May 30

Summer Contest

2008 at 5:35 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore

Stockxpertcom_id13633381_size0 With my son finishing school next week I’ve begun to think about summer. Even though we have a lot going on between vacation, moving, and our church’s Summer Celebration camp for kids, I also have goals I want to accomplish and memories I want to make. I’ve found it’s good to have a plan to seize all the opportunities summer has to offer and to help things run more smoothly.

So, I thought I’d run a contest (Yes, Janelle, other authors of this blog can do contests too!). You send me your great summer ideas, and we’ll post our favorites along with a prize for the one we like best in each category. Here’s what we’d like to know: what are your great ideas for….

-Summer activities
-Summer projects
-Summer schedules
-Summer vacations
-Summer traveling with kids
-Summer goals
-Summer meals
-Keeping summer simple

I’m not just looking for ideas from moms here; teens and singles, we’d like to hear from you too.

What do you get out of it, you ask? Well, the winner in each category can choose from one of five great books:

Do Hard Things by Brett and Alex Harris
The Christian Mom’s Idea Book by Ellen Banks Elwell
The Christian Grandma’s Idea Book by Ellen Banks Elwell
Praying the Lord’s Prayer by JI Packer
Hero of Heroes: Seeing Christ in the Beatitudes by Iain Duguid (I’m currently reading this one and it’s terrific!)

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) your ideas by next Friday June 6 (just in time for my summer to start!) and we’ll post them the following week. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

May 29

Baby Watch

2008 at 4:09 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Motherhood

Today seemed like a good day for a “baby watch.” I’m just coming into my 28th week of pregnancy and all is well. Little MJ is kicking and punching me at all hours and even knocked a drink that I was holding a little too close to my belly the other day. Hopefully not a sign of things to come. At my last sonogram she couldn’t stop yawning so I’m hoping for one of those quiet angel babies. No one seems to think that’s what I will get, but what do they know?

My iron deficiency set in a couple weeks ago (had it during my pregnancy with Caly too) and along with it came my desperate craving for ice. And not just any ice—it needs to be just right for chewing, not too hard and not too big. I discovered that McDonalds has amazing ice. Yes, I said McDonalds. And guess what? My local McDonalds sells ice by the bag for one dollar. Ten whole pounds of ice for 4 quarters! It is slightly embarrassing to go through the drive-thru and order a bag of ice, but dignity hasn’t stopped me yet. Sometimes I add on a cherry pie or hash brown to try and seem a bit more normal.

Now before you flood my email inbox with loving lectures about taking my iron, let me tell you that I have already started taking it. While it doesn’t take the ice craving away, it keeps it at a manageable level. Unfortunately it makes me feel sick and tired, but that seems to be a wiser alternative to robbing McDonalds stores in the middle of the night.

I have my glucose test this week and the little bottle of nasty—I mean yummy—orange syrup is sitting in the pantry awaiting my consumption. Chad mistook it for orange soda the other day and almost drank it for me. Unfortunately (for me) he discovered his mistake in time and it’s still there waiting for me. No problems with gestational diabetes with Caly though, so I’m not anticipating anything this time around. Just a yummy drink and a few gallons of blood removed from my body and it will all be over.

We can’t wait to meet our little MJ! Caly loves to pat my belly and talk to her sister. Such fun. I covet your prayers and appreciate your care. I’ll keep the updates coming and of course, Nicole will be live-blogging the big day! Off to find some ice…

May 28

Grace for the Fire

2008 at 5:07 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Fear & Anxiety

Stockxpertcom_id96073_size1_2 Ever wonder if you would hold up under religious persecution? How would you respond if given the choice to deny Christ or face a grisly death?

These questions occasionally haunt me. I read stories of heroes in Scripture or history who kept the faith and I wonder if I could do the same. I believe I am a Christian and I hope I would display unflinching faith in suffering, but what if I don’t?

This morning Ian Duguid helped me do away with these anxious wonderings. He was commenting on the well-known story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace:

“God has not promised to give us the grace to face all of the desperate situations that we might imagine finding ourselves in. He has promised to sustain us only in the ones that he actually brings us into. He therefore doesn’t promise that we will be able to imagine how we could go through the fire for his sake, but he does promise that if he leads us through the fire, he will give us sufficient grace at that time. Like manna, grace is not something that can be stored up for later use: each day receives its own supply” (Iain Duguid, Daniel, p. 53).

That’s right, there’s no grace for my imagination. But there’s plenty of grace for whatever God has ordained for me to walk through. My job? Declare Jesus as Lord today and not imagine “a graceless tomorrow.”

May 27

My Parents on Parenting

2008 at 5:20 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre

Image_3 Several days ago, over at CJ Mahaney’s View from the Cheap Seats, Tony Reinke posted a clip from a Q&A on parenting by Dad and Mom. It was an answer to the question: “How do parents engage in gospel-centered parenting with children who are too young to comprehend the message of the gospel?” If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to listen here.

This clip also reminded me of one of my favorite articles by Mom, written several years ago (before Caly was born!). Mom’s advice has proved so helpful to Steve and me as we try to parent our two little ones. I hope it serves you too.

Gateway for Knowledge

Last Thursday night occasioned another one of my husband’s surprises. He’s provided a gazillion of them for me through the years. He simply told me what time to be ready and how to dress. This time my surprise was dinner at a homey, rustic restaurant followed by the play “The Miracle Worker” at a nearby theater. It was a wonderful evening.

And if you will indulge me I’d like to say a word to my husband. (He is in Sun Valley, California at present, due to being the guest speaker at Grace Community Church this past weekend.). CJ, I hope you read this today because I simply want to tell you again how grateful I am to be your wife. Thank you for thirty years of devoted, passionate, exhilarating love. I don’t deserve you!

So back to what I was saying. We went to see “The Miracle Worker.” Most likely, you are familiar with the plot. It’s the story of Annie Sullivan’s struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate. Initially Annie found it extremely difficult to teach Helen due to her wild and violent behavior. But then Annie had a revelatory moment. All of a sudden she realized: “Obedience is the gateway for knowledge to enter the mind.” She understood that she needed to first teach Helen to obey before she could teach her knowledge.

At this point in the play I couldn’t help but think of my daughters, Nicole and Kristin. That’s what they are doing. They are attempting to train and discipline four little boys to obey so they can impart knowledge. And not just any knowledge, but the most important knowledge of all—the message of the gospel.

So to all moms with little children I desire to encourage you today. I want to cheer you on in your efforts to discipline and train your children to obey. It’s hard, exhausting work, I know. Just watching my daughters makes me tired. But it’s worth it. Because an obedient child is a receptive child. And with a receptive child you can teach them the good news, the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Now that’s a goal worth striving for, don’t you agree?

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22.6

May 26

Thank You, Once Again

2008 at 10:59 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre

Stockxpertcom_id112809_size1_2 (This post from last year expresses our continued gratitude for all troops still in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families waiting at home. Thank you for another year of heroic sacrifice on behalf of all of us.)

This morning I woke up in a comfortable bed in a quiet neighborhood, looking forward to a relaxing holiday with my husband and children. But while I was sleeping (at least as much as Tori would let me!) men and women thousands of miles away were wide-awake in anything-but-quiet neighborhoods in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were patrolling streets and training troops and hunting terrorists in the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world. And tonight, while I’m sleeping peacefully, they’ll do it all over again.

As America celebrates Memorial Day, it is a wonderful opportunity to thank those who have put themselves in harms way (whether this year or sixty years ago) in order to protect us from harm. And to thank their families as well—the husbands, wives, children, and parents who have selflessly lent us their loved ones. We owe them a debt of gratitude for every comfort of a free society. And there is no way we can repay them, or their families. “Thank you” isn’t enough, but it’s a start.

So to our friends, Dennis & Diane whose son is in Iraq, and to every service member or family member who is reading this today: Thank you for your sacrifice so that we can work, play, raise our families, and most importantly of all, worship God in freedom. And thank you for peaceful nights of sleep. May God grant the same to you and your loved-ones, for “He gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).

On behalf of the grateful girltalkers,

May 23

Two Tables

2008 at 3:19 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney

Stockxpertcom_id809899_size0 “From one man he made every nation of men…and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” Acts 17:26

To conclude our story…

What a thrill it was to sit across the settlement table from Brian and Kristin and transfer ownership of the home we’ve lived in for twenty-two years to them. Now, our grandsons will eat cereal in the kitchen, wrestle with their daddy in the living room, play swords in the basement, and sleep in the bedrooms of the very home that our children grew up in. This house will scarcely be able to hold all the wonderful memories!

Then yesterday, we had the joy of sitting on the same side of the settlement table as Mike and Janelle and purchase a home together. While our children have expressed much gratitude to us, we’ve told them that no one is happier than we are.

As I consider the past ten years, how grateful I am that God kept us from moving until now. If we had moved at any other time, I doubt we would be in a position to serve two of our four children in this season of their lives. As missionary Gladys Aylward once said, “God you knew what you were doing!”

May 22

Legacy of a Home

2008 at 8:11 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore

Stockxpertcom_id809899_size0_2 “From one man he made every nation of men…and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” Acts 17:26

Now it’s my turn to tell the rest of the story (almost).

Brian and I bought our first home three years ago. It was small, but it was ours. The Lord graciously provided the perfect amount of money for us to enter the housing market. We fixed up our place and it quickly became a fun little home for our family. We knew, however, that it would be a temporary housing situation since the number of bedrooms would not enable us to grow our family.

At the time we bought, everything on the market was going higher by the day. Those were the years of escalation clauses and multiple contracts. We were so grateful just to get in.

Fast forward a few years and you all know what happened. We watched as the value of our townhouse dropped lower than what we had paid for it. Our wonderful realtor graciously walked us through a process of determining if we should sell. The Lord gave my husband the faith to put that sign up and in two weeks our home was under contract. Wow! The Lord was clearly leading us to move but we didn’t know where.

My mother-law Kaye graciously opened her home to our family. She was so kind to allow us to bring her three energetic grandsons to her beautiful home, and true to her nature, she has served us tirelessly since we moved in. We had a place to stay, but because of the distance from our church and school, it wasn’t a long-term solution.

Then we got one incredible phone call that I will never forget. My parents were finally able to move and they wanted to offer us their home at an amazing price, well below market value. We were simply amazed—not only by their generosity but the Lord’s gracious and kind provision for our family. We went from losing most of our equity to being able to move into a single-family home.

On May 9th we sat across the table from my parents and they transferred ownership of the home I grew up in to us. It was a wonderful day!

So this is an end and a beginning. We are so grateful for the Lord’s provision and my parent’s kindness. I pray that we will continue the legacy of this home by showing hospitality, caring for others and making many wonderful memories as a family.

May 21

Providing a Place

2008 at 9:17 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw

“From one man he made every nation of men…and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” Acts 17:26

My turn for story-telling today.

One year ago, Mike and I began to pray about the future of our family—in particular our housing situation. We began to realize that if the housing market kept falling as projected (which it has) we would eventually reach a point where we wouldn’t be able to afford the loan on our town house. As we sought counsel from many wise people in our church, it became clear that we needed to sell our town house and try to save money for a down payment on a place we could afford long-term.

There were certainly temptations to anxiety as we looked at our future in light of the housing market. And no doubt many of you have faced similar temptations. But God’s Word reminded us that He had chosen the exact place we were to live and He would always be faithful to provide. Never, though, would we have imagined the form in which that provision would come!

In God’s mercy, our town house sold quickly in a slow market. Then my parents graciously offered for Mike, Caly and me to live with them rent-free for as long as we needed to save for a house. We gratefully moved in last June.

This spring, after saving for many months, we began to look for a place to live, only to discover that we weren’t in a much better financial position than we had been the year before. Loans had become more difficult to secure, so even with all our savings we still didn’t have sufficient funds.

Stockxpertcom_id809899_size0 That’s when we got an idea…how about asking Dad and Mom if they wanted to buy a house together. This would enable us to purchase something affordable and long-term. And the benefit for Dad and Mom? Well, Dad would get a handyman to do projects around the house, and Mom would get some help with the dinner dishes. (They would definitely be getting the raw end of the deal!) We approached them with this idea and much to our delight they were open to our little scheme.

This is so typical of my parents, who instead of viewing these years as a time to invest in their own ease and comfort, have eagerly sought to support and bless their children. They are always saying, “our kids won’t need our money when we die…they need it now!” Thanks Dad and Mom for being a tangible expression of God’s care for us!

So, a few months ago we started hunting for a house to fit two families. But I will have to leave you hanging there. Kristin will pick up the story tomorrow…