Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

A Collection of Closed Doors – What Now?

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“When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

I’ve heard this catch phrase, and others like it, all my life. Some young people brought up in Christian homes probably think it’s a scripture from the Bible, though it’s not. It’s just a phrase Christians oftentimes use to explain and accept that a direction they were going is no longer a possibility and therefore God must have something better in mind. He closes a door. He opens another….or a window?

Why the window, by the way? Is it to indicate that the second option is more difficult? Requires more effort? Perhaps it’s that the jump down from the window will require a leap of faith? Regardless, I did a couple of quick searches to identify the origins of this phrase.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look 
so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we 
do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell

Seems to be wise words from Mr. Bell there, although he indicates that the doors themselves are opening and closing themselves rather than being opened and closed by someone or something. I believe whole-heartedly that God opens and closes “door”, opportunities, etc. I also believe that doors are opened and closed by our choices, and not just ours personally but the choices of mankind. I’m not saying that God isn’t sovereign. He certainly is, and nothing happens that doesn’t cross his “desk” so to say for approval or veto. God allows us to make choices and therefore some of those choices are going to be us pushing open doors that should be closed and cementing closed windows that could be the right way out. It’s called free will.

God does close and open doors though, and He does guide us in the way He wants us to go. Sometimes in life it seems like all we have is closed doors. Being one who has been through many times of trouble and difficult periods of time, there have been occasions when I’ve felt the tug of my heart to lose hope that I’ll ever have an open door. Closed doors. Slammed shut doors. Locked down and boarded doors. I’ve looked down a hallway of endless possibilities and all my eye can see is closed doors.

You know, it can feel that way sometimes. We have the desires of our hearts. We want to happily married. We want to have healthy children. We want to serve in ministry. We want to achieve success in one way or another. We want to provide for our children well. We want these opened doors. It’s so very hard when all of the doors, or some of the most important to you, seem to be closed forever. Heartache. Loss. Hopelessness. These can set in. We can’t take our eyes off of them. We sit there tapping at the closed door until our hands are sore and our hearts broken.

Maybe Mr. Bell was right? It might not be scripture, but wisdom all the same. If we focus too long and hard on the closed door that we fail to see the opened door. We miss it. We also forget to be thankful for the opened doors. We can’t see beyond the closed door.

You know, there was a time I thought that God has closed the door for me to have children naturally. I had suffered infertility for four years. I had been pounding away at that door, heartbroken it wasn’t opening. Finally I moved further down the hallway and started exploring other doors and options. I was about to knock on another door when suddenly, by the hand of God, the door that I had pounded on for years swung wide open. My precious little girl was waiting on the other side…waiting for the right time. God’s timing. He opened the door when everything was perfectly in place.

It may seem like all you have is a collection of closed doors, but God’s got a plan. If we trust Him, He will open the right doors at the right time in the right order and with a glorious outcome. The problem is, we need to keep our eyes on Him and what He’s doing instead of gluing them to one closed door. We need to put the sledgehammer away and stop trying to open the doors in our flesh when we know it isn’t of God. We need to walk by faith and hope, expecting God to do what He does so perfectly. Bring your requests to Him and He will open and close the doors by His perfect knowledge and timing.

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9

 

 

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When You Have a Mystery Illness…

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So many people around the world suffer with “mystery” illnesses that have, for one reason or another, stumped the medical profession. There are so many difficulties in having to live with an illness that is either: impossible to diagnose, misunderstood by doctors, controversial in nature, or simply incredibly rare. Many of these illnesses have no cure – at least not yet. People are expected to just get on with it, soldier through and try to hold their lives together. Odds are you or someone you know suffers in this way, so please take a moment to read this so you can understand better what people like myself are going through.

When you have a mystery illness…you feel like no one takes it seriously. You have pain and other symptoms but, without a diagnosis, people don’t seem to think it’s a big deal. They can’t see the pain going on inside. If you say, “I have cancer”, loved ones are immediate to show deep concern, offer prayers and help you any way they can. With a mystery illness, they have no way to relate or gage the seriousness of what you’re going through.

When you have a mystery illness…you have no proof of your illness so people sometimes treat you like a hypochondriac. They may not flat out say it, but they make subtle jokes about how much you complain or how often you are sick, as if it’s a choice or just in your mind. They have no idea how much this hurts those who are suffering without proof of their condition.

When you have a mystery illness…you see doctor after doctor and each time feel a little less hopeful that anyone will be able to help. You see GPs, specialists and are even referred to mental health specialists when the doctors stop believing you too. Many times they run the basic labs and then tell you that’s all they can do. It’s extremely frustrating and disappointing. It’s difficult to continue seeking help.

When you have a mystery illness…your pain is often invisible so people expect you to do more than you can. Sometimes you can barely get out of bed. You struggle to get chores done. You attend events but it takes all of your strength to maintain pleasantries. They just don’t see how badly it hurts.

When you have a mystery illness…you feel cheated. You watch other people being able to do the things that you can’t, and it’s sometimes very difficult to be content. It takes prayer and submitting daily to the Father’s will just to keep from sinking into depression and bitterness. It can seem like you are unsuitable for every role you feel called to: wife, mother, ministry, etc. It can seem very unfair. Yet, you love the Lord and know that His ways are perfect. You know pain is the result of a fallen mankind, and that God does love us, even though He does allow us to suffer. You look forward to a day where there will be no more pain or suffering.

When you have a mystery illness…you feel like no one understands what you’re going through. You feel awfully lonely at times. You are afraid to talk about it for fear of sounding like a complainer. You worry that people are judging you or simply sick of hearing about your health problems. Pretty soon you just stop talking about it. You just struggle alone in silence.

When you have a mystery illness….you struggle with fear. It is so hard to deal with health concerns and various symptoms without any answers. While hearing that you have an illness is no fun, at least those of who have a diagnosis know what’s happening, what’s going to happen, and can make a plan for treatment. When you have no diagnosis, you have symptoms that can be scary. You never know what to expect. There is no cure. There is no real treatment plan other than to manage symptoms. You have no answer to give friends and family.

For those of us who suffer from mystery or misunderstood or mistreated illnesses, day to day life can be a challenge. Let me just assure you that the pain we are going through is both real and sometimes intense. The fact that we don’t have answers means that we feel no resolve. We can’t come to grips with it except to accept that we may never have explanations or the help we desire.

I honestly don’t know how people who don’t have Jesus Christ in their lives go through these types of chronic health problems. All I know is that the hope I have inside me lives on despite the pain of the physical body. While others may not understand or take my pain seriously, I know that my loving Father in Heaven knows of every tear that falls and every pain I go through. He cares. He knows. He sees it all. He allows it but has promised to turn what is evil to good. He has promised to make beauty from ashes. He loves me and will not leave me to suffer alone. Someday He will give me a new body without pain. Praise Jesus!

I pray for healing. I ask you to pray for me too, and to pray for the countless people who suffer even now with an illness that modern medicine can’t cure. As for me, I give glory to God whether He heals me or not. I know His ways are far above mine. I long to be healed. I long for a day when my body isn’t consumed with pain. I long to be free from these restraints. Until that day, I just need to look up. I need to remember the sufferings of my Savior. I need to remind myself daily that this suffering is but for a moment and that an eternity of glory awaits.

If you suffer, please know you’re not alone. Know that Jesus hasn’t abandoned you. Don’t lose hope. God has a plan and He will deliver you. If you don’t know Jesus or haven’t committed your life to Him, I pray you will do so right now. Until you know Jesus, the sufferings of the physical body are not your biggest concern. You need Jesus now and He wants you. He wants to bring you comfort and hope that cannot be shaken by illness and pain. Cry out to Him and He will not turn from you, dear one.

If you have someone in your life that suffers from a mystery or chronically misunderstood illness, please be there for them. Show them that you care and believe them. Pray for healing. Offer help. They need it. Try to understand. Don’t treat them like it’s all in their head. Offer grace. Offer mercy. Offer support. Know that it may be a lot worse than it looks….probably is. You will never know how much your love and concern means to someone who is suffering and feeling alone.

God bless!

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A Letter of Hope to Celebrities

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Dear celebrities, stars, actors, athletes and musicians. To anyone who is in the spotlight often and has a name that draws a crowd. To the rich and powerful, the famous and adored, on the screen, camera and stage. This message is for you. I pray, as I write this, that somehow these words from this unknown blogger/mother/humble music teacher will find their way to you and bless and encourage you and give you hope.

I confess that much of my life I have believed a lie. You see I grew up in humble surroundings. We weren’t in poverty, by any means, but also never quite had enough to pay the bills comfortably. I vowed to become a doctor or lawyer and to have bank accounts with endless possibilities. I didn’t. I became a private music teacher – a job that I find most fulfilling and rewarding. In other words, I may not have a BMW or be able to flit off to Europe whenever the mood takes me, but I do have the joy and honor of staying home to raise my precious daughter, as well as investing in the enriching of the lives of the many wonderful children I work with. I get to teach them to love music, to express themselves through perfectly-appointed notes, and to see the pride in their eyes when they make music. At the same point, we continue to live modestly, without much extra than the basic needs being met, and grateful for those provisions.

Why am I sharing this? We were talking about a certain lie. There is a lie that is believed by many, including this writer for a time, that money, riches and fame brings happiness and joy. We see the materialism of a lifestyle we can’t personally possess and imagine how good it would feel to be famous, adored and, most of all, have all of the fine pleasures that money can buy. We see the beautiful clothes, cars, mansions and jewelry. On the screen, celebrities seem so happy and care-free. We are buying into an illusion that having all of these “things” will make us as happy as it seems to make you. Alas, it’s an illusion.

While materialism can bring temporary pangs of fulfillment and excitement, these are all passing experiences. While the sparkling smiles of beautiful people on the red carpet seem so alluring, for many celebrities, it is nothing more than a continuing act. Many are merely putting on a show. How do we know? We know because we see the news reports and the chaos and pain that so many celebrities are dealing with in their real lives.

A few days ago we lost the beloved Robin Williams. His suicide hit me hard. I was just so very sad to know he was gone and that he was in so much pain that he chose to take his life. Depression. He was adored by millions of fans, loved by his family and every person who ever knew him, and had all of the material “things” that we think makes people happy, but in the end it wasn’t enough. It didn’t satisfy. I think of all of the stars who have died due to drug overdoses, or who spend so much time in rehab. I recall the young celebrities and singers who rise to fame quickly and end up burning out. They start out so fresh and innocent, but they spiral out of control. We hear of rapid divorces, heartbreak, loss, suicide, addiction and criminal activity and we wonder “why”? Why would these people – who seem to have everything the world calls good and fulfilling – why would they do this to themselves? Why aren’t they just happy?

Now, I know many of you celebrities are happy and content and not struggling with these problems. By no means would I want to overgeneralize. Many of you have wonderful marriages, a satisfying life, health, etc. However, there are many of you who, just like us, are struggling day by day with the demons in your life. And perhaps it is because of the “lie” that you suffer more. Perhaps no one sees your pain because they are blinded by the flash of the cameras and the sparkling of the jewelry. Maybe you are afraid to open up about your hurt because you want us to see the magazine-cover version of you and you’re afraid we’ll be disappointed if we see the truth. It could be that, in believing this lie, we have assumed you must be happy and healthy, and therefore not offered you the compassion, concern and support you’ve desperately needed. Sometimes the loneliest people in the world are those who are “known” by everyone but really known by no one.

To those celebrities who are suffering, and even to those who are not, I want to encourage you. You may have plenty of money, material things, fame, popularity and power, but what you really need is hope. True hope isn’t found in there. True, lasting joy isn’t acquired with money or fame. Those things will let you down. They will fade away. They will leave you empty. True hope is found only…..in Jesus Christ.

That’s right. Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about religion or rules or man’s tradition. I’m talking about Jesus. Right now there are Christians being martyred and persecuted around the world, who have no riches and barely enough to eat, who are more satisfied and fulfilled and overflowing with joy and hope than most of the uber-wealthy living in the mansions in Beverly Hills. Why? Jesus! They have Jesus. They Him and are known by Him. It’s not religion…it’s freedom. Freedom from the sin, the evil and the self-centeredness that leaves people feeling so empty, depressed and self-loathing in the end.

Please don’t dismiss this as just another religious diatribe by some wack job. If you can see past the lie and let go for a minute of whatever beefs you have with the concept of “religion”, you may feel the subtle tugging at your heart. Are you hurting? Are you struggling to find hope? You have everything that money can buy and are adored by millions and yet you are hard-pressed to find a reason to get out of bed everyday? The answer is simple….Jesus.

I am here to give you a message of hope. Jesus is hope. Jesus is love. He can bring you complete and total healing, fulfillment and purpose. Let go of pre-conceived notions about what religion means and just seek Jesus. Find a Bible and read through the book of John. Call a Christian friend. Write me…I’d be happy to talk to you in complete confidence about Jesus and how He can bring meaning to your life that you never imagined.

I’m praying that this letter somehow reaches whomever it needs to and anticipating God doing great things. You know, in the end, nothing else matters but Jesus. Fame, fortune, materialism….it’s all fleeting. It’s all temporary. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that Jesus is real, He’s the Son of God, He died to give you new life and free you from the chains of sin and death, and He is calling out to you now. Answer Him.

****Please feel free to contact me at chelsea_mccafferty @ yahoo.com (without the spaces). Every email I receive it kept completely confidential. I would just like to encourage you and answer any questions you may have. God bless!
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Robin Williams and a Broken-Hearted World

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In my lifetime, there have been very few celebrities whose passing from this life have hit me as hard as the loss of Robin Williams. Today the social media outlets are flooded with the sad, tragic news of his death and it is very clear that the world is heartbroken. Me too.

There are reasons we feel his loss so deeply. So many of us have grown up watching the creative and complex characters he has brought to life for us. He has made everything from comedy to drama to suspense thrillers. He has made us laugh and cry and laugh through our tears. He has made us dream big and care deeply. Both he, and his many characters, will live on forever in our hearts and our memories.

There are a few thoughts that have been floating around in my head and tugging at my heart since the news broke of Robin William’s passing. His death has reminded me that money can’t buy happiness or peace. There are hurts and depression that are not soothed by material things. Depression is just terrible, and it is no respecter of persons. When we look at the life of Robin Williams, at the joy and laughter and entertainment he brought to us all, it is hard for us to comprehend how much pain he must have been experiencing. I think we are all so sad, on some level, because we wished the love of his fans and friends had been enough, but it wasn’t.

As I continue to ponder these sad events, and the hurting of mankind, I am reminded of some very relevant scriptures that I find give us hope and healing. Praying that anyone who is suffering, mourning, hurting or depressed will read these words and find hope and comfort. Jesus loves us, whether or not we always feel that way, and in Him there is a hope we can’t find anywhere else.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ” Isaiah 41:10

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ” Romans 5:1-5

 

*** If you are suffering from depression and deep hurt, please talk to someone. Talk to someone you can trust. Don’t suffer alone. Jesus said He is near the brokenhearted. He has hope to give you and wants to minister to your heart. He wants His people to serve you and love you and help you. Seek out people who love Jesus and ask for help. I say this because I know that pain. I’ve been there. I’ve been diagnosed and medicated. I had friends to help me. Now, in Christ, I have found healing. Though we will always go through trials and hurts and battles with depression, there is hope in Jesus Christ. I pray that you would run to Him and fall into His open arms. He’s waiting to help you.

If you need someone to talk to, please contact me. If I’m too far away to help you, I’ll find someone who can. Just don’t suffer alone, and please don’t give up. I care about you and Jesus loves you more than you can imagine. He has a way out. Praying for you.

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Sweet, Sweet Fellowship – You Need it Too

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(Pic is from my own church ladies Christmas fellowship from a few years back….lovely ladies!)

If you are the stay-at-home, mind-your-own-business, not-really-social, don’t-need-anyone, prefer-to-be-alone, just-me-and-my-family type of person, this is going to be an area of challenge for you. You see, living out the Christian life alone isn’t really what God had in mind for His people. We can see that clearly when we look at the New Testament church, following the resurrection and ascension of Christ. Scripture says:

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42

The word “steadfastly” is translated from the Greek word “proskartereō“. This word is translated: “devoted to, adherent to, constant, steadfast, continuing at all times in a place, persevering and not to faint.” By understanding the breadth of the word, we see a little more clearly how important it was for these early Christians to be together. They were committed to it. They were devoted. They continued at all times. What were they doing at all times?

We see that they were teaching doctrine. How wonderful it is to study the Word of God. We should never neglect to do so, however, that’s not all they were doing. They were steadfast in fellowship. That word fellowship is the beautiful word “koinōnia” which means, “fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse,the share which one has in anything, participation.”

** Notice that fellowship is listed separately from teaching of doctrine. So many churches today do one but neglect the other. They may teach doctrine steadfastly, but they are lacking in real fellowship, and because of that the body suffers. Scripture tells us the NT church broke bread together often. They shared meals. They went from home to home. They were intimately connected with one another. They were also in prayer. Of course, it’s much easier to pray for people when you are sharing in fellowship, because you know what their needs are and your closeness gives you even more of a healthy burden to pray for one another.

God never meant for us to walk this journey alone. He loves it when His children are in fellowship. He loves knitting our hearts together. Today I made a new friend whom I’ll be meeting with weekly for mutual encouragement in the Lord. I may have only met her today, but I can say that I love this sister, and that I know the Lord is knitting our hearts together and drawing us into fellowship. We need to make these connects, be in discipleship and mentor others in the Lord. We need to build community and relationships within the church.

Look, the enemy is constantly attacking us and trying to get us to stumble. The world is dark and the days are evil. We see are walking a narrow and unpopular road. We need each other, dear church.  Let us not neglect the fellowship of the saints. Let the stronger brother help the weaker. Let the wealthy brother give of his abundance to help the poor. Let us sacrifice of our own time to be with others in encouragement. Those are the things that matter in the end.

Fellowship. Sweet, sweet fellowship. You need it too…even if you don’t realize it.

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