Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

I Want to Be Healthy….Because I Love Her

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Arya Ziai via photopin cc

I have struggled with weight problems all of my life. I’ve never been at a healthy weight, and I’m well acquainted with all of the negative issues that come along with weight problems….medical problems, insecurities, relationship struggles and more. I’ve tried many different diets and exercise plans over the years. Some have been fads. Others have been prescribed failures from doctors. I did fen-fen for a while before they knew it caused heart problems. I’ve done cleanses. Off gluten. Off carbs. Off anything that tastes anything like anything pleasant!

Suffice to say, the problem hasn’t been the diets, but rather a lack of commitment to the end goal. I have lost weight only to gain it back. Recent health concerns and chronic pain problems, coupled with other issues that have been on my heart (which I will share about here) have caused me to take this more seriously at this time in my life. I am blessed to have a sister in the Lord who is helping me with motivation, coaching and so forth. She asked me, as we start this journey, to write out my “Why?” Why do I want to get healthier? Why do I want to lose weight? Below is my response. I’m being honest and real. I am also going to print this out and post it around my home, in my car, and carry it with me, as a reminder and encouragement to keep moving forward and working hard. Here are my Why’s and they all have to do with love:

  1. Because I Love Her….my sweet daughter, Tabitha. I want to be the best mom I can be for my darling girl, and any other children the Lord blesses me with. I’d love to have more children, and getting healthy may help in that area. I want to be healthy so that I have energy to play with her. I also want to be a good example to her. Weight issues run in my family, so she may struggle too. I want her to be proud of me. I want to be here to see her on her wedding day and to see her hold her first baby in her arms. I want to be healthy because I love Tabitha.
  2. Because I Love Him…..my hubby, William. This man, who loves me just as I am, would never ask me to change. Still, I know it would bless our marriage for we both to be healthier. We would have more energy for each other. We’d be able to get our work done more efficiently and quickly, relieving some tension and stress on the home. We can enjoy each other more. I want to be healthy because I love my husband.
  3. Because I Love God’s People….the church family. I want to be able to serve more, without being so tired. I know I’ll have more energy when I’m healthier. I’ll be able to be more hospitable. I’ll be stronger and able to work harder in serving others. I want to be healthy because I love God’s people.
  4. Because I Love Freedom….breaking the chains. Being unhealthy and overweight sometimes feels like being wrapped in heavy chains. I feel limited. I feel self-conscious. I often feel tied down and restrained from doing what I want to do. I also sometimes feel judged, but that’s not why I want to change. I want to feel free. I want to be free to do whatever I feel called to do without health or weight being a concern. I want to be healthy because I love being free.
  5. Because I Love the Idea of Waking Up and Feeling Good. Chronic pain and illness is no joke. It’s not always associated with weight, and I know that getting healthy won’t necessarily mean all of my health issues will go away, but I do know I’ll feel better. I want to feel better. I want to wake up and not have pain. I want to fight back and not allow chronic illness to steal my life away. I want to be healthy because I love feeling good.

These are my main Why’s. I share them in hopes that they may bless and help others, and also that, by declaring them, I am speaking to my own heart a determination to accomplish my goals. I would love it if you would pray for me for success and continued endurance. Also, if you long to be healthy too, please join me. We can do this! Thanks to my coach Erica for being willing to invest in me. It’s time to get to work. God bless!

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

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The Missing Link & Internet Dating

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No, this blog has nothing to do with evolution or Darwin. A careful study of a variety of cases, as well as my own personal experience, has led me to find the “missing link” that is causing problems in an otherwise perfectly acceptable way to meet future life partners….online dating. I’m going to share this theory with you in hopes that those seeking a relationship online will take heed to my call to caution and therefore be able to save themselves pain and trouble.

Let me back things up here by sharing with you that my husband and I met online. It was over ten years ago. He was from Scotland and I was a California girl. We met on a Christian website called Christian Mingle. We spent a lot of time private messaging each other, emailing and also speaking on the phone. After a few months, my husband flew to CA to meet me. Oh the excitement and the nervousness! Needless to say, neither one of us turned out to be a serial killer, so it was all good! Over the course of a year, he visited me and I visited Scotland. We spoke on the phone or computer almost every day. We were married about 14 months after our first communication and at that point had probably spent about 2 1/2 months together in person.

When I first got married, I was always worried about the question, especially since my husband speaks with a thick scottish brogue. When we would meet up with people and they would ask, “how did you two meet?” I would always get nervous and I’d share that we had met online on a Christian website. I received mixed reviews and facial expressions. I always felt the need to justify it. Today, it’s not like that. Research shows that nearly 1/3 of married US couples met online. It is a popular way to meet people, both in and outside the church, and it’s not a bad way to meet either.

There are benefits to meeting online. First of all, you have a much wider sea of candidates from which to choose. Growing up in a small town, there were just not a lot of choices in terms of possible matches for me so the internet gave me more options and allowed me to meet a variety of people. It also can make it easier to get to know the person in certain ways. As you communicate online, you have plenty of time to talk, share and get to know each other without the distraction of being “on a date” or dealing with the physical temptations. For Christians, it offers the opportunity to get to know each other without putting yourselves in temptations way. You really talk. Whether or not both parties are honest as they talk is never a sure thing, but that can happen in any type of dating or courting situation, regardless of where or how you meet.

There’s nothing wrong with meeting online, but there is something missing. There’s a missing link that isn’t usually dealt with or realized at first, and it can cause plenty of problems down the road if a couple marries before spending considerable time together in person. There’s no one word to describe it, so I’m going to call this missing link, “the raw you.” The raw you is the person you are in your everyday habits, preferences and small personality features. It includes sense of humor, good and bad habits, and just your overall persona.

You see, you can share with someone about your dreams, goals, theological beliefs, past, job, hobbies and your love for Jesus. You can talk about how many kids you want and how you want to raise your future children. You can really learn a lot about each other, which helps you decide if it is a good match or not. However, you don’t learn everything. You can’t learn the “raw you” on the phone or on the internet. You can’t learn it in letters or emails. It has to be learned in person. I know this is true because I have seen the pattern in my own marriage, and in others who met online.

For William and I, we lined up well. Today we are so on the same page in most areas. We are very much of the same mind. However, where we have struggled in our marriage has always been in the little things. It’s been in habits, small personality traits and in humor where we are very different. Isn’t that strange? haha I think it is! Now, we are totally committed to one another and to this marriage. We love and honor one another. We just drive each other batty every so often! 🙂 Would we have chosen each other all those years ago if we had spent more time in person? I don’t know the answer to that, and it doesn’t really matter. We are blessed to be in a marriage where there is love, honor, respect and a focus on Jesus. We are blessed indeed, and so we can deal with the little annoyances when they arise. Other couples, unfortunately, are not in the same boat.

I’ve always been honest and open here that my marriage hasn’t always been easy, and for this very reason I am sharing today. William and I, however, are very dedicated to marriage and family. We have worked hard and continue to work hard to make a joyful home, where God’s covenant of marriage is honored and family is most important. Divorce is not an option for us. It never has been. Therefore we are blessed in our marriage and our daughter is blessed in her home. God has grown our love for one another so that we are able to transcend those conflicts when they arise.

I have several friends who have also married a person they met online, or got to know online. I have witnessed one common issue in all of these relationships….their raw selves simply do not match up. Their personalities are so different. Their way of thinking in basic situations are not lined up. Their sense of humors are off-kilter from each other. There is almost this awkwardness about them…and this is after many years of marriage. I recognize it because it’s the same awkwardness that my hubby and I no doubt have exhibited when our personalities crash into each other. It is what we have to overcome pretty much daily.

One of the couples I referred to above are also very committed to each other and to their marriage. Like us, they have chosen to conquer those raw issues through the power of the Spirit, the sword of the truth of God’s Word and through the love of Christ that is perfected in us. They will struggle more than other couples, perhaps, but they will honor God and love each other. Another couple, however, are divorcing. I’m not going to pretend to know the details or how bad it was. All I do know is that it has brought them all pain and I pray for them.

Internet dating can be a good thing, but it’s important not to fall into this trap. Be sure to spend time together in person – quality time – before marriage. Get to know the raw personality of the person you are considering, and remember that those personality traits will probably be even more pronounced in marriage when everyone relaxes. You have to decide if they are traits and habits you can live with or not. Get to know the raw him or the raw her. It may seem like small issues, but they can definitely affect your marriage, your life and your heart. So take care, dear ones. Marriage God’s way is til death. That’s a long time!

William and I believe in marriage. If you are struggling in yours’, whether you met online or not, we’d love to offer you encouragement and pray for you. Feel free to contact us by clicking HERE. God bless!

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The Difference Between Sincere Concern and Judgement

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I was at a women’s conference this weekend with some wonderful ladies. One of my friends and I had a great conversation about the difference between sisters showing sincere, genuine concern for another sister and simply passing or holding onto judgement. It was a great chat and she and I came to the conclusion that this is often and issue of the heart, and therefore there are a few points I’d like to share on this topic.

We should have concern for each other. As sisters in the Lord, we certainly should care about what another sister is going through. When we see her struggling, hurting or going through trials, we should be moved to compassion and be compelled to help if possible. What that help looks like will depend on the circumstances, but often the help we give is in the form of advice and counsel. Hopefully we seek to help with exhortation and edification from God’s Word. Sometimes it can be in the form of words of affirmation, and others times there is a call for loving and carefully prayed-over rebuke. Whether or not we should care is not the question. We ALL should care about our sisters. Sometimes we feel we have the answers. Sometimes we’re right that the answer we have is a good one. Regardless, we need to be aware of our own hearts.

Definition of Judging: I want you to understand that there are different definitions and uses for the word “judge.” Here are some of the definitions:to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose, to approve, esteem, to prefer, to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure to dispute.” 

This can often lead to confusion in the Word. Sometimes God tells us to judge and sometimes not to judge. We need to look at language and context to make sure we are understanding it correctly. We judge all the time. A judge is someone who is determining what is right. We judge whether or not this or that is correct, right or good. We are called to do this. We are also called to judge whether or not sin is present and not to judge others when we ourselves are guilty of the same sin. So what kind of judging am I talking about? I’m addressing the issue of judging what is not sin but rather passing some sort of sentence or classification of someone based on that person’s choices, preferences, decisions, etc. In other words, it is having a heart that looks down on another believer because our opinions, preferences choices or convictions are different. This kind of judgement is never encouraged in the Word.

1. What’s the difference between judging and offering genuine concern?

It’s an issue of the heart. It’s all about the heart. If we are dealing with an issue that is not necessarily a sin issue, then we need to be very careful about allowing our hearts to cross over into judgement. There’s one easy way to determine whether or not our hearts are in the right place. We ask ourselves, do I think I’m a better Christian because I don’t do what she does? Do I judge her Christianity based on her choices in non-sin issues? Am I looking down on her?

Looking down on a sister is wrong. We are not to do it. We are supposed to be walking in love. I can genuinely feel concern for a sister, and I can not agree with her decisions, without having a heart full of judgement because I will remember my own humanity. I will consider that we all have shortcomings. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas of struggle. We are also all works in progress. God is molding us day by day. We are in different stages of our walks with the Lord. The point is, we are the same. We are equal in the Father’s family. Even if my sister makes a lot of bad decisions, or what I perceive as bad decisions, she is no less a daughter of the King and fellow heir in the kingdom. She is no less beloved of the Father. She is no less justified.

I will also guard my heart against judgement by remember that God has gifted and called us all differently. What may work for me may not work for another sister. God has made us with different personalities and the ability to minister to different types of people. He never intended for us all to look or sound the same. He made us unique and colorful. He loves his daughters….ALL of them! We need to look on our sisters in the Lord as He Himself does. We need to appreciate them for what they bring to the body. When we see ourselves as different, better or above other believers, we are allowing our hearts to harden and become cold. God is not pleased.

2. Is this a sin issue?

Not every struggle is a sin issue. We need to remember that sometimes the issue isn’t sin at all. The problem is we often have in the church is one of people trying to force their personal convictions on others. As sisters in the Lord, we can be very strong when it comes to our opinions. Perhaps the Lord has put a conviction on our heart that may be less than black and white in scripture. We should always obey what the Lord has put on our heart to do, but that doesn’t mean we pressure others into following us. If it’s clear in the Word, that’s a different story. Some issues that may arise where this is a concern would be over healthy eating habits, whether or not to drink alcohol, what to watch on television or whether to watch it at all, homeschooling versus public education, clothing choices, head coverings, etc. We need to be very careful that we are not judging or looking down on a sister who does not share our convictions, but rather to walk in love and respect.

Let’s consider for a minute the issue of food. There are plenty of opinions on what people should or should not be eating. There’s no doubt that much of what we eat today is unhealthy and full of chemicals and such that was no where on that Garden of Eden diet that Adam and Eve enjoyed so long ago. Many are becoming more educated on the issue of food, what’s in the food, what foods provide to our bodies, etc. and in doing so are becoming self-made experts on healthy eating choices. I think that’s really cool. I have several friends who are really into health, and I love being able to go to them with questions. They are so helpful in providing good information on everything from vitamins and herbs to healing the body with natural resources. I see it as a type of ministry, to help others.

Here’s the catch, however. With all of this emphasis on eating healthy, it can open the door to some serious judging. It’s important that we always remember that it is not what we eat that makes us “better” or “worse” Christians. The Bible does not put a strong emphasis on food, except for the several times that Paul exhorts the church NOT to judge on the basis of what someone eats. Do not look down on them. Do not be deceived into thinking a person who eats pizza everyday and weighs 400 pounds is any less of a Christian than the one who runs ten miles a day and eats a vegan diet.

Now, should you be concerned about a friend who weighs 400 pounds and eats pizza or fast food for every meal? Sure. Of course. It’s very unhealthy. So how do we offer this concern without judging? First of all, we make sure our friendship is based on something deeper than mere niceties. We are sisters in the Lord. We invest in one another. We don’t just smile at them from across the sanctuary every week and then walk up to them one day and exhort them to change their eating habits immediately. We build a relationship. We listen to them. We try to understand where they are coming from and how they are struggling. We show COMPASSION. We are not flippant. We do not dismiss their feelings, nor their struggles. We treat them with honor, respect and affection. We see them as equals in the Lord and we certainly recognize that we, too, have areas of struggle. Once our heart is in order, we can help our friend. We can minister to her and bless her.

3. Do I judge based on my own opinions?

Another way in which concern can cross over to judgement is when a sister does not follow or take our advice. We are so confident in our opinions. When a sister is sharing her trial, we may have an idea of what she could do to resolve the issue. There’s nothing wrong with offering advice, when we feel led by the Spirit to do it and feel it is a good word and good timing. If, however, our sister doesn’t take the advice, we need to not judge or look down on her. We need to, instead, continue to pray for her, love her and be okay with it. Just let go. We might be wrong. We might not understand the full scope. God may be leading in another direction for reasons we can see. Offer advice, but don’t judge if it’s not received the way you want.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:11-17

4. Am I the right person to help?

It’s always good to ask the Lord if you are the right person to help your friend. You know, sometimes there are reasons God may use someone else to minister to that sisters. Perhaps He knows you will struggle with having a judging heart. Perhaps He knows you won’t be able to understand where the sister is coming from or going through. Perhaps He has a plan to use someone else that will be more effective. If you feel God telling you not to intercede, obey. There is a reason. If you are not called to minister to this sister, then make sure not to carry judgement away with you. Simply put it behind you and move on in love, unity and peace. God has called us to be one, just like Jesus prayed.

5. Walk in love.

It is so easy to judge. As I write this blog I’m reminded and convicted of times I have entertained a judgemental heart. I have allowed genuine concern to move into judging, placing myself somehow above my sisters in the Lord because I do this or that. I think we need to be very careful. This is the heart that tears us apart rather than brings us together in unity. We need to love one another. We do need to help one another, but our hearts have to be in the right place. I’m no better a Christian than you are and you are no better than me. Whether or not we see everything eye to eye is irrelevant. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not of our own works. We are equal members in the family of God. We are holy because HE is holy. We are righteous because He is righteous. Let us walk forward in love and support of one another with sincerity of heart.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

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I Wish I Could Make Her a Sister

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This is going to be one of THOSE blogs. One of those really hard to write ones. One that really exposes the heart of an issue. Being real isn’t always easy, but in doing so we are often able to minister to and relate with others. It brings a sense of community and a feeling of understanding. It promotes compassion and gives others some insight into the trials of others which helps us to love them, support them and pray for them. So this is a REAL blog about REAL issues of life and the heart.

Tonight’s topic is especially hard though. You see, if you’ve never suffered through the pain and frustrations of infertility, you probably haven’t considered the many ways in which it affects a woman, a marriage or a family. There are so many emotions, trials and challenges. I have been experiencing one lately, as I deal with secondary infertility. (For those who don’t know, secondary infertility describes a woman who has been able to have a child but hasn’t been able to conceive or bring to term and deliver more children.)

My daughter is such a beautiful gift from God. She is five years old now and I can barely stand to see her grow up so quickly. I try to cherish every moment and every experience with her. She makes my life so special. The Lord was good to us in giving us this precious little girl, and I thank Him for her daily. I accept that she may be the only child He will give us, and that His plan is perfect, though we certainly have prayed for another miracle baby over the past five years.

While I am able to accept His will, it’s not to say it is without the occasional tear or heartbreak. A few nights ago I experienced a new kind of pain and it was for my daughter. She was playing with her little cousin and his big sister at Grammy’s house. At some point my daughter heard her big cousin referring to herself as the little one’s sister, so my daughter started to profess that she too was his sister. She was gently reminded that she isn’t the sister but rather the cousin and my brother (her uncle) went on to explain to her how special a cousin is. Still, despite their efforts to encourage her, she was heartbroken. She wasn’t a sister.

When they told me about this happening (I was at a wedding at the time), I was so sad for her. You see, we are part of a family and church family that places great importance on family and most of the families have been blessed with multiple children. In fact, many of our friends have very large families. We watch as sisters and brothers share sweet moments, hold brand new siblings, teach each other and love on one another. It’s precious and I’m so happy for those families. At the same time, I can’t help but ache for my daughter, who wants so badly to experience those moments, but can’t.

Sadness isn’t the only emotion for me. Whether or not it’s how I should feel, I’m often filled with guilt. I sometimes blame myself for not being able to make my daughter a sister. I would so love to give her that experience someday, and it’s my prayer that this will happen, but for now I’m left feeling inadequate and like a failure for not being able to make my little girl someone’s big sister. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but I’m sure other’s who have experienced similar circumstances will understand all too well.

I know that, just as I have to accept that I may never be able to mother another child, my daughter will have to accept that being someone’s sister in the traditional sense may not be God’s plan. What I will strive to remind her and assure her is that in the family of Jesus, she is a sister to many of God’s children. She will have friends who are like sisters. She will have big and little sisters in the Lord. While it may not be exactly the same, with Christ’s help it’ll be enough.

Perhaps our dreams of adopting will someday come to fruition and we’ll be able to give her siblings, but for now we will teach our daughter that God is the opener and closer of wombs. He is the one who knits families together, whether naturally or by adoption. He will give her plenty of opportunity to love others and to be loved. I pray now for my little girl’s heart, that she will have understanding in this and, even at this young age, trust the Lord. I pray also for this mommy’s heart, that I would feel the hurt when it’s needed but then move on to joy and contentment. I pray that my heart would see the opportunities all around me to use my mother’s heart to minister to others. I continue to thank God that I got the tremendous privilege of experiencing life forming and growing within me, and that I get to gaze upon my daughter’s beautiful face every day. Thank You Jesus!

Thank you readers for being willing to go deep and real with me here in this blog. If what I share touches your heart, I pray you will share the blog with your friends and stick with me here. If you have never suffered from infertility, I pray you will be able to give understanding and compassion to friends and loved ones who have or do now. I pray that, as you look upon the faces of your children, you will remember to pray for those women who are aching for children they cannot have even now. Pray for them and thank the Lord again for His blessings.

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

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Where Did “Holy Matrimony” Originate?

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Holy Matrimony. Where did the concept originate? What does it mean to be joined together in holy matrimony and how has the concept evolved? How does it affect marrying couples of today? These are the questions I had in mind as I read about the history of marriage in and outwith the church. The first issue we need to explore is the idea of being “joined together” and who has the right to do this “joining” of a man and a woman.

You may be surprised to discover that marriage was not always a matter of state or government. The government didn’t always have a say in whether or not a couple was joined together in marriage. Couples didn’t always require a state license to wed, nor be married by a person who was government-certified to do so. It wasn’t until the middle ages that marriage contracts permitted by the church or the state came into being. In fact, it may surprise you even more to learn that the church really had little to do with the contractual joining of a couple in matrimony for nearly 6,000 years.

Prior to the middle ages, a man and a woman were joined in marriage by vows that they took and pledged before God and private contracts between families. There need by no officiate present. No one did the “joining” except for the One who actually created marriage in the first place – God. A marriage declared by a couple and their family was considered valid and recognized up through the 1700’s.

 

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

 

God is the Author of marriage and He joins a man and a woman in matrimony. He brings them together. He hears and receives the vows they present to one another and to Him. He blesses their union and gives them instruction through His Word as to how their marriages should work. This is how both the early church and early government saw the marriage covenant. Then, between the 17th and 18th centuries it all started to change.

As we have watched and experienced, various governments have grown in their roles and scope of authority over the years. In the history of America, and other countries as well, mankind has fought against unjust and bad governments. We have submitted to governments that seem to be more just and right. We have allowed them to take control of some aspects of our lives, and have pushed back against them when they have tried to go too far. We apply for driver’s licenses thereby asking the government for permission to drive and recognizing their authority. We offer up our taxes and fees. We pay for licenses to run businesses, keep dogs and to hold yard sales on our property. We ask their permission to enter into marriage by applying for a license, and we are “joined together” by a person who has asked for permission to do so by applying for a license himself. It wasn’t always like this, but that’s the way it is today. The government has seized control of God’s beautiful creation of marriage and therefore now assumes the authority to determine and change the very concept of marriage….one man and one woman.

We can expect nothing less. When we let the world in, it will twist and turn and re-invent what God did perfectly the first time. He formed the man and the woman to be perfect counterparts for each other, physically, spiritually and emotionally. He brought the woman to the man and joined them together in a truly holy matrimony. He declared that none should separate them. He desired that their covenant would be kept sacred and unbreakable. There were no officiates or state contracts involved. It was pure and it was exquisite.

As I write this, I find myself a little saddened by the way the secular world has worked its way into this sacred covenant. On the other hand, a marriage is still a very beautiful occasion, and there is nothing wrong with a couple submitting to government ordinances in purchasing a marriage license, throwing a big celebration and allowing someone to officiate by leading them through their vows and wedding traditions. As long as a couple understands that it truly is God who is “joining” them in marriage, the rest is just fun and romantic. We just need to remember to keep Jesus at the center of our wedding ceremonies and to make it very clear that it is God who does the joining.

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When I Hurt a Friend with my Words

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I’d like to tell you that I never say or do anything that would harm another person. I’d like to say that I was never insensitive or inconsiderate. I’d love to tell you that every word I utter or type is grounded in wisdom, kindness and love. I wish I could tell you that I’ve never hurt a friend, but that would be a lie. I’m here to say that I did hurt a friend, and I so wish it wasn’t true.

As a blogger, some of my blogs are written more off the cuff than others. Most are the result of study and prayer. I try to make sure I word things in a way that is truthful but also gentle and compassionate. I also try to be very clear about the tone, direction and meaning of what I’m writing. Sometimes I get it wrong. In a recent blog, I made a comment that brought hurt to the heart of a dear friend and sweet sister in the Lord. I was so glad that she made her feelings known to me in such a gentle and loving way. I’m glad we had the openness to talk about it and that she caused me to take another look at what I wrote. In doing so, I recognize so clearly where my words were both hurtful and also misleading.

You see, in an effort to encourage deeper relationships within the church (particularly within the sisterhood of the church family), I made a comment that would seem to readers to completely dismiss the close friendships and relationships that I have been so blessed with over the past seven or so years. As I re-read the blog, I got a clear picture of how hurtful those words could be. I immediately regretted ever penning them. As my eyes moistened, I was reminded by the Spirit that I can sometimes be so blind to how powerful words can be. They can edify or tear down. They can encourage or discourage. They can speak goodness or darkness. They can make a friend feel loved or they can make her feel like her friendship wasn’t what she thought it was.

I apologized to my friend last night, but I wanted to write this blog because I want to be real with you. As a blogger, I’m sharing words every day that can be powerful. It’s so important that we use those words wisely. It’s important that we think before we speak. I value my friend so very much. I’ve been so blessed by her friendship, love and support. Her and her family have been an encouragement to us, helped us when we were hurting and shown us the love of God. When I wrote those words, I didn’t even consider how they were going to be taken. I didn’t mean what they implied. Still, harmful words are hard to erase.

I’m blessed to know that my friend has forgiven me, and I so hope she knows how much I care for her and appreciate her friendship. I hope she knows I treasure her and her family. Life as a believer in Christ is all about growing, and we never stop learning….usually from our mistakes. I’ve learned a lot from this one. Hopefully you too can learn something from my mistake before having to make it yourself.

Words are powerful. Use with caution!`

Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

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What Selfies Don’t Reveal

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Ah the selfies! They are constantly flowing through the social media news streams and allowing us to see the side of people that they want to share. I know people who take a ton of selfies and others who never post pictures of themselves. Media reports talk about connections between producing massive quantities of selfies and such concepts as narcissism. I don’t know. I think ultimately there are two points that cannot logically be refuted:

1. People share selfies because they want others to admire them in one way or another; and

2. People only share what they want you to see.

Smiles, silly faces, glam shots….selfies can bring out many different characteristics and even emotions. Some people go for the goofy approach, giving us a sampling of their fun and playful personality. Others are clearly the result of careful calculation to make sure the best angles and lighting are achieved for maximum beauty. Some selfies are subtly sexy in nature. The pout. The big eyes. There are many variables. At the end of the photo shoot, hopefully you have something to share that will acquire tons of “likes” and be admired by many.

As eager as some are to take stunning selfies, they are just as keen and cautious to avoid pictures that are less flattering. We only share what we want people to see and we only want people to see the very best side of us. Yet, as I glance through the pictures, I can’t help but wonder what’s really going on in the lives of these lovely people whom I care about and love. What’s going on in their hearts? How are their walks with the Lord? Do they need prayer? Help? A hug? Selfies don’t tell us these things…in fact, they seem to often be more of a masquerade or charade.

Anyone can make a beautiful. photo-shopped picture, pop it up on their wall and make the world believe they’re happy. Then when the news breaks that there’s been marital problems, addition issues, illness and financial strain, we are all so surprised. After all, they looked so happy in those pictures. Their lives looked so together.

It’s not wrong for us to want others to see the best sides of us, nor to smile even when we’re hurting inside. I just think we need to be willing to be real with one another…at least those trustworthy people in our lives who can handle the raw, unfiltered ugliness that we ALL experience from time to time. You see, we live in a fallen, sin-infested world in bodies that are prone to breaking down. None of us have perfect lives. None of us have selfie-approved lives all of the time. Sometimes we’re a mess. Sometimes we have bad hair! haha Sometimes we are hurting far beyond what anyone can comprehend.

Friends, sometimes we are so desperate for people to admire us and look up to us that we refuse to admit when we need help, prayer or support. We need to strip off those chains and be willing to let others in. God never intended us to travel this narrow path alone. We need each other. Holding it all in will only cause us harm and additional pain. Share your burdens with each other and be available to help carry the burdens of others. That’s the true Christian way. That’s the Jesus way.

You know what’s awesome? God shows us in His Word that it is the beauty of the heart that matters. It matters so much more than the physical beauty that the world craves. I’m not saying we should stop taking selfies. They can be lots of fun to share and see. What I am saying is that I’m not content with selfie relationships that are based only on outward, photo-shopped illusions. I am willing to be real and show my beloved sisters in the Lord who I really am….the good and the bad. I know they will love me for all of me and they will encourage me, which will make me a better person in the end. As we edify one another in the Lord, the beauty of our hearts grow. That’s true beauty!

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