“The mother is the hub of the home, holding all the spokes in place. Without her being at her post, the family spins out of control and falls apart.” p. 110
When school starts, do you find that it gets more difficult to “hold all the spokes in place”? I sure do.
On a typical day I must get my son, Andrew, out the door for school (with homework, lunch and back-pack), clean up from breakfast, homeschool my two younger boys, pay the bills, drive to an afternoon activity, get home in time to meet Andrew and help him with homework, prepare dinner for my family and a guest, do dishes, catch up on laundry and finally clean up my house which looks like it has been visited by a tornado.
Just another ordinary day in the life of a mom (pp. 110-111). But so often, I go through these ordinary days far more aware of what I am giving than whom I am serving.
This chapter lifted my gaze beyond my daily duties to my eternal mission as a mother. And while we girltalkers weren’t comfortable with the inclusion of Dr. Laura, we thought the rest of the chapter was inspiring, invigorating, and refreshing to us as moms.
Mr. Chanski brings us encouragement right where we need it:
“There she sits exhausted on the edge of her bed, her face in her hands, wondering, “Where’s the glory in this?”
She needs something more empowering to keep her going.
She needs to gain and maintain the deep conviction of the glory, honor, and nobility of selfless service. This she finds at the foot of the cross, looking up to the One who earned for Himself “the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9), by “emptying Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (2:7), humbling “Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:8). There she beholds her Savior who mopped up the damning vomit of her own sin with the precious sponge of His perfect life and atoning death. The love of Christ constrains and compels her to press on (2 Corinthians 5:14). The Spirit of Christ empowers her” (pp. 120-121, emphasis mine).
Are you having a hard time being “the hub” today? Then reread this chapter. “Fix your eyes on Jesus” (Heb. 12:2-3), ask Him for help and strength, and thank Him for the honor of being a mother.
P.S. - Read chapters eight and nine for next week’s book club.
One night, a few weeks ago, I was stumped on what to make for dinner. It was already after 4pm and I needed something quick and easy. So I did what I usually do—I called one of my sisters. Nicole had just the thing. Her friend, Alyssa, had recently made her a delicious homemade French Dip Sandwich and she gave me the recipe over the phone.
I rushed to the store, got my ingredients, came home, and assembled the sandwiches—roast beef and provolone on toasted French bread, spread generously with horseradish, and beef consommé on the side for dipping. I set the sandwiches in front of the fam. They looked and smelled so yummy.
Mom took the first bite. Hmmm…something wasn’t right. She stopped eating and watched the rest of us. Chad took a bite and immediately blurted out: “Janelle, this is so hot!” When Mike and I bit into our sandwiches, our eyes began to water and I felt a headache coming on. Now we like spicy food, but these sandwiches were beyond hot! We couldn’t take another bite. Dinner was a total bust.
When I called Nicole the next day, we figured out my problem. I was supposed to use horseradish sauce, but I had accidentally used straight up horseradish. And I had spread it on thick. No wonder one bite gave us all a headache! (Dad, not liking roast beef, was spared this ordeal.)
I’m happy to report that I didn’t let this experience get the better of me. I have since made the sandwiches again—this time with horseradish sauce—and they were delicious. They’ve even become a staple around here. I just might make them again this week.
If you’d like to try these yummy, warm sandwiches on a crisp fall evening, here’s what you need:
-Bread of your choice (I use French bread from the grocery store bakery and Nicole likes sourdough)
-Roast beef (freshly sliced from the deli is best)
-Provolone cheese, sliced
-Beef consommé (in the soup aisle)
Slice bread and briefly toast two slices per sandwich under the broiler. Remove toast from oven. Take half of the slices off the pan and spread with horseradish SAUCE to taste. Set aside. Turn over the remaining slices, pile high with roast beef and provolone, and return to broiler. Heat until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and assemble sandwiches. Warm the consommé in microwave and serve in a bowl for dipping.
We were delighted to have so many of you join our “conversation” on hospitality last week. Here’s a sampling of your comments to inspire all of us to consider how God would have us practice hospitality in our season of life:
More creative ideas for the wife of the hesitant husband…
She could show hospitality by inviting other moms out to the park for a play date with a brown bag lunch. She could take another (maybe an elderly) lady out for tea and prayer at Panera. She could minister to a new mom by bringing a meal and a few hours of company. She could visit a shut-in or resident of a nursing home. She could visit a halfway house or work release facility to do Bible study with female inmates. There are so many people who cannot easily come to our homes for hospitality, but we can seek them out and have a vibrant testimony of Christ’s love by pursuing hospitality wherever it is needed!
A hospitable wife and a no-longer-hesitant husband…
My husband used to be hesitant regarding hospitality, but talking it through with him, I found that he was like this because when growing up, his parents never had anyone round to their house apart from the occasional immediate relative. I was able (with his blessing) to invite people round while he was at work, offering them a snack lunch instead of a Sunday lunch. He has now got to the stage where he is happy for us to occasionally have people round for Sunday lunch (we are up to once a month). He has a real servant heart, so he takes all the drink orders after the meal and makes and serves them. He is getting to really enjoy having people round and feels that he has a part in it (which of course, he certainly does—a big part!!) and is seeing that showing hospitality is good for our young children too.
Single girls show family-sized hospitality…
I wanted to give a suggestion for hospitality for singles. We did this over the summer and it worked really well. It can be hard sometimes to invite families over for lunch due to limited space, lack of toys for children, and money. So a few single ladies from my church decided to pool our resources and invite families over to my friend’s condo (who has space, a large field at her complex and children’s toys). We kept it simple: grilled hotdogs and ice cream sundaes. We each made a side dish to pass. We invited several families over so that we could get to know them and they could meet other families as well. It ended up being a big hit. The kids loved the food and playing with one another and the parents got adult conversation and extra hands to help the little ones. And they got to eat their food warm! We got meet new people, reconnect with old friends, take a step towards practicing hospitality and we didn’t have to do it alone.
This week’s funny story (thanks Kristie!) is a reminder to always practice honest hospitality.
Nicole for the girltalkers
WHITE LIE CAKE
Alice Grayson was to bake a cake for the Baptist Church Ladies’ Group in Tuscaloosa, but forgot to do it until the last minute.
She remembered the morning of the bake sale; and, after rummaging through cabinets, found an angel food cake mix & quickly made it while drying her hair, dressing, and helping her son pack for Scout camp.
When Alice took the cake from the oven, the center had dropped flat and the cake was horribly disfigured. She thought, ‘Oh dear, there is not time to bake another cake.’
This cake was important to Alice because she did so want to fit in at her new church and in her new community of friends. So, being inventive, she looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake.
Alice found it in the bathroom - a roll of toilet paper. She plunked it in and covered it with icing.
Not only did the finished product look beautiful, It looked perfect!
Before she left the house to drop the cake by the church and head for work, Alice woke her daughter Amanda and gave her some money and specific instructions to be at the bake sale the moment it opened at 9:30 and to buy the cake and bring it home.
When Amanda arrived at the sale, she found the attractive, perfect cake had already been sold.
She grabbed her cell phone and called her mom… Alice was horrified - she was beside herself.
Everyone would know! What would they think? She would be ostracized, talked about, and ridiculed!
All night, Alice lay awake in bed thinking about people pointing fingers at her and talking about her behind her back.
The next day, Alice promised herself she would try not to think about the cake and would attend the fancy luncheon/bridal shower at the home of a fellow church member and try to have a good time…
Alice did not want to attend because the hostess was a snob who more than once had looked down her nose at Alice because she was a single parent and not from the founding families of Tuscaloosa but, having already RSVP’d, she couldn’t think of a believable excuse to stay home.
The meal was elegant, the company was definitely upper crust old South and, to Alice’s horror, the cake in question was presented for dessert!
Alice felt the blood drain from her body when she saw the cake!
She started out of her chair to tell the hostess all about it, but before she could get to her feet, the mayor’s wife said, ‘What a beautiful cake!’
Alice still stunned, sat back in her chair when she heard the hostess (who was a prominent church member) say,
‘Thank you, I baked it myself.’
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
“By definition, motherhood is that dignified and strenuous life vocation taken up by a woman who has resolved to give herself fully to the task of nurturing godly children from a godly home environment. Women who dedicate the best years of their lives to this challenging endeavor are not to be laughed at and pitied, but highly esteemed.” p. 98
Do you ever feel as if motherhood has turned your brain to mush? That your IQ has plummeted to a Baby Einstein level? That your short and long-term memory has been permanently short-circuited? That your powers of communication have been lost in a sleep-deprived fog?
Well, I’ve got good news for you: you didn’t lose your mind when you became a mom. You actually became a genius.
Author Charles Murray suggests as much in his book Human Accomplishments: a study of which human beings have accomplished the greatest things” in history. Author and pastor Kevin DeYoung recently reviewed this book on his blog, and here is his summary and an excerpt:
Murray is bold enough (or foolish enough) to consider why so few women populate his rankings. Legal and educational inequalities throughout much of history provide part of the answer. So do societal pressures and limited opportunities. But Murray offers one more explanation: motherhood. His argument has an interesting twist to it.
“Exceptions exist, but, as a rule, the experience of pregnancy and birth appears to be a more profoundly life-altering experience for women than becoming a father is for men. So closely is giving birth linked to the fundamental human goal of giving meaning to one’s life that is had been argued that, ultimately, it is not so much that motherhood keeps women from doing great things outside the home as it is men’s inability to give birth that forces them to look for substitutes” (287, emphasis mine).”
Read that last line two or three times. It is a bold argument. Could it be that motherhood, instead of preventing women from achieving some great purpose, is actually the accomplishment of something great already? It is a thought worth pondering.
Cheer up guys, at least one of your child’s parent is a genius.
I have to confess, I made sure my husband took note of Mr. DeYoung’s last line!
My fellow mothers: may this encourage us to stay focused on our God-given task. May it reinforce our commitment to ignore the “shouts from the cultural sidelines” that would seek to persuade us that our life’s meaning is measured only by what we accomplish outside the home. May we gladly give the best years of our life to the “dignified vocation” of motherhood, remembering the words of our Savior: “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:11).
Q: I love having people over and find it a joy to serve and bless our family and friends. However, my husband doesn’t seem to be on the same boat when it comes to hospitality. In fact, he would prefer that we not have people over and spend time just us as a family. I know my first and foremost responsibility is to honor God by being submissive to my husband but how can I also serve in hospitality?
A: I so respect this woman’s desire to glorify God and honor her husband. Biblical submission doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and say: “oh well, my husband doesn’t want to show hospitality, I guess that’s that!” No, we must humbly, graciously, persevere in order bring about godly change in our home. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few ideas to prayerfully consider in light of God’s Word:
Pray. The hearts of husbands are in God’s hands. We must ask Him to give our husband a biblical conviction and desire to show hospitality (Pr. 21:1).
Ask. We must not rush to judgment as to why our husband is hesitant about hospitality, but ask him and be sure we understand. Maybe our idea of hospitality is different from his in terms of time, frequency, number of guests, menu, etc. Or maybe he has legitimate concerns that are behind his reluctance (rest, family time, budget, etc.). Maybe fear of man or laziness are temptations that keep him from practicing hospitality: He may find it difficult to talk to other people, or maybe he doesn’t prefer lots of children messing up the home, or perhaps he thinks hospitality is too much work. He might simply be ignorant of the Scriptural commands and blessings of hospitality. So start by asking, not assuming or judging (James 4:11).
Help. In each of these scenarios we need to respond with wisdom born of love and humility. Let’s consider: As my husband’s helper, how can I make it easy for him to show hospitality? Maybe we need to be willing to practice hospitality in a way that is different than we’re used to, but serves our husband. If he prefers a small dinner instead of a big party, or would like to schedule hospitality instead of being spontaneous, let’s consider how we can adapt to him. If our husband has legitimate concerns for our family’s well being, we should take them seriously. Maybe we need to work within a certain budget, or schedule non-negotiable family times, or come up with a better plan for preparation. If we think fear or laziness is behind our husband’s hesitation, let’s think of ways we can come alongside and encourage him to grow. Maybe we can create questions to help him engage others in conversation or assure him that we’ll take full responsibility for prep and clean up. Or maybe we can ask if he’d be willing to read and study the topic of hospitality together. Hospitality Commands is a great place to start (Gen. 2:18).
Wait. If we’ve already encouraged and even appealed to our husband on this matter, but he is still resistant, it may be the time to wait. But this is a busy kind of waiting. We must actively guard against self-righteousness and bitterness. Let’s look for ways to encourage him and focus on God’s grace at work in his life. Let’s not withhold affection. And above all, we should continue to pray that the Holy Spirit would work in his heart. In the meantime, we can look for ways to practice hospitality that are agreeable to our husband such as having people over while he is at work or hanging out with friends at other locations. And wait expectantly—God is always at work! (Ps. 37:3-7a)
Trust. Ask God for wisdom to discern the time for another appeal. Maybe you can ask your husband if he is willing to meet with a godly couple in your church to talk about hospitality. But if he is still resistant after all these efforts, you must rest in God’s sovereignty. He has ordained these circumstances and He is working through them for you and your husband’s good. (Rom 8:28)
We hope these simple suggestions are helpful. But our ultimate hope is in the fact that the Wonderful Counselor is eager to help you. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” he promises. “I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Ps. 38:8).
I’d like to introduce you to one more of my dear friends today. Clara Boisvert is a pastor’s wife at Covenant Life Church whom I’ve known for over thirty years. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, Clara’s wedding day is one I will never forget!
Clara is a godly, discerning woman and an exceptional wife and mother. She’s also extremely funny. No one makes me laugh quite like Clara. And I thought her humorous perspective would be a great addition to our little hospitality series. So here are some “cleaning for hospitality” thoughts from my good friend Clara. Enjoy!
Someone once asked me what my cleaning schedule was. Uhh… “People are coming over!” Yes, I’ve been content with a relatively orderly home without a hard and fast cleaning schedule. Being able to live with dust may be hereditary – my mom and grandma were able to tolerate a little dust, although they fussed about it. When I can write “Do not dust – test panel” on my furniture I know it’s time to take action. (Or when my dear husband starts a sneezing fit.).
When my children were small I relied on checklists when preparing for company. I listed all that needed to be done in cleaning and making refreshments and as the children matured I delegated items to them and we made it a team effort in preparing for hospitality. Occasionally my check list method would let me down, like the time I was having small group leaders into our home for a meeting. Having madly cleaned and finished food preparation, I rushed upstairs to get myself ready (always leaving my personal grooming ‘til last – not good if people show up early and find me in my bedroom slippers as happened just this past week!). I took those necessary deep breaths and was able to welcome my guests with a smile. As we were sitting in the living room having our discussion, my attention was diverted by the end table lampshade which sported a round lacey cobweb floating lazily up and down in the heat!
Then there was the one and only time my older brother stayed overnight at our home. He came down in the morning carrying the bathroom fan cover, which was packed with dust and lint. I’m sure I had done the white glove test everywhere else in that bathroom! As you can see, it’s been necessary to add a few items to my cleaning checklist.
Here are some gems of cleaning advice I’ve learned from Titus 2 ladies in my church:
1. “What you can’t see from a galloping horse, don’t worry about.”
2. “If you’re coming to see me, come right over; if you’re coming to see my house, you’ll need to make an appointment.”
My final cleaning tip is to make sure you know where you are calling. As a young single, having just moved from one state to another, I was getting established with new doctors and dentist. I called my dentist and asked for an appointment for a check-up and cleaning. The receptionist put me on hold for a while. When she came back on the line she said, “Miss, just exactly what did you mean by a ‘cleaning’?” By the time she was done asking it had dawned on me that I had called not the dentist as I intended, but the gynecologist! I’m sure I made their day!
We love you,
Big Bee, Little Bee, and Wee Bee
Before Chad came along, my sisters and I grew up going to many baseball games with my dad. I only went for the food, however, and I bet I would have done exactly what this little girl did in today’s Friday Funny. Thanks to Rosetta for sending this our way!
Janelle for the girltalkers
UPDATE: You can now watch the video here.
In chapter five of Womanly Dominion, Mark Chanski profiles four women from the New Testament and explains what we can learn from their example. As we did for chapter four, we’ve created a study guide to help you get the most out of this chapter. Again we encourage you to discuss your answers with a wise friend.
Study Questions for Womanly Dominion Chapter Five
By Carolyn Mahaney
*Mary, the Lord’s biological mother:
“Let us seek in our daily practical Christianity to exercise the same blessed spirit of faith which we see in the virgin Mary. Let us be willing to go anywhere and do anything and be anything, whatever the present and immediate inconvenience, so long as God’s will is clear and the path of duty is plain.” (J.C. Ryle) p.85
Question: Are there duties God has called you to that you have avoided because they are inconvenient or difficult? How can you emulate Mary’s example: accepting the Lord’s will with joy and walking in obedience?
*Mary, the sister of Martha:
“Mary refused to permit her environment to dominate her; instead, she chose to dominate her environment. She manhandled her schedule in such a way as to make time with the Lord Jesus a non-negotiable priority.” p. 87
Question: Do you consistently practice the spiritual disciplines? If not, how can you “manhandle your schedule” in order to make this time a priority?
“Paul identifies [Phoebe] as a ‘servant of the church’.... Dear ladies, peculiarly gifted by God as helpers suitable, heroically play your God-appointed positions in the church. You weren’t assigned to be corporately leading and publicly preaching, but supportively helping and humbly serving…. The church of Christ desperately needs Phoebe-like women of dominion.” pp. 91, 92
Question: Do you spend more time complaining about the men whom God has appointed to lead and publicly preach than aggressively “playing” the position God called you to in the church? How can you repent and begin to serve the church like Pheobe?
“The Apostle Paul… commendably recognizes [Priscilla’s] rich deposit of grace, wisdom and gift by granting her priority treatment over her husband in the Romans 16 parade of saints. Clearly it is unbiblical and inaccurate to conclude that the ‘weaker vessel’ is the ‘less competent vessel.’” p. 94
Question: Are you tempted to use excuses like, “my husband isn’t a good leader” or “the single men in my church aren’t passionate for God” to excuse your own failure to faithfully seek God through His Word and prayer? Or, do you shrink back from using your God given gifts in appropriate ways in the church? How does Priscilla’s example challenge your assumptions?