Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

The Worst and the Best Year – 2015

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog here and much of that is due to the good, the bad and the ugly moments of this past year for me and my family. As we approach the end of this year and the start of a new, I can confidently say that 2015 has been one of the worst my family has known. Yet, somehow, it’s also been one of the best. I thought I’d take a moment to share with you, my friends, my readers, in hopes that this testimony is an encouragement and brings glory to God.

The Worst Year

My life hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it’s been pretty rough and I’ve experienced some seriously difficult trials and challenges along the way. Still, 2015 brought me pain and struggle on a variety of levels that I had never before experienced. As I look back, I can hardly recognize myself in this past year. There were so many turbulent changes and dark times, some due to my own sin and others for unknown reasons.

The year started like any other, full of hopes and prayers and sincere but short-lived resolutions. It started out good, with the Lord putting a new ministry in our hearts that came to fruition. However, in the midst of the joy of serving the Lord and meeting wonderful new friends, the health issues I had been struggling with for several years suddenly got ridiculously worse. The physical pain, brain fog and other multi-system symptoms seemed to fire up to new levels. I prayed for healing. I sought help from various doctors. I finally came to find out I have a chronic illness and one that is very difficult and expensive to treat.

As I started to try and raise funds for treatment, I found myself struggling with depression and the feeling of being alone. I felt like no one could understand. With an invisible illness, people expect you to go about life as usual, not realizing how much pain you are in and how difficult it is to function. I have struggled to keep up with my daughter, to do her schooling, to keep my house in any sort of order and to teach lessons. My health got worse and worse. I’m now in treatment, but I’m still undergoing a lot of testing and the costs are a great burden to my family.

Not only did my declining health make 2015 a difficult year, but I also struggled with sin of the heart. I believe in being real and authentic as a believer, and so I confess that I allowed my heart to entertain sin for a time, and as sin tore up my heart, my whole household suffered tremendously. Out of respect for my family and others who were involved, I won’t share details here. I will tell you that sin, even when it’s in the heart, is destructive and ruins marriages, families, friendships and lives. As I mentioned earlier, there were times when I couldn’t even recognize myself.  I’m so very ashamed of how I stumbled, and so very grateful for the grace and love of the Savior and from my husband that brought me back to rightness.

The Best Year

It’s a funny thing about grace and forgiveness. I think it sometimes takes a great fall to be able to see how precious and powerful grace is. As a Christian of many years, I felt so confident and strong in my faith and my life that I would never have imagined myself falling as I did into sinful attitudes and thoughts. It was no coincidence that it all happened in the same year as the Lord brought my family into an incredible ministry.

In February 2015 God put on our hearts to start a Bible study in our home and to open it up to folks in our area. The people who came were strangers to us, and yet the Lord put on their hearts to come. I can’t even begin to express the blessing these brothers and sisters have been in our lives. We have truly formed a community of believers who are taking their walk with Jesus to the next level. Some are brand new believers. Some came from other churches and religions. We had 7 baptisms in 2015 alone. The Lord has done amazing things and we have just stood in awe of Him, grateful for the opportunity to be used and to serve His people.

Is it a coincidence that this is when temptation entered and the father of lies began to send in his fiery darts? No. Of course not. I’m not saying that I had no part in my sin. I take full responsibility. However, looking back I can see that the enemy was out to destroy the work that God was doing. The good news is that God fought for us and met me where I was and offered me amazing grace. He gave me a husband who is faithful, forgiving, patient and loving beyond what anyone could ask. Grace. Redemption. Restoration.

This past year has been one of the best years of my life because I finally see what it’s all about to be serving the Lord in ministry. I see what fellowship and community is for. God gave us a vision for church that is so beautiful and Biblical and real. We have met such dear people who have become family to us. We have become a family on mission.

This year has been the best and the worst. It was horrible at times but, because of grace and restoration, it has been incredible also. I have been reminded of who I am and where I am weak. I have discovered how easily sin can drag you down and harm you and those you love. I have understood on a deeper level how sweet forgiveness is and how important it is to stand on the Word of God.

As we close up this year, my family is stronger than ever. My faith is steady upon the Rock. I am still sick, but the Lord is my strength, my comfort and my provider. He continues to work and to accomplish awesome things as we watch in wonder. I can say that I’m excited for the new year and what the Lord will do.

I want to encourage you, as we approach 2016, to take time to get your house in order. Get rid of any sin in your life. Confess it and repent and give it to the Lord. Ask Him not for riches or perfect health in the upcoming year, but for spiritual blessings to abound. Ask Him for wisdom, for love, for grace, for humility and for a serving heart. Let’s pray over 2016 that it will be a year of great rejoicing in the Lord and revival. Amen!

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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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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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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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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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The Way She Looks at Us

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My daughter is five years old and she has this obvious draw to words of affection and affirmation. She is quick to remind us how much she loves us and delights in being showered with affectionate words. She also will often prompt us to give each other words of affirmation, smiling broadly as my husband and I tell each other that we love one another. I see this look in her eyes and it is like a window into her precious heart. It’s the way she looks at us when my husband and I communicate love and honor that shows us how important it is to her that we love each other.

Being affectionate with your spouse isn’t just about you or how you feel. There is so much that we communicate to our kiddos without even realizing it as we hold hands, cuddle on the couch, or embrace when he comes through the door after work. Words and acts of love blesses our children in several ways, whilst also building up the relationship and keeping affection alive. Here are a few of the ways our “public display of affection” and words of affirmation bless our children:

  • Children love to see their parents in love with one another. They are blessed knowing that Mommy and Daddy love one another and are happy together. Happy children are usually raised in happy homes, where love, honor and respect flow freely and openly.
  • There is security in a happy marriage for the children. Seeing their parents in love gives children a sense of safety and stability. In a world where half of their friends will come from families of divorce, children need this reassurance. Words and acts of affection reassure them that their family is safe from the pain of separation and divorce.
  • Children are always watching and learning. Displaying a happy marriage, with hugs and kisses and hand-holding and words of affirmation, will set a wonderful example of marriage for the kids. By the grace of God, may they go on to be happily married in a God-centered home one day too.
  • The affectionate and loving couple are much less likely to be that couple that says unkind words to one another, especially in front of the kids. Children are often quietly observing as couples share harsh words in angry tones during times of conflict. This is confusing and upsetting to little ones, who love both Mommy and Daddy. Those angry words hurt children, even when they aren’t directed at them. Let the loving and kind words flow while biting back those harmful words and looks.

When my husband I speak words of love and cuddle up together on the couch, my daughter looks at us with such joy, peace and contentment. She is secure in our love for one another. She delights in our happiness and her little cup runneth over. Being affectionate with your spouse shouldn’t only be for the kids, but blessing them is certainly a good reason to keep words of affirmation and acts of affection a part of everyday life.

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I Resolve Not to Put God in a Box

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Resolutions. Plans. Goals. Commitments. New Year tends to bring us all to a place of reflection and re-calculation. We evaluate what we’ve disliked in the year(s) past and we vow to make positive changes. We resolve to conquer what we deem as personal failures and we make plans to correct those failures and/or add something new to our lifestyle. The problem with so many resolutions is that they are anything but resolute. They are hardly the solid, unbreakable self-contract that the word “resolve” describes. Most are over within a few months, weeks or days. That’s why so many people make a joke of it.

I don’t like failure. I’ve never been good at accepting my own mediocrity or weakness. If I don’t do something well right from the start, I usually want to quit pretty quickly. Therefore, with a great sense of commitment, I resolve to make only one resolution this year and it’ll be easy to keep because it really has little to do with me. Here it is…

I resolve not to put God in a box. I resolve not to project limits on His power and ability that simply don’t exist. I resolve not to expect Him to do things the way I perceive that He should, and to be open to leading of the Holy Spirit. I want to be more in touch with what He’s doing, even if it has nothing to do with my own plans. After all, His ways are far above my ways.

We believe God’s Word, don’t we? If we believe His Word, then we serve a God who created the heights and vastness of the universe with a spoken word. We believe He created everything we see and even us. We believe in His power to flood the world, deliver Israel from the hands of Egypt by parting the Red Sea, keep His servants from burning a fire, heal the sick and give sight to the blind, and die and rise again to glory. If we believe His Word, we believe that He sent His Holy Spirit, giving His children His power in spiritual gifts, opened prison doors and did many other signs and wonders. We believe it, don’t we?

If this is the God we believe in, what gives us the right to put Him in a box? Why do we claim to believe He has the power to deliver us from our troubles, use us to the reach the lost, empower us to minister to His people, give children to the barren and heal broken families? How can we believe in our minds and yet our hearts seem to grow more skeptical by the year? Want my theory?

We’ve felt let down. We’ve experienced loss. We’ve prayed for miracles and at times have not seen God work in the way we expected. There is pain and suffering, and we pray without feeling that assurance that He will really work in the situation. We put Him in a box and we go about our lives not expecting Him to burst out.

I confess that this has been me many times. I have prayed for healing and grown to doubt that God will ever answer that prayer. I have prayed for others without expecting it to do any good. I have asked God for wisdom but then not waited for wisdom to come. I have decided that anything outside of the box must not be God’s work and so I go on living as if I serve a God with no power…or that He has power but won’t use it on my behalf. I have allowed my wicked heart to deceive me so many times, trusting it’s disillusions more than I trust the promises of God. I’m ashamed of this weakness, and I’m not entirely free of it.

I don’t know what to expect for 2015. I don’t know what’s coming. I know God’s Word is true and that His ways are perfect. I know that my bad decisions have brought me pain and that God will work good through them. I understand that pain is part of this life, but I don’t know whether or not God will continue to allow such testing in our lives, or if a time of rest and comfort is coming. What I do know is that God is all-powerful, all-mighty, unparalleled and unfailing in His love and grace towards us. He cannot be contained in a box. He will do what He wills to do, and I know that I need to stop second-guessing Him, doubting Him and giving up on Him in my heart. I need to place this coming year in His capable hands and hang on for the ride, where ever it may take us.

I resolve not to put God in a box. I resolve to be open to whatever He wants to do and to trust that what He’s doing (or not doing) is right and good and perfect. I need to expect Him to work and move, because that’s what He does. If I want to be a part of it, I need to have my eyes open to the bigness and greatness of God. I lost sight of this. I failed. My New Year Resolution is to rip that box to shreds and be ready for what God’s going to do this year. I know big things are coming.

May your year be full of the unexpected and surprising bigness of God. May He fill us all with wonder as He works mightily in glory. May He bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and give you grace! God bless 2015!

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