Homemaking

Nov 25

Avoiding a Thanksgiving Train Wreck

2014 at 8:51 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Emotions | Homemaking | Holidays

The small town in Kentucky where we live grew up about 150 years ago around a train station. Trains still rumble through all day, to the delight of my children who try to count the cars and guess what’s inside.

The other night, though, we came upon an ugly scene. The train had collided with a huge white semi, which lay twisted on the track, illuminated by the glow of emergency vehicles. Thankfully no one was hurt, but it was a dramatic sight.

For some of us, this is where our emotions are headed this Thanksgiving. We are a train wreck waiting to happen.

Maybe we sense a crash ahead. Things haven’t been great with the family lately and a holiday conflict is in the offing. Or we are tense and irritable, unhappy about a lot of things in our life: we’re speeding into the holiday with no emotional brakes.

But maybe we’re totally unaware a semi is ahead on the tracks. We’re happy because the Thanksgiving table will be full this year. We’re energized by all the dinner preparations.

All of us, the excited and the anxious, must consider the source of our emotions this Thanksgiving. Can our happiness be taken away if things suddenly go wrong this Thursday? Is a peaceful holiday or some change of circumstances the only thing that will make us happy?

Tim Keller has a few words of wisdom for the holiday:

Most contemporary people base their inner life on their outward circumstances. Their inner peace is based on other people’s valuation of them, and on their social status, prosperity, and performance. Christians do this as much as anyone. Paul is teaching that (in Eph. 1:15-19 and especially verse 17), for believers, it should be the other way around. Otherwise we will be whiplashed by how things are going in the world.

If our holiday happiness is dependent on what the people we spend Thanksgiving with think about us, or how our children behave, or whether the gravy thickens, we’re headed for an emotional crash. We’ll get whiplashed by how things go.

But Paul wrote in Philippians (4:10-13), that he had learned to avoid such collisions. He had learned the secret to being content (happy!) whatever the circumstances. The strength of his joy was in his Savior.

If we set our joy in God at the beginning of this week, our happiness will be unassailable. It won’t be ruffled by a family member’s put-down or burnt with the rolls.

You know what? We do not need the approval of our family or success in our job or a feeling of significance. We don’t even need to have a conflict-free holiday in order to be happy. Our happiness can really be, as we’ve quoted often here at girltalk, “out of the reach” of all these things. That’s because for those of us who are Christians, our joy is safely and securely in Jesus Christ.

When you can honestly say, “My worst fears about this holiday may come true, or it may be the best holiday ever, but either way, I know I will be happy this Thanksgiving” you know you’ve discovered Paul’s secret. Here’s praying we all will find it.

Nov 19

CJ’s Christmas Book List 2014

2014 at 8:15 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays | Resource Recommendations

Per your request, here is the ninth annual edition of CJ’s book list. Get your Christmas shopping off to a great start!

Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 by Daniel James Brown

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

Wooden: A Coach’s Life by Seth Davis

Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand

The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tim Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta by Gil Capps

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William Manchester

For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War by James M. McPherson

Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off by Jay Bilas

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War Torn Skies of World War II by Adam Makos

Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb

Frozen In Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam

Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball
by John Feinstein

Nov 18

A Game-Plan for Handling Holiday Emotions

2014 at 7:51 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Emotions | Homemaking | Holidays

Today the girltalkers are sitting down over lunch (maybe leftover chicken and orzo or a couple of roast beef sandwiches from Arby’s—Janelle’s still deciding on the menu) to plan Thanksgiving. Yes, we’re a little early on the Christmas music and late on the Thanksgiving planning this year, but we’ll pull it together.

Holiday planning is essential. We plan menus and seating arrangements, we make lists of gifts to get and to give. But there’s one holiday event we often fail to plan for, and that is our feelings.

The holidays stir up feelings we thought were ancient history, feelings that only seem to surface this time of year and if we aren’t prepared, our emotions can end up running (even ruining) the holidays.

Anxiety spikes over the holidays. Will the children like their presents? Will the turkey be moist and will the gravy thicken? Is the family going to get along?

When life is hard and we are down, we feel bitter and resentful of holiday cheer. Maybe Scrooge had a point.

Disappointments litter the holiday season. Your daughter couldn’t come for Christmas. The party wasn’t a huge success. Your husband wasn’t as excited about his present as you’d hoped.

Envy and jealousy rear their ugly heads this time of year. You were reasonably content until you had to spend an evening listening to your cousin talk about her new house and her amazing church and her wonderful kids.

We feel stressed about all the work and irritable because no one is helping us do it.

Feelings of judgment and anger (you thought you’d repented from) are rekindled along with the yuletide fire. Guilt is served up like a side dish.

Many of us feel happy and excited over the holidays, only to get hit with a bad case of post-holiday blues.

For some, the holidays bring a sharp stab of pain and sadness from the loss of a loved one.

How do we deal with our holiday feelings? There’s a ton of advice out there, but as Christian women, we have a higher goal. We want to glorify God with our holiday feelings. We want to rejoice in our Savior’s birth. We want to have hearts full of gratitude for the gift of salvation.

We have a higher goal, and we also have a greater hope. Our hope is in our Savior, who has rescued us from the wrath of God and forgiven us from our sins. Our hope is in the Holy Spirit who is active in our hearts this holiday season to help us rejoice in Jesus Christ.

How can we experience God-glorifying emotions this holiday? Let’s receive wisdom from God’s Word to make a plan.

Nov 17

“Prepare Him Room”  Winners

2014 at 8:14 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays | Resource Recommendations

Thanks to everyone for the great children’s book suggestions for Christmas! Our winner is Meredith, who wrote to tell us how a book we know and love is actually perfect for Advent:

My favourite Advent resource for children is Sally Lloyd-Jones’ very wonderful The Jesus Story Book Bible The format of this children’s Bible is such that there are twenty one stories presented from the Old Testament (each of which “whisper Jesus’ name”) and then the Christmas story is presented in the first three stories in the New Testament section. That makes twenty four stories that will paint an Old Testament backdrop to the birth of Jesus and then tell the story of his birth. Twenty four superb readings to do with children - one a day - during the month of December leading up to Christmas. Isn’t that amazing? Made this happy discovery a few years ago.

Love it, Meredith. Thank you!

Our runners up are Shea and Jaime who both recommended another book by Sally Lloyd-Jones: Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story

We’ll send all three of you a Prepare Him Room cd right away. Enjoy!

Nov 13

Christmas Music, Advent Reading, and a Giveaway

2014 at 7:13 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays

Here at girltalk, we’ve been breaking all the rules and listening to Christmas music for a few weeks now. The new Prepare Him Room album is just that good!

We’d love to give one of you a complimentary cd as an early Christmas present. Write and tell us your favorite Christmas book for children (we are always looking for new ideas!) and we’ll enter you in the drawing.

Also, in preparation for Advent, here are a few ideas:

1. The new Advent devotional for families by Marty Machowski, which pairs with the Prepare Him Room cd.

2. The Good Book Company is my go-to source for advent calendars, and they have a new children’s book and calendar this year, The Christmas Promise.

3. Last year, we published a read-aloud list for kids with stories for every day of December (I’m hoping to add to that list from your ideas!).

P.S. Look for the much-requested CJ’s Christmas Gift Book List next week!

Sep 30

New Album: Prepare Him Room

2014 at 5:20 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Gospel | Homemaking | Holidays

My kids are shocked (as they are every year) to find Christmas stuff out in the stores in September. But this year Christmas will come a little early to the Whitacre home too, because yesterday was the release of the new Sovereign Grace Christmas Album: Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus in Song.

The reality of the incarnation, the Son of God taking on our flesh and bones to save us, will be an eternal source of wonder, gratefulness, and joy. These fourteen songs are an attempt to capture that mystery in song.

This album is unique in that it accompanies a family devotional and classroom curriculum written by Marty Machowski which are designed to build gospel hope and enduring theological depth into your celebration of Christmas. You can find more information on those here:

Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional

Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus in the Classroom

You can purchase the album here and watch promotional acoustic videos on youtube here. You’re going to love it!

Jun 16

Housekeeping is Not Boring

2014 at 8:44 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking

“It is scarcely surprising, then, that so many people imagine housekeeping to be boring, frustrating, repetitive, unintelligent drudgery. I cannot agree. (In fact, having kept house, practiced law, taught, and done many other sorts of work, low- and high-paid, I can assure you that it is actually lawyers who are most familiar with the experience of unintelligent drudgery.)”

~Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House

Feb 27

Raising Cookie Eaters

2014 at 3:13 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Motherhood

In this insightful conversation between Rachel Jankovic (author of Fit to Burst) and her father, Douglas Wilson, Rachel explains where she wants her children to “grow up as cookie eaters instead of in the house with a cookie maker.”

Good stuff here about how to avoid falling into the ditch of resenting excellence in the home or the other ditch of pursuing excellence in the home for your own glory:

“Making cookies I’m all in favor of, but if you are making them about yourself and then trying to force them down everybody else’s throats “because I’m so good at this,” it doesn’t feed your children. But if you are making them because you want your children to be the kind of people who grew up eating cookies [and because] I want my children to have lived in a home that is ordered and pleasant to be in…if you are doing it that direction, I think it will feed your children.”

In the six minutes it takes for you to bake a batch of cookies you can watch this helpful video. Worth your time.

Motherhood & Work: Cleaning House and Cleaning Hearts, with Rachel Jankovic from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Jan 27

The Opportunities of Housekeeping

2014 at 8:49 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking

“Seen from the outside, housework can look like a Sisyphean task that gives you no sense of reward or completion. Yet housekeeping actually offers more opportunities for savoring achievement than almost any other work I can think of. Each of its regular routines brings satisfaction when completed. These routines echo the rhythm of life, and the housekeeping rhythm is the rhythm of the body. You get satisfaction not only from the sense of order, cleanliness, freshness, peace and plenty restored, but from the knowledge that you yourself and those you care about are going to enjoy these benefits.” ~Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House

Dec 23

kidtalk Christmas

2013 at 8:05 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays

While you bake cookies or wrap presents with the kiddos today, here are four-fun filled episodes of a kid talk Christmas with Mr. B, Mrs. B, and Caly. Listen and rejoice!

Kids, are you ready for Christmas? Grab your Christmas snacks and gather ‘round to enjoy a one-of-a kind telling of the Christmas story with Mr. and Mrs. B. Merry Christmas boys and girls!