girltalk Blog

Jan 20

What I Am

2014 at 8:26 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood

“I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am.“ ~John Newton

Jan 16

My Friend, Margie

2014 at 7:30 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Friendship | Spiritual Growth

I only remember two things about Margie. She had long brown hair, and she was smarter than me. Maybe she recited her multiplication tables faster or got better grades or turned in tests sooner than me and the other dozen or so kids in the third grade—I don’t remember, exactly. But do I remember crying to my mom, feeling sorry for myself that she was so much better than me.

And the reason that I remember Margie at all is because of what my mom said next: “You’ll always have a Margie in your life, Nicole. There is always going to be someone who is better than you. No matter where you are, who you know, how much you excel, God is always going to put people close to you who are better than you.”

Boy, was she was right. I don’t think Margie returned to my school the following year, but she’s been with me ever since. Sometimes she is a mother who is a more consistent and creative mom than me. Other times she’s a writer who can write circles around me. She’s the woman who is much prettier than I am. She has more friends than me. She has more money and a nicer house. She’s more artistic than me.

Everywhere I turn, every time I try my hand at something, every time I think, even for a split second, that maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally earned a blue ribbon, she shows up, just in time, to grab the grand prize.

What would I do without her?

I would be puffed up and self-satisfied. Apathetic. Unmotivated. Hard-hearted. Unhappy. That’s why I thank God for all the Margies in my life. Not always right at first, but sooner than I used to; because I have come to see each one—not as a threat to my happiness and success—but as a gift from God: a token of his particular, adopting, sanctifying love for me.

God uses Margie to expose my heart. She shows me what the wise old preacher once said: “What hurts ain’t dead yet.”

God uses Margie to challenge me to grow. She shows me that I really haven’t “arrived” in the Christian life but that I can, and I should, make progress.

God uses Margie to purify my heart for service. She eclipses my glory, and so, with the silt of my ambition strained out, I’m more apt to serve for God’s glory.

No doubt you have a Margie or two in your life. She’s probably the woman you’re thinking of right now. If so, thank God. He loves you, and he is not done with you yet.

Jan 14

Sinful Comparison: A Pain in the Neck

2014 at 9:20 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Time Management

It’s January again, and Facebook and Twitter are clogged with New Year wishes and resolutions, reminiscences of the year past and predictions of the year ahead.

But the New Year can come with an unexpected side effect: the crick in our neck that we can get from looking around at everyone else and worrying that maybe they’ve got it better than we do. With every flipagram in our feed, the strain gets worse, the knots tighten.

Maybe 2013 wasn’t such a great year for you. It was full of set backs and frustrations, disappointments and challenges. And yet it seems (if Facebook is to be believed) as if everyone else had an exciting and successful year. Everyone else got married and had babies. Everyone else’s home business took off. They made new friends, had great vacations, and their kids excelled in school. Everyone else lost weight.

They have and we have not. And the more we think about it, the more restless, anxious, and dissatisfied we feel.

In search of a cure, we may pour out our sorrows on social media, and watch the sympathy likes pile up; but somehow they never fill our empty love cup to its tippy top.

Or we protest (too much, methinks) that we don’t care a wit what people think; we’re proud of our messy house and messed up life. We call it “being real.”

We may try to release the tension by taking jabs and digs at others. If we can’t feel better about ourselves, at least we can create some company for our misery.

It’s not that we resolve to bigger complaining and better envy in 2014, but when we start to sinfully compare, we’re well on our way. If we sow seeds of “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” at the start of 2014, they are sure to sprout up as weeds that choke our growth in godliness the whole year through (James 3:14).

Our Savior graciously confronts our sinful comparison in John chapter 21. The scene is following his resurrection. He has just restored his disciple, Peter, and then he gives him the news: you will die a horrible death.

We have a lot of sympathy for Peter, who strains his neck to look around at his buddy John and asks, “What about this man?”

“What is that to you?” Jesus says to Peter. “You follow me.”

Our Savior’s loving rebuke echoes in our ears. He meant for it to.

He meant for his words to protect us from sinful comparison that would distract us from our calling, stifle our growth in godliness, injure our relationships, dishonor his holiness, and make us miserable.

And he invites us, or rather, commands us to “follow me.” We follow him by meditating on his Word instead of longing for what others have, by taking whatever steps of obedience he requires from us today, and by rejoicing with others when they receive blessings from God.

At the beginning of the New Year, let’s receive our Savior’s loving, rebuke and invitation. Yes, everyone else may seem poised to be faster, better, prettier, smarter, and more successful in 2014, but “What is that to you? You follow me.”

{If you find yourself tempted to sinful comparison at the start of the New Year let me encourage you to watch this workshop.}

Jan 13

“The Greed of Doing”

2014 at 8:12 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Time Management

“I have been thinking of something that stifles thanksgiving. It is the spirit of greed—the greed of doing, being, having. When Satan came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, his bait was intended to inspire the lust to do more than the Father meant for Him to do—to go farther, demonstrate more power, act more dramatically. So the enemy comes to us in these days of frantic doing. We are ceaselessly summoned to activities: social, political, educational, athletic, and yes—spiritual. Our ‘self image’ [deplorable word!] is dependent not on the quiet and hidden ‘Do this for My sake,’ but on the list the world hands us of what is ‘important.’ It is a long list, and it is both foolish and impossible. If we fall for it, we neglect the short list. Only a few things are really important, and for those we have the promise of divine help: sitting in silence with the Master in order to hear His word and obey it in the ordinary line of duty—for example, in being a good husband, wife, mother, son, daughter, or spiritual father or mother to those nearby who need protection and care—humble work which is never on the world’s list because it leads to nothing impressive on one’s resume. As Washington Gladden wrote in 1879, ‘O Master, let me walk with Thee/In lowly paths of service free…’”

~Elisabeth Elliot

Jan 9

Planning: A Mini-Session

2014 at 8:32 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Time Management

After last week’s post on planning, a few of you asked what exactly we do in our Chick-fil-A planning sessions and how we revisit these goals throughout the year.

I’ll give you a brief version here, but you can find a more detailed description of our planning methods, including a biblical foundation for our plans and goals in our book, Shopping for Time.

Look, we’re not time management experts. You won’t find anything new or revolutionary in our methods, but they have worked well for us for a couple of decades now. Mom developed this simple system years ago, and even though we do it in Evernote instead of on a legal pad these days, the process is still pretty much the same.

First we take time to consider our various roles/priorities, which usually come under these headings:

Grow in Godliness

Love my Family

Serve in the Church

Fellowship with Christians

Evangelize non-Christians

Attend to My Work

Care for My Physical Body

In our book we explain the biblical principles that underlie these priorities, and also how they look different for every woman, depending on her season of life. Because my sisters and I are parenting young kids, we end up spending most of our time on the first two. But for someone who doesn’t have children, you may focus more on other priorities like church and work.

Next, we set goals for each priority. We consider (and discuss—I highly recommend doing this with a friend so you can share ideas and encourage each other) ways we want to grow or improve, and focus on problem areas.Are we getting consistent time with the Lord? What are our biggest concerns for our kids? What ways can we serve in the church this year?

Third, we come up with next steps to make those goals a reality. So I may need to research and decide on a new Bible reading plan, buy a new commentary, or make a list of verses to use in my prayer time. My husband and I always set goals for our kids which require specific actions—often changes to the routine so we can read to them each day, schedule times for Bible study and training, and of course, family fun.

Finally, I put the next steps on my to do list and make the necessary changes to my daily and weekly routine. These are nothing fancy, just lists I keep in Evernote. Each morning I review my list of to dos for the day and each weekend I take a few minutes to plan for the week ahead. Once I’ve translated my goals into next steps and put them on my calendar and to do list, I only need to glance at them from time to time.

By the time we plan again—usually every six months or so—I’m thrilled if I’ve accomplished even half of the goals I set at the beginning of the year. But as my dad likes to remind us, that’s more than if we’d never planned at all.

So that’s the thirty-second version. If it leaves you with more questions than answers, maybe try the book. Shopping for Time may not be the best book on time management you’ll ever read, but at least it is short. Oh, and it pairs well with a Chick-fil-A sandwich and a large sweet tea.

Jan 7

Q&A: “How do you get up early when your kids are up all night?”

2014 at 11:13 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Time Management | Motherhood | Q&A

The girltalk inbox has been a bit crowded these days with e-mails from exhausted moms asking how it is possible to rise early and get time with the Lord when they are up half the night with small children. It always encourages me to hear from you! I just finished a long stretch with Summer (11 months) and Hudson (3 years) waking up multiple times a night. Mike and I would laugh (more like a half-hearted chuckle from me) that they seemed to coordinate with one another, working in shifts to make sure that I got as little sleep as possible.

So how do I wake up early when my kids want to party all night? I don’t. I can’t.

A couple months ago, I sat across from Mom, Nicole and Kristin exhausted and crying (not for the first time in the last eight years) over my lack of sleep and inability to get up early. I missed my early morning times with the Lord, and my days felt more disorganized and hectic because I wasn’t able to get up before my children. They sympathized and encouraged me to remember that this was a season—yes, a long and tiring season, but not one that would last forever.

In the meantime, I needed to get creative and develop an alternative plan. If waking up early before my kids wasn’t possible right now, then how else could I feed my soul throughout the day? I downloaded the ESV Bible app, which has an audio feature. (FYI: Over at christianaudio.com, you can get the ESV audio for FREE during the month of January!) I loaded my phone with sermons, which I could listen to a few minutes at a time. I took time to pray while I was in the shower or emptying the dishwasher.

I also sought to be intentional about my children’s schedule. I trained Hudson to have “room time” (an hour alone in his room with a few toys) at the same time that Summer took her morning nap. This guaranteed (and I use that word loosely) me a slot of time where I could read my Bible or finish a project.

These ideas may not work for you, but the point is to get creative. What are small ways you can seek the Lord throughout your day? How can you free up twenty minutes in your daily schedule to sit and read your Bible and pray?

And take heart. You are not alone. And this season won’t last forever…right???