girltalk Blog

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.”

Dec 12

5 Keys to Christmas Joy

2008 at 3:52 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Homemaking | Holidays

The First Key

by Nicole Whitacre

What would make you happy this Christmas?

What if I told you that you won a contest and someone was going to do all your holiday cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping and wrapping? What if I promised you would get the present of your dreams (like that car with the bow on top in the commercial)? Or what if I predicted that family rifts would be mended, or that this year’s Christmas memories would be the best ever?

The fact is, all these things (if they actually happened) might bring us a measure of temporary happiness. But they wouldn’t sustain us through a year’s worth of hardship and trouble. We know this. Yet every year, we place a losing bet on the world to supply a truly joyful holiday season.

But what if I told you that you could have a joyful Christmas, guaranteed? And what’s more, that you could experience that joy year-round? And what if I wasn’t kidding this time?

This week we’re going to offer five keys to joy this holiday season. No, we aren’t going to do your Christmas shopping for you. But we hope these thoughts will serve you more than that.

The first key to a joyful Christmas? Contemplate the incarnation.

Consider the staggeringly glorious news that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). Ponder this truth every day for the next twenty-two days, and you won’t be disappointed the day after Christmas.

Here are two simple ways to contemplate the wonder of God become man this season:

083081650xm Read Chapter Five, “God Incarnate” from JI Packer’s classic Knowing God. I’ve taken to reading this chapter every Christmas, and it never fails to help redirect my gaze from worldly pleasures to eternal truth. As Dr. Packer writes:

“The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.”

M41850021_m Purchase and listen to the Sovereign Grace Christmas album, Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man. While not traditional Christmas tunes, these beautiful songs are full of the wonderful truths of the incarnation:

God has sent His greatest treasure
Shown His love in greatest measure
Sending Christ to bleed and suffer
Purchasing our joy forever
Let the earth rejoice!

Instead of looking to the world to give us joy this Christmas, let’s focus on the one who came to earth and bore our sins, purchasing our joy forever!

That 2nd Key to Joy

by Janelle Bradshaw

Stockxpertcom_id7110051_size1 I’m chiming in today to talk about another key for maintaining our Christmas joy, and keeping it all year ‘round.

The second key is to consistently practice the spiritual disciplines.

Christmas time is busy and there is always lots to do. It can be a temptation to let a few things slide. You know the thoughts: “Things will settle down after the holidays. I’ll get back to it then.” Often times, the spiritual disciplines can be the first to go.

We usually don’t feel the immediate effect of skipping a few devotional times here and there. But, what happens if we don’t get our presents wrapped in time or the cookies made before the big meal? That would be a disaster!

Ah, but the neglect of the spiritual disciplines will have greater consequences. Over time, our heart will begin to grow cold to the things of the Lord. And no amount of Christmas cheer will provide the fix.

But if we give priority to our time in God’s Word and to prayer, we will find renewed joy each morning. Joy that sticks in the midst of Christmas craziness. For as the Psalmist says:

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart...they are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Psalm 19:8,10

So as things get busy, let’s make sure to keep the spiritual disciplines at the top of our Christmas to do list, and experience true holiday cheer.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Key Number Three for Christmas Joy

by Kristin Chesemore

Stockxpertcom_id1614_size1_2 It’s that “most wonderful time of the year!” I try to start enjoying the festivities of Christmas as early as I possibly can. Christmas music began playing in our home even before Thanksgiving (My mom is a firm believer in waiting until the day after Thanksgiving, but I personally like to enjoy the Christmas holiday as long as possible!). It’s only the 5th of December, but we’ve already purchased and decorated our tree, hung the stockings, and bought presents for the kiddos. This week we’ll make cookies, attend Christmas parties, and take a drive to see the neighborhood Christmas lights.

These are all blessings from the Lord to enjoy.

Funny though, how quickly these Christmas traditions become all about me. And selfishness (seeking to satisfy myself with the things of this world) is a one-way ticket to a lack of joy.

That’s why the third key to Christmas joy (and fighting worldliness) is to serve and give to others.

After all, isn’t this season ultimately about the Savior who came to seek and save the lost? Isn’t it supposed to—in addition to reminding me to be grateful for the gospel—also remind me to follow my Lord’s example and sacrifice for and serve others?

JI Packer, in his chapter on the incarnation Nicole mentioned the other day, exhorts me to put aside my selfish tendencies:

“The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent—to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others—-and not just their own friends—in whatever way there seems need.”

I would like this Christmas season to be characterized by a renewed desire to be outwardly focused instead of selfish. JI Packer continues:

“If God in mercy revives us, one of the things he will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit. ‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty became rich’ (2 Cor. 8:9).”

So will you join me in praying that God would work more of His spirit in our hearts? Then let’s take time to look around. Who can we serve? Who in our family can we bless? Who in our church can we sacrifice for? How can we care and give to those in need this holiday season?

Let’s enjoy the festivities, but not stop there—let’s chase after the pure joy of serving others this Christmas!

Key Four For More Joy

by Carolyn Mahaney

Serving with communion is the fourth key to joy. All too often, I spend time with the Lord, reading His Word and praying, but then I rush into my day, trying to serve others, but neglect to continue to commune with God.

And soon my joy dissipates.

Stockxpertcom_id7368341_size1_2 You know what it is like. We can be busy doing all the shopping, wrapping, decorating and baking that make for a happy Christmas, but we can be anxious, overwhelmed and irritated in the process. We’re still focused on worldliness instead of godliness.

As Kristin exhorted us yesterday, serving is a vital to fighting selfishness and holding on to joy this holiday season. But if we try to serve without relying on God’s strength, without meditating on His Word, without offering up prayers to Him, we’ll still be lacking joy.

Think of Martha in the Bible. I don’t need to tell you her story again (Luke 10:38-42). But needless to say we can all turn into Marthas around Christmastime. All service and no joy. Our Lord did not rebuke Martha for serving. He rebuked her for failing to choose the best thing (as her sister Mary had done) and sit as His feet and listen to Him.

As JI Packer (we’re using him a lot this week!) has observed: “Meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice.”

Martha certainly experienced the consequences of not communing with the Savior. But we don’t have to “suffer grievously” this holiday season. We don’t even have to be anxious or overwhelmed. By meditating on God’s Word throughout the day, joy can be ours, even amidst the chaos.

One practice that has helped me to meditate and pray is to write one verse or quote from my devotions on a 3x5 card and carry it around with me throughout the day. This way, God’s grace and truth is with me right at the moments when I need it most.

You may have a method that works better for you. But whatever your practice: by meditating on God’s Word throughout the day, we can experience joy that will last from morning coffee till we lay our heads on the pillow at night.

The Fifth and Final Key to Joy

by Janelle Bradshaw

Stockxpertcom_id7045751_size1_2 As we’ve been saying all week long, Christmas is full of wonderful gifts. And not just the ones residing underneath the tree. We experience gifts of family and friends. Gifts of food and fellowship. As my dad would say, “We are rich!”

And yet, I can sometimes fly through this season, taking for granted all that I have been given. This worldly mentality can rob me of joy if I fail to recognize and appreciate every good gift as coming straight from my heavenly Father (James 1:17). This leads me to our fifth and final key to joy this Christmas: “turn every gift into an opportunity to glorify and adore God.”

Each year at the outset of vacation, my dad is faithful to remind us to transfer glory to God for His many gifts. He reads us the following quote from C.S. Lewis:

“Pleasures are shafts of glory as it strikes our sensibility….I have tried…to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different…Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.’ Adoration says, ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun….If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labour.” (as quoted in, When I Don’t Desire God, by John Piper)

This discipline is worth some labor. If, when we receive a gift, we stop and allow our minds to “run back up the sunbeam to the sun,” if we adore the One from whom all gifts come, we will find our joy multiplied a hundred fold.

Sep 16

Singing Grace

2008 at 5:22 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy

Recently when my granddaughter, Caly, heard a snippet from the great hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Blessing,” she firmly announced: “That’s Pop-Pop’s song!”

Why does this little two-year-old think her grandpa is the sole possessor of that beloved song? It’s because when Pop-Pop is around, she is accustomed to hearing him belt out the refrain:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

He sings it fervently. He sings it often. It’s obvious that regularly singing the words to this hymn has become a useful way for him to focus his heart on the Savior in the daily fight with indwelling sin.

My husband is not the only who has a favorite hymn to help him fix his eyes on Jesus. I once read that “when Hudson Taylor was told about missionaries in his charge being in trouble, he was heard soon after whistling his favorite hymn, ‘Jesus I Am Resting.’”

Singing hymns or other songs of Scripture is a way to battle our sin, cast our cares, and make our souls happy in God. As it says in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Stockxpertcom_id20190911_size0 I want to sing more, because this command to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is a means of grace to help me turn my heart to God in repentance, trust, gratitude and hope.

That’s why I love to hear CJ sing—not because of his extraordinary voice (Sorry, Dear, you are extraordinary in every other way!)—but because his singing reminds me to sing.

That’s what I hope this little post will do for you too: remind you to sing.