girltalk Blog

Jan 22

Coming Soon: True Beauty

2014 at 8:26 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw

It’s been a long time now, but do any of our long-time readers remember back four years ago when we asked you to send in your stories for a new book Mom and Nicole were writing about beauty? I think I see a few hands out there. Well, today I’m excited to announce that True Beauty has finally been completed, and is scheduled for release by Crossway Books on March 31, 2014.

We’re particularly excited to share this news with you, because True Beauty has emerged, in part, from the conversation we feel so blessed to have with all of you here at girltalk. The book is full of the stories, questions, struggles, and comments that so many of you shared with us.

True Beauty is also the fruit of your prayers—both at the beginning of the writing process in 2010, and again last spring when we asked for your prayers for a “project” we were completing. (Mom and Nicole wanted to wait until they were sure they could finish the book before announcing its publication!)

This book is the culmination of many years of study and hard work by Mom and Nicole. Their desire and prayer has been to bring God’s Word to bear in a personal and practical way to this consuming and complicated area of physical beauty. Here is the publisher’s description of their book:

What is true beauty?

Whether it’s age-defying makeup or the latest diet fad, our culture continually tells women that beauty consists of flawless skin and a supermodel figure. In True Beauty, Carolyn Mahaney and her daughter Nicole Whitacre direct us to the truth of God’s Word, where we encounter an entirely different—and refreshingly liberating—standard of beauty.

Offering a path to freedom from the false idols that society, the Devil, and our sinful hearts so often create, this encouraging book will help you to exchange the temporary glamour of pop culture for the unfading beauty of godliness.

And to whet your appetites even more, here is a taste of what others are saying about True Beauty:

“The answers Carolyn and Nicole put forward to our consuming and crippling desires to be beautiful on the world’s terms are neither square nor simplistic but rather completely scriptural and deeply satisfying.”

—Nancy Guthrie, Bible Teacher; author, Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series

“Carolyn and Nicole have acted as our research assistants to open our eyes to the vanity of physical beauty and our hearts to the power of true beauty.”

—Dannah Gresh, best-selling author and creator of Secret Keeper Girl

“Combining the eminently practical with the deeply theological, Carolyn and Nicole give us a work that is both terrifically up-to-date and rooted in God’s unchanging Word.

—Kevin and Trisha DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan. Kevin and Trisha have been married for 12 years and have six children.

“Whether single, married, wife, mom, husband, father, brother, or boyfriend, True Beauty is a must-read.

—Webb and Dowd Keith Simpson, Professional golfer, PGA Tour, and his wife, mother of three

“This book should be read by every Christian woman and it should be put in the hands of every young girl as soon she can understand it. These gifted authors have not only written a book; they have launched a revolution.”

—Al and Mary Mohler, President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and his wife, Mary, Director of the Seminary Wives Institute at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

You can read more about what people are saying about True Beauty and pre-order your copy today.

Mom and Nicole are so grateful for your participation and prayers and hope this book will be an encouragement to each one of you. Having read it myself, I can assure you that it will.

Jan 20

A Tale of Two Comparisons

2014 at 10:15 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth

Recently, a young woman asked us: “Why do you think so many young Christian women these days resist godly advice from other Christian women?”

Now I know many young women who are eager, desperate even, for godly advice. But particularly on the Internet, there seems to be a trend of sometimes labeling godly counsel as legalistic or condemning.

Granted, if you’ve had the unpleasant culinary experience of an extra-biblical opinion shoved down your throat, you may not be asking for another. But more often than not, I wonder if this reaction comes from sinful comparison, a fear of feeling inferior, confusion over how to biblically handle those negative feelings that come from jealousy and envy.

But Jesus’ exhortation in John 21: “What is that to you? You follow me?” is not an encouragement to isolationist Christianity. It does not encourage individualism and pride. Rather, following Christ leads us into greater humility, which draws us deeper into community with other believers who—regardless of their different backgrounds and circumstances—are also trying to follow God.

In fact, Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t ever look at others. Put your blinders on and look only to me.” No, he says, “Don’t look to others in envy and sinful comparison. But do look to other, godly, Christians to imitate and follow their example.”

In 1 Peter 3 we are told to look to the holy women of the past and consider their way of life. In Titus 2 the younger women are to learn from the older women. Paul says it plainly in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

These verses do not mean we have to take every suggestion we receive, or that well-intended advice is infallible advice. But a humble heart is on the look out for wherever wisdom can be gleaned. A humble heart has no problem admitting someone has followed farther than we have; it runs to catch up.

So let’s not attempt to cure the pride of sinful comparison with the pride of prickly individualism. Let’s lean in to learn. Let’s press on to know more of Christ, and let’s look around for those God has placed in our lives to teach us how to obey his command: “you follow me.”

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