2008 at 2:15 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Here are two more excerpts on motherhood and domesticity from G.K. Chesterton. Simply superb.
“[Woman is surrounded] with very young children, who require to be taught not so much anything as everything. Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t….”
“[W]hen people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge [at his work]. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean…. I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”
2008 at 8:53 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
Thanks to my friend Monique for this funny top-ten…
Have a great weekend!
Nicole for the girltalkers
Top Ten Things Only Women Understand
10. Cats’ facial expressions.
9. The need for the same style of shoes in different colors.
8. Why bean sprouts aren’t just weeds.
7. Fat clothes.
6. Taking a car trip without trying to beat your best time.
5. The difference between beige, ecru, cream, off-white, and eggshell.
4. Cutting your hair to make it grow.
3. Eyelash curlers.
2. The inaccuracy of every bathroom scale ever made.
And, the Number One thing only women understand:
2008 at 2:51 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Several years ago we three girls joined Mom for a few hours conversation with Nancy Leigh DeMoss on her radio show “Revive Our Hearts.” We talked about marriage, motherhood and homemaking, and of course, enjoyed spending time with Nancy. This week, ROH re-aired three episodes from that discussion. You can read transcripts or listen online.
http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=9954” target=“_blank”>A Mother’s Example
Loving Our Husbands
What True Love Looks Like
2008 at 2:15 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
The girltalk conversation begins with the four of us, but we love it when you jump in! Tina sent us the following excerpt from Noel Piper’s inspiring book Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God that fits and expands perfectly on the G.K. Chesterton quote Mom shared yesterday. This quote comes at the conclusion of Mrs. Piper’s profile of the missionary doctor to Africa, Helen Roseveare:
“Perhaps the deepest underlying personal factor in Helen’s tension was the need she felt to do her very best and, if possible, to be the very best. God called her to Africa where that was not possible. There were continuing lessons for her: learning to treat malaria by symptoms rather than with prescribed lab tests, having to operate without having been trained as a surgeon, needing to make bricks rather than spending the day with patients.
Perhaps that is an issue for some of us—struggling with the reality that God has called us to do less than we want to do or less than what we believe is best. That can happen in any setting. For me, it’s been especially true in my years with small children - ‘I got a college degree for this?’ Maybe the problem is the way we see ourselves. Maybe we think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
If anyone was too good to die, it was Jesus. If anyone should have done greater things than walking dusty roads and talking with people too dense to understand him, it was Jesus. In Philippians 3 . . . is the verse, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (verse 10). When God called Helen to less than she expected, he was helping her become like Christ, rather than like the best doctor or missionary she knew of. Who is it we want to be like?” (p. 172)
2008 at 4:12 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
As homemakers, we can be keenly, and somewhat painfully aware of our
lack of specialized skill. Many of us trained for a specific field of
work only to leave it behind to come home with our baby; and then the
field left us behind as we raised our children. We may see our husband
excelling at his career, and observe other women who seem to be “the
best” at something, and because we haven’t distinguished ourselves in
some way (we’ve been too busy cleaning toilets, running errands,
reading children’s books and pouring bowls of cereal), we wonder if we
are really good at anything.
Twentieth century British author G.K. Chesterton has liberating insight
for all homemakers who feel pressure to excel in something besides
homemaking. In an essay entitled “The Emancipation of Domesticity” he
observed that woman is a “general overseer” in the home, and as such,
she must be able to do many things well—she shouldn’t have to worry
about being "the best" at something.
“In other words, there must be in every center of humanity
one human being upon a larger plan; one who does not "give her best,"
but gives her all…..
The woman is expected to cook: not to excel in cooking, but to cook; to
cook better than her husband who is earning [a living] by lecturing on
botany or breaking stones….the woman is expected to tell tales to the
children, not original and artistic tales, but tales—better tales
than would probably be told by a first-class cook.
But she cannot be expected to endure anything like this universal duty
if she is also to endure the direct cruelty of competitive or
bureaucratic toil. Woman must be a cook, but not a competitive cook; a
school mistress, but not a competitive schoolmistress; a
house-decorator but not a competitive house-decorator; a dressmaker,
but not a competitive dressmaker. She should have not one trade but
twenty hobbies; she, unlike the man, may develop all her second bests.
This is what has been really aimed at from the first in what is called the seclusion, or even the oppression, of women. Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad” (emphasis mine).
My fellow homemakers, let’s embrace the “larger plan” ordained by our Creator. Let’s not worry about being the best, but eagerly give our all to the broad calling of serving in the home.
2008 at 3:46 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Today I want all of you to benefit right along with me from this testimony of one of my friends. She is serious about making sure that her desires for personal fulfillment don’t distract her from her most important calling. May we all seek to emulate her example:
There are a thousand things warring for my attention throughout the day… as if the necessities of cooking, cleaning, and child care were not enough… I have the internet… blogging, reading blogs, flickr, and the endless supply of information available at my fingertips…
I have always struggled with diligence in discipline (don’t we all!), and the internet has certainly not encouraged growth in that area. Maybe for you, it’s relationships, or house decorating, or reading, or shopping, or even keeping a clean house. Whatever the issue, it’s inevitable… we have much vying for our attention.
Oh, how I’ve had to wrestle through this… I’ve been living with the mindset that as long as I maintain my life, home and family, I am free to pursue what I enjoy: namely decorating, design, and photography. Not that any of that is wrong… not that it can’t be pursued. But for me, what a preoccupation it can be! And, it’s not just a matter of how much time is actually invested in these activities, it’s my thoughts. It’s how distracted I can be throughout the day by thinking about these pursuits.
I have been helped by the “evaluation” standard of: IF my relationship with the Lord, loving my husband and training my children is my highest calling, THEN how (and when) does [......] fit in? At this point, I don’t plan to cease my blog, checking in on other blogs, taking pictures, decorating my house, or using the internet… but I do know, that the amount of time I invest in those things is going to be considerably less.
2008 at 6:24 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Recently, at the end of a conference session where CJ and I fielded questions, a woman approached me with a query of her own: “So what do you do on the side?” she inquired.
“On the side?” I echoed, not fully comprehending her question.
“What do you do for personal fulfillment?” she sought to clarify. “You see I’m happy my husband has his ministry because that provides him with personal fulfillment. But I pursue my own hobbies because they provide personal fulfillment for me. So,” she repeated again, “What do you do?”
I was unprepared for her question. And I’m sure my answer was insufficient. (How often I have an eloquent answer after the conversation is over!) If I had it to do over again, I’d tell her about Dorothy.
Dorothy was a woman who knew the secret of true “personal fulfillment.” A single mom whose husband left her with a son to raise, Dorothy didn’t spend time worrying about herself. Instead, she was always serving and caring for others. I knew her because she was my Sunday School teacher. And Dorothy was one of the most joyful women I knew.
At my bridal shower everyone wrote down a piece of advice on a slip of paper. I only remember one, and it was Dorothy’s. Her secret to a fulfilled life? “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
Our culture is constantly telling us to find our life; that we’re the center of our world, and as such, we need to take care of “me” first. We need to find what fulfills us and not let anyone or anything (especially a husband or children) get in the way.
But when I’m the center of my world, my world becomes very small—because I’m the only person in it. When I try to find fulfillment in anything besides loving Christ and serving Him, I will only end up more frustrated and completely unfulfilled.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I think we as women should express our creativity, and even more importantly get sufficient rest. But the purpose of creativity should be to glorify God with our gifts, not to find “personal fulfillment,” and the goal of rest should be to strengthen us for service, not to carve out “time for ourselves.”
If we want “personal fulfillment" as women, we must not follow our culture’s prescription of selfishness. Rather, we must lose our life for Christ’s sake. Then, amazingly, we’ll find that our world expands. We’ll know the thrill of seeing the fruit of our sacrificial service in the lives of those around us. So for true "personal fulfillment," let’s follow Dorothy’s example as she followed Christ.
2008 at 5:23 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
We’ve reprinted this post before, but it seemed a proper ending to our week on homemaking….
Happy July 4th!
Nicole for the girltalkers
On July 4 each year, we Americans may pause (perhaps only for a moment) in between barbecues and beach balls and “bombs bursting in air” to think about the men who founded our country. But not, too often, do we think about the women’s role.
In her book, Founding Mothers, Cokie Roberts profiles the women who lived at the center of the American Revolution. “It’s safe to say,” she notes, “that most of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, fought the Revolution, and formed the government couldn’t have done it without the women.”
Speaking specifically about Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams (one of the most influential founding fathers) she comments, “Not only did John turn to Abigail for information and counsel, she was the person who made it possible for him to do what he did” (Cokie Roberts, Founding Mothers (New York, NY: William Morrow, 2004), xvi).
None of us are married to nation founders. However, all of us—married or single—have been created by God to be “helpers.” Equal to man in worth and value, we have, nevertheless, a different role. We have been given a specific, honorable, and challenging task: to “make it possible” for kingdom work to move forward.
Whether as a wife we advise, comfort, encourage, and assist our husband, or as a single woman we help others in the church and reach out to the lost—we are making possible, not just a work of historical significance, but of eternal significance.
So, how can you glorify God by being a helper today? What great work can you carry forward, simply by doing your part?
And finally, consider: What if those dynamic feminine heroes of the revolution had been “liberated” from their “oppressed” helper role (as women supposedly are today)? I wonder if we would even be celebrating Independence Day.
2008 at 9:14 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Women who invest their gifts in the home don’t usually get much attention, so today I want to highlight two of them. They are not the only women I know whose gifts and talents are utilized for the good of their family. In fact, I am privileged to know many such women. These two happen to be the most recent examples I have observed.
The first is my friend Emma. A kindergarten teacher before she came home to raise her two children, Emma also studied art at college and is a gifted artist. The other day, her husband honored her at one of our small group meetings. He shared how grateful he is that Emma uses her many gifts in the home: “No one else sees how you plant flowers on the front porch or work hard to decorate our home” he said. “But I’m grateful for the way you quietly serve and use your gifts for the good of our family.” Makes one think of the Proverbs 31 woman whose husband praises her.
The other humble, hard-working homemaker is my sister, Kristin. Always better in math than me (not that that is saying much!) Kristin worked in accounting before she became a mom. It’s been neat for me to watch her use her skills, knowledge and general “intuition” for numbers to help her family secure a loan in order to move into their new house. She demonstrated such an aptitude for the numbers process that the mortgage broker said he’d rarely worked with someone so savvy. He even told her she could come work for him if she ever wanted a job! But Kristin already has the job she wants, caring for Brian and her boys.
Emma and Kristin, and countless other women I know (you know who you are!) are living proof of Dorothy Patterson’s insistence that:
“Homemaking—being a full-time wife and mother—is not a destructive drought of usefulness but an overflowing oasis of opportunity; it is not a dreary cell to contain one’s talents and skills but a brilliant catalyst to channel creativity and energies into meaningful work; it is not a rope for binding one’s productivity in the marketplace, but reins for guiding one’s posterity in the home; it is not oppressive restraint of intellectual prowess for the community, but a release of wise instruction to your own household; it is not the bitter assignment of inferiority to your person, but the bright assurance of of the ingenuity of God’s plan for the complementarity of the sexes, especially as worked out in God’s plan for marriage; it is neither limitation of gifts available nor stinginess in distributing the benefits of those gifts, but rather the multiplication of a mother’s legacy to the generations to come and the generous bestowal of all God meant a mother to give to those He entrusted to her care."
2008 at 6:54 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
It is not only homemakers who need to remember that their current season is not a holding pattern or a hindrance. Two of our single readers also see that it is important to apply these truths to their lives and “live to the hilt” of what God has called them to today:
Thank you so much for your encouraging post which reminds me to try to serve God in whatever I do. I have the opposite problem to the young woman described in your post!
I’m a woman who isn’t married yet and who works, and I look at my married friends with children and am envious of all the opportunities they have to share the gospel, serve their husbands and children and glorify God in a way which seems better than the situation I am in. But then comparing isn’t the point is it? It is to be as Susannah Wesley says! I’ve been very struck by Col. 3.17 recently and am asking God to help me to do this whatever I do in work, in my church life and most particularly (this is where it has really hit!) in my courtship. Which is revealing to me just how sinful and selfish I am! But how great of God to save me, so I must keep that in mind!
I think the mindset that we are not using our gifts as homemakers can also apply to single women waiting to be married or married women waiting to have children. We are waiting for that season where we think God will really start his plan for our lives and for our service to Him, but like you said earlier this week, we should imitate Jim Elliot’s words and whatever season of life we are in, be all there for the glory of God!
2008 at 5:30 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
I recently heard a young woman confess that she struggles with not being able to “use her gifts” because she is primarily at home, caring for small children. She is not alone in her struggle. I can remember occasionally battling similar thoughts in those early years of nursing infants, changing diapers and child training, and I know other women have as well.
It’s easy for us to look around and see “everyone else” playing a productive and meaningful part in the church’s mission and feel like we are the “only one” languishing on the sidelines.
Now, it is good and right for us to want to invest the gifts and talents God has bestowed on us for the good of the church; but when we view homemaking as a hindrance to using our gifts, I think we’re missing a vitally important truth.
You see, the gifts God has given to each of us are not only for the “common good” (1 Cor. 12:7) of those outside our family, but they are first and foremost for the good of those within our family. In fact, I would argue that there is no place where our gifts and skills should be more heartily put to use than with the family God has given to our charge.
Are you creative and artistic? Then make your house a fun and beautiful place to be. Are you organized and methodical? Then apply your skill in the management of your home. Are you a skilled counselor? Then be the woman of understanding who draws out the “deep waters” of your family member’s hearts (Prov. 20:5). Can you sing? Then fill your home with music. Whatever gift you have been given or skill you have acquired turn around and invest it in your home.
Be like Susanna Wesley, “the incomparably brilliant and well-educated mother of sons who shook two continents for God” who wrote: “I am content to fill a little space if God be glorified” (Dorothy Patterson, "The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective").
Let us be content to use our gifts, energies, talents and skills for the good of our family to the glory of God.