraska. He was the first one in his family to go to college. He worked his way through and completed two undergraduate degrees at the University of Nebraska. When he was a student there, the football team was terrible. In fact, he and his fellow students used to leave the games with the optimistic statement, “well at least the band sounded great!” Years later, the Huskers began to rise to college football prominence. We were living in Michigan at the time, surrounded by many fanatical Wolverine fans. My brother joined my dad in being a loyal Nebraska fan before I was old enough to understand the game. However, I wasted no time in jumping on the bandwagon and have been a Husker fanatic ever since.
Given the fact that my husband has zero interest in sports, my kids have become third generation fans who are as committed as I am. This always amazed my dad, who took great joy in seeing his grandchildren donning Husker apparel every fall. Interestingly, the last time that our entire family joined together was to watch the televised broadcast of the Huskers in the post season Alamo Bowl. We had no idea that my dad would go home to be with the Lord a few weeks later after suffering a massive heart attack. We have some stirring memories from that night. And by the way, the Huskers won. We defeated the Michigan Wolverines!
We know you don’t have much spare time, but what is one extracurricular activity that you make time for at this stage of life?
I am passionate about the pro-life movement. I cannot understand how cavalier so many Americans are about “a woman’s right to choose” to kill her baby. It seems so clear to me that the time to choose came before she got into bed, except in the rare cases of pregnancy caused by rape or incest. The fact that murdering your newborn is certainly viewed by the vast majority as a heinous and punishable crime but “choosing” to kill your child who has yet to be born is acceptable and in fact legal and the right to do so is worth fighting for is a complete mystery to me. The advent of four dimensional ultrasounds makes the case for life crystal clear but the legislation remains.
I proudly serve as a member of the board of our local crisis pregnancy center, A Woman’s Choice. It is the very least that I can do to tangibly support prevention of abortion. I am glad to recruit seminary students, student wives and faculty wives to volunteer their time as well. All of the time and effort is worth it every time a mother changes her mind and spares her baby’s life.
When my children are grown and no longer at home, I will be able to devote more time to this endeavor but I pray that by then, abortion will no longer be legal.
What in your opinion, is the most urgent challenge that Evangelical Christian women face today?
We need to resolve to keep swimming upstream against the current of our sadly post-Christian society. We are portrayed as foolish women who hold to ancient truths and are simply out of touch with modern times. Nothing could be further from the truth. We must stay the course and not budge when it comes to the biblical mandates given to us so plainly. Scripture itself warns us about the very times in which we now find ourselves. We are told in II Timothy 4:3: “For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.”
That time has clearly come! We also know from the Apostle Paul’s words in I Corinthians 1:18 that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” It seems overwhelming at times when secular, godless women attempt to monopolize the media with their self proclaimed wisdom that leaves us looking like some form of inferior, backward failures. Since we are busy “watching well over the ways of our households,” as Scripture admonishes us to do, the vast majority of us have neither the time nor the interest to hit the lecture circuit and debate the feminist agenda. Nevertheless, we must be heartened by the fact our numbers are massive. Our primary calling to be happy helpmeets to our husbands and excellent mothers who teach our children about the Lord at every turn has not changed. In addition, we must take advantage of every opportunity to tell our stories; support women who dare to speak God’s truth plainly; rally behind politicians who share our perspective; passionately support life and oppose abortion; and seek to be used in the marketplaces where God has placed us to be salt and light to a frighteningly dark world. Those are no small tasks but God will use us to change lives one by one as we remain bold and faithful.
Finally, who is a modern day Christian woman that you would like to meet and why?
Carolyn Mahaney because she is a model wife and mother who inspires and encourages me through her writing of her devotion to Christ.
Thank you, Mary for your kind words! I likewise eagerly anticipate the opportunity to meet you in person. In the meantime, it has been a delight for me (and the girltalk readers) to get to know you a little better over the last five days. I am so grateful for your passion for the gospel as expressed first and foremost in your service to your husband and children, but also to many other women in the body of Christ. May God continue to make you fruitful in your ministry to others!
Today, Mary Mohler answers questions on being a mom.
Can you tell us about your children? What are their names and how old are they? What is your favorite part about being a mother?
Katie is eighteen years old and is a freshman at Union University. Christopher is fifteen years old and is a freshman in high school. I have always had a strong maternal instinct. The years that we spent waiting for children intensified that instinct even more. I love being a mother! My children are such a blessing to me. Al and I thank God every day for the privilege of being their parents. Their time in our home has gone by so quickly. I have so many treasured memories of every stage. I faithfully kept a journal when they were preschoolers and love to reread some of the amazing things that they used to say and do. One fabulous aspect of motherhood is how my children genuinely love me and need me on a daily basis. It has been a joy to watch them grow up and develop their own personalities. We are trying to get used to having Katie away at college but it’s just not the same without her at home every day.
The pivotal moments when each one of them made a profession of faith in Christ and were baptized were beyond compare. I pray that the Lord will continue to guide their every move as they seek after Him daily. I echo the words of John in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. “
Recently, you wrote a wonderful article in the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood entitled “Motherhood Matters” where you have some very encouraging and practical thoughts to share with mothers. You start out by saying, “I truly cannot remember a time when I didn’t dream of becoming a mother.” Does this mean that you always embraced complementarian values as taught in Scripture? Has there ever been a time when you questioned the importance of your role as a wife and mother and if so, how did God’s Word address your questions?
I was raised by parents who modeled Christian marriage and parenthood. My mom stayed home with us even though she could have earned a substantial wage working outside the home. I appreciated that then, as much as I understood it, and I appreciate it even more now.
My support of complementarian values has really been a natural result of my Christian walk. Scripture clearly and plainly supports my understanding of the importance of my role as a woman. I have never doubted that God loves and values me every bit as much as he does men. I am happy that He has created me with the desire to be a wife who fully supports the leadership of my husband and thrives in my role as a stay at home mom. If I had a divided heart on these matters, I would be miserable. I am thankful that the more I read about the feminist agenda, the more adamant I am about biblical femininity. That cannot be said for all women but I give God the glory for protecting me from believing lies.
What do you think is one of the greatest needs among mothers today and how would you encourage them?
As I said in the “Motherhood Matters” article that you kindly referenced above, I think moms need to stop apologizing for doing a full time job full time! I am not going to state that all moms must be stay at home moms but for those who are, they must stop feeling inferior for their decision. I am tired of the mentality that is becoming more and more prevalent that says women who stay at home raising their children are wasting themselves even as they serve to drag down the economy. That’s a lie. Women who are home raising their children should do so with gusto and no regrets. No one can love your children like you can. God made you to be their mother and no one else. Learn everything you can about how to be the best mom you can be by God’s grace. Hold your head high when you state that you are a mom—not “just a mom” but a mom full time. Love your job because the days are fleeting. Those precious little ones will be grown up sooner than you think. Motherhood is a high calling now just as it has always been. Those who think otherwise are deceiving themselves.
You are also well-known in the evangelical community for your teaching on modesty. Why do you think this is such an important topic? How did you help your daughter develop biblical convictions about modesty?
I have been most surprised by how God has allowed my voice to be heard on the subject of modesty. My zeal for this area of Christian womanhood can be traced to a gradual uneasiness about what I was seeing in society that led to a full fledged frustration by what eventually crept into Christian circles and later prevailed with a vengeance. I could only wonder with great disbelief as I saw Christian parents who share strong convictions about the things of the Lord simply abdicate any authority when it came to what their daughters were allowed to wear. What was an understandably common issue in a secular society with no accountability to God and a driving desire to make a splash runs completely contrary to a Christian worldview. Why then is immodesty so prevalent among believers, I had to ask? It was heartening to realize that as I began to write and speak about the problem that many women stepped up and agreed that this is a huge problem. It was discouraging, however, to have others question why one would “bother” to deal with modesty when there are so many other pressing issues in the twenty-first century.
My conclusion led me to believe that accidental immodesty is rampant among believers. We don’t set out to look like the world but for any number of reasons ranging from a love of fashion to simply being clueless, we allow ourselves to stoop to the careless level of the world and thus cause our brothers to stumble by flaunting them with visual stimulation in church or wherever we happen to be!
I am pleased to say that since Katie has heard this topic discussed at home since she was a very young girl, it has never been an issue of contention for us. I used to feign disgust and force myself from breaking into a grin when as a preteen she would hold up a blatantly immodest garment at a store and declare, “Mom, look at this! I can’t believe that girls would wear this out of the dressing room.” I wanted to smile at my delight in not being forced to teach her the hard way what she had wisely concluded on her own. Katie is now on her own as a college freshman. She is a beautiful young woman on the inside as well as the outside. Friends have teased Al for a decade that he needed to have a big stick ready for whomever came calling to date her. I can honestly say that we do not worry about her seizing her newly found freedom away from home to abandon modesty. Katie has strong convictions about presenting herself in such a way that she will honor her Lord. She sets an example for those who openly choose to do otherwise and has not succumbed to the very real peer pressure that exists to cross the line. I cannot express how thankful Al and I are that our daughter pleases us in this way even as she seeks to present herself in a very feminine manner. She is truly a girly girl who has always liked skirts, dresses and heels and there’s not a thing wrong with that.
Today we are pleased to continue our interview with Mary Mohler:
What are some of the challenges you face as the wife of a man with many responsibilities? How would you counsel other women in a similar situation—whether pastors’ wives or those married to men with demanding jobs?
The challenges are certainly there but one must always keep them in perspective. There are always trade-offs! The challenge that I would like to address in particular is how to balance home life in the midst of a demanding schedule.
Remind your kids that, yes, Dad is away from home a great deal but he is doing the Lord’s work. From an early age, they need to understand, for example, that Daddy will be home soon but he is telling people about Jesus at someone else’s church today as we are sharing him with them. There should be a big celebration when he comes home. It’s true that the ministry is a 24/7 job in so many ways. Tragedies sometimes happen to members of the seminary community even when we are supposed to finally be on vacation. Yet we must be diligent to turn our attention to those who are grieving and ensure that our children feel compassion as well so that no bitterness springs up.
I have always guarded our family calendar like a bulldog! I am a planner so I like to get the big picture in writing and anticipate coming events with joy. It has always been important for our kids to know that Dad may be gone all week this week, but next week, we have a, b, and c to look forward to, such as favorite meal night. I schedule a favorite meal night for each of us during the course of the year. It’s a simple way to build anticipation for family time around the table. We also plan special evenings each summer when I spend time alone with one of the kids on the same night that Al spends time alone with the other one. We are all much more likely to enjoy the time we spend together as a family when we realize that it has been a long semester full of many events and trips but now it’s worth it all because we can just have fun.
I also recommend limiting children’s extracurricular activities. We try to have dinner together every night that it is possible. I fear that too many families just pass in the night and are involved in so many sports, lessons and even church activities that they simply don’t connect in a meaningful way daily. Children thrive on a schedule. Especially in the midst of their dad’s high profile position, it has been vital for my children to know that we strive to maintain a sense of normalcy as a family. We stress how thankful to God we are for establishing our family and how thankful we are for each other. We are eager to spend time together every day—and have lots of fun in the process.
There are other challenges too, of course, that your readers would voice. There is the issue to friendships within the church or ministry; the common struggle of loneliness felt by many and for some, the desire to shun the spotlight even though your husband is in it all of the time. These concerns must be dealt with and not buried to prevent what we have sadly seen in too many cases. How many ministries have been damaged or even destroyed because the ministry wife was so unhappy, discontent or bitter that her husband was forced to resign? Please don’t let that happen to you. Satan would love nothing better than to use issues like these to drive a wedge through your marriage and then your ministry. Be on alert for warning signs. Stay connected to the Lord through prayer and the consistent study of His Word. Seek godly counsel through a mentor. Praise God for the results.
What are your responsibilities as Director of Seminary Wives Institute and what do you enjoy most about your interaction with these wives of potential pastors?
I love my work with SWI. I handle the administrative duties related to scheduling, budgets, curriculum and all of the paperwork that goes along with running a certificate program for about 250 students. I also teach and grade about five different courses each academic year. I must be careful that I do not let it become a full time job because my passion for it is so strong. If you would have told me that I would establish and direct such a program, I would have not believed it at all as I had no clear direction from the Lord about this when we first came back to Southern. However, as God brought change to our campus, the need was clearly evident for preparation for the women who would serve alongside their husbands in ministry. Seminary Wives Institute was warmly welcomed and recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. I could write volumes about how it has changed me as it has changed all who participate. I must always point out that I have the most wonderful team of faculty wives who teach with me on a volunteer basis because they too love student wives. This program would fold without the godly and selfless input of our stellar faculty. Our students are so grateful for the opportunity they have to study with us and with seminary faculty as well for such a nominal fee. God has taken this program beyond what I ever dared to dream it could be. It has become a recruiting draw for us as well. I love to see the lights come on as our students learn the truth of God’s word applied to their calling as ministry wives.