Jan 17

In Loving Memory of Margaret Layman

2012 at 2:53 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood

dont wasteIn the first hour of this morning, our beloved grandmother passed from this world into a better one. She lived a simple, faithful life with feisty joy. We loved her so much and miss her terribly. But we are grateful she is home now, home with the Savior she trusted as a teenager, the One who carried her through all her days.

To help you understand what a special lady she was, please read “Margaret’s Story.” Our mom wrote this as the conclusion to her book Feminine Appeal which she dedicated to her mom. Margaret’s earthly story has ended today, but we will tell it to our children and our children’s children, to the praise of God’s glorious grace.

Thank you for your prayers.

Margaret’s Story

I want to tell you about a woman named Margaret. Most likely you’ve never heard of her. She is not a champion of women’s rights, a glamorous actress, or a recording artist. She isn’t a successful businesswoman or politician. She’s never authored a book or traveled the lecture circuit. She hasn’t won any humanitarian awards or received academic honors. In fact, she never even went to college.

Margaret is simply a faithful wife and mother.

She has been married to her husband for almost sixty years. Together they raised five children—all of whom have families of their own now. Homemaking has been her sole career, and she poured her life into this calling.

A typical day for Margaret began before dawn. She fixed her husband’s breakfast and packed his lunch for work. Then she woke her children and got them ready for school. The following hours were spent tackling an endless list of chores: laundry, ironing, mending, dusting the furniture, vacuuming the carpets, scrubbing the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, grocery shopping, errands, and cooking. By 5:30 P.M. she had dinner prepared for her family. Afterwards there were dishes to wash, household tasks to complete, baths for the little ones, homework help for the older ones, and nighttime stories to read. When she finally crawled into bed, only a precious few hours were afforded for sleep. Then it was time to start the routine all over again. In this manner, Margaret tirelessly served her family—day after day, month after month, and year after year.

Now if you had the honor of meeting Margaret, you would at once be impressed by her joy. But her vivacious, delightful character is most conspicuous in the arena of her home. She’s always smiling or singing. She is excited by the simplest of pleasures. She loves to laugh—so hard the tears run down her cheeks. And all through the years she marshaled this joyful energy for the well-being of her family. Never once did her children hear her complain. And not until they had children of their own did they comprehend the sacrifices she had made, for all her sacrifices had been masked by her perpetual joy.

Margaret’s constant presence in the home provided comfort and security. Her children awoke each morning to the sound of her cheerful voice and returned home every afternoon to her warm greeting. She was always available—to hear about their days, call out study questions for a test, make them a snack, or bandage scraped knees. At no time was her family an interruption. She would drop whatever she was doing to tend to their most pressing concerns—without any mention of inconvenience. And if something was important or exciting to her husband or children, then it was of great interest to Margaret. Her life was intertwined with theirs. If they were happy, so was she. If they were suffering, so was she. No trial or joy was so small or insignificant as to escape her notice. Margaret’s “being there”—not just physically but with all her heart—left an indelible imprint upon the members of her family.

Her lifelong service to her husband and children speaks most eloquently about her love for the Savior. God’s love captured her heart as a teenager, and at the age of twenty- three she married a godly man. Together they imparted their love for God to their children. They modeled righteous character and genuine faith in the home. And they expressed that faith by commitment to their local church, a church they helped found almost fifty years ago. As Margaret’s children will tell you—whenever the church doors were open, their entire family was present.

Margaret’s gift of hospitality was an integral part of daily life in the church. Many a family enjoyed Sunday dinner at her home. As the hostess for numerous women’s meetings at her house, she always prepared a vast array of refreshments. If a missionary family, guest speaker, or any visitor came into town, it was taken for granted that Margaret would host them. On one occasion, she even housed a choir! She would clean her small house, cook hearty meals, suggest outings for her guests, and even do their laundry. Along with her servanthood, her joyful demeanor made everyone feel at ease. So you can imagine why anyone visiting Margaret’s home was eager to return again—and soon.

She freely extended hospitality in spite of her limited resources. Her husband was a construction worker, and though he eventually became a superintendent, Margaret had to manage the entire household with a mere forty dollars per week. But their financial situation did not deter her from giving. She would consistently set aside a portion of her weekly allowance and slip a small gift to someone facing hard times. For whether financial or practical, Margaret was always tuned in to the needs of others. If someone in the church was ill, in the hospital, or maybe just lonely, Margaret would visit the person. When a baby was born or a family member died, there was Margaret with a meal. For years she and her husband drove a disabled woman to and from the Sunday evening service.

Her charity did not end when she reached retirement age. In her late seventies she cared for a ninety-year-old widow by taking her to the doctor, the grocery store, or the hairdresser each week. Margaret was never enamored by popular or influential people. Rather, her heart was drawn like a magnet to anyone who was outcast, poor, or needy.

Those who lived near Margaret were also the recipients of her good deeds.She called her neighborhood “my little mission field.”Whenever a new family moved in, Margaret would take them a meal. She and her husband frequently appeared on their neighbors’ doorsteps with fresh-picked produce or homemade baked goods. Margaret also extended friendship to the women who lived around her. She supported and encouraged one young mom through seventeen years of mothering. Now this woman counts Margaret as dear as her own mother. And Margaret’s like a grandma to all the neighborhood kids who loved to come to her house. She would listen to their tales, read them stories, and of course fix them a snack.

One young boy in particular loved to hang out at Margaret’s house. He followed her around, talking to her while she cleaned. He stopped by early each morning when he walked his dog. He showed up at her door if he missed his bus and needed a ride to school. He even built a tree house on Margaret’s property and would try to coax her to “come on up.” So why, you might ask, would an active boy spend so much time with an elderly woman? Well, this child’s mother was in prison, his father had deserted him, and he lived with his grandparents, who now had a second family to raise. Margaret’s home was a place of refuge. No doubt her pleasant company and interest in his daily life provided much happiness and comfort for this lonely little boy.

But recently everything about Margaret’s life has changed. Her husband suffered a stroke. She’s eighty years old and unable to care for him on her own. So she’s had to move—far from her home, her church, and her neighborhood—and take her husband to live with their daughter. Her days are now occupied with caring for this man she vowed to love—in sickness and in health—all the days of her life. She feeds him, bathes him, and reads to him from the Bible. Though she did not anticipate this abrupt turn of events, and despite the new and varied challenges before her, Margaret continues to serve faithfully.

But then serving has been a way of life for Margaret, and it’s her servant’s heart that has profoundly affected all who know her. While the orbit of her life was never very wide, to her husband, five children, and seventeen grandchildren, she means the world. Though she’s lived in almost complete anonymity, her neighbors, young and old alike, will never forget her. She may not be extraordinarily gifted, but Margaret’s fellow church members are eternally grateful for her sacrificial care.

Margaret has served without fanfare, never seeking attention or accolades. But one day soon, she will meet her Maker. On that day she will receive her “commendation from God.” Although it’s true, by worldly standards, that Margaret never accomplished anything great, in God’s eyes, she has achieved true greatness. Her life can be summed up by the words of our Lord: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant…even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:26, 28).

Margaret is my example of a Titus 2 woman. Margaret is also my mom. And it’s to you, Mom, that I lovingly dedicate this book.

Used by permission from Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother by Carolyn Mahaney © 2003, 2004 Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.gnpcb.org.

Jan 16

The Path to Glory

2012 at 10:48 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood

Last week Justin Taylor posted what David Powlison called “The most riveting description of the goal of the Christian life” he has ever read. As I reflect on B. B. Warfield’s words, I am left with three distinct impressions:

1. How much this description reminds me of my dad and mom. This year more than ever.
2. How short I fall of this description.
3. How being a wife and mother calls me to a radical Christianity. To lose myself. And to find myself in Christ.

It is not to this that Christ’s example calls us.

He did not cultivate self, even His divine self: He took no account of self.

He was not led by His divine impulse out of the world, driven back into the recesses of His own soul to brood morbidly over His own needs, until to gain His own seemed worth all sacrifice to Him.

He was led by His love for others into the world, to forget Himself in the needs of others, to sacrifice self once for all upon the altar of sympathy.

Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from but into the midst of men.

Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort.

Wherever men strive, there will we be to help.

Wherever men fail, there will be we to uplift. Wherever men succeed, there will we be to rejoice.

Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows: it means absorption in them.

It means forgetfulness of self in others.

It means entering into every man’s hopes and fears, longings and despairs: it means manysidedness of spirit, multiform activity, multiplicity of sympathies.

It means richness of development.

It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives,—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours.

It means that all the experiences of men shall smite our souls and shall beat and batter these stubborn hearts of ours into fitness for their heavenly home.

It is, after all, then, the path to the highest possible development, by which alone we can be made truly men. Not that we shall undertake it with this end in view. This were to dry up its springs at their source. We cannot be self-consciously self-forgetful, selfishly unselfish.

Only, when we humbly walk this path, seeking truly in it not our own things but those of others, we shall find the promise true, that he who loses his life shall find it.

Only, when, like Christ, and in loving obedience to His call and example, we take no account of ourselves, but freely give ourselves to others, we shall find, each in his measure, the saying true of himself also: “Wherefore also God hath highly exalted him.”

The path of self-sacrifice is the path to glory.

Jan 12

(Another) Whitacre Adoption Update

2012 at 1:21 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Motherhood | Adoption

Things have been quiet here on the adoption front because we’ve been in waiting mode. But I’m excited to announce that yesterday we were finally submitted to the US Embassy! In a week or so we hope to receive an embassy appointment, and then travel a few weeks later to bring our kids home.

Here in America we have moved from Fairfax, VA to Louisville, KY, unpacked our new house, celebrated Christmas, and bought bunk beds. Our Ethiopian children’s clothes are in their closets, their booster seats are in the car, their chairs are empty at the dinner table, and our backyard seems deserted with only two children.

kidpicThere’s still a lot of paperwork to get processed between now and when we bring Kassa and Mulunesh home, including the Embassy clearance and our home study update. We would love your prayers that it would speedily pass through the proper channels.

Meanwhile, we receive regular updates that our kids are doing well and they know that we are coming for them soon. Here’s a recent picture our adoption agency sent us a few days ago. Aren’t they the cutest, smiliest kids you ever saw? Our hearts just ache to bring them home soon.

And although this is not related to our adoption I must add a personal note of thanks to all of you who have welcomed us to Louisville. So many of you sent me your contact information, invited us over to your house, offered to bring meals or watch our kids, and helped us move in. I haven’t had a chance to reply and thank all of you personally but please know you have made us feel so welcome to the seminary and the lovely town of Louisville. I hope I can meet all of you soon!

Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragement for our adoption. Our family is so blessed by your care. Can’t wait to share pictures of our family, complete at last.

Jan 9

Cast Your Home-Cares

2012 at 6:42 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Suffering | Homemaking

What burdens are you carrying around your home this January day? Whether nagging or crushing, may this gospel truth compel you to cast them on the Lord, who daily bears us up (Ps. 68:19):

Perhaps, your home-duties, trials, and needs, form your burden. Every home is an embryo kingdom, an epitomized world, of which the parent constitutes the sovereign. There are laws to be obeyed, rules to be observed, subjects to be governed, cares to be sustained, demands to be met, and “who is sufficient for all this?” is often your anxious inquiry. Who can tell what crushing burdens, what bitter sorrows, what corroding cares, what pressing demands, may exist within a single family circle, deeply veiled from every eye but God’s? You are perhaps a widower—bereaved and desolate. Or you are a widow—lonely and helpless. Your children are an anxiety. Your domestic duties a trial. Your necessities are pressing. Your whole position one of embarrassment and depression.

What shall you do? Do even as the Lord who loves you enjoins—“Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” Your Heavenly Father knows all your home-trials, for He has sent them! Jesus, though he had no home on earth, yet sympathized with the home-cares and sorrows of others, and is not a stranger, nor indifferent to yours. Bring all to Him, tell Him all, confide to Him all, trust Him in all. You have no family trial too great, and no domestic need too little, and no home-sorrow too delicate, to take to Christ. Obey the precept, “Cast your burden upon the Lord;” and He will make good the promise, “and He shall sustain you.” O costly and blessed home-burden that brings Jesus beneath our roof! . . .

Jesus is the great Burden-Bearer of His people. No other arm, and no other heart, in heaven or upon earth, were strong enough, or loving enough, to bear these burdens but His! He who bore the weight of our sin and curse and shame in His obedience and death—bore it along all the avenues of His weary pilgrimage, from Bethlehem to Calvary—is He who now stretches forth His Divine arm, and makes bare a Brother’s heart to take your burden of care and of grief, dear saint of God, upon Himself.

Octavius Winslow, The Ministry of Home (London: 1847), page 351–352 (emphasis mine)

HT: Tony Reinke