Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Birthday Blues…Just Being Real

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(Pic: Me on my 4th birthday I believe)

Another Christmas has come and gone, which includes as always the passing of my birthday. That’s right, I was born on December 23rd, a mere two days before Christmas. While there are always many jokes and fun remarks about being a Christmas baby and no one remembering my birthday in the midst of Christmas celebrations, I’ve never really minded much being born around the most popular holiday. After all, this is the time of year that we Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Why would I mind sharing birthday honors with my Jesus? 🙂

So without any emotional issues about being born at Christmastime, I will admit that this year was a bit difficult for me. You see, I turned 34 this year. It’s not exactly a milestone birthday for most people. When I turned 30, I confess to being in tears half the day. The few years between then and now haven’t affected me much, but 34 has been a hard one. It has been hard because it has caused me to reflect on my life and where I am today. With New Year’s right around the corner, many people will share these moments of reflection and self-confrontation about areas in which we feel we have met our own goals and where we have missed the mark. My birthday has added intensity and a sense of urgency to the mix.

Why 34? What’s the significance of this seemingly innocent and random number? Well, it’s one year shy of 35. I can sense the puzzled look on your face as you read this and think, “so what?” It may sound silly, but I had it in my mind from the time I was young that I would have four or five children by the time I was 35. I don’t know if it was the hype I’d heard about 35 being the turning point when a woman is considered on the older side of child-bearing age or what, but that number stuck in my mind. I wanted to have my children by 35. As I sit here, listening to my precious girl playing in her room alone, I can’t help but feel the loss and defeat that infertility brings afresh. I’m so grateful and so blessed for the gift from God that my daughter is, but I still long for more children, and this birthday has been a stinging reminder that this is a door that has been closed for me.

Now I know that many women have children well into their late 30’s and early 40’s, so don’t be offended or feel the need to encourage me in this way. I understand that there is still technically “time” for children, and that the Lord may still bless us with adopted children. It’s just that I can’t help but be disappointed with those things that I have not accomplished in my 34 years. I’m not disappointed with what God has done, but only unhappy with some of the circumstances I find myself in because of my own bad choices and inadequacies.

As I read scripture I find encouragements. As I remind myself of God’s love for me, I find comfort in His affections and His grace. As I place my hope in Him, I’m able to face my struggles head on and to admit that I’m not perfect and I’m not always happy. I have joy because of the Lord, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with sadness, disappointment and pain at times.

So tonight I admit that my birthday and the upcoming New Year reminds me that I’m no where near where I want to be. I admit that I have failed myself in many ways and that I do experience pain in the inability to have children. I confess that I do struggle with jealousy as I watch dear friends have one baby after another, though I greatly rejoice with them at the same time. I’m okay admitting these things because I’ve no desire to be fake or to paint a false picture of myself. Life is not all Sunday morning smiles. I’m okay with being real with you and I’m okay with you being real with me. I think that’s how we pray for each other and minister to one another.

Looking forward to 2015, I have so many things I want to change and do differently. I have so many dreams and goals I’d love accomplish. Still, I trust in the Lord that His ways are perfect, and I rest in His grace when I am weak and fail. I appreciate your prayers, dear saints, and I pray for you too, that the Lord will give you clarity, direction, wisdom and courage as you also look to the New Year that’ll be here soon. God bless!

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Comfortable Christianity is Mediocrity

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StayInSussex.com via photopin cc

The title of this blog may sound a bit harsh, but the truth is I truly believe we, the church, have become all too laid back and comfortable in our Christianity, especially here in the United States. While we have experienced the goodness of Jesus and found our salvation in His incredible grace, so many of us have embraced the blessings of being a Christian without being willing to take on the difficulties and challenges that should inevitably come along with it….picking up our crosses and following Christ?

There’s nothing wrong with living a beautiful life in Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with comfort, joy, happiness, success and peace. In fact, we should all be experiencing many of these blessings as we walk with our Lord. Peace and joy are gifts that the Lord offers us at all times and in all circumstances. There’s nothing wrong with having an easy or a successful life as a believer. However, if that is all we’re experiencing, a life without challenge or discomfort at times, then we are missing something. Jesus said this world would hate us because it hated Him. He said we’d have troubles. He said we’d be persecuted. We see Paul’s life and it was one filled with pain and suffering as he took the gospel to the people, and we rejoice with him as he praises the Lord in joy even in prison.

I’m not writing this to condemn a life of comfort, but rather to challenge us all to something better – a life that sacrifices comfort for the sake of truly touching lives and serving others. You see, there are so many Christians (myself included at times) who are just content with enjoying the Lord’s blessing in their lives. They love the Lord and they enjoy their families. They praise Jesus and make Him the center of their homes. It’s beautiful. It’s lovely. It’s a blessing, but it’s not the end….it’s the beginning. The home fire has been lit and it’s warmth, God’s presence, is filing it up with joy, peace and love. Now it’s time to swing open those doors and share that light and warmth with others. It’s only the beginning, you see. That fire of home lights the way for you to take Jesus to your neighbors, the lost, the suffering and the spiritually dead. You don’t keep it inside all to yourself. You don’t sit by your own fire night after night, enjoying it’s warmth and beauty, whilst outside in the cold people are freezing to death.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

You know, we carry the light of Jesus with us when we go into the world to minister to the lost. Still, we can feel the cold out there, can’t we? We see and experience the suffering, don’t we? We look into the eyes of a child in poverty and our hearts break for them. We kneel to pray with a homeless man and our nostrils take in the scent of filthiness and decay. We venture into a home that is filled with darkness and we sense the presence of evil. Yet God is with us. Taking the light to the dark world brings discomfort at times. It brings suffering at times. It brings heartbreak. It brings physical pain and the risk of injury at times. That’s the ministry we are called to, isn’t it? We are all called to serve beyond what is comfortable, whether it’s serving food and the bread of life to the homeless or sharing the gospel with a neighbor whose lifestyle is far different than yours.

I have lived a very comfortable Christianity at times in my life, but I have also experienced what it means to step outside of my comfort zone and really touch people’s lives. I can tell you from my own experience, those times when I ventured beyond the comforts of my own safe Christian porch and stepped out into the darkness in faith and boldness, I returned home with more fire, more warmth, more Holy Spirit empowerment and more joy than those times when I stayed home, out of the storm. It’s in those times that I know my purpose in Christ. It’s in those times that I understand so much deeper the power of Christ to change lives. I never want to go back. I never want to live a life of Christian mediocrity. I don’t want to simply celebrate the life I have in Jesus, but I want to invite the dirty, the broken, the hurting and the lost to the party.

Let’s be willing to be uncomfortable, like Jesus did. Let’s be willing to touch the diseased and dirty, like Jesus did. Let’s be willing to dine and to spend time with sinners, like Jesus did. I pray the Lord would make His people bold, willing and selfless. I pray that He would help me to be less about me and more about serving others. I pray that my comfort never again becomes more important than the eternal salvation of that person He is calling me to minister to. Lord, make me willing and bold! Let’s take His light to the whole world!

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Tips on Having a Christ-Filled Christmas

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We love celebrating Christmas in our home. It’s quite literally my favorite time of the year…nevermind that my birthday is on December 23rd. I decorate the house. We have a special tradition of going to a lovely place in the hills to get a tree. We give and receive presents. We love it and we enjoy watching our daughter love it all too. Still, as much as we love Christmas, the desire of our hearts is to keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus. This is what I want my daughter to observe and learn; a Christ-filled Christmas being our number one focus.

So from my family to yours, here are a few tips for creating a Christ-filled Christmas for your family:

  1. An Advent Activity. Advent activities can be lots of fun for the kids, educational and spiritually-enriching. What we did this year was decorate advent envelopes, one for each day of December leading up to Christmas, and I filled the envelopes with three items: a scripture that had something to do with the birth of Jesus, a picture to illustrate the scripture (my daughter is 5 years old), and some sort of a treat/activity. Each day my daughter opens the envelope for that day, we read the scripture and talk about what it means. Super fun!
  2. Caroling. We love to go caroling, and I am the director of a Christian homeschool choir so every year we go caroling in our town. We sing songs that are glorifying to God and draw the attention to our Savior.
  3. Decorating. I love Christmas decorations. I have them everywhere. I have a lot of variety in my decorating, but we do love to have decorations that remind us of our Jesus. We have nativities. Our Christmas tree is filled with ornaments that tell the story of His birth. We have a sign with light up letters outside with the word “Hope”. We want to share the hope and love of Jesus with our neighborhood. Not all of our decorations relate to Jesus, but He is the overwhelming theme in our home for sure.
  4. Blessing Others. A great way to share the love of Jesus at Christmas is to minister to others, and there are many ways to do that. Serving at a soup kitchen or bringing food to struggling families is one way. We did a box for Operation Christmas Child, so we filled a box with gifts for a little boy that will be delivered to him. We also like to make cookies, wrap them up and take them to our neighbors with Christmas cards that talk about Jesus. Our neighborhood is a bit scary at times, but we know God has put us here for a reason and we are not going to pass up the opportunity to share the gospel when we can.
  5. Christmas cards. Sending out Christmas cards with a gospel message is great because people will read them. Even just a few words of hope can make a difference.
  6. Saint Nicholas. We love Santa Claus! No, he’s not a pagan. While we focus our eyes on Jesus at Christmas, we have no problem with the legend of St. Nicholas. He was a very cool man and one that loved the Lord. He was generous and selfless. We love to talk about St. Nicholas, learn the history and play Santa Claus.
  7. Birthday cake for Jesus. Tabitha and I started the tradition last year of making a birthday cake for Jesus. We usually do it Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning we literally sing happy birthday to Jesus. Now, before you get all scholarly on me please know that we are fully aware that December 25th is not likely the real birthday of Jesus Christ. However, we choose to celebrate it that day, so instead of ripping right into the presents, we fix our eyes firmly on Jesus and thank Him for being born, dying and rising again for us.
  8. Gifts from Jesus. While we love to talk about St. Nic, we encourage our daughter to understand that every gift we have is from Jesus. Everything we have comes from God and nothing is really ours. So, while we may joke about Santa bringing presents, she can tell you that every gift is from Jesus and we thank Jesus for all He has blessed us with

These are just a few ways we keep Christ the center of our attention during the holiday season. If you have any other tips you’d like to share, please do so below. I pray that your Christmas is Christ-filled and joyous! It’s all about Him!

These are just a few ways we keep Christ the center of our attention during the holiday season. If you have any other tips you’d like to share, please do so below. I pray that your Christmas is Christ-filled and joyous! It’s all about Him!

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How Will My Daughter Remember Me?

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The human brain is a funny thing. Sometimes mine works well and other times not so much. I’ve learned to accept that and just laugh at myself when my brain decides to malfunction. When it comes to memories, I have very little memory of my young childhood. I’d say most of what occurred in my home before the age of ten is something of a mystery to me. I have flashes of memories, but not much detail. My younger brother, however, has a very good memory and he can tell stories of his young childhood with vivid detail. Interesting how the brain works.

I may not remember much of my childhood, but I’d say I’m more on the uncommon end of the spectrum in this. Most children have memories from much younger than ten years old. The truth is, children remember what they see going on around them. They form memories and impressions very early in life. They are taking it all in visually and aurally much earlier than most of us realize. They are forming memories and associations with those memories perhaps even before they know how to express what they are seeing/hearing/feeling.

So why is this important?

I’ll confess that there have been times I’ve been very convicted about the way I spoke or an action I did in front of my young daughter when she was three, four or five years old. In times of weakness and in the flesh, I’ve made comments to others that were hurtful or even sinful with her in the room and I’ve very foolishly assumed she wasn’t paying attention because she was playing or because she was too young to understand what I was saying. I’ve criticized my husband in her presence. I’ve gossiped. I’ve flippantly made comments that were just silly and unedifying. She has heard me say these things, and though she perhaps hasn’t responded or reacted in that moment, she has taken some of it in. She has formed memories and connections based on my sinful words.

Now before you get all bent out of shape or start judging me, understand that I have repented of this sin and am forgiven. I thank God that we can be real and honest and open about our struggles with the flesh and with sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” I thank Him even more than we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. I have no problem confessing this sin because I know that God has offered me forgiveness for all of my transgressions, but why bring it up?

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut 6:7

God tells us that we are to teach our children something here. What is it we are supposed to teach them? The answer is in the context.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deut 6:4-5

Our God is one Lord and that we shall love the Lord God with every part of our being. That’s what we are supposed to be teaching our children, but notice what God says about how we are supposed to teach them this. Do we teach it by simply reading this scripture and then going about our life in any manner we like? Nope. We are supposed to teach them by talking about the Lord in our homes, when we are out, when we lie down, when we rise up….basically we teach our children to love the Lord by talking about Him and loving Him ourselves at all times.

That’s pretty convicting. We need to remember that our children are always listening and watching. They may hear us proclaim Christ when we are in a good mood and things are going well. They see us smile and shout “amen” at church. They may even see us read the Bible from time to time. Is this sufficient? I’m convicted that the words of my mouth should always be glorifying to the Lord, and that while I speak and act out of love for Jesus, my daughter is learning how to love Him herself. Nothing is more important. Nothing.

Knowing the calling God has on me in this, and knowing what a failure I am in this way, I ask the Lord for Holy Spirit power to reign in my tongue and to make my speech and actions a constant reflection of my love for Jesus. I pray that the flesh would be triumphed over by the grace of God and His Spirit working in me. I pray most of all that my daughter would not remember a mother who only loved the Lord in some parts of her life, but rather a mother who was sold out for Jesus every day. I hope she remembers that, when I failed, I confessed and repented. I didn’t pretend to be perfect, but rather understood God’s grace in my life, thus compelling me to seek Him more.

Children remember what they see and hear from very young. Their young hearts are being molded even now. The things we say and do matter to them. While I may never be perfect on this earth, I pray that my daughter will remember me as someone who genuinely and deeply loved the Lord with all of my heart, soul and might and that she will love Him all the days of her life.

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