Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

I Want More

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via photopin (license)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Heart of a Mother

A mother loves.

She loves in good times and bad.

She loves without reserve.

She loves big and deep and wide.

She loves when it’s not returned.

She loves unconditionally.

A mother serves.

She serves til it hurts.

She serves when everyone stops.

She serves with self-sacrifice.

She serves without recognition or reward.

A mother edifies.

She builds them up.

She encourages them in their dreams.

She reminds them of their worth.

She is their number one fan.

A mother cares.

She cares for their needs.

She mends their wounds.

She comforts their hearts.

She sings over them with joy.

A mother prays.

She prays for their future.

She prays for their hurts.

She prays for them to love Him.

She prays for them to soar.

She speaks blessings over them.

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A mother is joy.

She brings light and love.

She holds their hearts.

She is the keeper of memories.

She is a blessing.

By birth, adoption or in loving bonds

Motherhood comes in many ways

And each is special.

Honoring mothers today

For all you do and all you are.

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To Help You Understand My Chronic Pain

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

“I feel terrible.”

“I know.”

“You do? Do you really?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Keeping Contentment in Times of Want

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King David’s via photopin cc

How can we be content when our circumstances are less than ideal? It is something that Christians around the world must learn to deal with, in varying degrees and settings. People are struggling. People are suffering. Some are ill. Some are dealing with the pains of divorce, abandonment and poverty. There are so many reasons to complain. There are so many opportunities to be discontent. In this fallen world, we face many trials and tribulations, and yet we are called to keep contentment in our hearts and on our tongues.

So can we keep contentment in times of want? The problem is in the question. You see, God’s people should never be in a time of “want”. That may sound like a strange statement, but allow me to explain. Before I do, I want to make it clear that I take no part in the health, wealth and prosperity movement or doctrine. I do not believe God promises us wealth or health on earth. The blood of fallen martyrs can attest to the fact that sometimes God’s people are allowed and even called to suffer. We are not exempt from pain, illness or persecution as believers. So I reject any such claims made by false teachers who tell their people what their ears long to hear. Now to the problem with the word “want”. One of the promises we have in God’s Word is that He tells us that those who love and fear the Lord God of the Bible shall never “want”. Take a look at the following verse:

O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” Psalm 34:9-10

The Hebrew word for “want” in this verse is “machcowr” which means, “a need, a thing needed, poverty or lack.” In Psalm 34 we see that the Lord promises that those who fear (honor, respect, reverence, love) Him will never experience this type of want. They shall not be lacking in those things that they truly need. They shall be cared for in one way or another by the Lord. The scripture goes on to explain that young lions do suffer and lack, but those that seek the Lord will not lack in any good thing. The Lord will give them exactly what they need when they need it. 

What about Christians in poverty? Well, how is poverty defined? Each state in the USA has it’s own monetary guideline for their people’s poverty level. Yet compare any of those values with the poverty levels in the third world countries and we see that those we consider “poor” here would be considered quite wealthy elsewhere. A family may live in a small but comfortable dwelling, own a car, have enough food on the table, etc. and still be considered in poverty here, and yet there are people living in complete squalor around the world. They have make-shift homes with dirt floors. They have no access to clean water and no proper sanitation systems. They starve. Who is in poverty?

We need to be very careful when we complain about our lack or want. God said His children would not experience true poverty. Does that mean we’ll have everything we want? No. Will we all experience wealth and abundance materially on earth? No. We are not promised these things. We are promised that God will provide what we need. That’s God’s promise. Our side of that is to put on and keep contentment. Our calling is to be grateful, setting aside selfishness and discontent.

On the other hand, there are Christians who are suffering, who have little on their plates even this night, and whom seem to be in great want. What about those brothers and sisters around the world who are struggling with their needs? We need to remember the inspired words of Paul. He knew what suffering was about, and yet he kept contentment in his heart and mind.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil. 4:11-13

Paul knew that God would provide what He needed. He trusted the Lord. Sometimes God provided through the love and support of the saints. There’s nothing wrong with that. We see brothers and sisters in the Lord helping each other throughout scripture. God provides in amazing ways and He ALWAYS provides what we need when we need it. We need to have the heart of Paul. We need to stop saying we are in “want” of this or that. We are in want of NOTHING if we are in Christ Jesus, because He has and is giving us EVERYTHING that we need to do what He has called us to do.

If you are suffering tonight, take comfort in God’s promises. His character is unchanging and He keeps His Word. Trust in Him. He will provide what you need. Obey His Word and follow the leading of the Spirit. Work hard, be diligent and wise, and leave the rest in His capable hands. God bless!

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Is My Daughter Too Kind? Sweet? Friendly?

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(photo: Tabitha with her sweet friends Scarlet and Eden)

It happened at the play area in McDonalds today (I hate McDonalds but my little one loves the play area). It was busy and there were lots of kids running about and climbing through the colorful mishmash of fun. I could see my daughter interacting with other kids and hear her sweet words saying, “Hi. My name is Tabitha. Want to play with me?” This isn’t odd for her. She is usually outgoing and quick to make friends. She rarely needs encouragement to introduce herself.

As I watched and listened, taking sips from my diet coke (yes, I know it’s bad), I witnessed an encounter that just breaks a mother’s heart. My daughter was attempting to play with an older kid and his sister. She said to them, “you are my new friends.” The insensitive older boy replied, “we’re not your friends.” Taking his sister’s hand, he led her away to play elsewhere.

Ugh. My heart sank for my sweet girl. In her eagerness to reach out and make a friend, she had been shot down. I hurt for her, knowing her feelings had been hurt. I wanted to sweep her up in my arms and give dirty looks to that rude kid, but I knew that these kinds of things are just a part of life, and particularly of a Christian’s life. You see, she made herself very vulnerable. She put herself out there. She was kind and friendly. She was welcoming and warm. In return, she was slighted. It happens. As a Christian, I understand that on a deeper level and am willing to let her experience it so that she too may be an effective follower of Jesus some day.

We are supposed to be vulnerable. We are called to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute, reach out to the lost and angry, and minister to whomever God puts in front of us. We are supposed to love the unlovely. We are called to show grace and mercy, and we are supposed to love freely as Jesus did. He’s our example. He loved. His love and kindness made Him stand out. People were drawn to His kindness and love, and when we walk like Jesus, they will be drawn to Him by seeing His love in us.

What my daughter experienced today made me so sad for her. As we got into the car, I explained to her that some people were not ready to be kind to others or make new friends. I tried to explain in the simplest terms that it was wonderful for her to be kind and to offer friendship to others and that his rejection was only because he didn’t know how to be kind or even that he should. I assured her that she was a great friend and that anyone would be blessed to have her as a friend, but that sometimes people reject our friendship because they have their own problems and they take it out on us.

Maybe it was a little deep, but I wanted to use it as a teaching experience. As I pondered the event, I started to wonder if perhaps I was wrong to raise Tabitha to be friendly and warm. Maybe I had taught her to be too friendly? Too kind? Too open-armed? Perhaps I should toughen her up, like the rest of the world? After all, she is so vulnerable when she puts herself out there. She opens up her heart to hurt and rejection. She leaves herself wide open to disappointment. The world is creating kids who are tough as nails, what with all of the divorce, violence, drugs, etc. Maybe I should teach Tabitha not to make new friends and to make people earn her love rather than giving it freely? Maybe I should encourage her to be cold, critical and selective?

No. I won’t.

This world has too many cold people already. The world has too many tough and scarred kids. The world is overflowing with kids who are rude, disrespectful, mean, arrogant, insensitive and unloving. We need no more conceit, cruelty or rejection. Enough!

What we need in this world is for children (and adults for that matter) to walk like Jesus. Speak like Jesus. Love like Jesus. Be wiling to suffer the consequences like Jesus. Jesus loved and was despised. He was warm and welcoming, and He was rejected. He gave of Himself and they mocked Him. He offered Himself as a sacrifice and still people refuse to accept His gift of salvation. Our Savior showed us all how we are supposed to live, and yet we are often too afraid of rejection, persecution and disappointment to make ourselves vulnerable to love those He puts in our path without reservation.

I guess that’s what I love most about Jesus. He never hesitated to accept and love the people He encountered. My daughter reminded me today of what that can look like for us. She offered friendship and was rejected. Her beautiful heart felt that pain, and I wanted to take it away. I really did. Yet I know that my daughter, in offering love so freely, is far more like Jesus than I am. What a lesson in love. May we all be more vulnerable and continue loving people, whether or not they accept us, because some will. Some will be moved by our love, warmth and acceptance and will fall in love with Jesus as they see Him in us.

My daughter will experience more pain in her life, but I feel confident that the Lord is going to use her mightily. So I will comfort her, learn from her about offering simple love and pray that the Lord never changes that beautiful part of her heart.

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I Want to Be Healthy….Because I Love Her

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Arya Ziai via photopin cc

I have struggled with weight problems all of my life. I’ve never been at a healthy weight, and I’m well acquainted with all of the negative issues that come along with weight problems….medical problems, insecurities, relationship struggles and more. I’ve tried many different diets and exercise plans over the years. Some have been fads. Others have been prescribed failures from doctors. I did fen-fen for a while before they knew it caused heart problems. I’ve done cleanses. Off gluten. Off carbs. Off anything that tastes anything like anything pleasant!

Suffice to say, the problem hasn’t been the diets, but rather a lack of commitment to the end goal. I have lost weight only to gain it back. Recent health concerns and chronic pain problems, coupled with other issues that have been on my heart (which I will share about here) have caused me to take this more seriously at this time in my life. I am blessed to have a sister in the Lord who is helping me with motivation, coaching and so forth. She asked me, as we start this journey, to write out my “Why?” Why do I want to get healthier? Why do I want to lose weight? Below is my response. I’m being honest and real. I am also going to print this out and post it around my home, in my car, and carry it with me, as a reminder and encouragement to keep moving forward and working hard. Here are my Why’s and they all have to do with love:

  1. Because I Love Her….my sweet daughter, Tabitha. I want to be the best mom I can be for my darling girl, and any other children the Lord blesses me with. I’d love to have more children, and getting healthy may help in that area. I want to be healthy so that I have energy to play with her. I also want to be a good example to her. Weight issues run in my family, so she may struggle too. I want her to be proud of me. I want to be here to see her on her wedding day and to see her hold her first baby in her arms. I want to be healthy because I love Tabitha.
  2. Because I Love Him…..my hubby, William. This man, who loves me just as I am, would never ask me to change. Still, I know it would bless our marriage for we both to be healthier. We would have more energy for each other. We’d be able to get our work done more efficiently and quickly, relieving some tension and stress on the home. We can enjoy each other more. I want to be healthy because I love my husband.
  3. Because I Love God’s People….the church family. I want to be able to serve more, without being so tired. I know I’ll have more energy when I’m healthier. I’ll be able to be more hospitable. I’ll be stronger and able to work harder in serving others. I want to be healthy because I love God’s people.
  4. Because I Love Freedom….breaking the chains. Being unhealthy and overweight sometimes feels like being wrapped in heavy chains. I feel limited. I feel self-conscious. I often feel tied down and restrained from doing what I want to do. I also sometimes feel judged, but that’s not why I want to change. I want to feel free. I want to be free to do whatever I feel called to do without health or weight being a concern. I want to be healthy because I love being free.
  5. Because I Love the Idea of Waking Up and Feeling Good. Chronic pain and illness is no joke. It’s not always associated with weight, and I know that getting healthy won’t necessarily mean all of my health issues will go away, but I do know I’ll feel better. I want to feel better. I want to wake up and not have pain. I want to fight back and not allow chronic illness to steal my life away. I want to be healthy because I love feeling good.

These are my main Why’s. I share them in hopes that they may bless and help others, and also that, by declaring them, I am speaking to my own heart a determination to accomplish my goals. I would love it if you would pray for me for success and continued endurance. Also, if you long to be healthy too, please join me. We can do this! Thanks to my coach Erica for being willing to invest in me. It’s time to get to work. God bless!

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

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