Sep 9

Q&A: How Can I Find an Older Woman to Mentor Me?

2014 at 8:31 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Mentoring

Sharon wrote to ask:

What do you recommend to younger woman about getting an older woman to mentor her? I have a very broken relationship with my own mother, and feel like I have been starving my whole life for an older woman to come alongside me and mentor me.

This woman echoes a cry we have heard from countless young women through the years, and I pray this cry reaches the ears of many godly, older women in our churches.

For all of the young women who are so desperate for a spiritual mother, what can you do? What if you don’t know any godly, older, women? Or what if none of them seem to have the time or inclination to mentor you? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Pray and Trust. Ask God to fulfill this desire of your heart. After all, he put it there in the first place! Given remaining pride in our hearts, the fact that we are desperate for wisdom, discipleship, and exhortation is only the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts. And God promises to fulfill all our desires for wisdom and righteousness (James 1:5, Matt. 5:6). He will generously provide.

2. Learn a little from a lot (of older women). While it would be wonderful to have a designated mentor, there aren’t always enough godly, older women to go around these days. So make all of the godly older women you know your mentors! Observe their strengths and ask each one if she would be willing to give you counsel at least one time in one area. Ask the prayer warrior to coffee so she can teach you how she prays. Ask the organized woman to come to your home one afternoon and give you some advice. See if the experienced babysitter, or the mother of disciplined school-age children, can come to the park with you and your unruly toddler and offer her counsel. Ask the woman with a strong marriage if she and her husband can spend an evening with you and your fiancé. Create your own personalized discipleship course by drawing on the godly character and experience of many women. Just imagine the wealth of wisdom you could amass in a short time!

3. Don’t waste an “older woman moment.” In other words, don’t despise or overlook even the smallest opportunity to learn from a godly, older woman. Maybe you are seated next to her at a friend’s house for dinner or you run into her in the hallway at church. You can learn life-changing truth in five minutes with a godly woman, so come prepared. Have a list of questions and whenever you have the chance ask a godly woman for a quick word of advice or encouragement. Or send her a short email or message her on Facebook or Twitter. For example, ask a godly woman what she is studying in her daily times in God’s Word, or how she would handle a parenting situation you are dealing with. Like paparazzi chasing a movie star, we should hound the older women in our churches for godly counsel.

4. Go secondhand shopping. Learn vicariously if you can’t learn directly. Ask the godly teenage girl what she appreciates about her mother. Ask your friend who has a godly mentor to share what she has learned from her about walking with God through suffering. Get parenting counsel from another mom who is getting godly counsel from an older woman. Ask any younger woman who has access to an older woman: What have you learned from so and so? What would so and so do in this situation? Like sheaves left in a field after harvest, there is much wisdom to be gleaned secondhand.

5. Be a bookworm. Even if there is a shortage of godly, older women in your church, we also live in an age with unprecedented access to the written word, and thus some of the greatest “older women” of all time. Every one of us can learn from Susannah Spurgeon or Sarah Edwards, Elisabeth Elliot or Nancy Wilson. And you can return to books again and again for wise counsel on godly womanhood. There is much more I could say here, but my friend Jodi Ware has already written a wonderful post on this topic, which I would encourage you to read.

6. Come to learn. Show an older woman that you value her time and her godly wisdom by asking genuine, thoughtful, open-ended questions. Come to her eager to learn and receive instruction, even course-correction at times, not merely validation or affirmation. It helps to plan your questions ahead of time, and avoid questions that are not really questions at all, but make it awkward for an older woman to share a different perspective. Remember, older women have a unique calling to teach us how to be godly women. Let’s make it easy for them to do just that.

7. Become an older woman. Take what you learn from godly, older woman and apply it. Be faithful in the small things, today. Sit at the Savior’s feet and serve others in the humble place God has called you. Sow now, so you can reap later. If you take to heart the wise counsel and biblical wisdom of women who fear the Lord, and apply what they teach, you will become a woman with proven character and a fruitful lifestyle. And God-willing, some day in the near future, a young woman won’t have to look too far for a godly older woman to mentor her, for you will be the mother who raised her or the spiritual mother who is right beside her all the way. May God raise up a generation of godly women to teach the younger women “what is good” (Titus 2:3).

~from the archives

Previous Posts in Series:

A Woman to Follow

Help Wanted: Older Woman to Serve as Reliable Guide

Whooping Cranes and a Culture of Womanhood

Sep 8

The Sweetness of Ordinary Days

2014 at 8:32 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? Eccl. 2:24-25

“To taste the sweetness of ordinary joys, we learn to enter each day with a conviction about the givenness of all things…. We’ve been given a place to be, some things to do, a need for sustenance, and a people to share this with. God originates these gifts. God is present with his gifts…. At some point, we all have to come to terms with the spiritual truth that true joy is found in God and God is found right where His gifts are.” ~Zack Eswine

Sep 4

The Kind of Young Women the Church Needs Most

2014 at 6:06 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood

My friend, Joy, recently told me about a conversation her family had with author Jerry Bridges. He was preaching at our church’s Sunday service, and Joy’s family invited him to their home for lunch. Joy asked him about how he got into writing and Mr. Bridges told her that he did not publish his first book until he was in his mid-forties. He may have gotten a late start, he told Joy, but he thought it was necessary to have gone through all he had experienced in order to be able to write what God had called him to write.

I, for one, am grateful that Jerry Bridges wasn’t writing books in his twenties. His biblical wisdom is valuable precisely because it has been refined for years in the daily grind of obscure obedience. He didn’t write fresh out of a trial or high off an accomplishment. He learned his lessons slowly, over decades of walking faithfully with God, with no one watching or publishing.

There is a time for living and a time for writing. A time for every season, the wise teacher tells us (Ecc. 3:1-8).

A time for sowing and a time for reaping.

A time for teaching and a time for learning.

A time for speaking publicly and a time for serving silently.

For young women, yours is primarily a time to learn and sow. Young women, full of zeal and overflowing with desires to serve Christ’s kingdom, let me encourage you to channel your energies to learning from older women, to striving after maturity, to seeking out lowly places of service.

Mothers of small children, yours is a season for gathering up seeds of wisdom from older women and planting them in the fertile soil of your family. Each day you stand at the head of an endless row of seeds to be sown—disciplines to be lovingly administered, squabbles to be settled, splinters to be extracted, plates to be cleared, lessons to be taught to little ones. Make it your aim to faithfully sow.

And may I encourage you, young woman, not to despise the sowing time? You may feel as if your kingdom influence is small at best. You may feel as if your time and talents are going to waste. You may feel as if everyone else is teaching and you are still stuck learning. You may feel as if your seeds will never sprout.

But I think, perhaps, that the church needs young women like you most of all. More than young women teachers, we need young women learners. More than young women leaders, we need young women doers. More than young women bloggers and speakers we need young mothers and sisters to raise the next generation in the ways of the Lord.

The church desperately needs young women who are fervently learning and faithfully sowing today so that they can become the older women of tomorrow. If the present dearth of qualified, older women has taught us anything, it has taught us this.

So let me encourage you, young woman. Do not chafe at the learning and do not despair in the sowing. Delight in this season, in this time appointed by our gracious Lord. Toil and struggle, learn and sow, with all his energy that he powerfully works within you (Col. 1:29).

~from the archives

Sep 2

Q&A: How to Be Patient with Your Children

2014 at 6:12 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Motherhood

chair bible Stephanie’s has a two-year-old whom she loves to pieces, but who whines a lot. Ashley has five children at home under the age of nine. Both wrote to ask “how do you stay patient with young children?” I can certainly relate. Impatience is a common temptation for us as moms. So, as I always do, I asked my exceptionally patient mom (she raised me after all!), and wrote down a few of her suggestions. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few things she’s passed on to me that I have found most helpful:

Identify temptation points

Recently my husband and I realized that we were most tempted to be impatient when we had to get our four children out the door. Identifying this temptation-point helped, not only so we could prepare our hearts to be more self-controlled and patient, but also so we could streamline our process and get an earlier start. Less temptation for everyone. Less impatience from Mom and Dad.

Be consistent

More often then not, when I find myself growing impatient with my children, it is because I have not been clear about the rules or boundaries. They are simply following my lead. So why am I getting impatient with them? My impatience is often a clue that I have slacked off in one area or another. It is time to get back to basics and train or instruct ahead of time and then be consistent to bring appropriate consequences. Being consistent helps me guard against impatience.

Don’t do stupid things twice

This one is for me. I am always repeating my own stupid mistakes. But Janelle is the opposite. She’s a fast learner. For example, a little while ago her two-year-old Hudson became obsessed with balloons. He would throw a fit when he saw a balloon in the store. He would even start screaming in his car seat when they drove past balloons outside! Once she realized this, Janelle made strategic decisions to avoid balloons where possible. She took alternate routes home and avoided certain sections of the store, unless she was prepared to buy a balloon. Point is, if you know your toddler is going to throw a fit in aisle three, if possible, don’t go to aisle three for a while. Wait until your consistent training at home makes it possible for you to go to the store without a meltdown. Do whatever you can to avoid walking into situations you know will be tempting for you and your child.

Be grateful

I read a great post on this by someone, somewhere, and now I can’t find it. The upshot was that when we cultivate a heart of gratefulness to God for the precious gift of our children, it counteracts the impatience in our heart. So if we find our impatience is rising, how’s our gratefulness? Let’s thank God for the amazing gift of our children and it will be much easier to be patient.

Pray

There is something about going to God in prayer that reminds us just how patient our heavenly Father is with us. This produces humility in our hearts, which in turn, produces patience toward our children. And we need God’s help. So let’s pray. He is eager to help us to model His patience toward our children.

~from the archives

Sep 1

Darkness Gives Us a Choice

2014 at 9:24 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Trusting God | Suffering

“In the darkness we have a choice that is not really there in better times. We can choose to serve God just because he is God. In the darkest moments we feel we are getting absolutely nothing out of God or out of our relationship to him. But what if then—when it does not seem to be paying or benefiting you at all—you continue to obey, pray to, and seek God, as well as continue to do your duties of love to others? If we do that—we are finally learning to love God for himself, and not for his benefits.” ~Tim Keller

Aug 29

Winners! True Beauty Book Club Giveaway

2014 at 8:13 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

We were so excited to see how many book clubs are eager to go through True Beauty! Our grand-prize winner is a group of women from First Baptist Church of Hacienda Heights, CA who wrote: “We are a mixed group of married with kids, married, single and college women. We love the Lord and our local church!” Sounds like a fun group!

Even if your book club didn’t win, we want to send all of the groups who entered a complimentary copy of True Beauty to share with one of your members. You’ll be hearing from us shortly.

May God bless your time of fellowship with His presence and grace.

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone! We’ll see you back here next week.

Janelle for the girltalkers

Aug 27

When We Don’t Feel Beautiful

2014 at 8:14 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

When a friend is struggling with her appearance, many of us might say something like: “You are beautiful just the way you are. God made you and he thinks you are beautiful. And I do too. You just need to believe that this is true.”

There are important truths embedded in this counsel, to be sure. The dignity of every human being made in the image of God means we all have an inherent beauty. But this glorious truth doesn’t always help us when we feel unattractive or anxious about our appearance.

For me, I can convince myself that I am beautiful for only so long. All it takes is for my scale to register a few extra pounds or to walk past a woman who is younger and prettier than me, and that bubble bursts pretty quickly.

Why doesn’t this truth stick? Why doesn’t this astounding knowledge—that we are beautiful because we are made in the image of God—eradicate, once and for all, our feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt?

One reason is that we often mistakenly turn this truth about God into clichés about us. When we turn the spotlight away from God and onto ourselves, we twist the truth.

So “God is beautiful and made us in his image” becomes “You are beautiful because God created you.”

Herein lies the flaw in our well-meaning advice: it starts and ends with us.

When we focus on ourselves, we’re only compounding the problem. That’s because self-focus is our problem. Sagging self-confidence is often a preoccupation with self; struggles with comparison, measuring up, and fitting in reveal our self-absorption.

“Low self-esteem usually means that I think too highly of myself,” explains Ed Welch. “I’m too self-involved, I feel I deserve better than what I have. The reason I feel bad about myself is that I aspire to something more. I want just a few minutes of greatness.”

Feelings of inadequacy about our appearance often arise because we feel we deserve better than what we have. We aspire to something more.

We may not feel like we’re grasping at greatness—we just want to fit in with the other moms or the popular girls at school—but then again, we never seem to be liked enough or included enough to make us happy. We never get what we think we deserve.

This is why our beauty struggles seem set on repeat: self-is never satisfied.

But there is hope for you and for me. When we accurately diagnose our struggles with beauty, we can beak free from this destructive cycle, and find liberating truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

~adapted from True Beauty