girltalk Blog

Dec 13

Christmas Gifts for Children

2013 at 7:10 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays | Hospitality | Motherhood

For all you last-minute Christmas shoppers, here are a few gift ideas for the kiddos:

Sing the Bible with Slugs and Bugs

We are huge Slugs and Bugs fans around here and we’ve been waiting a long time for this album. Eighteen Scriptures set to some great music.

Bake Through the Bible

My parents gave us gifts that would make memories long after Christmas and this gift does just that. My girls are going to love trying some of these recipes.

God’s Great Plan

This book is beautifully written and illustrated to tell the storyline of the Bible. I plan to re-read it regularly to my children.

The Wingfeather Saga

I’m assuming you already know about these books from Andrew Peterson, but just in case one or two of you haven’t heard of them, I mention them here. My son has worn out books one through three and is counting down the days until the release of book four.

The Ashtown Burial Series

I’m also buying this series for my oldest, but to be honest, it’s really for me.

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

From the beloved author and illustrator Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrator Jago comes this exciting new book.

Aug 7

Q&A: Hospitality and the Hesitant Husband

2013 at 9:38 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Homemaking | Hospitality | Q&A

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 by Alexander Strauch 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).

~From the archives

Feb 6

A Heart of Hospitality

2012 at 10:29 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9

How do we practice hospitality cheerfully instead of begrudgingly? We remember the why: We practice hospitality because we have first received hospitality.

“Grace is the hospitality of God to welcome sinners not because of their goodness but because of his glory,” explains John Piper:

“The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God. We are no longer strangers and sojourners. We have come home to God. Everybody who trusts in Jesus finds a home in God.”

If we have trusted in Jesus, we have found a home in God. We were once strangers, alienated from God because of our sin. But through the suffering of Jesus Christ, we have been brought near to God. We are not strangers anymore.

We have received the ultimate act of hospitality! How can we not, in turn, show grace and love to others by extending hospitality to strangers?

When we truly understand the gospel, the amazing, undeserved love that has been shown to us, we will find a powerful incentive to show hospitality that will conquer every hindrance or reluctance. Reflecting upon Christ’s lavish hospitality will compel us to joyfully show hospitality to one another.

~from the archives

Aug 15

The Unexpected Blessings of Hospitality

2011 at 11:26 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

This verse has always puzzled me: should I really suspect my dinner guests of being angels in disguise? And do I have to entertain them unawares?

If a heavenly being who spends eternal days worshiping in the presence of the Holy God is coming to dinner, I’d like to know. I don’t want them tripping over the toy helicopter the hallway or eating undercooked Chicken Kiev.

I used to play my own little version of “Who’s the Angel?”, studying the strangers who come to my house. (It’s easy to rule out the people you know—they couldn’t possibly be angels!) But is it the missionary or maybe the visitor from another country? Or do angels come disguised as the hyper toddler who bangs the piano and tracks crumbs on my carpet?

But the author of Hebrews “was not promoting hospitality on the chance that one might ‘luck out’ and get an angel” explains Kent Hughes. Our prospects are no less exciting, though: “He is assuring [us] that some of [our] visitors will prove to be true messengers of God to [us], bringing a greater blessing than they receive” (F.F. Bruce).

So often we focus on the work it takes to invite, prepare, and serve others through hospitality, and we forget to look for God at work! But our gracious Savior delights to send an extravagant “hostess gift”: His messengers!

Think about it: how many times have you been encouraged in your faith or inspired to grow in godliness by one of your guests? How often have you experienced sweet fellowship or hearty laughter or comfort and care in trial? Have you ever see the power of God at work in someone’s life or experienced His provision for you as the result of hospitality? I know I have, many times.

“Hospitality often results in unexpected blessing and reward,” Alexander Strauch reminds us. So let us not neglect hospitality, my friends, but be eager to extend God’s love to others. We never know what blessing God has in store for us!

from the archives

Oct 26

“Hospitality Keeps Me Happiest”

2009 at 11:53 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Homemaking | Hospitality

Jane’s been having a tough time at work:

I am a third grade teacher at a Christian school, and the past month has been difficult for me in my workplace. There have been a lot of decisions made and changes implemented, many of which we do not agree with. In light of all the pressure and extra work, I’ve become very self-focused and had my fair share of pity parties. By the grace of God, I’ve become aware of my sinful attitude and have decided to view my job as a job and to be faithful with this lot by submitting to my employer because it pleases the Lord (but once I have kids, I’m out!). smiley mugWhat’s the remedy for Jane’s self-focus and self-pity?

Fellowship has become so sweet, knowing that so many have struggles and heartache far more challenging than my own - cancer, deaths of babies, unemployment… Hearing our dear pastor preach on evangelism and reading about hospitality has reminded me of how I’ve been lacking in this area. And so my husband and I had some of our church friends over to create an opportunity of gathering. We played cards, talked, and I cooked a homemade meal for these wonderful brothers and sisters. God sure knew that sitting at home thinking about me, myself, and I would only be a devil’s playground! Just as He knew that thinking of ways to practically love the brethren and make my husband and home a priority would keep me the happiest. Isn’t our sweet, loving Lord so good? Hospitality brought happiness. “The joy of receiving God’s hospitality decays and dies if it doesn’t flourish in our own hospitality to others,” warns John Piper. But when we practice hospitality:

“…we experience the refreshing joy of becoming conduits of God’s hospitality rather than being self-decaying cul-de-sacs….” [W]e experience the thrill of feeling God’s power conquer our fears and our stinginess and all the psychological gravity of our self-centeredness. And there are few joys, if any, greater than the joy of experiencing the liberating power of God’s hospitality making us a new and radically different kind of people, who love to reflect the glory of his grace as we extend it to others in all kinds of hospitality.” Are you in need of some refreshing joy today? Then follow Jane’s example and experience the thrill of hospitality.

Oct 19

The Unexpected Blessings of Hospitality

2009 at 4:27 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

This verse has always puzzled me: should I really suspect my dinner guests of being angels in disguise? And do I have to entertain them unawares?

If a heavenly being who spends eternal days worshiping in the presence of the Holy God is coming to dinner, I’d like to know. I don’t want them tripping over the toy helicopter the hallway or eating undercooked Chicken Kiev.

I used to play my own little version of “Who’s the Angel?”, studying the strangers who come to my house. (It’s easy to rule out the people you know—they couldn’t possibly be angels!) But is it the missionary or maybe the visitor from another country? Or do angels come disguised as the hyper toddler who bangs the piano and tracks crumbs on my carpet?

But the author of Hebrews “was not promoting hospitality on the chance that one might ‘luck out’ and get an angel” explains Kent Hughes. Our prospects are no less exciting, though: “He is assuring [us] that some of [our] visitors will prove to be true messengers of God to [us], bringing a greater blessing than they receive” (F.F. Bruce).

So often we focus on the work it takes to invite, prepare, and serve others through hospitality, and we forget to look for God at work! But our gracious Savior delights to send an extravagant “hostess gift”: His messengers!

Think about it: how many times have you been encouraged in your faith or inspired to grow in godliness by one of your guests? How often have you experienced sweet fellowship or hearty laughter or comfort and care in trial? Have you ever see the power of God at work in someone’s life or experienced His provision for you as the result of hospitality? I know I have, many times.

“Hospitality often results in unexpected blessing and reward,” Alexander Strauch reminds us. So let us not neglect hospitality, my friends, but be eager to extend God’s love to others. We never know what blessing God has in store for us!

Oct 7

Hospitality Incentive

2009 at 12:00 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

Today we return to a question we’ve left hanging for a few weeks: How do we practice hospitality cheerfully instead of begrudgingly?

We remember the why: We practice hospitality because we have first received hospitality.

“Grace is the hospitality of God to welcome sinners not because of their goodness but because of his glory,” explains John Piper:

“The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God. We are no longer strangers and sojourners. We have come home to God. Everybody who trusts in Jesus finds a home in God.”

If we have trusted in Jesus, we have found a home in God. We were once strangers, alienated from God because of our sin. But through the suffering of Jesus Christ, we have been brought near to God. We are not strangers anymore.

We have received the ultimate act of hospitality! How can we not, in turn, show grace and love to others by extending hospitality to strangers?

When we truly understand the gospel, the amazing, undeserved love that has been shown to us, we will find a powerful incentive to show hospitality that will conquer every hindrance or reluctance. Reflecting upon Christ’s lavish hospitality will compel us to joyfully show hospitality to one another.

Sep 28

Our Hospitality Conversation

2009 at 10:09 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

glassesWe 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!

Meg

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.

Caroline

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.

Amy

Sep 23

Q&A: Hospitality and the Hesitant Husband

2009 at 11:44 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Homemaking | Hospitality | Q&A

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).

hospitality commandsHelp. 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).

Sep 22

Hospitality Humor

2009 at 9:42 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

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!

CLEANING TIPS

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.).

apronWhen 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!