Jun 1

Carolyn’s Story - A Tribute

2006 at 3:34 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre

A year and a half ago, we wrote “Carolyn’s Story,” the sequel to “Margaret’s Story.” You see, in her first book, Feminine Appeal, Mom told the story of her mom’s life in “Margaret’s Story.” We planned to surprise her and include “Carolyn’s Story” in our book, Girl Talk. However, a few days before the book was to go to press, Mom discovered our plan (you can’t keep anything from a mom, can you?!). Reluctantly, we yielded to her pleas to remove a tribute to her from a book with her name on it. But we’ve been saving it. And today—Mom’s birthday—seems like a good day for you and her to read it. So, without further ado, (and before Mom figures out what we’re up to!) the girltalk blog presents “Carolyn’s Story.”

(Mom, we know this makes you very uncomfortable. You’ve never sought the spotlight—in fact you run from it as fast as you can! But in keeping with the biblical tradition of Proverbs 31 we want to rise up and call you blessed. We want to sing your praises, that God may be glorified and many mothers and daughters inspired to follow in your footsteps.)

CAROLYN’S STORY

You may know our mom as an author, teacher of women, or pastor’s wife. However, she would prefer to be known simply as a wife and mother. Our mother.

After all, this is the ministry she always wanted.

As a little girl with white-blond braids, growing up on the beaches of Sarasota, Florida, she dreamed of being a wife and mother like her mom. Not everybody understood or approved of her dream. Mom was an honor-roll student in high school when she shocked her teacher by boldly declaring—at the height of the feminist movement—that her career ambitions were to be a wife, mother, and homemaker.

It was not long after high school that Mom met an enthusiastic preacher from Maryland named C.J. Mahaney. Dad was smitten the moment he saw her, and within a few months he asked her to marry him. They became man and wife on May 17, 1975. He was 21, and she was 19 years old. A thousand miles away from family and friends, Mom made their little apartment into a home with not much more than a card table, folding chairs, and a beanbag.

To tell Mom’s story you have to start with Dad, for Mom was a wife first—and she has guarded this role as her highest priority. We have never felt loved any less because she loves Dad most. Her fierce commitment to Dad formed the safe cocoon in which we played out our happy childhood. And perhaps the greatest legacy she’s given us, her daughters, is her model of a loving, respectful, submissive, and uncommonly helpful wife.

It wasn’t long before the wife became a mother, too. Nicole was born five days before their first anniversary, Kristin arrived one year later, and Janelle burst into the world four years after that. Then Chad surprised Dad and Mom twelve years after they thought that their family was complete.

As her family grew, Mom’s desire to follow in the footsteps of her own mother also matured into a compelling biblical conviction. Through her study of the Bible’s portrayal of the godly woman, she became resolutely convinced of the significance of her ministry to her family. Unmoved by the prevailing worldview that insisted she was wasting her time and talent, uninterested in selfish pursuits, and unaided by the encouragement and guidance of an older woman nearby, she set the course of her life by the compass of God’s Word.

Her biblical conviction invigorated her mothering efforts. Our mom is no half-hearted mom. She brought all the fortitude, resourcefulness, and commitment to excellence that she had learned from her parents and threw it into her mothering task. She elevated marriage, mothering, and homemaking to an art form—much as God intended it to be.

Mom doesn’t consider herself a particularly creative mother, but she made up for her lack with an energetic hunt for inspired ideas. Our growing up years were full of unforgettable memories like weekly family nights, “Family Olympics,” “Mystery Night,” “Fall Special Treat Night,” “Spring Celebration,” birthday meals complete with a personalized menu and a special plate, “Afternoon Out,” and of course, “The Shopping Trip.”

Not only was Mom’s ministry to her family the focus of all her passion and energy—it was also a ministry of sacrifice. This ministry was twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with no breaks, holidays, or even sick leave. It involved mundane tasks such as changing dirty diapers, cleaning up spilled Cheerios, washing mountains of laundry, and reading Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories over and over again.

It was a sacrifice of much-needed sleep, of personal friendships, leisure time, and other ministry pursuits. Mom gave up all her own desires in order to pour out her life for her primary ministry: her husband and her children.

She wore the uniform of a young mother—inevitably stained five minutes after she put it on. And her sacrifice was almost entirely in secret, out of the public eye, or anyone’s notice, really—except for Dad’s. Many evenings she gladly supported him as he was out serving the church, while she stayed home to wash the dinner dishes and put us to bed. But she was right where she wanted to be. She was with us.

Never mind that Nicole was probably throwing a temper tantrum, Kristin was most likely whining, and Janelle was certainly into mischief. She was happy just to tell her little girls how Jesus came to die for sinners like us, and how there is forgiveness and hope in His cross. For the gospel was, and is, her source and the reason for her ministry.

The gospel is also the explanation for why all of Mom’s effort and sacrifice were bathed in joy. In fact, many of her sacrifices slipped by our notice, disguised as they were in joy. She was—and is—a happy mom.

And as we three girls headed into the teenage years we never once doubted that Mom would be a constant, faithful friend. For her ministry of joyful sacrifice grew, along with us, into a ministry of friendship.

The hours she invested into creativity when we were small were no match for the hours she devoted to instructing, encouraging, and caring for us as young women. Mom was our greatest ally in our battle against sin and our biggest cheerleader for our growth in godliness. She was the first to bring encouragement and point out change. She faithfully watered and tended the gospel seed that God had planted in our souls.

And Mom loved to be with us. She was always eager to hang out with us. She laughed—really laughed—at our jokes. She cried with us when we went through trials. She attentively listened for hours and hours as we poured out our thoughts and feelings. We were the ministry that she had always wanted, and all these years later we were still the ministry she loved. We could tell.

This faithful mothering won the hearts of her daughters. There was no one that we enjoyed being with more, and no one whose friendship meant more. Mom was the Matron of Honor at all three of our weddings—not out of a sense of duty, but because she was our best friend.

Like Mom, we three girls are now wives and mothers. And our friendship with Mom is stronger than ever. What may have seemed at first like the closing of one season has actually been the opening of another.

For we’ve entered our own years of changing dirty diapers, cleaning up spilled Cheerios, washing endless mounds of laundry, and reading bedtime stories over and over again. And through it all, Mom is not only our friend, and encourager, but her life is our model and our guide.

Today we stand on the shoulders of her biblical convictions. We recall her passionate efforts and so we strive for excellence as wives and mothers. We remember her joyful sacrifice on our behalf, and so we are compelled to lay down our lives for our husbands and children. Mom’s ministry to our family is the ministry she always wanted—and now it’s the ministry we want too. And the fruit of her faithful ministry is our aspiration and our goal.

Mom, today, that fruit is plain for all to see. Your four children are whole-heartedly following the Lord. Each of us loves this family dearly and we all love to be together. Your son Chad, though only thirteen, wants to grow up to be a godly man like his father. Your three sons-in-law can’t stop telling you how grateful they are for your example and influence. And your five grandchildren—Andrew, Liam, Jack, Owen, and Caly—love their Mom-Mom with all their hearts.

God has taken your little ministry to our family and multiplied it far beyond anything you ever imagined. He has used your conviction and passion to spark a similar passion in the hearts of thousands of other women—women who have now chosen to make their husbands, children, and homes the most important ministry of their lives. Your ministry is still one of sacrifice, each and every day. And while it may not be in secret any more, its full extent remains to be seen. But one day, you will see the vast effect of your ministry.

On that day, when we stand before the throne of our heavenly Father, your family—the ministry closest to your heart—will surround you: Dad, us three girls with our husbands, Chad, your grandsons, and granddaughter. And Lord willing, we will be joined by great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, all the fruit of the ministry to which you dedicated your life.

And when we hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” pronounced over your life, we will cheer—loudly, being the exuberant family that we are. None will be louder than Dad, we are sure. We will give glory and honor and praise to God for His lavish grace in sustaining you to be faithful to the calling you received.

However, we won’t be alone. There will be children you have never met whose mothers were inspired by your example. There will be husbands whose wives were affected by your teaching. And they will join us in thanking God for your life and testimony. Because their mothers and their wives, inspired by you, devoted themselves to making their family the ministry dearest to their heart.

But none will be so happy as us. For we were the ministry you always wanted, the ministry for which you sacrificed with great joy and in secret. We were the girls who basked in the glow of your friendship. And so the three of us stand together and say, today, as we will on that great day: “Many women have done excellently, but you, Mom, you surpass them all!”

We love you,
Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle

Jun 1

Son, Show Honor to Women

2006 at 12:23 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood | Parenting Teenagers

Chivalry may be disregarded in our culture, but it receives ongoing attention in our home. That’s because one way to show oneself a man is to be courteous and considerate toward women.

With a mom and three sisters, Chad gets oodles of opportunities to practice chivalrous behavior. And I must say he displays consistent courtesy toward his mom. However, he still prefers the role of “annoying little brother” over the role of a “chivalrous knight” when it comes to his three sisters. CJ and I are working on that!

Here is how we are attempting to teach Chad to show honor to a woman:

  • Open her doors
  • Stand when she enters the room
  • Pull out her chair
  • Give up your seat for her
  • Carry heavy objects for her
  • Retrieve dropped items for her

Most likely, Chad will be the leader and protector of his own family one day. Now is the time for him to learn how to show honor to his wife and model chivalry to his children.

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
1 Peter 3:7

May 31

Strawberries and Dip

2006 at 5:25 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore

Strawberries2 It’s strawberry season here in Maryland, and the other day I went with some friends and took my sons strawberry picking at a local farm. Besides my boys stepping on a couple strawberry bushes (thankfully we weren’t sent home by the farm attendants!) and picking a few over-ripe berries, we actually had a peaceful time. I was too tired to go to the store on the way home, but if I’d had the energy, I would have stopped off and purchased ingredients for an annual family favorite: marshmallow cream. You simply mix ½ jar of marshmallow fluff with one eight-ounce tub of softened cream cheese and you’ve got a very tasty dip for strawberries. If you’re not too tired to stop by the store, you’ve got to try it!

May 31

Son, Kill a Bear or a Lion

2006 at 2:47 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood | Parenting Teenagers

Obviously we’re not requiring Chad to literally go out and kill a bear or a lion. Although, one of our readers, who is a Firearm Education and Hunter Safety Instructor for the state of MD, did email us in jest last week to invite CJ and Chad to be in her next class. She said then they could enter the lottery for a bear permit this fall.

Now, that’s a scary thought! Thankfully, the plan for any father-son hunting expeditions in our family is to stick with squirrel as the game of choice.

So, what bears or lions are we encouraging Chad to kill? In his article, “Show Yourself a Man,” Randy Stinson explains this phrase to mean: “Do something that is a challenge.” What a useful mandate for helping teenage sons cultivate masculinity! CJ and I have begun to use it with Chad. When we discern there is an obstacle Chad wants to dodge, but should tackle, we encourage him: “Son, it’s a bear you need to kill!” This “bear” or “lion” could be an area where he is not gifted or his personality is not inclined, and because of selfishness, fear, or pride, he prefers to avoid. We want to show Chad the underlying sin that hinders him, and then challenge him to attack it. See, we not only desire to help Chad grow stronger where he is already strong, but to also grow strong where he is weak.

And though there will never be any actual bear heads or lion skins mounted on the walls of our home, it is our prayer that the showcase of Chad’s teenage years will display many challenges that he conquered to the glory of God.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

May 30

New Attitude

2006 at 5:49 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw

Branding_02_1 Last Friday many of my friends boarded buses and planes headed for Louisville, Kentucky to attend the New Attitude Conference. I have to confess to feeling a little bit sad as this was the first New Attitude that I have missed. But thanks to the blog world I have been able to get a small taste of the conference right here in my living room. Check out both Carolyn McCulley’s blog and the New Attitude blog to get the low down on the messages and events which made up this conference.

May 30

Son, Keep Your Domain in Order

2006 at 10:35 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood | Parenting Teenagers

I enjoy cleaning and putting things in order. (I know, there’s something wrong with me!) Chad, on the other hand, strongly dislikes these tasks. (Did I mention that my son is 13?) Now given our differing preferences, I would much rather be the one to clean up after Chad and maintain the order of his bedroom and bathroom. Chad would prefer that too. But all I have to do is think about Chad’s future wife and future employers—what his messy habits would mean for them (and what they would think of me!)—and I make him clean his room.

Actually, it’s not only Chad’s future relationships that motivate me to insist that Chad “keep his domain in order.” As Randy Stinson put it in his “Show Yourself a Man” article, “a life that is characterized by disorder is evidence of passivity.” Chad’s domain “should bear the mark of [his] masculinity as [he] subdues it and keeps it in order.”

Because I want Chad to honor his future wife and serve his future employers; because I want Chad to resist passivity and cultivate masculinity:

  • I have Chad clean his room and bathroom at the start of each day.
  • I make Chad hang up his towel on the rack, return clean clothing back to drawers or hangers and put dirty clothing into the hamper. (I recently discovered that everything—dirty and clean—was being put into the hamper, thus the need for specificity.)
  • I require Chad to stop whatever he is doing to put something back in its proper place, if he got it out, but neglected to put it back.
  • I enforce the “no trash rule”—if something is consumed out of a disposable wrapper or container, the wrapper or container must be put into the trashcan!

Lest my rules seem petty to a certain young man, I Corinthians 14:33 backs me up: For God is not a God of disorder. (NIV) Above all, I want Chad to honor God by reflecting His character. Thus, I will persevere in challenging my son to keep his domain in order.

May 29

Memorial Day

2006 at 11:57 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre

300pxjimmie_w_monteith_jr_gravemarker_no This American holiday was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, it’s become more about afternoon barbecues, hardware store sales, and weekends at the beach than remembering those who have died in the defense of our country. To my own shame, I’ve given more thought to weeding my yard today than the sacrifices of so many. They laid down their lives to ensure that I have a yard where my little son can run and play without fear of harm.

My father-in-law recently returned from a business trip to France. Last night at dinner he related the details of an afternoon visit to Normandy. There, on that strip of American-owned land in France, are buried ten thousand soldiers who died in the Allied invasion. Many graves, he said, were simply marked “Remains Unknown.”

“Think of all the mothers,” my mother-in-law mused.

Think. Think of all the mothers. And fathers. And brothers and sisters. And spouses. And children.

Let us think. And let us thank.

To all of you who have lost a loved one who died protecting peace for us all, we want you to know that we are thinking of you today. And, although it is woefully inadequate for your loss, we want to say—

Thank you.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

May 26

Friday Funnies

2006 at 7:47 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Friday Funnies

Thanks to Zoanna in Abingdon, MD for this Friday laugh.

Have a delightful weekend everyone!

Nicole
for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle

“Scale or Scoreboard”

Yesterday my husband put a new battery into our digital bathroom scale. At bedtime, our four-year-old son, Joel, stepped on it, and with excitement announced, “It says, ‘free nine’.”

“Thirty-nine? Wow!” I said, putting toothpaste on his toothbrush.

He then looked eagerly at me. Not yet being able to prounce his “st” blend, it comes out “‘t.”

“You ‘tep on it Mommy. See how many points you get!”

May 26

Mrs. B

2006 at 4:37 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer

I have two names. Most people know me as “Janelle,” but to a very special group of people I am “Mrs. B.” You see, my husband is the Children’s Ministry pastor at our church and somewhere along the way he became affectionately known to all the kiddos as “Mr. B.” It naturally followed suit that I be dubbed “Mrs. B.” I have to say that this name took some getting used to. For a girl who would like to think of herself as still somewhere around the age of 17, the title “Mrs. B” was a bit of a wake up call. But this name is totally worth the front row seat I get into the world of Children’s Ministry. There are many lessons to be learned there. One recent lesson stands out.

On the first Sunday of every month, Mike teaches the 2nd through 5th grade class, and I usually slip in and watch. One of my favorite parts of the morning is listening to the children pray. Have you ever heard a child pray? They pray with faith. There is no doubt in their little minds that the Lord hears and He will answer. Our church has recently been raising money for a new playground and the kids have been praying about this. Their prayers are simple and sincere, “Lord, please give us the money for the playground so that we can play on it after school tomorrow.” They aren’t contemplating all of the potential obstacles. They simply ask Jesus to meet their present need and expect Him to answer.

I want to pray like this. Recently, I found myself approaching the throne of grace with a heart full of unbelief. I was struggling to believe that the Lord was working in the midst of a difficult situation facing me. Does He really hear me? Will things ever change? I wasn’t voicing these questions, but my heart betrayed me. I could not hide the pride that was—and still is—present in my heart.

Mrs. B needs to spend a lot more time in children’s ministry. I want to learn, just like the kids, to approach God fully expecting Him to provide for my every need.