Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

My Experience with Pain

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Pain. Anyone who has experienced a broken bone, has had to pass a kidney stone, has given birth, has suffered severe injuries or has chronic illness understands pain. Everyone goes through times of physical pain. People get arthritis, back aches, muscle pain, headaches, etc. Pain is a part of life. For some, pain is a part of daily life. For the chronically ill or those who suffer from lifelong injuries, pain is a constant enemy that tries very hard to beat us up physically, emotionally and even spiritually.

I’ve suffered from pain for the last six years. That’s about when I believe my Lyme Disease started. It began with arthritic-like pain in what they call the cross area of the back (neck and shoulders). Pain was the first symptom and it has never left me….not in six years. I’ve had good and bad days, but it’s always there and it’s always getting worse.

Over the course of the six years I saw many doctors in search of answer and help. I had other symptoms as well and so I was tested by GPs for markers for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and more. They would run blood panels and find no answers so eventually they would tell me I was fine and to go home. I knew I wasn’t fine. I also saw many specialists. Over the six years I saw a cardiologist, a neurologist, a gastroenterologist and two rheumatologists. They did x-rays of my neck and saw arthritis. One rheumatologist told me I just have a bad neck (forget about the rest of the pain) and just to take good care of it. The other gave me a shot in the shoulder and then sent me to a few months of physical therapy. The pain continued and got worse.

All of these doctors and still there were no real answers for the pain, and definitely no solutions. It was hard but for a long time the pain was tolerable. It wasn’t fun, but I could pretty much do what I needed to do. The other symptoms (dizziness, heart issues, numbness and tingling, stomach problems, headaches, etc.) were also frustrating but not terribly bad. Then I went through a tremendously stressful event in my life and it put my symptoms into overdrive.

The past 12 months have been indescribable in many ways. How do you explain that kind of relentless and crippling pain? In the morning, before I’m fully awake, there is a brief period of intermission between sleep and awake where the pain hasn’t registered yet. I value those few seconds because in a moment all of the sensors begin to awaken, reminding my brain of the widespread pain throughout my entire body. I can tell you that in those moments when the pain comes alive again to plague me for another day, sometimes all I can do is weep just a little and cry out to the Lord for help.  I imagine it’s how someone might feel after being beaten up the night before by a team of boxers. Except there are no bruises…no evidence of the pain that anyone can see.

So this pain…the pain that never goes away and never lets up… it does leave you feeling beaten up. Obviously the physical pain is there. It also affects you emotionally and spiritually. Emotionally there are times when the pain gets the better of you. It steals joy away. It reminds you that your life isn’t what you thought it would be. You can’t do what you want to do. You feel alone (even with loved ones offering support). You feel like no one understands. It can affect your marriage and other relationships. With Lyme, you worry about finances and you’re never sure if you’re choosing the right treatment protocol. Sometimes there’s a lot of fear. And sometimes you just can’t handle the turmoil of knowing that you may be looking at a lifetime of pain. It never lets up. Never a break. Imagine having the flu forever. Every day. The pain can bring you to times of struggle with depression and anxiety for sure.

Any Christian who has experience pain, physically and emotionally, knows that it can be a spiritual struggle as well. Accepting that God is allowing you to suffer isn’t always easy. We know the He never promised an easy life here. His disciples all suffered. Jesus suffered more than we can imagine. Still, in those times when you cry out to the Lord for help and healing and yet it doesn’t come at that moment, it can be hard. We ask God why this is happening to us. Why me when I have strived to serve you? Sometimes we feel overlooked or abandoned by our churches, often because we don’t let them see how badly we’re suffering and that we need help. We don’t want anyone to know that we are struggling. We don’t want to complain or be a burden.

Pain beats you up but I fight back and I’ll never stop fighting. I’ve been a Christian for many years and I believe God has a purpose in the pain and suffering. He brings me comfort and He reminds me that this present pain is not worthy to be compared to the glory that’s coming. He gets me through day by day, step by step. I praise Him that I can still teach and that I can still go out and spend time with my daughter. I know that He can heal me completely, and of course that’s my daily prayer, but I also trust Him that if He tarries in bringing healing it’s for a reason. I know that He has abundant grace for me on those days when I take my eyes off of Him and have them focused on the pain. He loves me when I fail and on those days when I let the pain get the better of me. He never leaves me or forsakes me. He is my Deliverer and my Comforter! Thank You Jesus!

This blog may have some across as dark and miserable, but I leave you with words of great joy. Beloved, there will be an end to pain! Yes there will!!! Pain may attack us and beat us up while we are here on earth, but there is glory and healing and complete restoration coming when we put our faith in Jesus! We will not suffer forever. We will not be left in torment. We will be delivered and restored and every pain will be chained up and thrown into the pit. Pain loses! Jesus wins! He already has won. So, even in the hardest times here on earth, we must keep our eyes on Him. We must remember we have victory in Jesus over pain and sin and every other evil thing. Victory over pain!

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When Christians Make Light of Divorce

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I’m often surprised by the comments and actions of men and women who proclaim themselves to be followers of Christ but then misrepresent Him and the Word in most, if not all, areas of their lives. It surprises me when “Christians” admit to being pro-choice or when they try to justify supporting sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, etc.). It disturbs me to see “Christians” at bars getting wasted or to hear them brag about how they deceived the government into getting more welfare by misrepresenting their income. What breaks my heart even more is to hear “Christians” talk about divorce with a flippant attitude as if it’s some sort of joke. It’s no joke and it’s no laughing  matter.

God hates divorce. Divorce breaks the heart of the Father. You see, when He designed marriage, it was to be for a lifetime. It was to be a heavenly gift to His people that would train them up into maturity in ways only marriage can. We see that as the Lord compares earthly marriage to the spiritual marriage between Christ and the church (Eph 5). Divorce wasn’t God’s plan, though He does allow it in cases of adultery because of the hardness of hearts. It’s no joking matter.

“He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Matthew 19:8 ESV

“And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”” Malachi 2:13-16 ESV

This passage in Malachi really shows us the heart of the Father and how He regards divorce. Does it look like He finds it funny? Takes it lightly? Is totally fine with it? No. God takes marriage and divorce very seriously. He never wanted His children to experience the pain of divorce. He made them one flesh…if one flesh is torn in half, will that not cause pain and terrible scarring? Of course it does. It hurts the man and the woman. It breaks the heart of the children. Divorce is ugly and painful and violent and brokenness.

Understand that God does sometimes release people into divorce. For a man or woman who has experiences the horrific pain of having a spouse commit adultery, you do have the freedom Biblically to file for divorce. For people who are being abused, leaving for your own safety and the safety of your children is of course the right thing to do (though that might not include divorce). Yes, sometimes divorce is unavoidable, and we do not want our brothers and sisters walking around with their heads hanging low in shame because they could not save their marriage. There are some things that are out of our control. There is also grace and forgiveness. Still divorce is never something to be celebrated. So why do so many Christians approach it with such flippancy?

Here’s the thing…we live in a fallen world where people are exceedingly sinful and selfish. We all struggle with our sin nature. Sin is built upon notions of self-love, selfishness and self-pleasing. We build our dreams on the concept of entitlement. So we see record number of divorces happening all the time for reasons that do not match with God’s Word. Most of the time these are not people who are being abused or cheated on. They are simply unhappy. They have lost affection for their spouse. They argue and refuse give. They don’t feel their needs are being met. Christians who choose divorce without Biblical cause will often make light of it to make themselves feel better. We hear comments like:

I’m finally free to follow my own dreams.”

“Let’s throw a divorce party!”

“Yeah we both decided we would be happier as friends.”

“I deserve to be happy.”

“Me being happy will make my kids happy.”

“It all turned out for the best.”

“I just know God is cool with my divorce.”

This is the world talking. This is not the attitude of a person in sync with the heart of the Author of marriage. Marriage isn’t all about your happiness. It isn’t about what you deserve. Happiness doesn’t come from chasing dreams, but rather from chasing after God. No, the kids will not be happy if they are pulled away from a good and loving parent just because you will feel better. No, God is not happy with your divorce. He’s NEVER happy with divorce. He allows it for adultery, and He frees believers from marriage if their unbelieving spouse walks away, but He never rejoices in divorce. He’s never “ok” with it. It breaks His heart.

Christians need to stop making light of divorce. We need to stop making jokes about it. We need to be fighting for marriage and speaking the truth in love. We need to be encouraging people to try harder and praying for them. We need to disciple husbands and wives. When we have friends who are divorcing, we need to offer them support and love and take it seriously. There is grace. There is forgiveness. We need to love and care for those who had no choice but to divorce, and we need to do it with the seriousness that it deserves. It’s not a joke.

Divorce is a sad part of living in this fallen world. God doesn’t find it funny, and neither should we.

days of our lives via photopin (license)

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An Emotional Affair to Remember….or Forget

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“We didn’t do anything so it’s no big deal.”

“It was never physical.”

“It’s not cheating if it’s just a crush.”

“There’s nothing wrong with looking if there’s no touching.”

.…..lies…lies…more lies.

Christians and non-Christians alike will almost always universally agree that committing a physical act of adultery is wrong. Cheating on one’s spouse is not acceptable in most social circles, and yet there seems to be this false line of thinking that deems it okay to have an emotional “fling” with someone other than one’s spouse. As Christians we know this isn’t right. Jesus set the boundaries in place when He said this:

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

No, it’s not okay to have a crush. It’s not okay to fantasize about someone other than your husband (or wife). It’s not okay to look. Jesus said those who follow Him will not look with lustful eyes. It may be in the heart but the consequences usually leave the heart and become much more “real”. We see it in the world. We sense it in the church. Oftentimes the internal, invisible evidences of an emotional affair allow it to go unnoticed for a long time, but not forever. A person can keep an emotional affair well-hidden from their brothers and sisters in the Lord, and even from their spouse for a long while. Then, in what seems like a sudden tragedy, the dam bursts open and sin floods into families, homes and the church.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:14-15

Sin begins in the heart folks. It begins in the deep, recesses of the heart where desire and longing simmer until they start to boil over. It becomes a stronghold for the enemy. It is adultery of the heart and it is sin. Make no mistake about it.

While statistics show men are usually more likely to commit physical adultery, women tend to be more prone to affairs of the heart. Call it what you will: a crush, attraction, a connection, a very close friendship taken too far, a fantasy….women who may feel less than fulfilled or satisfied at home may find their hearts straying, even if they are physically faithful to their husbands. It can start with a few flirting smiles, confiding in someone who seems more attentive and interested than the husband, or even just a strong attraction that leads you to fantasizing about being intimately acquainted with that person. It can start out so innocently and end up so tragically.

Guilty as Charged

It may sound like I’m being harsh. Well, there’s a reason. You see, I had an emotional affair once. Yes, I committed adultery of the heart, and it led me through a time of greater pain than I can even express. I can tell you that this sinful desire of the heart and strong emotions for a man that was not my husband brought me to a place of devastation as a Christian, a wife, a mother and in my calling in ministry. No, it never was physical. Yes, it was sin. Wicked, depraved, selfish, disgusting sin. As I look back, I see that the sin started in my heart but it seemed to build and build until I began to manifest it in other sinful actions. I began to become the “old” me…the person who had been freed from the chains of sin when I accepted Christ. While I loved my husband and my family, I found myself pushing them away. I saw myself changing into someone I barely knew. My desires overtook me and I fell back into the miry pit I had escaped by the grace of God so long ago.

No, it never was physical. It was adultery of the heart and it broke me and my husband. Praise be to God that He pulled me out again. He brought me to forgiveness. He empowered my husband to forgive me fully. I repented and was granted grace and mercy unspeakable! I am SO grateful! So thankful for this amazing grace. I praise my God with all that is in me that my family was not destroyed. God restored us to fullness and we are stronger now in Him than ever before. He has done amazing work here and has overcome in our hearts, our lives and our marriage. Hallelujah!

I want to make it clear, since this is a sensitive and personal issue, that my husband is a wonderful man whom I love dearly. I want to honor him, because he stuck by my side and forgave me for my offense against him. It killed me to see how much I had hurt him. I never wanted to hurt him, but sin hurts people. It hurts us and those around us. My husband is an amazing man and I just want to say here that I will never, ever stop thanking God for him and how he has forgiven and loved me!

A Warning

When I think of all I could have lost, it leaves me breathless. My husband could have chosen not to forgive me. My daughter could have experienced the pain of divorce that so many children go through. We could have destroyed our testimony forever and been unfit to minister. Oh, I shudder to think what might have happened because my heart allowed sin to enter in. God has been so good to us and so now I warn my sisters in the Lord not to allow emotional adultery into your heart. Flee from it with every fiber of strength! It is not innocent! It is not okay! It will destroy you like sin does!

I want to warn and admonish you, my sisters, to use caution and boundaries in your relationships outside of marriage. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Be cautious about building close friendships with men who are not your husband. You may think there’s nothing wrong with men and women being “best friends”, but the truth is that best friends share confidences and intimate details about their lives, and this can build feelings that you didn’t anticipate. Don’t confide in other men. Confide in your husband, your God and in Christian women you respect.
  2. Take sinful thoughts captive. When a thought enters your mind and heart that causes you to feel lustful or feelings of a romantic sort, immediately go to God for help. Cry out and ask God to help you capture and remove those thoughts and feelings. Read scripture. Sing worship. Talk to the Father. He will help you. If you need to, call a friend. Don’t allow those thoughts to simmer.
  3. Sometimes we need to break off unhealthy relationships. If you have a friend in your life that you find yourself attracted to, physically, emotionally or spiritually, it is sometimes necessary to stop seeing that person. You don’t have to be cruel about it. You don’t even have to tell them why. Your marriage and your walk with the Lord are more important. Be wise and be committed.
  4. Set up good boundaries. Make your own rules about what you should or shouldn’t do. For example, make a rule about not being alone in a private place with a man. Don’t confide your private feelings or emotions with a man other than your husband. Pray about it and make your own set of boundaries, and discuss them with your husband. It’d be wise for him to do the same.
  5. Don’t justify your sin. If you are having an emotional affair, a crush, or whatever you want to call it, don’t justify it. It’s sin. The Bible says it’s sin. Stop putting the words “innocent” and “crush” together. There’s no such thing for a married woman. You are cheating on your husband and it is sin in the eyes of the Lord. You need to repent and turn.
  6. Seek discipleship if this is an ongoing problem for you. If you are finding your heart straying often and you feel out of control, seek the counsel of a mature woman in the Lord who can disciple you in marriage and in what the Word says about matters of the heart. As you grow in the Lord, you will be more able to withstand and flee from these temptations.
  7. Work on your marriage. Let’s face it, if you’re having an emotional affair it’s likely that your marriage isn’t going well. Marriage is hard. It takes work and commitment. I’m married to the most wonderful, God-fearing man and yet we had problems. Thanks to God we were able to work through our issues and have grown tremendously in love and respect for one another. God has worked mightily in our marriage and we are happy. If you are struggling with an emotional longing for something else, what you really need to do is focus your heart on strengthening your marriage. Get help through your church if need be.
  8. If you are in a very bad marriage, where you are being mistreated and unloved, I understand complete why your heart would wander. My husband treats me wonderfully, but my parents had an awful marriage that ended in divorce. I’ve seen how hard marriage to an unloving and even abusive man can be. I want to encourage you that just because your husband is not treating you like he ought to or loving you the way you deserve doesn’t give you the right to have an emotional affair with someone else. I’m not saying this flippantly. I know it’s hard, but as long as you are married, having thoughts of intimacy or romantic love for another man is adultery of the heart, and God sees it as sin. It’s not ok. Seek help dear sister and be encouraged that God can work miracles.

I had an emotional affair. It was painful and horrific. It was sin that I have since repented of and been forgiven for. My incredible husband has shown me grace and love that is beyond what I could have hoped for and I am committed to never again betraying him or my Lord Jesus in this manner. I learned my lesson the hard way. I saw first hand the destruction that sins of the heart can bring. So now I have boundaries. Now I take my thoughts captive. Now I am willing not to have close relationships with people who may tempt me to stumble. What about you? How committed are you to your marriage? Your God? Your children?

Emotional adultery is sin. Repent. Flee.

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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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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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