Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

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photo credit: Josh Liba via photopin cc

“The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” Proverbs 20:12

This week in our home school my daughter learned about the senses. Our theme song, as we explored the use of our senses, was the old children’s Sunday school song: “Be Careful Little Eyes What You See.” We added hand motions and really made it fun. She loves the song. I do too. I also thought about the words. We are cautioning these little ones to guard their eyes, ears, tongue and hands from doing and experiencing evil. Those are important concepts for them to grasp and use throughout their lives. Still, as much as we caution them, a huge amount of that responsibility rests with us while our little ones are in our care.

As parents, what are we allowing our children to see and hear? I have found over the years that my daughter hears and sees more than I’m aware. Whenever I think that she’s not paying attention, she is! Whenever I think I’ve whispered something softly enough, I haven’t! Or what about those super embarrassing moments when your kids rat you out to an outsider about how you said this or that? Yeah, they are listening. They are seeing.

My daughter is a little sponge, soaking up everything around her. I confess I’ve made some bad choices over the last couple of years with what I’ve allowed her to see and hear, even in the background. I’ll never forget a night when we were watching a movie at my mom’s house. The kids were off playing and we didn’t think they were paying any attention to the television. The movie had some cursing in it. I was horrified when my sweet, little toddler walked up to my brother and repeated one of the not-so-appropriate words she had just heard on the TV! I talked to her about how the man on the TV had said a bad word and that we didn’t want to say bad words like that. Still, I felt convicted, and still do when I allow her to overhear and oversee things that are not edifying for her.

It’s my job to guard her eyes and ears. It’s also my job to direct her hands and tongue to doing and speaking what’s right. She isn’t going to always live up to the standards the Lord has given us, anymore than I do! She is going to need re-directing and discipline, and if I truly love her I will provide it. I will teach those hands to serve the Lord and that tongue to preach His love.

Our children are in our care, and it’s a huge responsibility. Knowing that what we allow them to hear, watch and do is going to affect their lives is a heavy burden. Still, we have the greatest resource in parenting in the Word of God. The book of Proverbs is packed full of wisdom for parents in raising up Godly children. I know I’ve made many mistakes in my raising of my daughter thus far, and I’m sure I’ll continue to make them. I pray only that I am strong enough and wise enough to guard her mind and her heart until she is old enough to do it herself.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ” Proverbs 22:6

 

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Too Much Talking in Discipline

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Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I’ve always found it important to explain to my daughter why she is receiving a negative consequence for her bad behavior. What’s the point of disciplining her if she doesn’t realize why she is being punished and how this re-direction is going to benefit her? I want her to know what God’s Word says and how we are to walk in the world. I want her to someday be a shining example of a Godly young woman, who is respectful, kind and courageous. I guess I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I want her to learn to respect her elders and to season her words with honor.

Still, I recently studied this discipline technique where the instructor reminded me that sometimes explaining everything to a young child is ineffective and just frustrates the child. In other words, if the issue is pretty black and white, over-explaining it or trying to lecture a young child about what he or she has done wrong ends up creating more conflict and less learning. In this training session he gives examples of how one simple explanation is sufficient. If a child continues to try to debate the issue, it becomes unfruitful to go back and forth with him/her to try and get your point across. Simply enact the disciplinary measure and leave it there.

I found this to be interesting and true. Especially for young children, too much talking, or talking to them like they are little adults, can end up sounding more like a parent and a kid debating than a parent usurping authority in the situation. I see it in my own home. Say, for example, my daughter does not want to eat her dinner but wants an ice cream instead. I tell her that she cannot have dessert unless she eats her dinner. She starts throwing a fit because she doesn’t like my answer. Instead of simply disciplining the behavior, I continue to try and explain to her why eating ice cream instead of dinner is a bad choice, how I’m trying to look out for her health, why she needs to honor and obey me, etc. Meanwhile, my daughter’s hearing nothing because she’s in a full-blown hissy fit, whining, crying and throwing herself on the couch. See what I mean?

If the child knows what he or she is doing is wrong, they may not need any explanation, or a short one will suffice. Obviously there are a variety of circumstances in which a more thorough explanation is in order, but usually a quick, straightforward response is all that’s needed to answer a request and correct a misbehavior.

Now there’s one more part to this that wasn’t in the video I watched (it was a secular training course), but that to me makes a huge difference. We don’t need long explanations during a time of discipline because hopefully we are instructing our children before they get into trouble what is expected of them. In other words, teaching our children what the Word of God says about how we are to conduct ourselves, what our household rules are and what we expect of them is much easier and pleasant when we do it before everyone is frustrated. It should be done when everyone is happy and getting along. Then, when problems arise there is already a foundation there for most issues.

I’m finding this information to be useful in disciplining my four year-old. I hope it can be useful to you as well. May our children grow up to be God-loving and God-serving young men and women! 🙂 That’s my prayer.

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Mothers Of All Kinds

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First of all…

Happy Mother’s Day!

This day always comes with mixed emotions for me. I love celebrating my own  mother, a beautiful woman who blesses my life in so many ways. I love to celebrate how almost five years ago I became the mother of a precious gift from heaven. After many years of infertility, she was an amazing and perfect gift from the Father and I cherish her beyond words. I love being her Mommy. Now I once again am struggling with secondary infertility and am aware that it’s not likely I will have any more biological children (although my God does love to prove us wrong by working wonderful miracles!).

I remember the Mothers Days before my daughter was born, when the pain of my barrenness was magnified like a kid holding a magnifying glass up to an ant with the sun directly overhead. I could barely manage the aching of my heart. I wanted to be a mom so badly, and I was blessed that God answered that prayer and desire. Today I wonder what the future holds. As we work to become certified to do foster/adoption, I wonder if this time next year I’ll be the mother of another child or two who did not come from my body, but certainly would be placed into my heart by the Father above who loves them.

I realize today more than before that mothers are not always biological. Sometimes we are mothers through adoption. Sometimes we are mothers through spiritual mothering and discipleship. Being a music teacher, I sometimes feel like I have 60 kids! I love each one of them and am blessed to be a part of their lives. As a Sunday School teacher we minister to children and love them. Perhaps you open your home to the children of the neighborhood, teach them about the Lord and offer them love and understanding. Mother’s come in all shapes and sizes. They come in a variety of ways and they help mold the lives of children who will never forget them.

Praying today for those who struggle with infertility; who long to have a child. Praying for women who mother children who are not biologically their own. Praying for those who care for children in the foster care system. It’s a hard job but so important. You are making a difference! Praying for moms today that they would be blessed and that they would know what an important and beautiful calling they possess. May the Lord bless you, strengthen you, encourage you and remind you of how special you are!

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You Should Care – You Really Should

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But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

That’s the problem with so many Christians today. We love in word and talk, but we don’t love in deed and in truth. We speak great works of affection, but we close our eyes to real opportunities to put that love into action. We say that we care, but our caring falls short of being willing to self-sacrifice in any way to meet a need. We consider ourselves to be loving, but we pass right by one who feels like she is drowning with troubles and heartbreak, and we don’t even stop to find out if there’s something we can do to minister to that hurting heart. That’s the problem. It’s a big one.

As I write this, I know there are many who do love in deed and truth. There are many who do sacrifice of themselves to serve others. There are many who do care when they see a brother or sister hurting and do strive to minister to the brokenhearted. There are some who do seek to understand the pain of others. Still, there are so many in church today that are completely oblivious to their hardened, self-focused hearts. I have been there myself at times. I too have neglected a friend in need of comfort because of time or inconvenience or whatever the reason. Even filled with conviction and shame, I pressed on about my business telling myself that someone else would have to be the one to help. How sad.

You should care – you really should.

If you’re a Christian, you should care about people. You should have a pulling in your heart to minister to those who are hurting. You should care about your family, friends, church body and the lost. You should care about the one that everyone else ignores. You should care about the one that may smile on the outside, but you know is suffering on the inside. You should care about their hardships, burdens, struggles and heartbreaks. Do you try to understand their pain? Do you ever just feel it with them? Ever sit with them and weep? Ever put yourself in their shoes?

You should care – you really should.

Why don’t you? You may not even be aware of your lack of love. There is ample opportunity in this world to get lost in distraction. You are busy. You have your own problems to deal with. You don’t really have time to give. You don’t really think it’s that important what that person is going through. There are so many excuses. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are making them. Sometimes we are just so blindingly self-focused and self-centered that we cannot manage to see beyond our own interests to settle our sights on that hurting person right in front of us. We are so focused on ourselves, we can’t possible see their pain. We should see it. We should care.

You should care – you really should.

Perhaps you don’t care because you don’t think their pain is valid enough for your standards. You don’t see it. You don’t get it. You don’t try to see beyond your own understanding and to really be able to relate to what another person is going through. So you don’t weep with those who weep. You don’t shed their tears with them.

“What’s the big deal? So she wants a baby but can’t have one? So what? She just needs to get on with it and get over it.” Stop. Try to understand the deep pain, longing and heartbreak that a woman feels when she struggles with infertility. In your mind, picture her crying herself to sleep. See the look of disappointment and heartache that crosses her face when she sees a newborn baby. You’ll never know what it feels like if you haven’t been through it yourself, but you can imagine the pain and suffering. You should care.

“What’s the big deal about her being alone for so long after her divorce? She should just learn to be content in her singleness.” Stop. Try to understand that this woman who has been divorced or widowed is lonely. Do you understand that kind of loneliness? Imagine the heartache that she feels being the only single person at the event or family party. Imagine how she yearns for the protection of a husband, or just the comfort of having someone hold her. Remember her pain and stop minimizing what she goes through. You should care.

“It’s their own fault that they’re going through money problems again. If they just tithed they would be better off. They made their bed; now they’ll have to sleep in it.” Stop. Your judgement and your condescension is not welcome, and it certainly is not loving. You’ve never made a bad choice in your life? Get off your high horse and start loving people. Try to imagine what it’s like to go through one financial struggle after another. Imagine years of unpaid bills, fear, worry and anxiety over every rent payment and car repair. See the tears that flow as they try to figure out how they will provide for their children. Feel their embarrassment as they wear shoes that are falling apart and as they collect food donations. Try to understand how hard it is. Try to feel their pain. You should care. You really should!

We love in word and talk. We say “I love you” to our family members and friends. We may offer up a prayer for the person who is struggling, or maybe not. The problem is, so often we are not loving in deed and truth. We are not putting love into action. When we don’t put love into action, it calls to question whether we really love or not. That’s where truth comes in. Do I love you? Do I care enough about you to take my eyes off myself for a minute and be there for you? Do I care enough to experience your burden and your pain with you? Do I care enough to sacrifice my own time, comfort and pleasure to help you? Do I? Do you?

It doesn’t take much to show a person in deed and truth that you really do love. A word of encouragement. An hour of your time. Meeting a need. Weeping with them. Acknowledging their pain. Understanding. It doesn’t take much, but it does take loving yourself less and loving others more.

We should care. Do you know why? Jesus cares!

When Jesus took those lashes, those beatings, that crown of thorns, He cared. When He stretched out His arms and took those nails, He cared. When He gave up His Spirit and died for our sins, He cared. When He rose from the dead into glory beyond comprehension, He cared. When He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, convict and help us, He cared deeply. Jesus LOVES in DEEd and TRUTH. He didn’t just say, “I love you.” He proved it in His death. That’s why you should care.

I’m tired of love talk. I’m tired of loving in word. It feels empty now. I’m tired of receiving love and giving love that way. Let us love in deed and in truth. I want to be the kind of person that makes this real in my life. Someday when I go to be with Jesus, I want people at my life celebration to remember me as a woman who loved in deed and truth. I ask the Lord to crucify my self-love and self-focus, and to help me to really love. Join me.

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When a Loved One Struggles with Infertility

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There’s nothing easy about being a woman who struggles with infertility, whether it be primary or secondary. Only those who have experienced the pain of this struggle can fully understand the depth of hurt and longing that a barren woman experiences day by day, for years and years. It is impossible to comprehend her pain without having to experience it yourself, and yet so many woman have dear friends or family that are going through this struggle, and I know you want to be there for her. You should be there for her. She needs you.

The problem is, without understanding the pain, there is a chance you could say or do the wrong thing in an effort to bring comfort. As a woman who struggled with primary infertility and now secondary, I could share many stories of times when friends made careless comments or had advice to give that was anything but what I needed to hear at the moment. It wasn’t their fault. They were trying to help. They didn’t know the pain they were causing or tears I fought back. They had all the right intentions, but without having experienced infertility, one just doesn’t comprehend which comments/actions would be comforting and which would only add to the pain. As a help, here are a few ways you can minister to a loved one who struggles with infertility:

1. Pray. Pray for your friend as often as you can and with a fervent spirit. Prayer is powerful. We acknowledge that it is the Lord who opens and closes wombs. Pray for your friend’s womb to be opened. Pray boldly. Pray also for her aching heart and for her to be filled with comfort and peace. Pray that she will be able to accept God’s will, whatever it may be. Pray often and feel free to tell your friend that you are praying for her to conceive and praying for her comfort.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:13-14

2. Don’t pretend it isn’t an issue. Infertility is a big deal. If you have a friend who wants a child but hasn’t been able to conceive, you can bet that this is something that she thinks about pretty much every day of her life. It is a very big deal to her. Minimizing it or pretending it doesn’t exist does not help her. While it isn’t something you want to bring up all the time, when in private it’s good to ask her how she is doing in coping with infertility. She may be needing to talk about it but feeling too rotten to bring it up herself. Women with infertility sometimes feel ashamed, especially in the Christian community. It makes her feel that she is somehow failing as a woman. This might keep her from opening up to a friend even though she really needs to talk it through. Give her that opportunity and remind her that you are thinking of her and that you care.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

3. Censor your tongue from flippant comments. Oh, the flippant comments that I’ve heard! You know, we all put our foot in our mouths sometimes. We are human. We are going to make mistakes. I would just encourage you to be especially cautious around your infertile friend. Try not to make comments like, “You just don’t get what a pain it is to be pregnant,” or “When are you going to get pregnant already?” or “Maybe you’re just not ready to be a mom.” These are only a few common ones. During my primary infertility phase, I had friends and family members tell me that maybe I should take advice on how to get pregnant from this young, unmarried girl who kept having babies. I was told that I was “lucky” I didn’t have to be pregnant. When I was sharing about the idea of adoption, I had a friend tell me “but there’s nothing in the world like carrying a baby in your womb.” Ouch. She’ll never know the tears I cried over that one comment. As Christians, we are to put the feelings and concerns of others ahead of our own liberty. You have the freedom to say flippant and thoughtless comments all day long if you want, but I urge you to put on compassion and be sensitive and thoughtful when it comes to speaking with a woman with fertility issues.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

4. Don’t treat her like less of a wife, woman or sister in the Lord. You may not even recognize that you do it, but I can tell you from experience that woman without children are often treated differently in the church. I was a married woman, not young by any means, and yet people talked to me as if I was a teenager a lot of the time. Women who were younger than me, but who had babies, were treated as mature woman, whereas I felt they treated me differently. The focus was forever on the women having babies. They were building “families” but me and my husband were viewed as a “couple” – not a “family.” Sometimes I felt that people were judging me, or thought that I wasn’t conceiving because I had done something wrong. Some Christians view infertility that way, and perhaps sometimes it is a judgment from the Lord, but we know that it isn’t always that way. I believe God uses infertility to bring about His plans and also to bring Himself glory. Sometimes I believe He closes wombs so that people will look after the orphans of this world. He knows the plans He has for us. Don’t make your friend feel like less of a woman because she cannot conceive. Don’t make her family and less of a family. She and her husband are their family.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

5. Try not to talk about your pregnancy/children constantly when she’s around. Now this is a tricky one. When I was going through primary infertility, it was so incredibly difficult for me to be around pregnant women or women with babies. It just hurt me inside to see them and hear about the joys of pregnancy that I couldn’t experience. I worked hard to fight against my pain and hold it back so that I could rejoice with my friends who were having babies. I fought back tears at baby showers and, with the power of the Holy Spirit, was able to celebrate with my loved ones. The truth is, I was happy for them. I was excited for them. I wanted to be there for them. I was just so overcome with pain that it was very difficult. While you should talk about your pregnancy and children, just be mindful about how much you talk about it with your friend who struggles in this area. Be discerning about when you need to change the subject. Limit your own liberty for the sake of your hurting friend. Don’t minimize the joy and wonder of carrying and birthing babies, but be sensitive to the heart of your friend who is longing so desperately to experience it too. Be wise and be kind.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…” Colossians 3:12

6. Walk through the journey with her and be supportive. Infertility is a journey. It starts with a couple who want a child, but for some reason cannot conceive. It starts with years of waiting and wondering and worrying. It usually ends up in a doctor’s office with either an explanation or sometimes no answers at all. From there the couple must make decisions about how to go forward…will it be infertility treatment, adoption or the end of the road? Infertility is a journey, and each step can be painful and difficult. Be there for your friend who is going through it. Pray for her. Hold her hand. Encourage her. Help any way you can. Try not to judge her decisions if you don’t agree with them. Try not to minimize the weight of the choices before her and her husband. At the end of the journey, they may end up with a child, or they may not. Either way, be a supportive and loving friend throughout the journey.

A friend loves at all times..” Proverbs 17:17a

7. Give her hope from the Bible. I believe fully that the Lord God of the Bible is the only opener and closer of wombs. He makes that decision. A woman can use birth control and still conceive if God wills, or a young, healthy woman can be stopped from conceiving by the hand of God. He is sovereign. If the God of the Bible is the opener of wombs, then it is from His Word that our hope and comfort comes. When your friend needs hope, give her the Word. When she needs comfort, encourage her with scripture. When she is angry, sooth her with God’s Word. God does not promise that all Christian women will bear children naturally, but He does promise that a woman will be able to mother children….sometimes that is through adoption, working with kids, etc. Here is a great verse for bringing encouragement to sisters who struggle with infertility:

“He (God) will make the barren woman keep house and be the joyful mother of children; praise ye the Lord!” Psalm 113:9

I hope this was a help to you in how to minister to your loved ones who have fertility issues. Please feel free to share this article so that others can glean from it as well. There is nothing easy about infertility, but the care and love of a good friend goes a long way in bringing comfort in those difficult times. God bless!

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Five Marriage Killers Part 5

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5. Money, Money, Money

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

Whether it be the secular world or within the church, marriages are ending rapidly, and one of the biggest causes for marital distress is financial discord. A large percentage of marital fights are over the issue of money. Whether it’s a lack of finances that is straining the marriage or someone who is spending more than they should, money problems can be rough. Family budgeting is an important aspect of family life, and yet somehow, even when we try to do our best, the issue of money can creep in and cause problems.

If you and your spouse fight over money issues, perhaps you fall into one of these general categories?

1. Unemployed Spouse. When the family is suffering financially and a spouse is unemployed, it can be very difficult. Sometimes that person is hard-working and desperate to work but unable to find anything. Maybe he just refuses to work and would rather live on benefits and do side jobs under the table. Either way, stress is going to be a major factor and it will affect the marriage if you let it. If your spouse is hard-working but has been out of work, be his number one support and encouragement. You have to understand that a man places great importance on how he is providing. Most men determine their self-worth on how they provide for their families. So if your husband has lost his job and is trying to find something, try not to add to his worry and troubles. Be his support, his encouragement, his cheerleader and his lover. Build him up because he needs it. He is hurting, no doubt. Trust the Lord to meet your needs, be creative on how to bring in extra money or stretch what you have, and remind your husband over and over that you love him and respect him.

If you are married to a man who refuses to work and take care of your family, you are in a difficult spot indeed. It must be incredibly hard to deal with and to remain a respectful wife. Believe me, I would have a few words to say to such a man, but God tells us to obey Him whether or not our husbands do. In other words, if your husband will not work, the most important thing for you to do is pray. Pray hard and pray without ceasing. Trust the Lord. Work hard yourself if need be. It’s not right for a man not to provide for his family by choice, and your husband needs a kick in the pants, but God has said it’s not you who is to give it to him. Pray for God to break through to him and trust the Lord to take care of you in the meanwhile.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

2. Overspending and Greed. Sometimes in a marriage, one or both will struggle with a heart of greed and covetousness. In these cases, it’s common for overspending, unwise decision-making and greedy living to come into play. This can lead to major marital problems. If one person is a spender and the other is prudent and wise financially, there will be strife that may come into play daily, weekly, monthly, etc. It will snowball into serious marital problems and even marital death. If both people are spenders, well then the couple is likely to come to ruin and extreme poverty. Few marriages survive that. So this is a dangerous place in which to be. If your spouse is a spender, or perhaps you are, it is important to get on track in terms of God’s calling for us to serve Him and not money. We need to address issues of covetousness and greedy spending. If your husband is the spender, you may want to respectfully address the problem and then spend time in prayer. You may ask him to get some help and counsel from an elder or financial counselor. Ultimately, if he will not change, all you can do is do your best to stay on track, do not nag and cause conflict, and pray. If you are the spender, repent of greed. Get yourself on the right track. Get into the Word. Don’t allow a love of money to creep into your heart and get a stronghold.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

3. Low-Income or Self-Employed and Struggling. So many of us, ourselves included, could be considered low-income though we have a strong work ethic and continue to work hard day by day. In this case you have honest, hard-working people who still can’t seem to make ends meet. As the bills roll in, stress accelerates and pretty soon the whole household is on edge. All it takes is one major and costly event (such as automotive repairs or a new waterheater) to through you overboard. In this case, fights are caused by the amount of stress put on the family. It is important that these trials not pull you apart but bring you closer together. Pray together, study the Word and then come up with ideas on how to move forward towards financial stability. Don’t play the blame game. Budget together and make it a family team effort. Be there to comfort one another and don’t allow your hardships to harden your hearts.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Financial problems can be a real marriage killer. Being aware of this and fighting back with our spiritual weapons is the best way to combat it. Remember that God is our provider and we can trust Him. If He cares for the birds of the air, will He not care more for His children? He knows what we need. Our job is to be honorable in our handling of the money that He allows us to steward and then to trust Him through the rest. We, as wives, are called to honor our husbands and to build them up, whether or not they do everything right. Understanding how important it is for men to feel good about how they are providing, it is important we do not tear them down but rather bring words of edification, respect and love to build them up.

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