Jul 5

Reading Together

2006 at 5:03 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Book and Music Reviews

One day, during our engagement, Steve and I took a walk around a local pond, bordered by shops and park benches. We came across some dear friends of my parents, Robin and Clara. They were sitting close together on a bench, reading a book. Reading aloud to each other—they told us—was something they had enjoyed for over twenty years of marriage.

Inspired by their example, we resolved that reading together would be a part of our marriage. So, we brought a book to read to each other on our honeymoon—Moby Dick (I know it seems like an oddly unromantic choice, but we were staying at Nantucket so it made sense at the time). One of my favorite mental snapshots from our trip is sitting on a chilly beach and relishing language together. On our long drive home I read to Steve from some of my favorite books by P.G. Woodhouse about a man named Wooster and his butler Jeeves.

Reading aloud to each other hasn’t been quite as consistent as we would have liked. Life fills up fast. But recently we started up again. We just finished Ivanhoe (swords for him, romance for me). Some day we hope we’ll fill a shelf—maybe even a couple of shelves with the books we’ve read, me and him.

I’m not suggesting every couple should read together. (Janelle recently told me that when she and Mike tried it out, he fell asleep!) However, it’s great to have some activity or hobby you enjoy doing as a couple. If you don’t already have one, why not give reading together a try?

P.S. It’s raining buckets here in Virginia again. The house is quiet and dark. Perfect for curling up with a good book and a cup of red bush tea!

Jul 4

Reading Help

2006 at 10:45 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Book and Music Reviews

Happy 4th, everyone! It’s nice and hot here in Maryland and the grills are firing up all over the place in celebration of our country’s independence. Check out Nicole’s post from last July 4th for a girly perspective on this American holiday. That was a good one, Nicole.

For some of you this holiday may afford a little extra time for reading. I know for me, I often skip a very important step when I sit down with a good book. I don’t ask for help to read. Don’t worry, I graduated from first grade and I can read on my own. I’m talking about a different kind of help. The help that only the Holy Spirit can provide.

In 2 Timothy 2:7 we are exhorted to “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” Our thinking alone isn’t sufficient. You see, we think but the Lord gives. We must depend upon the Lord in all things; reading is no exception. In order to grow in knowledge and affection for my Savior, I need His divine help as I read—help that He is ready and eager to give to those who ask. So before you open a book, pray that “the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”

Jul 3

Books Wanted

2006 at 11:45 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Book and Music Reviews

Did you know that reading is a way to express our love to God? In Matthew 22:37 we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our minds. As we read books that cause us to think big thoughts about God, to know Him more, and to better understand His purposes, we are doing just that—we are loving God with all our minds.

And what’s more, reading can provoke change and cultivate our affections for God. When I consider two books I am currently perusing, I have been convicted of sinful judging by the one, and have been more deeply affected by my Savior’s death on the cross with the other. Needless to say, that makes reading a worthwhile endeavor.

But if you are not yet convinced of its importance, listen to Mr. Spurgeon go off about books in response to this verse: “When you [Timothy] come bring the cloak which I [Paul] left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13).

“He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He has had wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up in the third heaven, and had heard things unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He has written a major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every Christian, ‘Give thyself to reading.’ The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.”

Well, I don’t want to be accused of having no brains of my own, so I’m going to keep reading. Seriously, Mr. Spurgeon was right: If Paul wanted books, we should all want them! So, let’s pull that book our pastors have encouraged us to read off the bookshelf, and let’s start reading—even if it’s only for twenty minutes daily or one page per day.

Jun 30

Friday Funnies

2006 at 11:43 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Friday Funnies

Hope y’all get a laugh out of this week’s Friday Funny from Karen. Why not read a good book this holiday weekend?

See you Monday,

for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle

“I taught Art in our Christian school. First and second grade were together. My son Ethan was in the second grade. As I’m sitting at the table talking to them, one of the first graders goes into a long rambling story, very hard to follow. When he was done, my son turns to me and whispers, ‘that’s 2 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.’ I have to admit I was thinking the same thing!”

Jun 30

A Reading Plan

2006 at 3:12 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Book and Music Reviews

Surely we’d all agree—reading is a good thing. Yet many of us despair that we don’t have time to read. But is that true?

Well, if I may be so bold, I would propose that our problem is not a lack of time for reading, but a lack of planning. And here is my justification for such an assertion. Two separate authors have recommended reading plans that I think even the busiest person would have to say, “I can do that.”

Donald Whitney encourages busy people to “find the time to read one page of a book each day.” He expands:

“It might mean sneaking a page during a visit to the bathroom, sitting in the car an extra two minutes at the end of the morning or evening commute, or standing by the bed to read a moment before crashing into the pillow at night. By reading one page per day you can read 365 pages in a year, or the equivalent of two full-length books. That may not sound like much, but it’s far better than not reading at all.”

John Piper lets us in on his findings:

“One of the most helpful discoveries I have made is how much can be read in disciplined blocks of twenty minutes a day. Suppose that you read slowly, say about 250 words a minute (as I do). This means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words. An average book has about four hundred words to a page. So you could read about twelve-and-a-half pages in twenty minutes. Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year. That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages. Assume that an average book is 250 pages long. This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year.”

Reading one page a day or reading 20 minutes a day. Now that’s a plan anyone can do! Wouldn’t you agree?

Jun 30

The Journaling Bible

2006 at 1:42 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Book and Music Reviews

158134838x Mike came home from work the other day with something I just have to tell y’all about. It looked like a thick journal. It was black and had an elastic strap to hold it closed. He opened it to show me, and it was a Bible! Crossway, the publisher that brings us the English Standard Version, has created a “Journaling Bible.” This edition actually has lines in the margins where you can write. It is perfect for the 45% of you “underlined with notes” people.

The Crossway website gives this description, “The Journaling Bible™ is a unique format with wide margins and ruled lines designed for writing prayers, observations, sermon notes, and personal reflections. It also includes a one-year Bible reading plan.”

Mike has come up with a unique plan for his Journaling Bible. He wants to fill the margins with his own reflections and pass it along to Caly someday. I can’t imagine a better gift for my little girl!


Jun 29

An Intenser Relish

2006 at 11:13 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Book and Music Reviews

I am going to wager a guess that the 22 percent of “nappers” from yesterday’s poll is made up of college students, over-worked career women, and moms with young kids. During those stretches when life is mostly about surviving to the next nap, books (that you haven’t been assigned) can quickly start collecting dust.

But there is one book we cannot afford to lay aside—that greatest of all books, The Bible. When we talk about reading, there are really two categories: the Bible, and everything else. While the great works of men certainly reflect our Lord’s creativity, the Bible contains the very Words of God. Wow. That’s why the psalmist appropriately gushes, “More to be desired are they than gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

And that’s why Horatius Bonar warns: “See that your relish for the Bible be above every other enjoyment, and the moment you begin to feel greater relish for any other book, lay it down till you have sought deliverance from such a snare, and obtained from the Holy Spirit an intenser relish, a keener appetite for the Word of God (Jer 15:16).”

Yesterday we received a sweet email about a woman with a keen appetite for the Word of God. Jayne writes that, “My Dad’s favorite memory of his mother is of her kneading bread on the kitchen counter with her Bible open, dusted by the flour. She had 11 children and made all the family bread from scratch each day. Money was in very short supply but her love of the Word was plentiful. Working within her limitations of strength, time & duty, she found a way to fill her days with reading the Word.”

Similarly, Donald Whitney points to the example of another woman whose “longings for the things of God reached as high as ever” even when “her time and energy had new and severe limits.”

So if you find yourself living between naps, and your relish for God’s Word has diminished, then pray as the Psalmist did: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Then dust off your Bible and read.

Jun 28

Some Reading, Caly?

2006 at 12:02 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Book and Music Reviews

It’s been raining for days now. Not a normal experience for us Marylanders. Although the sun has finally come out this morning, all this soggyness makes me want to curl up on the warm, dry couch with a good book. Add some hot tea, and it’s perfect.

I pitched the idea of some reading time to Caly, but I didn’t receive the answer I was hoping for. The rain doesn’t seem to have the same effect on her as on me. She is still looking for some undivided attention. The good book and tea will have to wait until she is in bed for the night…and the dishes are washed…the house straightened…Mikey’s shirts ironed….

With the busyness of life, reading is hard to squeeze in. And it’s easy to lose sight of its importance. But it is important. I love the way John Piper puts it: “If you want to stay alive to what is great and glorious and beautiful and eternal, you will have to fight for time to look through the eyes of others who were in touch with God.” This requires reading and reading requires effort. But this effort yields beautiful rewards.

So, welcome to reading week here at girltalk. We are gonna chat about this delightful pastime for the next few days. And I thought it would be fun to start off with a little survey. We want to learn about the reading interests of our readers. So Nicole (the girltalk technical director) has set one up on the sidebar. Simply read the question and select the option that best describes your reading habits. We’ll post the results and take a new poll tomorrow.

Jun 27

Looking Heavenward

2006 at 4:00 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Suffering

A young mom in our church recently learned that her unborn baby has a serious neural tube defect known as Anencephaly. Barring a miracle, the baby has no chance of survival outside her womb.

The following are some recent ponderings she has graciously allowed us to post. Her extraordinary faith and eternal perspective will surely turn our eyes heavenward. Together with her, we long for the day when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

We found out at our last doctor’s appointment that we are having a baby boy! No names as of yet, but we will keep you posted. C was very active in the womb, but nothing compared to this little fellow. As I lie awake at night from his fierce kicks, elbows and jabs, I imagine that he is going to be strong. I imagine that just like his big brother he is going to love to dance and run and kick the ball. I love to imagine him running, unlike C constrained by mama’s words of, ‘no street, son,’ or ‘hold mama’s hand,’ or the fence in our backyard, I picture him running in fields so vast and beautiful—beyond my imagination. Colors so vibrant and alive, too beautiful for my meager mind to comprehend. I picture him dancing to a melody never heard before by C or me. A melody so sweet, so fragrant, so amazing, breathing life into his soul. I imagine his smile (will he have a dimple like his brother?), will his eyes glisten, be blue?!? I imagine him worshiping and dancing from day one, something that has taken C a year to figure out…this little one will be doing from the very beginning. I imagine the day when I will be able to dance hand in hand with my son… not on his wedding day…but on a day more glorious and more special…the day when we will both be face to face with our Savior!

It breaks my heart to imagine how frail and weak my little boy is now within the womb. But when he kicks me with such strength, I am reminded how in only a few short months he will be made new…no deformities, no weakness!!! I imagine how the Lord is going to use my son’s strength for his glory and his purposes in Heaven. What even brings me more delight is to know that the strength of the Lord truly is going to be his delight each and every day. How precious these moments are for me as a mommy, to feel my son within me. My love for my new son grows stronger with each and every kick. I know that far too soon I will long for these days again (as hard as some of them have physically been). I am blessed with this time now that he is in my womb, for I know until ‘that day’ comes when I will see him again, this is my time with my precious little boy! Please pray that I cherish each and every one.

Jun 26

A Senior Challenge

2006 at 1:22 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Time Management | Motherhood | Parenting Teenagers

Congrats to all of you who graduated this month!

Every May our youth ministry has “Senior Challenge Night.” On this evening the graduating seniors get a chance to publicly address their underclassmen. They get five minutes to challenge them to live their high school years for the Lord. A few of these seniors addressed the Covenant Life Church congregation and we have included their words here.

Parents, you may want to consider using these with your teens. But you don’t have to be anywhere near high school to benefit from these truths.

So many people today have categorized ‘teenage years’ as ones distinguished by rebellion and foolishness; characterized as a time to ‘find yourself,’ a time when a young person can only associate with their peers, a time of understandable disobedience of authorities, a time where we are incapable of responsibility and a time where being friends with your parents is just downright weird. This is clearly not the way that God characterizes our teenage years in the Bible. Read more.

If you were to ask me: ‘what has been your most significant means of grace over your high school years?’ I would say, without hesitating, that my parents have been the greatest means of grace in my life. Read more.

Deceitfulness is a trap that is very easy for teens to fall into, and it is this very trap that I fell into in my teen years. Read more.

Aside from our salvation, this church is one of the greatest blessings that God has given us, and I believe that it is only right to give thanks to Him for it. One of the things that He has been showing me over my past four years of high school is not to take the church for granted.Read more.

There exists a temptation for all of us, and especially us youth, to allow the phrase. ‘living in light of eternity’ to become a cliché. I want to ask all the youth a question: What could be more important than being ready for the moment you die, the moment that mist disappears? Read more.