Sep 16

A Public Service Announcement

2009 at 11:42 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Girltalkers

Today I want to tell you about our newly improved search engine. It has a unique feature that I think you’re really gonna like. When you search for something, you most likely will find it.

Amazing. I know.

As many of you remember, the search engine on our previous site was worthless. You couldn’t find a thing. It became a family joke: we couldn’t even find our own posts on our own blog!

Then in June we got this beautiful new site and a search engine that worked; but it was only good for searching post titles, which was not a huge improvement.

But it’s a new day here at girltalk. Today we have a search engine that actually works and searches the entire site. You can search by topic or keyword. By name, number, or favorite food.

For example, I’m sure a lot of you have been waiting to search “Janelle.” Now you can! I tried and I got 593 results.

I also tried searching “candy.” Hmmm…only 24 results. I can see that I’m going to have to work on getting more candy-related material for the site.

See what fun you can have with our new search engine? In all seriousness, we hope it serves you and helps you find what you are looking for.

And stay tuned. We’ve got more exciting new features in the works!

Sep 15

When People Live With You

2009 at 2:21 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

We wanted you to hear from Charlotte Ennis again—this time about long-term hospitality. Charlotte has a unique perspective on this topic as she lived with a family as a single woman, and now invites others to live with her family. So whether you are considering such an arrangement or have never though of it before, here’s some advice and encouragement from Charlotte on “extended stay” hospitality:

When People Live With You

by Charlotte Ennis

My husband and I each spent several years living with families when we were single, and the experience changed our lives. There is no way we could have forseen how much God would use that time to prepare us for the years to come.

The mature Christian families we lived with invited us to watch them closely and to ask questions. We learned much from observing how they applied the gospel to marriage and parenting in all kinds of circumstances. I was privileged to live with a pastor’s family, not knowing one day I would be married to a man in ministry. How grateful I am now for the nine years I watched Betsy Ricucci serve her husband, Gary! God knew how much I would need that experience to be able to serve my husband now.

ennis familyThose times were so rich that we became eager to provide similar opportunities for others. First, we hosted wonderful friends who had been invited to attend the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College. Fellowship was rich but sometimes sporadic. We each started with a small child, then I had a baby, then she had a baby, then I had a baby, then she got pregnant. They gratefully moved to their own home about that time! We’ve also hosted two single international Pastor’s College students, and three other single men, and have joyfully walked through courtship and marriage with every one of them. Another single man lives with us now. Most people spend two to four years here, and everyone who has lived with us seems like extended family.

Inviting people to live with you, like anything else, starts with God. You and your husband should be convinced that sharing your home this way is what God intends, and that He will provide the grace for all parties to do it. Remember, it can be just as daunting to move into someone’s home as it can be to open that home. Both sides will have adjustments to make.

Because of my husband’s ministry responsibilities, we think it wise to open our home to people who are fully involved in the church in ways a bit separate from us. When my husband is home, his primary responsibilities are his wife and children. While he loves to help counsel and care for the people who live in our home, family comes first. Our home is a place of rest, rejuvenation, and discipleship for our family, and we guard those things carefully. The people who live with us watch and benefit just as we once did, but they have friends and pastoral accountability apart from just us.

Finances are important, but it’s good to think twice before taking people in purely for financial reasons. It’s one thing if you are renting a basement apartment, and another altogether if people are sharing your living space. While the rent money helps, we try to live in such a way that we are not dependent on it. We want our motivation to be the desire to serve. We have had paying boarders and we have also welcomed those who were serving the church but were unable to pay rent. They have served us in practical ways instead, like lawn mowing and childcare.

Before people move in, take the time to discuss expectations on both sides frankly. How will food and chores be handled? Will you have private family times when your boarder is not invited? How will childcare be handled? Laundry? What about your boarder’s need for privacy? Will they be able to have friends over? When? False expectations often are a source of conflict and dealing with them quickly can help reveal God’s purposes in every situation.

We try to treat our guests as much like family as possible. We talk a lot and ask and answer questions, and pursue observations. We learn from them as they do from us. We eat together, watch movies together, and we laugh. Above all, we try to make the most of the time we have. Scripture says so much about the growth that comes from biblical fellowship and personal interaction. We don’t want to miss any of it!

Sep 14

Fool Moon Rising

2009 at 2:09 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore Filed under Resource Recommendations | Motherhood | Parenting Young Children

On Thursday we received a special new book from Pop-Pop: Fool Moon Rising by Kristi Fluharty and T. Lively Fluharty; so I took a break from school to read to my two younger boys.

fool moon risingThe amazing illustrations captured the boys’ attention right away; they listened closely as I read. Fool Moon Rising is a short and simple story that is beautifully told and rich in content: One proud little moon learns a much-needed lesson in humility.

Warning (as in our case): Mom may experience more conviction than child. How much I am like that proud little moon!

After reading, I asked my son Liam: “What is one way you are tempted to boast?”

“That I run fast!” he replied

Then he paused, smiled, and with a little more authority repeated: “I run fast!”

Hardly the picture of conviction. I think we’ll have to read the book again. Many times. But how grateful I am for this story that exposes his pride and encourages him to glory in the Savior.

I can’t improve on Dad’s endorsement:


As a grandpa, I treasure books I can share with my grandchildren, books that are both theologically informed and beautifully illustrated. Unfortunately, these can be scarce. Fool Moon Rising is a rare find: a children’s book that describes how understanding the greatness of God transforms proud hearts into humble ones—something that can happen only in the shadow of the cross. I’m looking forward to reading it with my grandkids.


Thanks so much, Dad, for this little treasure!

Sep 11

Friday Funnies

2009 at 2:26 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Friday Funnies

I thought my boys were crazy, but Hillary’s two-year-old son, Cole, takes the cake…or in this case, the jalapeno. Hillary explains: “A friend gave us some jalapenos from her garden and Cole decided it looked interesting. My husband thought he would let Cole take a small bite and figure out that it was HOT. Well, that wasn’t the way it worked; you can see what happened in the video!”

Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you Monday!

Kristin for my mom and sisters

Sep 10

OT Womanly Dominion

2009 at 3:21 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Book and Music Reviews

womanly dominion“The Bible is teeming with…women who refused to give excuses, play the victim, listen to lies, and passively use them to exempt themselves from the responsibilities which God, in His providence, had dealt them.” p. 63

Do you want to fulfill the responsibilities God has dealt you but aren’t sure how?

Sometimes we misunderstand what biblical womanhood means; and in chapter four of Womanly Dominion, Mr. Chanski skillfully exposes these errors in our thinking. He profiles several major (and minor) female characters from the Old Testament who provide a godly example for us to follow.

We’d encourage you to study this chapter and examine your practice of biblical womanhood. So, for those of you reading along we’ve created a mini study guide with key quotes and questions. And consider reviewing your answers with a wise friend so you may “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

Above all, these women of the Old Testament, “Stand as reminders both of our fallenness and our potential. Speaking together as one, they all point us to Christ” (John MacArthur).

May we look to Him for grace to cultivate womanly dominion.

Sep 9

Hosting Overnight Guests

2009 at 3:57 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

Ennis FamilyI’ve got another hospitable friend I want to introduce to you: Charlotte Ennis. Charlotte is the wife of Pat Ennis, the Executive Director of Sovereign Grace Ministries, and her hospitality never ceases to amaze me. Even though she has three young children, Charlotte is often hosting people in her home—for an overnight or extended stay. And she does it with joy. Charlotte has the “show hospitality without grumbling” thing down! She doesn’t complain, but is always talking about the benefits that come from having people in her home.

I can’t come close to touching Charlotte’s joyfully hospitable example, but every time I’m around her, some of that love for hospitality rubs off on me. And I’ve asked her to share today, in case you’d like a little of her hospitality enthusiasm to rub off on you too!

I hope you enjoy this wise counsel and practical advice from Charlotte on hosting overnight guests:

(Pictured: Charlotte with her husband Pat, their three children, and a friend who used to live in their home.)


“Overnight Guests”
by Charlotte Ennis


Whew! We just said sad goodbyes to our ninth overnight visitor in ten days. Part of the privilege of my husband’s job is the opportunity to host visitors from all over the world in our home. Rarely does a month or two go by that we don’t have someone staying with us for a couple of days, a week, or even longer.

A great experience with overnight guests begins with thought and prayer. We need to be ready to serve without significant temptation, and that means anticipating the unexpected. Wedding guests may need emergency clothing alterations, help making hair appointments, and lots of maps or directions. International guests may have language difficulties, or feel lost in the new environment. Some guests need transportation. Others have dietary restrictions requiring all peanut butter or other foods to disappear from the living space for the duration of the visit. Do you have a pet? Guests need to know in advance as many people suffer pet allergies. There also may be laundry needs, computer needs, and personal needs. Prayerful preparation will help you find joy in inconvenience and grace for loving people.

We try to provide a private room for couples, single women, and older people. If a guest room isn’t available, one or more of our children move into our bedroom to free one up. Sometimes, though, there is “spillover.” Young college men have slept comfortably on couches in the basement, and kids seem fine on the floor in sleeping bags.

It will bless your guests if they have as much bathroom privacy as possible. Be especially considerate of the sexes and ages of people sharing the bathroom. Maybe your whole family can share one bathroom in order to free one up for your guests, or at least you can encourage family members to keep to a set bathroom schedule and tidy up promptly. Guests (especially those with time limitations) really appreciate being able to count on private bathroom time!

Our home is a bustling place, so as a whole it’s not often “squeaky clean”, but I try to make sure it is orderly and good-smelling when guests arrive. We want to provide a “squeaky clean” guest room and bathroom for guests, though. I wash guest room windows, vacuum or launder rugs, and dust before each guest arrives. I keep at least one extra pair of sheets always clean and ready for each bed. There are always extra hangers in the closet, unopened boxes of gentle bath soap in the bathroom, and plenty of tissues. Check the plastic shower curtains. They get really gross, so I replace ours often. I put out plenty of towels and washcloths, and replace them every few days. We provide a bedside table and lamp, a clock, and a comfortable chair for private devotions. There usually are interesting books and sometimes magazines in the room as well. I buy extra toothbrushes, sample tubes of toothpaste, and other toiletries and keep them in the medicine cabinet. They are used occasionally by grateful but forgetful guests. I even try to keep an extra box of feminine hygiene products around. Finally, I write a welcome note to first time guests inviting them to treat our home as theirs. A festive bag of Lindt truffles or other snack is a welcome treat too.

I used to bring out the best china and linens for everyone, but we’ve found over the years that most guests are more comfortable if we treat them like family. In fact, I often tell people that it actually serves me if they help themselves in the kitchen. We show them where things are, and invite them to help themselves to whatever is in the fridge. People usually relax visibly then. They may offer to help empty the dishwasher or take on other clean-up activities, too. Sometimes this means I can’t figure out where things have been put, but I’m grateful for the help, and many people seem grateful to help.

Food depends on the guest. We have had people in for conferences who don’t eat anything at our house at all, but we still make sure bagels, yogurt, and fruit are available for them in the mornings. My husband and I discuss whether I should prepare a meal, and how formal it should be. Often he grills out on our deck, laughing and talking with everyone the whole time! I keep frozen hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken breasts always ready. It’s easy then to pick up some rolls, chips, and a veggie plate. It’s fast and the clean up is minimal. Our experience is that most people don’t expect to share all of their meals with us, and we are careful to be sure they don’t feel obligated to do so.

Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “People come and go so quickly here.” It can be easy to get caught up with practical needs and miss many blessings. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we try to share as a family at least one meal, dessert, or evening conversation with our guests. One of the things I am most grateful for is that my children have sat at the table with strong, committed Christians from every major continent in the world. They have learned that Christians come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and languages, but that God is the same everywhere. They listen to mature young men and women discuss their challenges in light of the gospel. They learn from older people. These times give them a unique view of many of the things God is doing in the church at large, both in the United States and elsewhere.

Not everyone who comes here is a Christian though. Family members and friends of friends sometimes aren’t and serving them gives us opportunities to share the love of Jesus Christ. Together our family watches and listens and learns and prays.

Is it all worth it? We believe it is.

Sep 8

Family Talk and a Giveaway

2009 at 1:29 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Motherhood | Parenting Young Children

On Sunday evening the Mahaney clan gathered at Dad and Mom’s house for dinner. The weather was mild, so we ate outside on the patio and sat around talking until after dark. The boys played wiffle ball and the girls staked out the sandbox; then, when night came, they all hunted groundhogs with flashlights.

The adult conversation usually covers a wide variety of topics—from theology to sports to politics to humor—all in a matter of a few minutes. But this evening we were focused on one topic: being parents.

start your familyThat’s because of an interview request from Steve & Candice Watters, authors of the book and blog Start Your Family. This couple’s heart is to “encourage couples to be intentional about their timeline in the early years of marriage and to trust God to help them boldly launch their families.”

We spent a delightful hour talking about the joys of children and the blessing of family and you can read the interview at startyourfamily.com. Due to space limitations, they were only able to publish part of our conversation, so if you are interested you can download the entire interview.

And the giveaway? You can win a copy of Start Your Family:Inspiration for Having Babies, courtesy of Steve & Candice. Just be one of the first three people to contact us and request a copy. To qualify you must be engaged or newly married without kids.

Thanks, Steve and Candice for the opportunity to reflect upon God’s gift of family!

UPDATE: Congratulations to our winners: Hannah, Whitney, & Karen!

Sep 7

Labor Day Message

2009 at 2:42 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays

Did you ever hear about the guy who told his children that “Labor Day” was a day set aside for working extra hard? Apparently he kept them busy all day doing jobs around the house and it wasn’t until years later that they learned that while they were laboring on Labor Day, everyone else was resting! I don’t know if the story is truth or legend, but I’m thinking of trying it out on my kids when they get a little older; so nobody tell them about it, OK?

Actually, this dad (and me too!) could stand to benefit from a sermon by Jeff Purswell called: “A Biblical Understanding of Leisure.” Here Jeff answers the question: “Is it possible for a Christian to enjoy leisure and glorify God at the same time?” What a pertinent question for the Labor Day holiday. So, before you fire up the grill or settle in the lawn chair, let me encourage you to download, listen and apply.

This sermon pairs well with a tall glass of homemade lemonade.

Sep 4

Shopping for Time: Free Kindle Edition

2009 at 3:09 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Girltalkers

shopping for timeWe’ve got a freebie for you today!

Each month our dear friends at Crossway Books make one title available for free for the Kindle e-book reader. This month, they’ve selected our book, Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed. So, if you own a Kindle, or an iPhone or iPod touch, you can download it here.

I think Janelle’s working on a Friday Funny for later so be sure to come back!

Sep 4

Friday Funnies

2009 at 12:51 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Friday Funnies

Big thanks to Greg Gilbert over at the 9Marks blog for posting a recent conversation he had with his three-year-old son. We couldn’t resist using it here for Friday Funnies:

Heh.
by Greg Gilbert

Me [to my three-year-old]: “Jack, you disobeyed so you’re going to have to be disciplined now.”

Jack [with pooched lip]: “But, but, remembah what you said at Stahbucks? Jesus took our punishment for us so we could go outside and play!”

Heh.

I guess this is the kind of thing you have to be prepared for when you practice “gospel-centered” parenting. What I want to know is: what did Greg say in response?

Until Monday,

Janelle for Mom, Nic, and Kess