Aug 18

A Wedding Story (9)

2009 at 4:58 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Friday Funnies

We’re down to the final two winners of our wedding story contest. Today’s tale is from Kathy, a former church organist, who probably has a lot more stories she could tell!

I used to be a church organist, and often heard wedding stories during rehearsal dinners. One groom related some unusual events which happened during his best friend’s courtship and wedding. Believe it or not, all of these events happened to the same couple.

“John” made elaborate plans to pop the big question during a romantic dinner at a lovely restaurant. “Mary” was fighting off a stomach bug, but sensed that John had worked very hard to plan something special and so she agreed to go out to dinner. Just as John popped the question, Mary was overcome by nausea….you can guess what happened next.

Fast forward to the morning of the wedding, when a phone call brought the news that the organist had fallen and broken her ankle. Since no substitute could be found, the bridal party walked down the aisle as 200 guests hummed the traditional bridal music.

Then it was on to the reception. In the middle of the minister’s prayer for their meal, a loud crash was heard. The bridal party and guests opened their eyes to see that the very long buffet table had spontaneously collapsed under the weight of the dinner and the wedding cake, all of which was in ruins on the floor.

Thinking nothing else could possibly go wrong, the happy couple headed off to a romantic honeymoon at a mountain resort in Pennsylvania. Mary thought the bubble bath John had run in the heart shaped tub was such a romantic touch. A very puzzled John, realizing he could take no credit for the bubbles, investigated further…..only to find their “bubble bath” was really backed up USED bath water from the room next door. John and Mary gave up and headed home, laughing at all of the stories they would be able to tell their grandchildren some day.

As for the groom who told me this story? His wedding went off without a hitch.

Aug 17

At Julie’s House

2009 at 3:37 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

Ten years ago when I had hip replacement surgery, my dear friend Julie Kauflin offered to swap houses with me for my recovery since her home (unlike mine) had a master bedroom on the first floor. Even though I didn’t take her up on her offer, it’s a perfect example of Julie’s heart for hospitality.

Julie loves having people in her home: whether a couple or a large group of people, whether planned or spontaneous, for a short stay or a long visit. She’s a warm and creative hostess who makes it seem effortless—even though you know she’s invested much time and effort to make you feel welcome. Julie embodies that well-known Spanish saying: “Mi casa es su casa.”

Earlier this summer, Julie wrote some thoughts on “Intentional Hospitality” for a group of pastors’ wives. Her heart to serve and practical ideas were so encouraging that I asked permission to share them with our girltalk readers and she graciously agreed. So, without further ado, let me turn it over to my good friend, Julie.

kauflin fam“Intentional Hospitality”

by Julie Kauflin

Ah Summer… longer days, freer schedule, no school…it’s time to fire up the grill, have some folks over, and enjoy sitting out on the deck. I love summer! Can you tell? But if you’re like me, the summer can slip by in spite of all my best intentions. Please join me as I make some intentional plans, and exercise my desire with actual hospitality.

First things first, let’s talk to our husband about our desire to have some folks over.

“What days can you see this working?”

“How often would you have faith for having people over?”

“I’ll try to stay within the budget, but could we possibly find any money that we could add?”

He says maybe 2 times a month. Perfect…I have faith for that! I’ve realized that it helps me to include people in what is already in place. So, with our extended family coming over every Sunday…let’s start with adding people in to that mix. I’m already cooking, so let’s add a few more! We get the word out to singles, “come on over around 2:00.” It has been so much fun, we’ve built relationships, offered counsel and given the lonely a place where they feel part of a family.

Sundays I typically plan for 12 to 16 people. Since I get home from church later…I do some prep on Saturday, dessert and salad, marinate the chicken. Then I plan something quick and easy.

Some quick and easy meals have been:

Casseroles in the oven on time bake.

Chicken on the grill. (Lots of different marinades to try, or toppings for the chicken brings variety and flavor.)

Shish kabob


Crock pot barbeque.

I’ve started planning on having appetizers out as I’m cooking. This has really helped people feel relaxed and welcome right from the start. Nothing fancy…chips and salsa, artichoke dip from Sam’s. We always have a cheese plate with crackers. I walk in from the meeting…start the grill and grill chicken. My girls start setting things out, set the table, and begin offering drinks.

The other times that seem to work for us are Friday nights. These will be more specific. We know we have the slot, so we keep our eyes and ears open for people we don’t know or people we want to deepen our friendship with. Maybe just a couple or a family. With a smaller gathering I feel more freedom to make some dishes that may be new or more labor intensive. I love to cook, so any chance to do something new is an adventure for me. Also with a smaller group we can really invest in this relationship, drawing them out and finding out about them.

Hospitality has been one of the biggest blessings our family enjoys. It has been so rewarding to see our family chip in, in a relaxed, unhurried fashion to prepare for having people in our home. Now I get the joy of seeing my married daughters and sons have a heart that welcomes others in to their homes, with joy.

[More from Julie later this week…]

Aug 14

Friday Funnies

2009 at 5:04 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw

Thanks to Danielle for supplying us with a monster friday funny!

Back here Monday,

Janelle for the Mom, Nic and Kess

After reading your post about The Monster Under the Bed, my daughter expressed to me that she was afraid to play alone in her room. I used this time to exhort her and share with her that yes, her fear is real, but our enemy has been crushed and we know that Christ has the victory over sin and death.

So, last night we were playing Tickle Monster, a fun and silly made up family game and when she was tickled she screamed, “Jesus!! Crush Mommy!”

Aug 13

Hospitality Choreography

2009 at 2:55 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

There is an interesting little phrase tacked on to the command to show hospitality in 1 Peter 4:9. We’re to do it “without grumbling.”

I find this rather humorous. It’s as if Peter knew this was going to be a temptation for us and so he put that little modifier in there. He ups the ante on us. It’s not enough to do hospitality—we must do it without grumbling. We must do it cheerfully.

This hits close to home for me. Especially during the exhausting “Three Hours Before Small Group Meeting” choreography: Dinner has to be made and served, dishes cleared and washed, kids fed, read to and in bed, foundation applied to the dark circles under my eyes and perfume sprayed to mask clingy household smells, coffee made, snacks laid out, bathroom wiped clean (almost forgot!), ice bucket filled and—whew!—smile ready when the first person walks through the door fifteen minutes early.

(All show times begin at 4:15—on good days. Tickets are free if you promise to help.)

The minute everything is ready and people walk through the door, they see my smiling face. What they don’t see is that I’ve spent the last three hours fretful, complaining, and anxious. But my family sees. And God sees.

News flash: Hospitality is work! It requires sacrifice of time, energy, and even finances. So how do we practice hospitality cheerfully instead of begrudgingly?

We remember the why.

More on this next week. In the meantime, keep the great recipes and ideas coming!

Aug 12

Monsters Under the Bed

2009 at 2:44 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Motherhood | Parenting Young Children

under bedMy three-year-old Caly often wakes up screaming in the dead of night. Jolted out of sleep, I run to her room as fast as I can only to be greeted with the same two words: “I’m scared.”

“What are you scared of Caly-girl?” I ask

“I’m just scared,” she whimpers.

A few hugs and kisses and she’s happy to be tucked back in to bed.

Well do I remember my own night-time fears as a child. Just ask me about my lobster dream sometime. It still gives me shivers.

So how do we help our small children deal with middle-of-the night fears?

Dr. Russell Moore—himself a father of small children—recently offered this insightful answer:

“The kids know—they instinctively know—that they’re living in a universe in which something’s gone awry. It’s not our job—as parents, or as Sunday school teachers—to disengage that. It’s our job to come in and to provide an answer to that. Yeah, you’re living in an enchanted world. Yeah, you’re living in a haunted world. You’re living in a world haunted by demonic powers. That’s exactly right—what you deeply fear is indeed the case… Your worrying about the monster under the bed isn’t unreasonable; there’s a monster under the fabric of the cosmos. Instead, we give them a story that provides the only comfort that really is lasting comfort; it’s a comfort that the enemies have been defeated.”

I am going to add a few words to my middle of the night hugs and kisses routine. Yes, Caly-girl, we live in a scary world, but we don’t need to be afraid. The monster has been crushed. And the One who crushed him, He’s right here in this room.

HT: Between Two Worlds

Aug 11

Womanly Dominion Book Club: Week 1

2009 at 3:28 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Book and Music Reviews

womanly dominion“Why,” asks a woman, “am I here?” What am I supposed to be doing with my time? How am I to go about my business?” Womanly Dominion seeks to provide answers—answers at a critical hour when misguided voices from both sidelines, and even from inside her own head, are shouting at her all kinds of foolishness.” p. 20

These questions rattle inside the head of every woman; and the answers have immediate and long-lasting consequences. So often, though, the voices in our head and all around us seem louder than the truth of God’s Word.

Womanly Dominion points us back to the simplicity and strength of God’s plan.

Mark Chanski uses the analogy of a soccer team to urge women to “Win it” and “Play your position”— to don the “bracelets of strength and dignity” and do your job with all your might, to live according to the pattern of God’s Word, no matter what the other side is shouting.

You may not always like the “plays” that Mr. Chanski suggests. The illustrations may disrupt a previously settled opinion, or you may think obedience looks different than what he describes.

The more we drill down into application, the more we may disagree. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid getting specific. We must wrestle with truth and seek to understand how God’s Word applies to “every square inch” of our lives, our homes and our relationships.

Randy Stinson, president of CBMW, explains why this is so important:

“Over the years I have been most criticized when I have tried to detail matters of application based on what I believe are the parameters of the complementarian position. Someone always disagrees. Yet if we do not continue to make these attempts, the gender debate will end up merely being fodder for discussions in seminary cafeterias.”

Womanly Dominion brings the debate out of the seminary cafeteria right to the kitchen table. And we think it’s a debate worth having.

(More on chapters 1 and 2 next week…)

Aug 10

How Do You Do Hospitality?

2009 at 5:23 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

plate“Show hospitality.” 1 Peter 4:9

In addition to the what and the who, Scripture tells us how to practice hospitality. First off, we’re to show hospitality intentionally. To “show hospitality” is to make vigorous effort. We are to pursue or strive after hospitality.

This eliminates the, “I’ll do it when I feel like it,” “I’ll do it when it is convenient,” and “I’ll do it when I have to” approaches to hospitality—all of which I’ve tried. No, we’re to go after hospitality like a dog hunting a bone. We’re to sniff out opportunities and seize upon them.

If you’re like me and spontaneity is a mild form of torture, (somewhere just below water-boarding), then scheduling hospitality can help you be intentional. Every month, my husband and I sit down with our calendars and lists of folks we’d like to have over, and plan a few months in advance.

But we can also plan to be spontaneous: one woman in my church has a meal prepared before the Sunday meeting so they can invite someone to join them for lunch. And of course, if you are one of those women who love the last minute, late-staying guest, then invite away!

Second, we’re to practice hospitality wisely. “The wisest of women builds her house,” it says in Proverbs 14:1; and she “looks well to the ways of her household” it echoes in Proverbs 31:27.

Here’s where you come in! We want to glean from your hospitality wisdom. So, please contact us this week and tell us:

1. Your favorite hospitality recipes. Maybe they are easy, make ahead, budget friendly, or good for a crowd. Or maybe you have a special meal or dessert that your guests have really enjoyed. Share your hospitality-tested recipes with all of us!

2. Your favorite hospitality tips. These can be menu ideas, party themes, or game suggestions. We’d love tips for doing hospitality with kids or on a tight budget. And we’d love to know how you schedule and prepare for hospitality. Please pass on what you’ve learned from experience or from other hospitable women.

We’ll compile the best recipes and ideas and post them next week so we can all learn from each other how to practice hospitality more intentionally and wisely.

Aug 7

Friday Funnies

2009 at 3:31 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Friday Funnies

Today’s Friday Funny (and another Wedding Contest winner) is a funny story from Rachel:

I think my in-laws have a pretty funny wedding story. The morning of their wedding, the photographer that had been hired to photograph their wedding had a root canal done. He was so drugged that he went to the wrong wedding and photographed the entire event! This of course meant that my in-laws wedding wasn’t photographed at all. Thankfully enough people brought their cameras that they were able to get plenty of candid shots!

Signing off for the weekend,

Nicole for the girltalkers

Aug 6

Living Room Evangelism

2009 at 12:22 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

At our church’s women’s meeting on hospitality a young woman shared a powerful testimony of her mom’s example of hospitality. It is a perfect illustration of John Piper’s quote from yesterday: “Never underestimate the power of your living room as a launching pad for new life and hope and ministry and mission.” May we all be inspired by this woman’s example:

For as long as I can remember, my parents have made hospitality an integral part of our family life. Though my mom has used her home countless times to serve, bless, and welcome relatives and church members, God has recently used her hospitality in evangelism.

Last year, my mom started to befriend my neighbor, (I’ll call her Sue) meeting her for coffee and starting to build a relationship. When my neighbor tragically lost her husband, my parents invited her over for dinner every Wednesday night as a way to offer comfort and support. In order to make our home a place where Sue felt loved and accepted, my mom purposely did nothing out of the ordinary. She didn’t scrub the kitchen floor or prepare a five-course meal or even dress up. She just invited Sue into our family. In order to make Sue feel accepted, my mom incorporated her into our everyday traditions. In our family, everyone has their own napkin ring so that we all know exactly where to sit at the table; so, on Sue’s first night over, my mom got out a new napkin ring and handed it to her, telling her that it was her napkin ring now and that we would look forward to her coming every week. A couple of months later, Sue shared with us how much that simple gesture had meant to her, and that she truly felt part of our family.

Using hospitality in evangelism not only makes your friend part of your family, it also, by God’s grace, demonstrates the gospel in action. From the way my mom cheerfully greets my dad when he walks in the door, to the way my dad gently corrects us, to the way we do our chores without being asked, our everyday actions prove the power of the gospel. When Sue wonders how my mom and dad became such wonderful parents, or how they have such a healthy relationship, my mom has the opportunity to tell her why. Three-fourths of the time their conversations aren’t about the gospel at all; they just talk about life. But while my parents don’t avoid the gospel, they certainly don’t force it either. Rather, they feel that God has more room to work with a firm basis of friendship and trust.

Personally, I really appreciate the way my mom has incorporated our entire family in hospitality. Wednesday nights aren’t a one-woman-show; she’s purposefully includes all of us. Actually, she began integrating us years ago when she trained us to help around the house, to have meaningful conversations with adults, and to welcome others into our family. When my mom first started teaching me to wash the dishes and make my bed, I could never have imagined that God would one day use my chores as a witness to the gospel. But Sue finds it amazing that my brother and I cheerfully start clearing the table without being asked. Evangelism has brought an eternal perspective to my everyday life reminding me that, when the gospel starts working, ordinary life becomes amazing.

When I look at my mom’s life and the way God is using her to reach the lost, I’m struck by her faithfulness to obey God’s commands, even when it didn’t seem so important. The way my mom uses her hospitality to evangelize began over twenty years ago, as she learned to cook, trained us to do our chores, and began practicing hospitality within the church. Now God is using those gifts, not just to bless Sue, but also her accountant. ‘Her accountant?’ You ask? The Wednesday before Christmas, Sue brought us a tin of peanuts from her accountant, explaining that once she had mentioned our Wednesday dinners to him and that now he always asks about us and our time together and wanted to give us a gift. I think it’s a reminder from God that the effects of our hospitality aren’t confined to our home. All of the little things you’re doing today: changing diapers, correcting math tests, cooking dinner after dinner; they all have an eternal effect.

We no longer see Sue every Wednesday, but dinners with her have become normal: last week we ate diet chicken as we sorted out our schedule for the week. But these dinners, they mean a lot to Sue because they show her that someone cares about her. Our entire family is looking forward to the day when Sue understands that God is the One who cares for her and who makes our care for her possible.

If my mom were here tonight, she’d want you to know that none of this is her doing. It’s all because of God, and it’s all for his glory. He brought Sue into our lives, He led us to extend hospitality to her, and He is using it all to show His love for her.

Aug 5

A Center for Evangelism

2009 at 2:29 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

red bowlsHospitality is not only for the church. We should extend hospitality to those outside the church community as well—people who do not yet know Christ, and also to the poor and needy around us and throughout the world.

“The gospel was preached and propagated” in hospitable households of the New Testament church says Christin Pohl, and it should be the same for us today.

“A home from a biblical perspective” explains Lisa Tatlock, “is to be a place of refuge and a center for evangelism.”

How can you make your home a center for evangelism?

Simply invite someone in. Maybe ask a neighbor or a fellow student or coworker over for dinner or dessert. Throw a party with friends from church and invite some non-Christian friends as well. Have a family to your home for a cookout or include neighborhood kids in a birthday party.

When we invite non-Christians into our home we invite them into our lives. We give them a chance to see us up-close and personal; to observe our family, our marriage, our parenting. Our hope is not that they would be impressed with us, but that they would see God’s grace at work in our homes.

In this way, hospitality can present the gospel as attractive to those who do not yet know Christ.

And let me also add, that while our home-life can be a witness to the gospel, we should not hold back from hospitality simply because our kids aren’t fully trained, or our house isn’t perfectly organized or clean. God will use even our weaknesses and shortcomings; and our humility to allow others to see us as we are is an evidence of His grace.

John Piper gives us this biblical charge: “Don’t ever underestimate the power of your living room as a launching pad for new life and hope and ministry and mission!”