Recently, I’ve been encouraged in my practice of prayer by a new website: an online edition of Matthew Henry’s Method of Prayer. His method, quite simply, is to “pray the Bible” and so the website is full of prayers composed almost entirely of Scripture.
“A Scriptural manner of praying,” says editor Ligon Duncan, “provides the order, proportion, and variety which should characterize all our prayers.”
So there are prayers of adoration, of confession of thanksgiving and intercession. There are also prayers for many occasions: morning and evening, and for Sundays and more specifically: “For Those Weighed Down and Burdened” or “For Parents Concerned About Their Difficult Children” or “For Those Who are Sick and Weak.”
Here’s a portion from the prayer “For Women Near the Time of Childbirth:”
“Be thou her strong habitation, her rock, and her fortress, give commandment to save her. Ps. 71.3 And when travail comes upon her, which she cannot escape, be pleased, O Lord, to deliver her; 1 Thess. 5:3 O Lord, make haste to help her; Ps. 40:13 be thou thyself her help and deliverer, make no tarrying, O our God. Ps. 40:17 Let her be safely delivered and remember the anguish no more, for joy that a child is born into the world, is born unto thee. Jn.16:21”
I also love the “Short Forms of Prayer” which includes prayers that are easier for children to pray, or for families to pray together. So if you want to grow in your practice of prayer—and who doesn’t?—let me encourage you to check out this site today.
Carina sent us this picture which her friend Missy posted in her online family album. The funny is in Missy’s caption.
That’s all for this week. We’ll see you Monday!
Nicole for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle
“I HAD to get a picture of this because this will never be a mom-like scenario. Why is it that when they’re with me someone’s hair is on fire at the same time the toilet is overflowing?”
“Women, whose lives are harder, need jokes more than men and make them more often.” Paul Johnson
“Dear beloved and blessed wives and mothers….I know that some of you have been long on the field, and it’s late in the game, and you’re fatigued to the point of exhaustion. Though the outside world may not applaud you, and your inside flesh may scold you, I cheer you on to “play your position.” Press on with your womanly dominion assignment. I assure you. At the end of the day, you’ll not regret it. You’ll be draped with the only medal that really matters…the Lord Jesus Christ, will personally commend you with history’s highest honor: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Womanly Dominion, p. 43
As wives and mothers we want to serve the Lord with “joy and gladness” but we’re often “fatigued to the point of exhaustion” aren’t we? We need to have our minds realigned to the truth of our high calling. We need to have our hearts filled with holy delight in God’s purposes and plans. To that end, I recommend rereading this chapter at least once a year!
But we want to cheer on the single woman today. As much as we love this chapter, we don’t think the author clearly defines your role in the creation mandate.
You might not be able to literally “be fruitful and multiply”, but as Elisabeth Elliot says, “A single woman can have children!”
Here’s how: “She may be a spiritual mother, as was Amy Carmichael [missionary to orphans in India], by the very offering of her singleness, transformed for the good of far more children than a natural mother may produce.”
As a spiritual mother, you may do good to many more children than a natural mother. I pray God will give you a vision for the many ways He wants to use you to care for these little ones. (Read more here.)
And you might not be married, but as we’ve written before “Your helper design isn’t something you cash in come marriage….You were born feminine. Your helper role is called for today.” So, consider: how has God has called you to be supportive, responsive, and nurturing in the various spheres of your life?
John Piper sums it up better than I can:
“Marriage and singleness both present us with unique trials and unique opportunities for our sanctification. There will be unique rewards for each, and which is greater will not depend on whether you were married or single, but on how you responded to each.”
Single women, we want to be your cheerleaders! Some of you are “fatigued to the point of exhaustion” and we want to encourage you to “press on in your womanly dominion assignment” By the grace of God, strive with all your might to hear “well done good and faithful servant!”
Mark Chanski is right about this: You’ll not regret it.
(Chapter three coming up next week)
You sent in some yummy looking hospitality recipes (including, “Yummy Chicken”!). They haven’t endured the rigorous evaluation of the girltalk test kitchen (we’re still worn out from last year’s caramel contest), but it sounds like the guests who enjoyed these dishes would give them five stars. Because of my love for my chocolate chip cookies this recipe is first on my list to try. You can download all the recipes here.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BALL
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Chocolate or honey graham crackers for dipping
In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Gently stir in mini chocolate chips.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Roll the cheese ball in finely chopped nuts before serving. Serve with your favorite flavor of graham crackers for dipping. (I use the graham cracker sticks).
Very well, indeed!
Once again you’ve answered the call. You sent us a bunch of easy-cooking, money-saving, kid-friendly and creative ideas for blessing guests. We’ve compiled our favorites in this file which you can download, print, and save. I know my practice of hospitality will benefit from these tips for years to come!
Your hospitality recipes are up next, but here’s a sneak peek at some of our very favorite ideas from today.
With all the HGTV and Food Network shows, I think some of us feel pressure when showing hospitality. I know that when I am a guest, I feel loved when the hostess has taken the care to make me/us feel special. That doesn’t necessarily mean slaving all day for a Paula Deen spread.
I have found that Trader Joe’s has wonderful cheats for quick appetizers and desserts. They have fresh pizza dough that can be quickly rolled out, spread with their pesto in a jar, add freshly chopped tomatoes and some grated parmesan (already grated in a tub) and you have a beautiful summer bruschetta. Serve with cloth napkins and flavored seltzer waters or sparkling TJ lemonade and it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.
I bought a round cutting board at a discount store and can quickly throw together a cheese board with 2 types of cheeses, 2 types of crackers and some grapes (use 2 colors) and maybe some strawberries. It feels elegant, but is not work at all.
Their tarts and flourless chocolate cakes can be set on a stand. Add fresh berries. Done.
One last elegant cheat is the frozen raspberry and brie in pastry. About $6 and can stay in the freezer ‘til needed. You can always garnish with some mint or basil from the garden. Or you can gather a few blooms in a tiny jar and stick in the center of your platter.
The idea is to keep things handy to pull out, use the semi-homemade line of thought and serve your guest without stressing (or not inviting because of the intimidation).
*I went through the church directory and made a list of people I want to invite and have paired up couples with things in common…2 couples expecting their first baby, 2 couples who are new to the church, etc.
*I’m single and live alone, so at least once a week when I cook I prepare enough for about 6, take out my portion and then either parcel out servings for a few other single friends, or share the rest with a family in the church.
*I try to always keep the ingredients for a few simple meals and desserts handy so I can whip something up quickly.
I’m a single mom and I eally enjoy being able to be hospitable. My son is 5 and loves to cook, so we often make a day of preparing. I choose a recipe that needs to bake for a long time and we make it together in the early afternoon, then straighten up while we race the meal in the oven (this also works well with a dessert made in the morning). This gives him a sense of ownership over the serving and heightens his anticipation of the evening. It also allows time for us to discuss appropriate behavior as we make preparations—we both prepare our hearts for the time with others, including prayers for godly responses to our guests and those in authority.
There are three specific groups of people I try to invite over, and I prepare for each differently:
1) If I invite a family with children over, I ask them to come 45 minutes to an hour before the meal. This gives the kids time to play, and me time to discuss seating and special needs for each of the children with the other mom. I usually make a casserole or enchiladas for this—something that frees me to serve as a hostess instead of a director tied to the stove.
2) If I invite a childless couple or singles over, I usually serve dinner a little later than normal. I specifically ask the guy (usually beforehand) if he would be willing to play with my son at airhockey or catch or some such thing before the meal—my son loves this, and is then usually more willing to engage in the conversation appropriately at dinner. I bathe my son before they arrive and he eats in his PJs. After dinner, he goes to bed so that Mama can have “adult time” with her friends, and while I am putting him to bed, I ask my guests to clean up the dishes or choose a game or movie (this may sound rude, but it enables us to have fellowship instead of me being on sink-duty all night).
3) If I invite the children of different families over, I do it in the afternoon or for an early dinner so their parents can have a date without getting a sitter. The kids play together, and if it’s age-appropriate, I have a cooking activity for the kids to all participate in—either a meal or a dessert for their family that they can take home with them. Bisquick Impossible pies are perfect for dinners and brownies for desserts, as they are simple and bake unattended, and we can get back to playing! I feed them something simple, like hot dogs or pasta, that can be ready in a few minutes. This really gives my son a chance to practice drawing others out and preferring them instead of being the “little entertainer” in a room full of accommodating adults.
Show of hands—who is going back to school, sending a child to school, or preparing to teach this fall? I bet a lot of hands went up out there! School days are upon us again. There will be broken pencils and slow computers, late night study-sessions and pop-quizzes, classmate conflicts, “light bulb” moments, and more than a few tears. And there will be lots and lots of reading.
But there’s something more certain than all the predictable aspects of the school year: “Surely [not maybe] goodness and mercy shall follow me all [not some] of the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6, emphasis mine).
“With God these qualities are not merely solid and dependable” explains Derek Kidner, “but vigorous—for ‘follow’ does not mean here to bring up the rear but to pursue.
If you are a Christian, goodness and mercy follow you “always” says Charles Spurgeon: “the black days as well as the bright days. Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins.”
Goodness is shadowing us, in the halls of school or the kitchen table at home, to provide all we need—strength, wisdom, perseverance and patience—to help us glorify God. And Mercy’s right behind, to pick us up when we fall: bringing pardon for our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.
What a promise to take with us into the first day of school—and all the school days thereafter!
More “school days” stuff from the girltalk archives:
He Goes With You
Taught by the Lord
A Prayer for My Son
A Peaceful Morning Routine
An Extra-Special First Day of School
No More Boring Lunches
I love Friday Funnies with pictures. And I don’t think it gets much funnier then this image sent to us from Danielle (the final winner in our wedding contest!). I hope the photographer tried some other angles!
Enjoy your weekend,
Janelle for my mom and sisters
THE HEADLESS GROOM
“On the field of life, God challenges every woman to live and run in such a way as to win the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24). In whatever she puts her hand to, she’s to ‘do it with all her might’ (Ecclesiastes 9:10) in order to hear that blessed commendation from the Lord, ‘Well done, you good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21). And if she’s to achieve this noble goal on the field of life, she needs to be convinced of living according to these two fundamental principles: ‘Play your position!’ and ‘Win it!’ Womanly Dominion, p. 18
In Womanly Dominion Mark Chanski calls for a recovery of true feminine strength—strength endowed by our Creator, redeemed by our Savior, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It’s in recovering this strength that Chanski sees women fulfilling the call God has on their lives or, as he puts it, “playing their position.”
These “fundamental principles” of “play your position” and “win it” are not Oprahesque cheers for women to take self in hand and realize their dreams. They come straight from Scripture. God’s Word repeatedly urges us to spend our strength to fulfill His call on our lives for the praise of His glory.
So what are we giving our strength to?
We may run ourselves ragged doing many good things and yet miss what’s most important. Given the incessant “shouts from the misguided cultural sidelines” and our own wayward hearts, we easily become muddled, scattered, confused, and then overwhelmed. We lose the clarity of purpose found in Scripture’s guidance for our lives: both in the creation mandate and the wonderful privileges afforded us through the gospel.
But we must be careful that the good, even the very good, never replaces what Scripture says is most important. We must not try to “win it” in many good areas at the expense of “winning it” in the essentials. We must be clear on what Scriptures says are the priorities of our “position”: our spiritual growth, service in the church, evangelism, love for our husband and children, caring for our home.
We must ask ourselves—what am I spending my strength on? Where does most of my time and energy go? Where am I trying to “win it”? Have I allowed the good (even the very good) to distract me from Scripture’s clear assignment to me as a woman? Am I giving myself to temporal matters at the expense of the eternal? Have I unintentionally wandered from my position? Are there any good things that I need to give up in order to fulfill the role assigned to me in Scripture?
These questions are just to get you started. As you prayerfully consider them in light of God’s Word, He may prompt you with other probing questions that enable you to view your life through the lens of Scripture.
But let me encourage you to take time to evaluate your life and priorities. After all, what we’re playing for is nothing less than the commendation of our Lord and Savior: “Well done, you good and faithful servant.”
And never forget: it’s all because of His grace and for His glory.
Chapter 2 next week….
We don’t want you to miss this! If you are a married couple who has conflict (and who doesn’t?) you need to hear this biblical advice from Dr. David Powlison. Nine years ago in our pre-marital counseling, my parents shared this wisdom with Steve and me. Few things have served us more in helping us to resolve conflict, have fewer conflicts, and grow in grace together. So listen, and for further study, buy this book.
Today Julie shares a few practical things she has learned about hospitality over the years…
Go with your strengths…
- Do you like a more formal dinner or casual? Don’t try to be what you are not comfortable with.
- Do you like to have a buffet or family style or serve a meal plated?
- Budget wise…maybe you should just have dessert.
When planning your menu…
- A simple meal served by a relaxed hostess is preferable to an elaborate meal with a worried and anxious hostess.
- Choose recipes that are equal to your cooking skill level.
- Pick one or two items to invest time into. Make the other parts of the meal less labor intensive.
- Make the food you love and everyone will love the food you make.
- Hospitality is about giving, not impressing. It creates an atmosphere that makes you want to sit, eat, drink and linger around a table for a long time
- Develop a plan or schedule, working back from when you want to eat.
- Be light hearted. If you feel anxious, your guests will not feel at peace.
- Our children are watching what having people over is like for us. Do the heart work for it to be a true joy.
- Accept that things rarely turn out the way you imagine.
- Approach meals with the thought that this is like family. People are blessed just to be in your home.
- There is a learning curve so start simple!
- The good hostess is the person who makes you feel welcome, relaxed, and part of his or her life.
- Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t enjoy cooking with others watching, then plan to have everything ready.
- Plan your time realistically. Making things ahead of time while leaving a few things that need to be done last minute.
- Create a check list of things to be done and your menu. There have been times when I’ve made food ahead of time, stored it and then forgotten to put it out.
- Leave yourself 15 minutes before guests arrive to clean up all the pots and pans. Starting with an empty sink makes for a peaceful start.
- Think of things that people can do to help if they ask…chopping, finishing salad, getting drinks.
- Start with your dishwasher empty.
- As far as cleaning in preparation, concentrate on the kitchen, the room where you’ll be eating, and the bathroom. People aren’t coming to inspect your cleaning skills.
- Gradually acquire large serving pieces. I pick these up at Marshalls, T. J. Maxx, Ross for under $10.00.
- Consider purchasing plates, plastic ware, cups from Sam’s or Costco to have on hand.
- I have sought to gradually get enough dishes to serve our extended family, plus friends. It took some time and saving, but has really served us.
Well, summer is here! Let’s talk to our husbands and get some dates on the calendar. Hospitality doesn’t need to be one more thing to do. It is an opportunity to build friendships, influence your children, and bless others. There are few more relaxed ways to get acquainted than over a meal. What a joy it is to bring glory to God through this gift He has given us.