Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

When There’s Something to Complain About

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Be Grateful for Those Babies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Message About Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Too Much Self-Love Going On

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

“You need to take care of yourself….”

 

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

 

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

 

“You deserve to be happy…”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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The Way She Looks at Us

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

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

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

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

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I Resolve Not to Put God in a Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Will My Daughter Remember Me?

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The human brain is a funny thing. Sometimes mine works well and other times not so much. I’ve learned to accept that and just laugh at myself when my brain decides to malfunction. When it comes to memories, I have very little memory of my young childhood. I’d say most of what occurred in my home before the age of ten is something of a mystery to me. I have flashes of memories, but not much detail. My younger brother, however, has a very good memory and he can tell stories of his young childhood with vivid detail. Interesting how the brain works.

I may not remember much of my childhood, but I’d say I’m more on the uncommon end of the spectrum in this. Most children have memories from much younger than ten years old. The truth is, children remember what they see going on around them. They form memories and impressions very early in life. They are taking it all in visually and aurally much earlier than most of us realize. They are forming memories and associations with those memories perhaps even before they know how to express what they are seeing/hearing/feeling.

So why is this important?

I’ll confess that there have been times I’ve been very convicted about the way I spoke or an action I did in front of my young daughter when she was three, four or five years old. In times of weakness and in the flesh, I’ve made comments to others that were hurtful or even sinful with her in the room and I’ve very foolishly assumed she wasn’t paying attention because she was playing or because she was too young to understand what I was saying. I’ve criticized my husband in her presence. I’ve gossiped. I’ve flippantly made comments that were just silly and unedifying. She has heard me say these things, and though she perhaps hasn’t responded or reacted in that moment, she has taken some of it in. She has formed memories and connections based on my sinful words.

Now before you get all bent out of shape or start judging me, understand that I have repented of this sin and am forgiven. I thank God that we can be real and honest and open about our struggles with the flesh and with sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” I thank Him even more than we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. I have no problem confessing this sin because I know that God has offered me forgiveness for all of my transgressions, but why bring it up?

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut 6:7

God tells us that we are to teach our children something here. What is it we are supposed to teach them? The answer is in the context.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deut 6:4-5

Our God is one Lord and that we shall love the Lord God with every part of our being. That’s what we are supposed to be teaching our children, but notice what God says about how we are supposed to teach them this. Do we teach it by simply reading this scripture and then going about our life in any manner we like? Nope. We are supposed to teach them by talking about the Lord in our homes, when we are out, when we lie down, when we rise up….basically we teach our children to love the Lord by talking about Him and loving Him ourselves at all times.

That’s pretty convicting. We need to remember that our children are always listening and watching. They may hear us proclaim Christ when we are in a good mood and things are going well. They see us smile and shout “amen” at church. They may even see us read the Bible from time to time. Is this sufficient? I’m convicted that the words of my mouth should always be glorifying to the Lord, and that while I speak and act out of love for Jesus, my daughter is learning how to love Him herself. Nothing is more important. Nothing.

Knowing the calling God has on me in this, and knowing what a failure I am in this way, I ask the Lord for Holy Spirit power to reign in my tongue and to make my speech and actions a constant reflection of my love for Jesus. I pray that the flesh would be triumphed over by the grace of God and His Spirit working in me. I pray most of all that my daughter would not remember a mother who only loved the Lord in some parts of her life, but rather a mother who was sold out for Jesus every day. I hope she remembers that, when I failed, I confessed and repented. I didn’t pretend to be perfect, but rather understood God’s grace in my life, thus compelling me to seek Him more.

Children remember what they see and hear from very young. Their young hearts are being molded even now. The things we say and do matter to them. While I may never be perfect on this earth, I pray that my daughter will remember me as someone who genuinely and deeply loved the Lord with all of my heart, soul and might and that she will love Him all the days of her life.

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Why Be Grateful for the Storms of this Life?

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bernat… via photopin cc

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2

EH? Count it joy? Be happy about trials of various kinds? I can honestly say that we go through a great variety of trials and I confess that it is rare that I leap for joy at the discovery of a new trial or time of tribulation. Yet, we are told to count it joy. There are several reasons we should be grateful and joyful, even in the midst of great trials and sometimes tremendous amounts of pain and suffering. Here are some of the reasons we should be grateful for the storms of life…

  1. Trials teach and grow us in patience and faith. The testing of our faith produces patience and works in us to develop our faith to maturity. It is during times of trial that we grow the most in our walks with the Lord as we put our trust in Him alone.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:2-8

  1. Trials produce endurance, character and a more confident hope that will never let us down. We know who our hope is in and that He will never fail us or let us be destroyed.

 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:2-5

  1. Trials and pain bring us closer to the Lord. We draw nearer to Him and He is right there for us, bringing us comfort, strength and peace.

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18

  1. Our faith through trials brings honor and glory to God, not to mention the testimony that it is to the lost.

“So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7

  1. When we go through trials, God ministers to our spirits in a very personal and beautiful way. He renews us and establishes us. We see His work in our lives very clearly.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

  1. The end result of enduring through the trial is the crown of life and glory beyond what our mortal minds can comprehend.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18

No one asks for trials, and yet we see that experiencing trials produces some wonderful fruit, in us and around us. We may not see the fruit now, nor may we feel God’s loving hand in it, but we have a blessed assurance that it’ll all be worth it in the end. If we truly believe God’s Word, then we have every reason to be grateful for the trials and storms this life has for us. As we put our faith in the God of all creation, we can face today and everyday with strength, hope, peace and joy.

Praying today for people going through horrific trials, that they would feel the very near presence of God and know His love.

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Choosing Peace Over Conflict in Marriage

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Floyd Brown via photopin cc

Every couple fights! It’s normal. It’s healthy. It’s just the way it is! Right?

There are probably very few couples out there who can honestly say that they never have a fight or argument. Hopefully there are many, many homes in which simple disagreements never escalate to the point of being classified as an argument and then further on to a fight. Yet for many homes, even Christian homes, escalations are indeed more common than one might think. In many homes they happen as frequently as taking out the trash (and sometimes triggered by a wife nagging her husband to take out the trash for that matter). Some couples are finding themselves in conflict monthly, weekly and even daily. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but there is nothing “normal” or acceptable about a Christian couple fighting this much.

Here are three common reasons that a Christian couple may find themselves in conflict so often:

  1. External Stresses. Couples may find that when they are going through times of intense stress or pressure, fights occur more regularly. Stress often causes people to lash out or to assign blame. We oftentimes inexplicably take out our stress on those who are closest to us because we somehow feel more free or safe to do so. We assume they will continue to love us, despite our snide comments and rude remarks. We feel the need to assign blame, which just leads us down a terrible path altogether (ie Adam and Eve). In these times we are often afraid, and that fears leads us to unleashing our emotional storms on those we love. Not good. So what to do we do?
  2. Unrepented Sin. When we sin, we place a wedge of separation when us and the Lord. We quench the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we live in unrepented sin, our marriages and homes suffer. Sin is destruction and that’s all it knows how to be. When we allow it in the door, pain and suffering will follow. Whatever the sin may be, couples will find that conviction, shame and downright rebellion will cause an atmosphere of rottenness to develop in a home. Have you ever thrown something rotten in the trash and not noticed the smell was getting bad until you leave the house and come back? You walk in the door and the smell hits you like a plank between the eyes. Gross! No one likes a smelly house, and a house where sin is allowed to settle in will fester and stink and cause all kinds of problems. Whether it be something that is an outward sin, such as stealing, pornography or adultery, or one that is more inward, like pride, covetousness and hateful thoughts, sin issues in the home can cause division, disintegration of the family and lots and lots of really bad fights. So what do we do?
  3. Deeper Issues of the Heart. Sometimes couples fight because there are much deeper issues and wounds than can be seen on the surface. Some couples simply do not have feelings of love for one another. Either the love has faded or it was never really there at all. Some have deep wounds that have altered them, such as the loss of a child or a traumatic experience. Other couples experience conflict because of going through life changes and challenges. Infertility. Loss of a job. A move to a new place. Chronic illness. There are deep issues that can cause a lot of pain, confusion and oftentimes marital conflict. When our hearts are hurting, the words of our mouths can be more based on an emotional outcry than on logic. We say things we don’t mean. We sometimes try to inflict pain so that we aren’t hurting alone. So sad. So what do we do?

There is one answer to these common problems. There is one thing we can do to restore calm and unity to the family unit. It seems simple, but it really is profound and perfectly reasonable. What we do is….CHOOSE PEACE. We choose peace over conflict. We always have a choice about whether or not to be a part of conflict. We ALWAYS have a choice. We can choose peace over conflict and bring serenity back into our homes, by letting go of our own needs to lash out, be right, make a point, assign blame and share our hurt. We can choose peace instead and quiet instead of letting our tongues go unbridled. We can choose peace instead of taking out my hurt on my husband or daughter.

“For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:10-11

Peace isn’t something that just happens to lucky people. Peace is a choice. Unity is a choice. Even love is a choice. The thing is, it’s a choice that sometimes requires sacrifice and hard work. We have to learn to control our tongues and our hearts. We learn to be wise about when to be quiet. We learn that it’s okay not to get the final word and that we don’t have to be right all the time. We learn to weigh out what is most important…..proving my point or peace? Being right or peace? Getting my way or peace? Indulging in sin or peace? God says we should choose peace. It’s that simple.

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19

One last point I need to make here. If sin in your life is bringing you conflict, know that you cannot possibly choose peace if you don’t repent and get rid of that sin. Sin and peace cannot live in harmony. There is no such union in Christianity. Sin is the enemy of peace. If you are living in sin, repent of your sin and get rid of it. Then you can choose peace, and what a blessing that will be to your home, marriage and kiddos.

“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:18

“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.” Proverbs 12:20

CHOOSE PEACE!

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I Want Her to Walk in Purity

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“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Purity. The word used here in 1 Timothy is the Greek word “hagneia” that comes from the root word “hagnos.” It is translated “pure from carnality, chaste, modest, pure from every fault, immaculate and clean.” As the mother of a daughter, purity is something that I have on my mind often. I so long for my daughter to walk in purity throughout her life.

This scripture in 1 Timothy is one that I pray over my daughter. I pray that she sets a beautiful example of Christ’s power and glory in her life through her lovely speech, God-pleasing conduct, deep love, unwavering faith and purity. Purity doesn’t always mean sexual purity, but rather is a way of life in which one chooses not to mingle with the sin of the world, but rather to serve the Lord with a whole, uncompromising heart. Purity is a heart that’s sold out for God manifesting itself throughout the entire body…in speech, modesty, humility, chastity and grace.

While purity isn’t solely based on chastity, this is one of the most common and devastating ways in which young ladies surrender their purity. God says that the sanctification of a single person is their sexual purity.

 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

I pray for my daughter’s purity, even now while she’s young. I pray that she will be able to hold fast to her purity and that my husband and I will be able to present her as a pure bride on her wedding day. That thought overjoys me and also motivates me in the decisions I make for her now. You see, striving to protect and guide our children sometimes requires sacrifice. We make choices that other people mock or belittle. We may say no to “dating” as the world sees it and yes only to modest apparel. Does that mean our kids have to cover themselves from head to toe? No, not necessarily. However, allowing our kids to wear revealing clothing is a way in which we send them out into the world with a target on their backs. Do we want our children to be like the world or like the Lord? That’s what we have to decide.

I’ve made that decision. I will train my daughter up to know that the Lord’s calling on her life is to abstain from sexual immorality. I will teach her the beauty of purity and God’s course for her life. I will not allow her to wear mini-skirts and tiny shorts or low-cut tops. I will educate her at home, where she will not be thrust into the hands of a secular and liberal education system that will issue great lies and confusion about sexuality, family life and so forth. Dating will look much different in our home than in others. We will treat her as a beautiful young lady and remind her all of the time who she is in Christ.

Now I know fine well that I can do all of these things only to find later in life that my daughter still stumble. I pray this isn’t the case, but I know it’s possible. I know that ultimately our children have to make their own decision to follow God. Still, I will labor and fight for my daughter’s purity. I will pray for her, teach her, exhort her and support her. I will be honest with her and show her the truth. I will do everything in my power to protect her purity, both for herself and for her future husband. She is worth that and we are privileged and honored to be the ones to raise her in the ways of the Lord.

Purity is important. For our kids, it’s crucial. It’s where so many families lose. It’s where so many are suffering. Teen pregnancies, abortions, drugs, sexual confusion, STDs….so much sin and so many devastating consequences. Our children need our protection and guidance.

Listen, my daughter won’t be missing anything by not attending the prom or by not wearing the same revealing clothing that some her friends do. She’s not missing anything by being removed from situations of bullying, peer pressure and the influences of worldly friends. You may want your child to be like the other kids. You may not want them to feel different, but I’m looking at a generation of kids in which most of them are having sex before they turn 18. I’m hearing the way these kids are speaking and behaving and I say, “Let our kids be different!”

Jesus didn’t make us new creations so that we could return to looking just like the world. He said not to be conformed to the world. He told us to be set apart. He wants us to be a shining light in a dark place. If you want your children to be like everyone else, no doubt they will be. They won’t shine for Jesus, but rather the world’s darkness will quench and put out their light. They won’t stand for purity and holiness, but rather blend right in with the others, pressing and sometimes shattering every boundary of purity they come across. This grieves the heart of the Father, and it grieves our hearts as parents.

By the time our kids get to this point, there’s little we can do but encourage them and pray. That’s why it’s so important that we start early. It’s crucial that we teach, guide and protect purity from an early age, so that it is a way of life. Praying for the purity of our young ones and praying that they will grow to be an example of God’s glory and goodness, walking in beautiful purity.

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