Joy

Mar 23

Trying to Turn a Grapefruit Into a Baseball

2015 at 9:55 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Trusting God | Joy

In sum, death has pointed its headlights at us and started its engine. Therefore, we must learn from God how to enjoy what he has given to us, knowing that none of it can save or satisfy us. Trying to turn a grapefruit into a baseball doesn’t dismiss the value of the grapefruit, but it makes for a disappointing baseball game. If we want to enjoy the fruit’s value, we have to treat it according to the use God gave it and resist tying to use it for things it was not made for. A grapefruit cannot give us the thrill of a home run, but it can make a breakfast pleasant.

So it is with our spouses, our food, our work, and our place in the world. Neither of these can satisfy our souls or provide the gain that only God can give. Trying to use them as such will only disappoint us. Yet, these creations are God-given and possess divine purpose. A joy resides within them for our notice and this by his design. We are meant to taste these joys for which God’s gifts were made. ~Zach Eswine

Mar 10

Are Hobbies the Secret to Happiness?

2015 at 6:07 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Time Management

Recently, at the end of a conference session where CJ and I fielded questions, a woman approached me with a query of her own: “So what do you do on the side?” she inquired.

“On the side?” I echoed, not fully comprehending her question.

“What do you do for personal fulfillment?” she sought to clarify. “You see I’m happy my husband has his ministry because that provides him with personal fulfillment. But I pursue my own hobbies because they provide personal fulfillment for me. So,” she repeated again, “What do you do?”

I was unprepared for her question. And I’m sure my answer was insufficient. (How often I have an eloquent answer after the conversation is over!) If I had it to do over again, I’d tell her about Dorothy.

Dorothy was a woman who knew the secret of true “personal fulfillment.” A single mom whose husband left her with a son to raise, Dorothy didn’t spend time worrying about herself. Instead, she was always serving and caring for others. I knew her because she was my Sunday School teacher. And Dorothy was one of the most joyful women I knew.

At my bridal shower everyone wrote down a piece of advice on a slip of paper. I only remember one, and it was Dorothy’s. Her secret to a fulfilled life? “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). Our culture is constantly telling us to find our life; that we’re the center of our world, and as such, we need to take care of “me” first.

But when I’m the center of my world, my world becomes very small—because I’m the only person in it. When I try to find fulfillment in anything besides loving Christ and serving Him, I will only end up more frustrated and completely unfulfilled.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I think we as women should express our creativity, and even more importantly get sufficient rest. But the purpose of creativity should be to glorify God with our gifts, not to find “personal fulfillment,” and the goal of rest should be to strengthen us for service.

If we want “personal fulfillment” as women, we must not follow our culture’s prescription. Rather, we must lose our life for Christ’s sake. Then, amazingly, we’ll find that our world expands. We’ll know the thrill of seeing the fruit of our sacrificial service in the lives of those around us. So for true “personal fulfillment,” let’s follow Dorothy’s example as she followed Christ.

—from the archives

Nov 12

How To Be a Happy Mom

2012 at 3:55 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Motherhood

I once talked to a woman who told me how she used to always be overwhelmed and unhappy as a mother. She was so burdened by the constant demands of her small children. She lived anxious and depressed. But then this mother was tragically separated from one of her children for a period of time. God worked in her heart through this difficult circumstance, and one way was to transform her perspective of motherhood. “Ever since that time” she said “I have never struggled with depression again. God helped me to see what a blessing my children are. I wake up every morning so grateful that I get to care for them, to meet their needs, to have them near me. I am the happiest mom.” Thankfulness drives away the clouds of weariness, self-pity, and impatience that overshadow the joys of motherhood. If we find that we have lost our joy in mothering, it may be because we have neglected to consistently thank God for our children. Sure, our children are a big responsibility and they do require a lot of work! But they are first and most importantly a gift from God and an incredible blessing. Read with me again the familiar words of Psalm 127:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! (Psalm 127:3-5 ESV)

Let the truth of Scripture refresh your perspective of motherhood on this Monday. It doesn’t matter how your children are behaving or how much discipline they may require or how much work it is to care for their needs. The truth is that they are a gift, a heritage, a reward. So choose to thank God for your children, and you will become a happy mom.

Aug 1

The Joy Road

2012 at 10:30 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Motherhood

To paraphrase the first magnificent answer of the Shorter Catechism: A mother’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. And it is interesting to note, as J. I. Packer points out in his new book, Praying the Lord’s Prayer, that this doctrinal statement uses the word “‘end,’ not ‘ends,’ for the two activities [glorifying and enjoying God] are one.” Dr. Packer continues:

God’s chief end, purposed in all that he does, is his glory, and he has so made us that we find our own deepest fulfillment and highest joy in hallowing his name by praise, submission, and service.

Christians get so hung up with the pagan idea (very dishonoring to God, incidentally) that God’s will is always unpleasant, so that one is rather a martyr to be doing it, that they hardly at first notice how their experience verifies the truth that in Christian living duty and delight go together. But they do! And this will be even clearer in the life to come. To give oneself to hallowing God’s name as one’s life-task means that living, though never a joyride, will become increasingly a joy road. In other words, as we continue “lub-dubbing” along (I love that expression!) and learning contentment as mothers for the glory of God, caring for our children will increasingly become a joyful experience. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or a “joyride” as Dr. Packer says. But if our highest fulfillment is found in worshipping and obeying God, then motherhood will undoubtedly be a “joy road.” And if this is what God has called us to, then there is no other road we would rather be on. —from the archives

Apr 13

How God Works

2012 at 7:53 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy

“That’s how God works. He gets at our most fundamental idolatry and He ruthlessly crushes it in His unfathomable love and fatherly kindness and inscrutable wisdom and He goes after our greatest treasures and He leaves us with nothing but himself so that we go limping on our way for the rest of our lives having learned: ‘My grace is sufficient for you for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Don’t underestimate God. Don’t underestimate His ruthless compassionate gracious commitment to His glory or His commitment to your everlasting joy and good. He will pursue you graciously and ruthlessly and rip out the idols of your soul that would otherwise consume you. He is working for your joy and your good even when you cannot perceive it and have ceased to be able to feel anything anymore.” ~Ligon Duncan, The Underestimated God, T4G 2012

Sep 20

“Count it All Joy”

2011 at 4:58 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Suffering

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8 To be honest, these haven’t been the first verses I’ve run to in the midst of this trial. “Count it all joy.” Really?! But over time, God has graciously drawn me to this passage and taught me encouraging, faith-building lessons as I have sought to study and plunge its depths. One sermon that has helped me explore this passage is by Russell Moore from his series on James, “Life in the Mist”. I’ve listened to it several times and highly recommend it as an insightful introduction to this passage of Scripture. Whether or not you are in a trial, we all need wisdom; and thanks be to God, He promises to give generously to all, without reproach!

Jun 30

A Joy Road

2011 at 11:42 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Motherhood

from the archives To paraphrase the first magnificent answer of the Shorter Catechism: A mother’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. And isn’t it interesting to note, as J. I. Packer points out in his new book, Praying the Lord’s Prayer, that this doctrinal statement uses the word “‘end,’ not ‘ends,’ for the two activities [glorifying and enjoying God] are one.” Dr. Packer continues:

God’s chief end, purposed in all that he does, is his glory, and he has so made us that we find our own deepest fulfillment and highest joy in hallowing his name by praise, submission, and service.

Christians get so hung up with the pagan idea (very dishonoring to God, incidentally) that God¹s will is always unpleasant, so that one is rather a martyr to be doing it, that they hardly at first notice how their experience verifies the truth that in Christian living duty and delight go together. But they do! And this will be even clearer in the life to come. To give oneself to hallowing God’s name as one’s life-task means that living, though never a joyride, will become increasingly a joy road.

In other words, as we continue “lub-dubbing” along (I love that expression!) and learning contentment as mothers for the glory of God, caring for our children will increasingly become a joyful experience. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or a “joyride” as Dr. Packer says. But if our highest fulfillment is found in worshipping and obeying God, then motherhood will undoubtedly be a “joy road.” And if this is what God has called us to, then there is no other road we would rather be on.

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.

Dec 25

Joy to the World

2008 at 2:40 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Homemaking | Holidays

Dsc_0008lowres_5 In our new dining room hangs a large chalkboard. During the Christmas season we’ve had the words to the carol, “Joy to the World” written on the board. I’ve been teaching it to Caly and today we send it out as an audio Christmas card to you and your family. The Lord is come. Joy to the world indeed. Merry Christmas!

Dec 17

Advent Joy

2008 at 2:00 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Homemaking | Holidays | Resource Recommendations | Series

Opening the door of our Advent calendar each day is one of Jack’s greatest delights of the Christmas season. His enthusiasm—“Mom, it’s only nine more days until Christmas!”—epitomizes children’s radiant anticipation for the holiday. Sure, the Baby Ruth or Starburst behind the little door might have something to do with his eagerness (you think?). But he is also excited to read the next installment of the Christmas story and the verse that goes along with it (as he chews on his candy). Comejesus I have my own Advent pleasure this year, which I look forward to each morning as much as Jack does. It’s Nancy Guthrie’s compilation of Advent readings: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (HT: Justin Taylor) My apologies—I know it’s a little late to be recommending an advent book. But buy it as an early Christmas 2009 Christmas present for yourself (oh yes, and friends and family too). This is one of those books I’ve been waiting for all my life. It’s a collection of readings from almost all of my favorite authors (long dead and now living) on various passages related to the incarnation and birth of Jesus. John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, JI Packer, John Piper…need I go on? Despite the busyness of the Christmas season (and it seems to get crazier every year) I have been able to meditate on the deep and glorious truths of what it all means. The wonder of the incarnation, the humility of Christ, the glorious plan of the gospel, it’s application for me today. My joy is deeper this Christmas as my thoughts are drawn past the presents and parties to Jesus, the “joy of every longing heart.” “Open the cover,” it urges on the back of the book, “and rediscover what Christmas was meant to be.”