Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Let Go of the Past

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“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

The past. Everyone has one though everyone’s past is different. Some are painful. Most people have regrets, bad memories, wounds and shame that colors their past, often lingering in their minds and hearts. While the past is behind us, for so many it continues to haunt them and affect their present negatively. For the redeemed in the Lord, the past need not plague us or have power over us.

If you are in Christ Jesus, there is no need for sins you have committed or hurts enacted upon you to keep you in chains. You are free! Free to forgive yourself and free to forgive those who have harmed you. Free to let go of the past and to embrace whatever God has for you in the future without fear or condemnation. You are free to live as a new creature. The past has no authority over you.

I love the verse there in Philippians 3. It both challenges and encourages me. I believe that part of the gift of new life we have in Jesus is freedom from the past…putting off the old and receiving the new. When we come to Jesus, He breaks and removes the chains of the past from us, and yet I see people scooping those chains up from the floor and binding themselves up again. I wonder how it makes the Father feel. The Son dies on the cross to free His people but then they choose to put themselves back under bondage? I see brothers and sisters in the Lord who accept the salvation of the Lord (praise God) but do not accept the freedom He has bought for them. Why?

  1. Forgiving Others. Forgiving those who have harmed us is no easy undertaking. Some have experienced such awful betrayals and offenses that they carry emotional wounds that continue to hurt. Until we can learn to truly forgive these offenders, we will never be truly free from the past. I can tell you from experience that with the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives, it is possible to forgive even the most terrible offenses. Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
  2. Forgiving Self. While some struggle with forgiving others, a great number of believers simply can’t forgive themselves for the sins of their past. Though we may believe that God has forgiven us, we condemn ourselves, refusing to let ourselves receive full pardon for our transgressions. To forgive ourselves, we need to fully trust and believe God and what His Word says. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was all-sufficient in redeeming us. If the Son has wiped our sins away, bringing us justification, we need to honor Him by living in that fully. Accept redemption. Be free and forgive yourself. Jesus died so that you could start again. New life. A second chance! Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
  3. Excuses. I have to say that I think many believes choose to dwell in the past because they use the pain they have been through as an excuse to not grow in the Lord and in life. They hold onto the past in order to justify continuing to live in despair, in bad situations and even in sin. Instead of making changes and moving forward, they remind us that their past has brought them to this place, as if there is no new life at all. When faced with the challenge of getting their lives together and walking in newness of life, they make excuses and never grow. The problem is, using our past as an excuse is limiting the power of God in their life. It is saying that Jesus’ sacrifice and redemption was not complete or sufficient. It’s also a way of putting aside personal responsibility. If Jesus has freed you and made you new, then He walks you to walk in newness of life. That doesn’t mean life will be easy or that growing isn’t hard, but using the past as an excuse not to live joyfully in the future is denying God’s power and glory in your life. Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness…”

God gave us new life and freed us from the old life and all that it embodied. We are free. We are new. The past is gone and buried. God wants us to walk in freedom so that we can experience all that He has for us in the future. Now, we sometimes do carry consequences of the past with us. The consequences of sins or offenses against us sometimes do not go away with our re-birth in Christ. Still, we must believe that God wants to redeem all of the parts of our lives. We may have challenges and obstacles that make it harder for us to live the way He wants us to, but we have an almighty God who has promised to help us. With Him, all things are possible. In Him, life can be totally different then it was before. He can move the mountains in our lives, but He asks us to do our part also.

If you are stuck living in the shadows of your old life, bound by chains of unforgiveness, sin and full of excuses for why your life never gets better, you aren’t living in the newness of life God has for you. You are putting on chains that He has broken. You are limiting His power in your life. God wants to redeem every hurt and heal every wound, but first you have to be willing to let go. You have to be willing to forgive, both yourself and others. You have to be willing to stop letting your past, and even the consequences of the past, be an excuse for not living well in the present.

Let it go. Be free. Stop using it as an excuse, and you will find that the past has no power of you. God has great plans for you and to use you to bless your family, your friends, your community and the lost. You’ve allowed the past to cripple you and have allowed God to be too small in your life. It’s time to move forward. No more looking back. It’s time to start living in new life. I pray for each person reading this to live in God’s redemption fully and to be blessed as you do what God said in Philippians 3…

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

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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 a Loved One Struggles with Infertility

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photo credit: Stephan Geyer via photopin cc

There’s nothing easy about being a woman who struggles with infertility, whether it be primary or secondary. Only those who have experienced the pain of this struggle can fully understand the depth of hurt and longing that a barren woman experiences day by day, for years and years. It is impossible to comprehend her pain without having to experience it yourself, and yet so many woman have dear friends or family that are going through this struggle, and I know you want to be there for her. You should be there for her. She needs you.

The problem is, without understanding the pain, there is a chance you could say or do the wrong thing in an effort to bring comfort. As a woman who struggled with primary infertility and now secondary, I could share many stories of times when friends made careless comments or had advice to give that was anything but what I needed to hear at the moment. It wasn’t their fault. They were trying to help. They didn’t know the pain they were causing or tears I fought back. They had all the right intentions, but without having experienced infertility, one just doesn’t comprehend which comments/actions would be comforting and which would only add to the pain. As a help, here are a few ways you can minister to a loved one who struggles with infertility:

1. Pray. Pray for your friend as often as you can and with a fervent spirit. Prayer is powerful. We acknowledge that it is the Lord who opens and closes wombs. Pray for your friend’s womb to be opened. Pray boldly. Pray also for her aching heart and for her to be filled with comfort and peace. Pray that she will be able to accept God’s will, whatever it may be. Pray often and feel free to tell your friend that you are praying for her to conceive and praying for her comfort.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:13-14

2. Don’t pretend it isn’t an issue. Infertility is a big deal. If you have a friend who wants a child but hasn’t been able to conceive, you can bet that this is something that she thinks about pretty much every day of her life. It is a very big deal to her. Minimizing it or pretending it doesn’t exist does not help her. While it isn’t something you want to bring up all the time, when in private it’s good to ask her how she is doing in coping with infertility. She may be needing to talk about it but feeling too rotten to bring it up herself. Women with infertility sometimes feel ashamed, especially in the Christian community. It makes her feel that she is somehow failing as a woman. This might keep her from opening up to a friend even though she really needs to talk it through. Give her that opportunity and remind her that you are thinking of her and that you care.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

3. Censor your tongue from flippant comments. Oh, the flippant comments that I’ve heard! You know, we all put our foot in our mouths sometimes. We are human. We are going to make mistakes. I would just encourage you to be especially cautious around your infertile friend. Try not to make comments like, “You just don’t get what a pain it is to be pregnant,” or “When are you going to get pregnant already?” or “Maybe you’re just not ready to be a mom.” These are only a few common ones. During my primary infertility phase, I had friends and family members tell me that maybe I should take advice on how to get pregnant from this young, unmarried girl who kept having babies. I was told that I was “lucky” I didn’t have to be pregnant. When I was sharing about the idea of adoption, I had a friend tell me “but there’s nothing in the world like carrying a baby in your womb.” Ouch. She’ll never know the tears I cried over that one comment. As Christians, we are to put the feelings and concerns of others ahead of our own liberty. You have the freedom to say flippant and thoughtless comments all day long if you want, but I urge you to put on compassion and be sensitive and thoughtful when it comes to speaking with a woman with fertility issues.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

4. Don’t treat her like less of a wife, woman or sister in the Lord. You may not even recognize that you do it, but I can tell you from experience that woman without children are often treated differently in the church. I was a married woman, not young by any means, and yet people talked to me as if I was a teenager a lot of the time. Women who were younger than me, but who had babies, were treated as mature woman, whereas I felt they treated me differently. The focus was forever on the women having babies. They were building “families” but me and my husband were viewed as a “couple” – not a “family.” Sometimes I felt that people were judging me, or thought that I wasn’t conceiving because I had done something wrong. Some Christians view infertility that way, and perhaps sometimes it is a judgment from the Lord, but we know that it isn’t always that way. I believe God uses infertility to bring about His plans and also to bring Himself glory. Sometimes I believe He closes wombs so that people will look after the orphans of this world. He knows the plans He has for us. Don’t make your friend feel like less of a woman because she cannot conceive. Don’t make her family and less of a family. She and her husband are their family.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

5. Try not to talk about your pregnancy/children constantly when she’s around. Now this is a tricky one. When I was going through primary infertility, it was so incredibly difficult for me to be around pregnant women or women with babies. It just hurt me inside to see them and hear about the joys of pregnancy that I couldn’t experience. I worked hard to fight against my pain and hold it back so that I could rejoice with my friends who were having babies. I fought back tears at baby showers and, with the power of the Holy Spirit, was able to celebrate with my loved ones. The truth is, I was happy for them. I was excited for them. I wanted to be there for them. I was just so overcome with pain that it was very difficult. While you should talk about your pregnancy and children, just be mindful about how much you talk about it with your friend who struggles in this area. Be discerning about when you need to change the subject. Limit your own liberty for the sake of your hurting friend. Don’t minimize the joy and wonder of carrying and birthing babies, but be sensitive to the heart of your friend who is longing so desperately to experience it too. Be wise and be kind.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…” Colossians 3:12

6. Walk through the journey with her and be supportive. Infertility is a journey. It starts with a couple who want a child, but for some reason cannot conceive. It starts with years of waiting and wondering and worrying. It usually ends up in a doctor’s office with either an explanation or sometimes no answers at all. From there the couple must make decisions about how to go forward…will it be infertility treatment, adoption or the end of the road? Infertility is a journey, and each step can be painful and difficult. Be there for your friend who is going through it. Pray for her. Hold her hand. Encourage her. Help any way you can. Try not to judge her decisions if you don’t agree with them. Try not to minimize the weight of the choices before her and her husband. At the end of the journey, they may end up with a child, or they may not. Either way, be a supportive and loving friend throughout the journey.

A friend loves at all times..” Proverbs 17:17a

7. Give her hope from the Bible. I believe fully that the Lord God of the Bible is the only opener and closer of wombs. He makes that decision. A woman can use birth control and still conceive if God wills, or a young, healthy woman can be stopped from conceiving by the hand of God. He is sovereign. If the God of the Bible is the opener of wombs, then it is from His Word that our hope and comfort comes. When your friend needs hope, give her the Word. When she needs comfort, encourage her with scripture. When she is angry, sooth her with God’s Word. God does not promise that all Christian women will bear children naturally, but He does promise that a woman will be able to mother children….sometimes that is through adoption, working with kids, etc. Here is a great verse for bringing encouragement to sisters who struggle with infertility:

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

I hope this was a help to you in how to minister to your loved ones who have fertility issues. Please feel free to share this article so that others can glean from it as well. There is nothing easy about infertility, but the care and love of a good friend goes a long way in bringing comfort in those difficult times. God bless!

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We Need Trials and Tribulation

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5

Yes! I have a flat tire on my car. Yay! My house is infested with termites. Fantastic! I’ve just been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. Yippee! I am behind on my housework, late on a deadline and can’t cover all the bills this month. Thank You Lord for these trials.

I have always found this passage in Romans 5 to be very convicting and also challenging. Throughout my life it has seemed my family (both as a child and now my own family unit) have struggled with many trials. They come often and they come like an avalanche. They hit hard and they keep on hitting. Struggles with finance, health, family relationships and more have been numerous and often bringing an overload of strong emotions for an emotional lady like me. I can say with honesty that my emotional response to the trials that come is rarely joy and thanksgiving. I can truthfully say this is an area I’ve failed in time and time again. Yet, I know that the Lord would not have commanded me to do something that was beyond my capability.

Do you rejoice in trials? Do you thank the Lord for hardships and pain? Romans 5 tells us that we should in fact be grateful for those times when our faith is tested. The trials we face produce in us perseverance or patience. Without these trials its hard to grow in this area. How do you develop patience without have your patience tested? Have you ever met a person with very little patience for others? They snap when someone makes a mistake. Think of the mother in the grocery store with her toddler. When the kid messes around, like kids are prone to do, the mother has no patience to deal with the child in an appropriate way but rather screams at him, slaps him upside the back of the head and shoots others dirty looks for gawking at the scene she’s making. If there is one fruit of the Spirit we need as mothers, and wives, it’s patience! We need it to serve our families and our church family. We need it to serve the lost. I cry out for the Lord to give me patience, and to answer that prayer, He gives me a trial to test my patience. So we thank God that He is working.

Patience creates character. Think about the good and upstanding character of the Proverbs 31 woman. We love to look at her example. She has such an honorable character.  It takes patience for a woman to have that kind of character. You know these women when you meet them. They are prudent, wise and kind. They are slow to anger and quick to love. Patience brings about a beautiful and virtuous character in a woman of God; the kind of character that bring her husband and children to rise up and call her blessed.

Character produces hope and hope doesn’t disappoint. Hope. This small word means so much. You see, hope isn’t a flimsy wish or unreliable dream. Hope is so much more. Hope is a joyful expectation of the goodness to come. Hope is strong and steadfast. Hope is knowing that Christ is coming back. Hope is knowing that these trials are but for a moment, but eternity with God is our future. Hope trumps the pain and suffering we experience. We can get through the worst of trials if we are filled with the unwavering hope of Jesus Christ.

You see, we need hope because the trials aren’t likely to stop coming. The bills will come each month. The cars, like our own bodies, will break down and fail us. The kids will test us often. We know trials are coming. What we need to recognize is that for us to develop as God’s daughters we need trials. We need them so that we can grow in patience, character and glorious hope. While I may not feel now that I can rejoice in tribulations, I have the Holy Spirit within me and with God ALL things are possible. Amen!

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