Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

I Want More

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via photopin (license)

What can I say? I want more. I’m not content with average….mediocre…just ok. I want more than what I’ve had. I want more than what I’ve experienced. I want more than what I’m able to achieve myself. I want more than what society will think is necessary. I want more and I’m going for it. I want more of Jesus.

 

I want more Jesus. I want to have Him constantly on my mind and in my heart. I want to be speaking to Him, sometimes loudly and sometimes in gentle whispers, but always all throughout my day in unceasing prayer. I want Him to be the first one I think about in the morning and the last goodnight. I want Him to be so much a part of my day that I never feel apart from Him. I want more.

 

I want more of the Father’s heart in my life. I want to love more deeply. I want to serve more selflessly. I want to pour more of myself into those He puts before me. I want to be more willing to cast aside my own selfish desires and thoughts. I want to be more of a witness to His glory, His love and His mercy. I want more grace to flow from Him, through me and spilling out into the world around me. I want more.

 

I want more of the Holy Spirit in my life. I want to faithfully use the gifts of the Spirit more as God gives. I want more discernment, more wisdom, more direction, more conviction, more comfort and more understanding. I want more….as much as the Holy Spirit desires to give, I want. I want more.

 

I want more of the church. I want more reality in the church. I want more purpose in the church. I want more teaching, admonishing, encouraging, edification, truth and above all LOVE in the church. I want to give more to the church and I want to be more actively functioning in the church. I want to see the church more alive and on fire than ever before. I want more revival. More gospel. More baptism. More movement of the Spirit. I want more solid doctrine. I want more courage, boldness and love. Yes, I said LOVE again because I want more LOVE in the church. “Faith, hope and love; these three remain, but the greatest is LOVE.” 1 Cor. 13:13

 

Oh Lord, this world wants more of me. It wants all of me. It pulls at me. The enemy wants to bury me in more of myself, self-love, selfishness, self-pity. No. I want more of Jesus. The answer to everything is more of Jesus. I’m not settling for less. I want more…as much as You will give me. I’m ready for more.

 

Thank You Lord that You give freely and abundantly of Yourself when we are ready to ask for more!

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Heart of a Mother

A mother loves.

She loves in good times and bad.

She loves without reserve.

She loves big and deep and wide.

She loves when it’s not returned.

She loves unconditionally.

A mother serves.

She serves til it hurts.

She serves when everyone stops.

She serves with self-sacrifice.

She serves without recognition or reward.

A mother edifies.

She builds them up.

She encourages them in their dreams.

She reminds them of their worth.

She is their number one fan.

A mother cares.

She cares for their needs.

She mends their wounds.

She comforts their hearts.

She sings over them with joy.

A mother prays.

She prays for their future.

She prays for their hurts.

She prays for them to love Him.

She prays for them to soar.

She speaks blessings over them.

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A mother is joy.

She brings light and love.

She holds their hearts.

She is the keeper of memories.

She is a blessing.

By birth, adoption or in loving bonds

Motherhood comes in many ways

And each is special.

Honoring mothers today

For all you do and all you are.

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To Help You Understand My Chronic Pain

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HeartBroken-Tears are the Baptism of Soul via photopin (license)

“I feel terrible.”

“I know.”

“You do? Do you really?”

There are some things in life that one must experience to fully understand. Infertility. Rape. Depression. Losing a child. Being abused. You see, we can look at situations and people and have a deep concern, empathy and heartbreak for them. We can see people suffering and try to imagine how awful it would be to experience such tragedies, and yet we can’t fully understand their pain unless we’ve walked in those shoes. For the person in pain and suffering, there is a deep desire for others, especially loved ones, to understand what we’re going through, and yet we wouldn’t hope for anyone to really have to struggle as we do.

My husband recently told me that he wished he could have my pain for a day so that he could better understand. It was a thoughtful thing to say. He makes every effort to understand and I appreciate that. So in honor of his desire to see more clearly what I am dealing with, I’m going to give as truthful an account as possible in hopes that understanding will grow, helping people to minister better to those who suffer with chronic pain.

I don’t like talking about my pain. I am very much the type of person who wants to make people happy and be cheerful and put on a brave face, but too much pretense weaves around ourselves something of a lonely cocoon. If no one knows we are hurting, then we suffer alone. There is no one to talk to or to pray for you. Since chronic pain is often felt but not seen, you are expected to function the way you look on the outside. It’s exhausting. So, I’m going to be honest and my prayer is that this helps others like me and the people who love them.

1, My Diagnosis – Everyone’s pain is different, and there are a variety of causes for chronic pain. To this day, after seeing many specialists and doctors, I am technically diagnosed with fibromyalgia, though I feel confident that there is more to it. Being somewhat “undiagnosed” means I am constantly searching for answers. It means I don’t know what to expect. It means there really is no treatment. I often feel like I’ve no where to turn for help and that going to the doctor is a waste of time. It’s scary and frustrating. I am not really being treated for fibro, though my doctor does ask about my pain on regular visits. I’m not on medication.

  1. My Pain – I go through flare-ups of pain and various symptoms on a cyclical basis. I’m not trying to whine or complain here, but I am going to share some of the pain I experience either on a daily or cyclical basis. Joint pain is top of the list. I always have pain in my shoulders, neck and upper back, as well as various tender points. The pain flares up and those flare ups can last a long time. Right now I’m dealing with one that has lasted about 6 weeks. The pain right now is also in most of my other joints. I have arthritic pain in my fingers, hands, feet, back, knees, etc. I suffer headaches, brain fog and strange sensations. I have had gastrointestinal problems for several years resulting in chronic gastritis (inflammation of stomach lining). I have to be cautious about my diet to avoid horrible stomach pain. I also have very bad reflux. The fatigue can be severe. I get dizzy often. There are times when my pain is so severe that I can barely move. It is worse in the mornings. It wakes me up early because I can’t lay down any longer. This all began around the time I turned 30…so around 4 years now.
  1. Invisible Illness – People with chronic pain understand something that others don’t….just because I look okay doesn’t mean I am ok. There are days when my condition overwhelms me and I wonder how I can make it through the day, yet I can’t slow down. I can’t stop. I have to work, clean and keep up with my responsibilities as if I were healthy. I just know there are people sitting at home collecting disability who suffer less than I do on a regular basis. My disease is invisible to the human eye. As a result, it feels as though the whole world is expecting you to just keep at it. It feels as if no one believes you are hurting and they can’t possibly understand how much.
  1. Feeling Like a Failure – While I am struggling to keep up with my responsibilities, I also know I’m failing quite a bit. I can’t keep up the house like I’d like to or do as much as I want to do. My husband has to help me around the house more than I’d like. I need to say no sometimes to various ministry opportunities and events. I just can’t do it all. I struggle with feeling like a failure as a mother and wife. I know the enemy uses these things to feed lies to me, and so I cling to the Word of God that He will work all of this together for good. I trust Him that He will carry me when I can’t go another step.
  1. Emotional Side Effects – If you think the physical pain is the only part of it, you’re missing something. The emotional suffering is also very much a struggle. You see, there is something emotionally devastating about chronic illness. Each morning, day after day, I wake up to pain. I struggle through pain, and other symptoms, throughout the day. I go to sleep in pain. It’s constant. It goes on and on and on and there is no cure. I can expect to be in pain for the rest of my life, though I do pray for healing according to the Lord’s will and timing. Imagine how awful it feels to be sick and then go on to imagine that sickness is going to be your life for the rest of your days. Imagine never having a day where you feel perfectly well again. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating and so very sad. If not for the blessed assurance I have in Jesus, I’d feel so lost. I don’t know how people survive this pain without Him.

This may seem like a bit of a downer, but I really felt compelled to tell the truth here about what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I know that my husband longs to understand it better, and maybe you have a loved one suffering with pain. Your loved one needs you to acknowledge the struggle and believe in what he/she is dealing with. You know, it’s easy to minister to and care for a person who is suffering with a short term illness. You help out and then she gets better. A person with chronic illness is a whole other deal. This person will need your understanding, love and support probably forever. It’s hard. It’s a big job. So blessed that there are people out there who love God enough to love His people even in these long-term illnesses.

If you are married to someone with chronic pain, I know you are suffering too. It’s hard to watch your spouse hurt and not be able to fix it. I encourage you to be understanding and supportive. You will have to help pick up the slack around the house and help take care of your beloved. You will have to understand when he/she can’t keep up or must decline an activity. You will have to be there to hold things together when his/her world seems to be falling apart. Hang in there and trust the Lord.

As I write this, I am aware that publishing it is going to make me look weak and that it exposes to others something that I’ve tried to keep hidden. You see, I don’t want to be known as the lady who’s always sick. On the other hand, I need support too. I need friends who pray for me. I need help from time to time when it gets bad. My husband needs to understand, and my guess is that other spouses need this too. While it all seems pretty disheartening, please know that it is the hope and grace of Jesus Christ that keeps me going. I know God has not forsaken me and that He will get me through. I believe He has a purpose for allowing it. I do pray for healing and trust Him. I’ll never give up hope. I’ll never stop praising my Lord. He gives me strength day by day to endure this thorn in my flesh. I pray that all who suffer with chronic pain and illness would know that hope and love of Jesus. We need Him to get through this.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m happy to answer questions and I’d love to hear your stories too. God be glorified and may He bless you abundantly!

* * * Added: have asked me if I take anything for pain. I wanted to share that I am taking Plexus products for pain, better health and weight loss. I am noticing that my flare ups seem to be less intense most of the time. The longer I’m on it, the better I feel overall. I’m not saying this to sell it, but because I believe it is helping people. If you’d like to know more about Plexus, let me know. You can also check my website… Radiant Health

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When There’s Something to Complain About

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We are natural complainers, aren’t we? I mean, there are definitely those people who never seem to have a bad thing to say. They seem always content and at peace in any given circumstance. Nothing bothers them and they walk in serene peace and joy at all times. I’m not one of those people. I wish I was! I definitely know how to complain when I have something going on that’s worth complaining about.

When it comes to marriage, we all know that we tend to get comfortable with one another. We let down our guards. We are more open and real. That’s a beautiful thing. However, sometimes when we are comfortable we also allow ourselves to share whatever it is that’s on our minds at any given time…which can be ugly if what’s on our minds is a load of complaints and grumblings.

It happens so easily and we may not even notice it. Say, for example, Jenny and Jeremy are going through a tough time. Jenny is suffering from health issues and all the doctor bills are causing their budget to break under the pressure. Jenny is struggling with the stress and pain of her situation and she often gets frustrated with how Jeremy handles the various situations that come up, how he responds when she’s in pain and how he doesn’t seem to share her concerns. Her mind is filled with complaints, and why not? She’s going through some horrible trials. It’s natural for her to feel this way, but should she allow every complaint to flow from her lips to her husband’s ears? I think not.

You see, Jeremy and Jenny might handle the stress differently, but my guess is that Jeremy is doing the best he can. He is trying to bear the load. He is trying to help his wife. He feels badly about her health problems. He would do anything to come up with a solution. He may not do everything the way she wants him to, but he is trying. If all he hears from his wife’s mouth is complaint and criticism, it will really wear him down. it will crush him. He will become deflated and defeated. It will weigh heavily on the marriage.

Perhaps Jeremy really isn’t doing things well. Maybe he’s messing it all up and maybe he doesn’t care for his wife as he should. Should Jenny therefore have freedom to pour out her complaints all over her husband in hopes of it changing him? I think not.

Nagging and complaining is never a good way to make positive changes. The Bible warns of the ugly nature of a nagging and contentious wife repeatedly. It’s just not pretty ladies and it makes your husband want to hide under a big rock, or perhaps live on the rooftop instead of in the home with you. If Jenny is wise, she will not complain and nag at her husband to try and change him. She can make her concerns known respectfully and then leave it with God. Prayer is powerful. Nagging is destructive.

Perhaps you think I’m being harsh with Jenny. After all, she’s not well. Shouldn’t we cut her some slack and allow her some complaining? Look, I’m not saying there’s never a time to share concerns, pains, struggles, etc. I’m not saying you shouldn’t share with your husbands. A good man will want to know how his wife is feeling. Remember, we also have friends to help us carry our burden. We have family we can share with. I’m not saying to keep your pain in and let it boil inside.

What I am suggesting is that we not allow our mouths to be the source of constant complaining, grumbling and venting, even if that’s what’s in our heads all of the time. As much as Jenny needs to vent from time to time, Jeremy needs to be encouraged. He needs to hear that his wife appreciates what he’s trying to do for her. The home needs joy to flow through it’s halls. Your children need to hear good words and laughter.

I feel for all of my sisters who are struggling with pain and trials. I am too. I write this, not as a woman who gets it right all the time, but as a sister in the Lord who fails a lot. I fail. I complain. I have times when my mouth is filled with pessimism and criticism and ugliness. I see the pain and frustration it brings my family, and I don’t want to do that to them anymore. I want my mouth to bring words of encouragement and edification, even if every joint hurts and every task is challenging. Lord, help me to complain less and be more grateful!

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

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Excerpt from My New Book – “Be Church. The Church. Real Church”

The following is an excerpt from my new book, “Be Church. The Church. Real Church.” The book should be released and available by July 1st.:

            “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

 

            “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

            “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

 

            “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

 

            “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 14:1-5

 

            “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:1-5

I read these passages about the New Testament church and I can’t help but feel that we have really tried to box church up into this nice, aesthetically-pleasing package. We have focused on creating order and being organized. We have established traditions that we now stick to as if it were written on the same tablets as the Ten Commandments. We keep Sunday morning running smoothly, eliminate distractions, ask the Holy Spirit to move in our timing and according to our schedule, and we avoid any breaking of what is our regularly scheduled program. Yet, I’m not seeing any of that with the New Testament church from scripture. I’m not seeing an outline of the service in the church bulletin. I’m not seeing a well-oiled engine that makes sure people are in their seats at 10am and out the door at 11:45am on the dot. I’m not seeing shallow conversation or niceties or the need to stick to this version of church that we have created.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I love church. I love going to church and I am not poking fun at churches that run this way. I understand that these traditions have been deeply engraved in our development of church history. I am not writing these words in anger or frustration with the church. Not in the least. I believe that the church is filled with God-loving people who are doing their best (for the most part) to honor Him. I know there are dodgy churches out there teaching false words and so forth…I’m not talking about them. I’m specifically addressing the Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christian church. We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and flavors, but we are all united in the blood of our Savior. Despite our denomination or church affiliation, most of our church fellowships fall into this habit of putting church (and ultimately God) in a box. That is what I’m addressing in total love and honor of my fellow believers.

While I love the church and see many wonderful aspects of the church (Bible study, worship, fellowship, etc.) shining forth from it’s congregations, I also see some real problems with the church in general. Now this may or may not apply to your church body. This is not a new concept. I’m not the first to feel this conviction, nor the last. Others have written about it. Some have put it into practice in their churches. It’s not new, but it is my personal take on what’s happening in the church today and how we may start to really be church….the real church.

The first thing we have to do is to recognize and acknowledge that the church is made up of Christians. Christians are people. People suffer. There is pain. There is sickness. There is trouble and persecution. Jesus never promised Christians an easy time on earth. In fact, we were warned that we’d face spiritual and physically warfare and pain. Life is messy. If church is going to be real, we need to allow people to be real in the church. If church is going to be sincere, we need to allow people to share their lives. Church is not a beauty pageant, where smiles are glued in place to make sure they don’t drop. Church isn’t a show. It isn’t a pristinely- put together show. It shouldn’t be. It should be a real life experience of people being themselves, bringing their pain, being ministered to, sharing testimonies of God’s power and glory, being exhorted in the Word, feeling free to confess, being prayed over and being fed. Real church doesn’t have to look the same every week. It doesn’t have to fit in the box man has created.

I love the church, but something’s missing. Something’s wrong. We know it is because we are losing people. We are losing battles. We are sending some away just as broken and lonely as when they arrived. We are failing to meet needs. We are failing to offer real discipleship. We are not bearing one another’s burdens as we ought to. We don’t even know what their burdens are because we don’t take time to get to know them! For all of the beauty of a well-organized Saturday or Sunday morning service, we are missing out on some of the most important aspects of being a church family in the first part.

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Be Grateful for Those Babies!

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As a woman who suffers from secondary infertility (meaning I was able to have one child but have not been able to conceive since), I know that there are certain things that I see or hear that accentuate my pain and trigger negative emotions. It’s difficult. You see beautiful babies being born all around you. You have friends that are expecting. You see sweet little ones on television and in the supermarkets. You get to bring meals to new mommies and see the utter joy of being a mother. Then you return home and are faced with the pain of barrenness…the empty aching pain that only those who have experienced it can fully understand.

Before I was able to give birth to my miracle daughter, I had a much harder time being around pregnant women, attending baby showers or seeing pictures of brand new babies. It’s been almost 6 years since I had my girl, and my failure to conceive definitely brings me to pain quite often. I strive to be content and accept the Lord’s plan in it all. I know He is good and His gifts are perfect in His perfect timing. I am so blessed to have my daughter and never fail to give thanks for her. Still, I long for another child. It’s human emotion.

As I look around, I see women who are able to conceive and bring forth precious blessing after blessing. I like to joke that my circle of friends and church tends to be fertile ground. Baby after baby. It’s awesome. It’s beautiful. And it hurts. It’s a constant painful reminder. I want to be perfectly clear that I rejoice with everyone of these women at every birth. I’m so happy for them; I truly am. At the same time, I fight back the tears.

There is something I want to say to these lovely women. There’s an encouragement I have for them that can only come from a woman with infertility. My sisters, be grateful for those babies. Celebrate those babies. Don’t take it for granted. I know you are grateful for these blessings and I know you thank God for them, but take it from a woman like me, having children is not a right but a privilege that the Lord God blesses you with. For those of you who conceive easily, be grateful. Thank God for that. You are soooooo blessed! Women like me only dream of being able to have babies. I want to encourage you to feel that blessing deeper and to thank the Lord God every time you hold that sweet baby to your chest, What an amazing honor you have to be able to experience motherhood in this way. God bless you!

My sisters, I also want to encourage you to do three things for those ladies in your life who struggle with infertility…

  1. Pray for them. Pray for hurting hearts and the pain they are experiencing. Pray for open wombs and fertility. Pray for their marriages, which are sometimes strained in the hurt of infertility. Pray for these women to feel whole and valuable and important. Pray for them to know peace.
  2. Be sensitive. Be aware of the situation and try to be an encouragement. Avoid saying things that may bring more pain, if you can. Maybe pray about how best to minister to your friend in regards to the infertility. Guard your words and allow the Lord to lead.
  3. Don’t act like motherhood is a right that every woman has. That’s just not the case. Some women will never be able to conceive. Some will have miracle blessings. Either way, acting like conception, pregnancy and motherhood are just regular parts of life, instead of the absolute miraculous blessing they are, is something we pick up on. It hurts. Remember to be grateful for those babies.

Life is full of pain and struggles. Infertility is awful. It can make a woman feel alone, worthless, incomplete, broken and excluded. Last night I had a dream I was pregnant with a baby boy. I was at the doctor’s office having an ultrasound. The pain that I have to deal with this morning is heavy, but I do know that God is good. I know He loves me and I know He has a perfect plan. In tears I pray for my sisters who experience infertility. Praying for peace that passes understanding and is capable of ministering to the brokenhearted.

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On Guard Against Sexual Predators

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He’s the friendly neighborhood swimming coach. She’s the neighbor who always offers to babysit. He’s the uncle who spends more time outside playing with the kids than speaking to the adults. He’s the worship leader at church. He’s a predator and his target is our children.

There’s no easy way to write about child molestation. It’s disturbing…shocking to the senses. It’s so wrong and yet alarmingly common. When 1 out of every 5 girls and 1 out of every 20 boys are being sexually assaulted, that tells us that there are far more sexual predators out there than we even want to realize. Hey, we have to realize it. We have to face facts. We need to know about the danger if we are going to be able to guard our children and keep them safe to the very best of our abilities.

I’m known in my family and amongst friends as something of a “paranoid” mama. I definitely am extremely cautious. I don’t just leave my daughter with anyone, even if that person is someone who appears trustworthy. I’ve seen too much in my life and it has opened my eyes to the understanding that sexual predators roam the world as wolves in sheep’s clothing. While we may eyeball the creepy, old man who lives down the road and make a mental note to keep our kids away from him, the predator is more likely to be a family friend, friendly neighbor or even a family member. You can’t just trust people because they don’t LOOK like child molesters. Predators are masters of disguises and they are all around us.

You know, a sexual predator usually accumulates quite a few victims before he/she is found out. Once the police finally catch a child molester, he/she has probably already assaulted multiple innocent children. It’s a horrible thing. It’s tragic. It’s an abomination and I guarantee you God will judge harshly those wicked people who harm His children.

I know this topic is dark. I don’t write about it to bring you down but rather to warn you that we need to keep our eyes wide open and we need to be a little “paranoid” in order to protect our kids. I know that we can only do so much. Those families who have experienced the pain of a child being assaulted are in my prayers. I can’t imagine how hard it is to have that happen to your child. It must be absolutely devastating. I know we can’t always keep our kids safe, but I am going to do everything in my power to guard my child against sexual predators. I’m okay with being mocked for my caution. I’m perfectly content with the sacrifices that must be made.

No, my daughter will not attend that sleepover.

No, my daughter will not be dropped off to meet one on one with a teacher in a windowless, private room.

No, my daughter won’t be checked in at Sunday School unless there are strict rules about having two workers in each class, bathroom policies, background checks and access for parents to check on kids at all times.

Yes, I will watch carefully and follow my instincts about people who behave unusually.

Yes, I will make sure everyone knows that I am a mother who is paying attention and on guard.

Yes, I will make my opinions known, because my daughter’s safety is worth more than a comfortable silence.

This world is dark and the days are evil. There are predators lurking all around and our children are the prey. Am I being over-dramatic about this? I think not. I think we are being way too casual about it all actually. Churches need to get wise. We need to have stricter rules in place. We need to understand that there can be wolves dressed as sheep who are earning access to the kids in order to attack. We need to make it clear that keeping strict rules about anyone who works with children is not a personal offense, but a safety measure that everyone should be more than willing to adhere to.

Parents, we shall not live in fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear. I’m not afraid, though it may sound that way. I’m simply awake. I’m alert. I’m on guard. I know I can’t control everything. I also know my Heavenly Father can. I know He is watching over us, and yet He has given free will to all men and women and sometimes their free will choices to enact evil upon us brings us great pain and suffering. Listen, it’s not “paranoid” to realize that our children are weaker and an easier target and that we need to take extra special care these days to defend and protect them.

So mock me if you like. I’m perfectly okay with that. I honestly don’t care what anyone thinks about my caution as a parent. If it reduces the chance that my child will fall prey to a sexual predator, I’m more than willing to take the mockery and judgment. She’s my priority.

As for those who have already experienced the pain of having a child abused, or been assaulted yourself, my prayer are with you. This kind of assault leaves wounds and scars that are unlike anything else. I pray that you are able to find healing, comfort and even forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

And for the child molester who may be reading these words…repent. Repent now and turn to Christ. You are filled with evil and wickedness, and you are an enemy of God. You’re only hope is to turn to Jesus and turn yourself in for your crimes. I want you to know that I see you and I pray for you, but I also want you to know that I’ve got my eyes wide open. I’m on guard and I’m ready to defend my family by whatever means necessary. In other words, if you come into my home and seek to harm my family, you won’t victoriously. In fact, you might not walk out at all.

This may all sound very harsh, but I believe the church and parents need to be less trusting and more on guard with out kids. We need to be willing to say what needs to be said. We have to be willing to say no to situations where adults have access to children without accountability and transparency. We need to understand that child molesters come in all shapes and sizes, and that they win us over with kindness and gentleness. They are on mission, so we must be on guard.

Please join me in praying for the protection of children, for the wisdom and discernment of parents, churches and schools, and for the justice, repentance and salvation of sexual predators.

For tips on trying to prevent sexual abuse, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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A Message About Love

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photo credit: “Love One Another…” ~ digital paint effect ~ [Explored] via photopin (license)

“1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I know a lot of clanging cymbals. I know plenty of Christians who are bankrupt in the love department. I’m sure that I’ve been one a time or two in my life. Yes, I’m quite sure that I have, but something has happened to me.

There’s been a change of heart here. You see, for so long I depended so heavily upon the apologetics and study of my faith and the Word of God (not entirely a bad thing), but I often failed in the love department. I failed to see people hurting. I failed in compassion but excelled in the “calling” of giving advice. I had a quick answer for everyone but not a heart of discernment as to when to share that advice and when to be a silent encourager.

As God has shown me to see His hurting people through His eyes, my heart has softened to the plight of the suffering and lost of this world. My eyes see more clearly now that there are people within the church who are in pain but suffer in silence for the sake of an obligatory smile on Sunday morning. Well-primped and properly-dressed Christians fill up the pews and all is right in the world….only it isn’t. Very little is right in this world because the enemy of our souls is constantly on the prowl, looking for whomever he may lie to, cheat, harm and break. Death and sickness plague us. Adultery and immorality are ever present. We rejoice in the Lord and His blessings, but may we never forget that this world is moaning as it awaits redemption and renewal.

With all the suffering that there is in this world, we need to be all the more abundant in love, compassion, grace and bearing one another’s burdens. We need each other. We need love. There’s no question that we need to study God’s Word and know His precepts also, but fellowship and love within the body of Christ must never be side-show attraction or a secondary concern in the body. Disconnected believers are easily brought down. Isolated Christians have no one to see when they are falling and no one to pull them up when the cares of the world pull them down.

Clanging cymbals. They do everything right, don’t they? They know the Bible. They live pure lifestyles and their tithe is 10.1 percent. The words on their lips are goodness and their homes are fortified. They do everything right….except love. They do everything well…except that which is most important.

“Faith, hope and love; these three abide, but the greatest of these is LOVE.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

We learn so much about love from this chapter in 1 Corinthians. My heart cries out to my fellow believers that we need to understand love more. We need to give it more freely. We need to be willing to get our hands dirty to wash the feet of those who have walked a thousand miles in pain and hardship. We need to love til it hurts. Love is sacrifice. Didn’t our Savior teach us that? We need to love like Jesus did….laying down our lives and giving all of ourselves.

Don’t be a clanging cymbal, dear one. Don’t excel at having all the right answers but fail at loving with a pure and dedicated love. Agape love. Unconditional love.

When I die someday, whenever the Lord wills that to be, I don’t want it to be said of me that I was a Christian who knew all the right answers. I don’t want it said to me that I was a good tither or had an excellent church attendance record. I cringe to think that my mourners would speak only about the Lord’s gift of music in my life.

Oh Lord, may they remember me as one who loved! Jesus, may I love so fiercely that people would never forget it. May my love comfort Your children and draw in the lost! May I love without reserve! May I love without bounds! May Your perfect love be perfected in me that I might be worthy of being called a Christian at all!

May we love deeply. May we love true. May our love be a sweet, sweet sound to the Father and may our love drown out the clanging cymbals.

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Dealing with Typical “You’re Homeschooling?” Frustrations

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My husband and I are the first couple in our respective families to choose home education for our child. It is a decision we had come to long before we had our daughter, and one that we personally have felt convicted about ever since. Those of you who share the conviction understand how strong it can be, and yet those who look down on homeschooling can be quite passionate about their opinions on the matter as well. While we have been blessed to have families who support us (teasing and joking aside), I have had no shortage of jabs, insults, attacks, rude remarks and what I call “the look” from friends, strangers, acquaintances, etc.

I really had no idea how often it would happen until my daughter reached school age. We had done preschool at home and I have directed a homeschool choir for the past 6 years, so we were already well engrossed in the homeschooling community. Then my daughter turned five. Suddenly everywhere we went people began to ask her if she was in kindergarden. This is the question that does it. Here’s what often follows:

Acquaintance: “How old are you sweetie?”

Tabi: “Five”

Acquaintance: “And are you in kindergarden this year?”

Me: “Yes she is, although she’ll be starting first grade in about six weeks. We are home educators.”

Acquaintance: (*the look) “Oh, ok. And how is she going to be socialized?” or “Wow. You’re brave.” or “Well, I leave that to the professionals.” or “I’ve heard homeschooled students can’t get into colleges” or sometimes “Well I don’t think homeschooling is right. You don’t want your kid to grow up being different and weird do you?”

Yes! These comments are a dime a dozen. I hear these and many more constantly. Sometimes people hold their opinions and simply give “the look”, but I tell you, that look can be just as frustrating as the person who has to be reminded that not all socialization is beneficial or that colleges usually welcome homeschooled students because of their advanced study habits. It’s not easy to hear these comments or witness that “look” day after day. It’s not easy to be different. Yet, I’ve found that, while I don’t appreciate the response I get from people and wish that society as a whole were more open minded to accepting home education as a valid and fine educational choice, I have noticed that these anti-homeschooling remarks never sway my commitment to this path. I LOVE being a home educator and I know that it is the best choice for my family.

That being said, I want to share some tips on how to best deal with negative remarks towards homeschooling as a Christian and home educator:

1. Grace and Love. Remember that we are called to offer grace and love, even if we’re not getting it back. Smile. Be kind. Be gentle. Try not to let anger take over, but rather just be okay with it. Ask God to give you loving and kind words in your response.

2. Humility. Often our reaction to someone challenging our choices is pride. Homeschoolers can be very prideful about what we believe in and in a negative way. God never approves of a prideful spirit. We need to remember to put on humility and let that show in our response.

3. Facts. While speaking in love and humility, it’s okay to defend home education by sharing facts and information that the other person might not know. Try not to blast them with too much information, because that will come across as aggressive and we don’t want that. Just answer their points kindly and with information that makes sense.

4. Tolerance. This is a funny word that can be good or bad at times. While we want society to accept and respect home education, we also must be respectful and tolerant of those who have different opinions. The truth is, if people choose public school, it’s because they believe it is the best choice for their family. If we choose homeschool, it is because we believe it is the best choice. We don’t have to agree. What we do want to do is to respect one another and acknowledge that both they and us are simply doing what we think is best. I hate to see homeschoolers mocking and putting down public schooling just as much as I hate it when we are mocked. In this sense, we need to follow our convictions and respect one another.

5. Teach our kids to do the same. As often as we are confronted about home education, our kids will be confronted all the more. It is good for us to teach our children to be able to defend homeschooling in the same manner of love, humility, tolerance and with sound information like we should be doing. We don’t want to teach our kids to be prideful or judgmental, but rather to be confident, kind and loving when they are asked about their education.

I have one other bit of advice….choose your battles wisely! If I know that a certain person looks down on homeschooling and that a conversation about it is going to be pointless and frustrating, I may avoid the issue altogether. We don’t always have to be soldiers on guard to defend home education. We can choose peace over pointless conflict. It’s like the song says, “live and let live” right? haha

At the end of the day, these “looks” and remarks are going to keep happening and it probably gets worse as the kids get older. We have to try not to let it bother us and to remember that as Christians we are used to being different and standing apart. If we can reject the world to love and follow Christ, then surely, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can face challenge and even ridicule with grace and dignity, being good representatives of the homeschooling community.

God bless!

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Too Much Self-Love Going On

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Ignacio Conejo via photopin cc

Self-love is a modern-day cover up. It’s a scam. It’s a cheap imitation for the love that is supposed to be filling our hearts. You see, self-love isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. Sure, you’ll hear the talk show hosts and the psychologists and the self-help gurus go on and on about it, claiming that self-love is all one needs to have peace in this life. They will tell you that loving yourself is the first priority…

“You need to take care of yourself….”

 

“All that matters is that you like yourself….”

 

“At the end of the day, you only answer to yourself….”
“Do what’s best for you…”

 

“You deserve to be happy…”

 

“You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself….”

I’ve heard it all my life, and I’m sure you have too. In fact, maybe you’ve said these catchphrases to others at times. Maybe you believe them sincerely. I mean no disrespect or offense when I say that you’ve been greatly misled. Here are some of the reasons why self-love is not our friend, but actually oftentimes our enemy…

  1. Self-love is self-focus and leads to self-centeredness and selfishness. Now that’s a tongue-twister! Self-love is basically a means of shifting all of the focus to yourself. Your focus is on loving yourself so you think about yourself excessively. Since when is your life all about you? I tell you what, the people I’ve known in my life who are the most well-rounded, joyful and peaceful people are those who think very little about themselves. They are too busy being a blessing to others to spend hours and hours, day after day meditating on themselves. In shifting their focus to serving others and seeking the Lord, they find peace and contentment. Self-love makes people believe that it’s all about them. That’s not healthy and not pretty. It can definitely lead to a selfish kind of heart.
  2. Self-love ruins relationships and marriages. That’s right. People who say that you have to love yourself before you can love others are wrong. The ONLY way to truly love others is to lay down your life. The ONLY way to love your husband in the way that God commanded is to be willing to put his needs ahead of your own. The ONLY way to be a good mother is to love those children more than you love yourself. When people focus on self-love, they will eventually come to the conclusion that they are not being treated good enough in their marriage or that they are not being appreciated enough by their kids. We see people committing adultery. We see mothers abandoning their children and running off with a lover. We see men and women filing for divorce like it’s the same as trading in an old car. These are the acts of selfish, self-centered, and self-loving people. They love themselves more than the people they should be giving their lives for, and the result is pain and suffering. In friendship, it gets real old when one friend is constantly talking about herself and never has time to listen, doesn’t it? Self-love destroys relationships and families.
  3. Self-love focus is anti-Biblical.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” 1 Timothy 3:1-5

 

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Matthew 16:24-25

 

Over and over throughout scripture we are told to love God, love others and serve. We are never told to love ourselves….not once! The truth of the matter is there is no need. It is assumed that we love ourselves because loving ourselves is part of our nature. When God commands us to love others as ourselves, He is assuming (and God’s never wrong) that we do love ourselves. So, you and I already love ourselves plenty. Why do I sometimes hate the person that I am, you may ask? Well, sometimes we hate the sin in ourselves, especially when we have received the Holy Spirit and are filled with conviction.

Sometimes we hate the circumstances of our lives…things that have been done to us or the situation we find ourselves in regarding health, finances, etc. We hate our lives but we don’t hate ourselves. Sometime we really honestly do feel hatred toward ourselves, but the truth is, if we didn’t care about ourselves we wouldn’t feel such strong feelings. We would be indifferent. See, hatred isn’t the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. The truth is that we love ourselves, and therefore when we hated the circumstances we are in or the person we have become, we feel it strongly.

Friends, there is enough self-love going on. It is leading to divorce. It is leading to worldly pleasures. It leads to people living lives of self-contemplation and missing out on the joy of taking up God’s great commission. We have so much work to do, sisters. We have a world full of lost souls who need Jesus. We have people to minister to. We need to stop looking in the mirror all the time and start looking around us. I guarantee you, when you start looking at others instead of yourself, you’ll be a happier person. In fact, when you let go of your need for self-love, and you focus on God-love and loving your neighbors, you are going to end up liking the person that you are in a true way. That’s the key.

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