Setting Expectations for the Best Summer EVER

I’m like Chevy Chase in the movie Vacation. In my mind, summer equals kids home, laughing and frolicking through the sprinklers with popsicles that are never sticky. They’ll be grateful for the trips to the zoo, cabin, and pool. No one will complain. But then reality kicks in, kids are kids, my patience dries up, and like Sparky from the movie, I have a mommy meltdown and need some Tylenol.

Not. This. Summer. I’m learning people aren’t my problem, my heart’s expectations are.

What’s the thing that sets you off? Or rather, who drives you crazy? Maybe the person who’s always late, or the friend who never shows, slow traffic, bad manners… the list of pet peevs goes on. You feel your patience waning and your frustration rising.

One of mine is when I put effort in and it’s not appreciated.

I cook an awesome meal like a FoodNetwork star, set the table with floral placemats and use my pretty dishes. I EXPECT my kids to eat in glorious silence because they can’t believe how yummy it all is. Turns out that’s not a realistic expectation. Instead the opposite happens. I have to count out bites, 5  more!, and then threaten no dessert. The fun is gone because my attitude goes south with unmet expectations.

Whatever the struggle is, whoever it is, the root of impatience is in us. What we store up in our hearts comes out in our actions and words. Sometimes in the form of impatience.

Luke 6:45 says “…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

If I store up frustration with others, frustration comes out. If I harbor resentment, bitterness comes out. If I hoard disappointment from unmet expectations or shattered plans, impatience rears up.

Like right now. My expectation is that I can sit in peace and type a blog while my three kids are at home. You can bet that was unmet. One came in with a wookie costume on, another was screaming he needed help on the potty, and the third was chanting Hi-Ho-Let’s go! Enter impatience. I feel it swelling. Can’t I just do what I want to do when I want to do it! gah!

Nope.

The only expectation I have this summer is that I expect we will all need Jesus.

BUT I don’t have to let my unmet expectations today or this summer get my goat. I can EXPECT others to need Jesus just as much as I do and love them starting with my thoughts.

If we store up good as we surrender our thought life to the Holy Spirit, patience and grace will flow out of our hearts naturally. If we store up thankfulness for the sunshine and giggles, if we seek out joy in the hard, and bury positive thoughts about our people in our hearts instead of annoyance, if we decide others are more important than ourselves and our agenda….patience won’t be so hard. It will flow out of the love we’ve stored up.

People will push all the buttons possible. But although you can’t control others, you can control your thoughts towards them.

So  let me validate you this summer as we end the month on patience. People will push all the buttons possible. But remember although you can’t control others, you can control your thoughts towards others. Make a pact with yourself (I will too) to believe the best of others and store up loving thoughts towards your kids, spouse, friends, neighbors, coworkers, even when it’s hard. Jesus loves them dearly and sometimes we can reflect His love best through humble patience.

**Practical action step: I’m declaring June = JUST JESUS JUNE! I’m doing a social media office-620822_1920fast with a friend. Why? Because social media makes me feel yucky sometimes. I leave sites having wasted time and comparing myself to others while neglecting important duties. You?

The fact that I’m nervous about giving it up for a month is my clue that I need to give it up to gain more peace and be more present…which I’m hoping will also impact my level of patience. No more “just a sec!” when someone is calling my name. ARE YOU IN?! Is God calling you to put down the phone and look up at your life?? Join me for a day, week, or the whole month of June for a SOCIAL MEDIA FAST. Jot down in the comments or in a journal how social media makes you feel now. And then update when your fast is over telling me what you learned. Let’s do this!

Here’s how I feel presently while using social media… distracted, pulled 10 different ways, always connected, impatient, everyone’s doing it better, I need to up my game, looking for cute moments to post instead of just enjoying moments. ugh.

I can’t wait to update you in July because I’m counting on a heart change by cutting out the noise:) Also, I’m replacing with a study by Priscilla Shirer on “Gideon”. Input=output. Input God’s word = output love. What are you reading???

 

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on Crosswalk

 

Godly Disagreement Action Plan

Do you love being criticized? No? Me neither. It’s so hard to remain patient with others when we disagree or feel attacked. I need an action plan because conflict is bound to come and I want to be prepared. My first instinct when someone criticizes me is often to defend myself — the I’m right, you’re wrong syndrome. But that mentality rarely leads to peace or resolution. So how does God want us to deal with conflict? Here’s my action plan…

1.Pray for wisdom

God’s desire for His church is that we’re one. (John 17:11) That doesn’t mean we won’t disagree, but that when we do, we commit to disagree in love for the pursuit of God’s kingdom. James 3:17 says God’s wisdom is “…first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” If God is navigating the problem through our prayer, we will work through our problem with peace and mercy listening to each others reasons and then will end with good fruit–stronger than before. I want that!!

2.Pursue Truth about the person

As Christ followers we can’t be about being right, we have to be about seeking truth. So some questions I plan to ask myself at the onset of disagreements are: Does this person have my best interest at heart? If so, I can take what they say knowing they are speaking in love. If not, I can let it roll off and not engage. What do I know about the person that would make them have a different opinion than me? This is a biggie because it helps us view her in grace-filled way honoring that person’s past and hurts.

3. Pursue humility in your actions

If I have to go through an uncomfortable situation, I might as well learn something from it. Recently in a conflict I had to ask myself, is there anything I can do differently next time? The answer was yes. I needed to be more careful with my words.

One strategy I will implement in future relational problems to show loving patience will be to wait 24 hours to respond. In the age of quick responses, we need to be people who carefully consider our words and be patient in our responses by waiting for Godly wisdom before we open our mouths. That is hard for me. I’m a words person. I want to fire off quickly. So humility is going to be my bestie.

Will this plan help me persuade someone I’m right? Maybe not. But they will enable me to leave a disagreement knowing I surrendered it to God and loved my neighbor in patience. We can’t control the outcome, but we can control our part in the process.

What conflict have you endured lately? How could you have worked through the disagreement in a more God honoring way? What steps would you add to your action plan?

 

**Did that resonate with your soul?! Here’s how to GET MORE free truth bombs right to your inbox. You matter to me! Find your voice in the conversation on Facebook.

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on Crosswalk

Which mom are you?

You may be a boy  mom if you’ve heard, “Mom! I’m done! And it looks like a snake!”

Or a girl mom if you’ve yelled, “We don’t have time to brush your hair, just get in the car!”

You may be a SAHMom if you put on a jacket to drive kids to school because no one will know you aren’t wearing a bra. Or if you signed them all up for summer art camp, basketball camp, college for kids and dance camp because #operationkeepyoursanity.

You may be a mom in waiting who wishes she bought stock in FirstResponse. (been there!)

Or an empty nester who finally gets the spring break to Hawaii she planned 20 years ago. (Someday! Fingers crossed!)

You may be a mom of babies if the first question your spouse asks in the morning is “How did you sleep?” And you get excited to say you had a REM cycle!

You may be a dog mom if you enter the room, see something brown out of the corner of your eye, and automatically gasp. Phew, just a Lincoln Log.

You’re a cat mom if you go furniture shopping for your new house, but only come home with a new cat tree. Or if you’ve reassured the person pet sitting for you that Snickers didn’t escape, “He just doesn’t like people.” (cat moms I will never understand you. LOL)

You may be a Harry Potter mom if your most expensive decor in the living room is HP legos and you’ve instructed all children visitors they may not touch them. #don’tlosethepieces!

Or a Midwest mom when your kid asks if they need a coat, and you respond “Just a jacket, you’ll probably have indoor recess anyway.”

You’re a preschool mom if you met your new besties waiting in the pick up line. “How old is yours? 22 months?! Mine too!”

Or a mom of BIGS if your kid says they’re sick and your first question is “How sick?”

You may be a lunch packing mom if you’re excited for hamburger day because you can take a break. Or a hot lunch mom if you’ve gotten the email… You owe $4.13, your account is empty.”

You may be an allergy mom if you know the difference between a U or D.E.

Or a picky eaters mom if you’re excited he ate 2 chicken nuggets.

No matter what kind of mom you are, have been, or will be… I just wanted to make you smile and say GOOD JOB YOU! The honor of motherhood is so important even when you feel so insignificant. The lunch you make, the bottom you wipe, the hug you give, the lessons you teach– God gave you that job, He sees your work, and said, says, and will say… well done.

Happy Mother’s Day!

**Did that resonate with your soul?! Here’s how to GET MORE free truth bombs right to your inbox. You matter to me! Find your voice in the conversation on Facebook.

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on Crosswalk

 

The Forgiven Forgive

This month is all about patience. Turns out I don’t have a lot of patience when I’ve been hurt. Anyone else? This is a super helpful way to process being hurt and how to heal… Jump over to WhollyLoved Ministries and read my thoughts on how The Forgiven Forgive…

Your gal pal,

Andrea

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on Crosswalk

Done Freaking Out

Anxiety is a beast. It used to control my emotions and hijack my peace. I replayed past mistakes wondering if I was really forgiven. I was frozen in the present afraid of the day. And fretting over the future. Would it all work out? Figuring out anxiety with people wasn’t helping. I needed a divine intervention.

Listen to what our BFF Jesus says to you and me about peace…

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  John 14:27

Jesus can offer so much more than well meaning friends or family when we are losing it. He doesn’t pat us on the back and say it’ll all be ok. He promises that it’s ok because He is in it with us. Knowing that God is present in every fear, every unsteady situation, every moment of uncertainty gives me peace.

Knowing that God is present in every fear, every unsteady situation, every moment of uncertainty gives me peace. 

How? Through God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. We know anxiety is real even though we can’t see it because we can feel its weight. But I know my God’s Holy Spirit is real even though I can’t see Him because I can feel His peace.

As I’ve chosen to be disciplined in giving hard moments and freak outs to God through prayer and trust, I’ve experienced divine peace. I now have assurance over my past, present, and future that no one can mess with.

Here’s how it plays out in everyday life…

THE PAST… When I start to replay negative thoughts about past screw ups, sin, or hurts, I talk to God about it. I tell Him in prayer everything I think about and ask Him to guide my thoughts to truth. And He does. The Holy Spirit reminds me of truth I’ve read in the Bible that I’m forgiven, that grace is a free gift and cannot be earned, and that God has redeemed my hurts for His glory as I reach out to others in love.

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THE PRESENT… Jesus help me I’m passing a semi with my van full of kids. Lord show me how to get through this day. Father watch over those that I love. Jesus heal my stomach because I can’t be sick today. Those are real prayers I have said this week. Be real with God. With everything. Hand all your stresses over to the one who can actually do something about them. And then trust that He hears and cares.

THE FUTURE… There is no way to prepare for what’s coming down the pike and that is an anxious person’s nightmare. The future can’t be controlled or known or prepared for. It’s unknown to us. But it’s not a surprise to God. So when I feel a freak out coming on about the future, mine, my kids, what am I doing with my life, am I really going to heaven when I die?? All the questions. I am thankful for the time I’ve spent reading truth in Scripture because it reminds me that God is in control when I’m not. He has a history of taking care of His people in the strangest ways. HE had a plan to save us before the world was even formed. So surely He has a good plan for my life and yours if we follow His lead.

Listen, I still STRUGGLE with anxiety, but now I don’t battle alone. I fight human anxiety with divine peace. That’s my prayer for you too. That you would let God in when you feel suffocating worry. Prepare your mind for battle by reading truth in your Bible. And fight back with the words of assurance He reminds you of through His Holy Spirit as you come near to Him. Jesus says in today’s verse that He gives us peace. The question is will we take it? 

 

**Join the afruitfulwoman.com community this year and receive free devotionals and messages from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.  And Find your voice in the conversation on FaceBook.

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Tell your kids… EVEN IF

There was a commotion outside. It seemed like my son had made a big mistake and things were heated. He was all alone in a hard moment and my mama bear instinct was to bring him in, cover him in a hug, and get the truth. There I learned the power of saying EVEN IF.

Turns out after talking it out with his friend, my son was innocent and it was an accident. But my heart still ached for my kid. When others were calling him guilty, it broke his spirit.

It made me think of all the times we’re called out and shamed instead of covered in grace. And how quickly we lose our joy when that happens. All the times I should’ve covered others instead of speaking fast out of anger.

My mind fast-forwarded to him at 25 when he really does mess up big time. What if he loses a job? What if he cheats on a test? What if he thinks he’s beyond the grace and love of Jesus because others make him feel that way? But that’s people, not God. God doesn’t shame us. He absorbs our shame.

God doesn’t shame us. He absorbs our shame.

So I hugged him and changed all those “what ifs” to “even ifs”.

Right there in the kitchen, I hugged his sad little self, and said…. “I need you to know that someday you really are going to mess up, and you need to know that your mom and dad and God will love you still. We will love you even if you crash the car. Even if you cheat an lose your job. Even if your family has problems. Even if… Even if…”

The heaviness was lifted and his joy returned. He was able to move on because he knew our love was secure.

During this month when I ponder the fruit of the Spirit, joy, that we have in Christ a certain verse has pounded on my soul.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. (psalm 103:10-13)

God doesn’t repay us for our sins. He covers them in grace as we confess them.

God doesn’t repay us for our sins. He covers them in grace as we confess them.

The truth is the opposite of what we think. His love is steadfast and higher than we can fathom. His grace goes beyond our mistakes. So much so that He’s removed our sins and thrown them away. He is compassionate and forgives us EVEN IF we mess up big-time. He loves us even if others don’t.

That’s why we are joyful. Because no matter what, we have a Dad who’s got our back. Who will never leave and will always love and cover us in His grace as we come and tell Him the truth. So tell your kids EVEN IF, but also tell yourself. God loves me…even if…

 

**Join the afruitfulwoman.com community this year and receive free devotionals and messages from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.  And Find your voice in the conversation on FaceBook.

AndreaWeb47

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Is Your Joy Safe?

I have my joy back! It feels like cool water after a long drought. See, I thought I lost it awhile back. It felt stolen. But now my joy is safe, and I want you to lock yours up too.

One of the fruit we receive from God’s Holy Spirit is JOY (Galatians 5:22). I wanted joy, but it seemed foreign. I had gone through seasons of infertility, miscarriages, traumatic loss, and life changes on my own and I was so stinkin’ tired. (I see you. I know you’ve been there too.) I wasn’t a very loving mom or wife. And I was probably a fun sucker of a friend.

Truth is, My joy had been tucked into my hopes, dreams, plans, people, family, my life…all the temporary and fickle things of this world. The things that can be taken. So when some of them WERE taken, my joy left for good with them.

Is that ringing a bell with you? I wonder where you’ve placed the majority of your joy– a husband, a child, a job, a plan — and then poof, it’s gone. And you’re left empty and lost. That’s where I was.

Then Jesus came for me.

I felt urgency to lean on Him. To get to know Him through the Bible and talk to Him in prayer. I learned of His constant love, grace, and PRESENCE in the hard through His Holy Spirit. I started believing in my heart  the truth I’d known in my head for so long. That in Him I am not alone, I’m loved, completely forgiven, and empowered. I have what I need for any situation because I have God’s Spirit within me and His Spirit is complete.

I have what I need for any situation because I have God’s Spirit within me.

We read proof of the power of God’s joy when apostle Paul, chained up for his faith, wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 ESV

What we lose in our English translation, though, is that the word “rejoice” is directly tied to the Greek word for “grace”. Rejoice literally means to experience, delight, or be conscious of God’s grace. It’s mind-blowing and completely counter-cultural. It means, we can only truly rejoice if we are conscious and delighting in all the ways God is pouring out undeserved, unrelenting grace.

Joy is all about knowing God’s grace!

That’s why Paul could sing praises in a jail cell. Because no amount of bars could keep God’s grace and love away from him! Do you feel that?? Do you believe the same is true for you and I? No amount of problems, failures, addictions, bad days, — nothing– can keep God’s grace from you. I woke up today and praised God for loving me and forgiving me — for being my dad who will never leave no matter how much I stink at life. God will never leave us, so neither will our joy! That’s why we can rejoice everyday, even in the hard. Because no matter the crap storm we’re in, WE’VE GOT an IMMOVABLE GOD.

God will never leave us, so neither will our joy!

Where we hide our joy determines how easily it can be taken. People and situations threaten to steal our heart’s joy, but God keeps it forever safe. Take some quiet moments today to reflect on God’s grace towards you. That’s where your joy has been waiting for you.

 

**Join the afruitfulwoman.com community this year and receive free devotionals and messages from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.  And Find your voice in the conversation on FaceBook.

AndreaWeb47

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

A Pep Talk for the Soul

I waver back and forth. I wonder why and how. I doubt the truth in front of my face. Where we stand on the assurance of God’s love is a battle of the mind. Like so many in the Bible, we sometimes have to give our souls a pep talk. We have to choose to believe in God’s love and forgiveness when our feelings say different.

David, a psalmist and king on the run, wrote Psalm 25. And it struck me with force today because it hits close to home. It’s for rebels and doubters. It’s a pep talk for the soul to trust in God’s love.

Let me translate Psalm 25 how it resonates with me…

” To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust…” Psalm 25  (emphasis mine)

(Jesus, I don’t know about all this, but I trust in you. I surrender even though I’m scared)

“…Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach mefor you are the God of my salvation…people-2602616_1920.jpg

(Jesus I don’t know what I’m doing. I need your help. You say you are all knowing and all powerful so be that and teach me with YOUR wisdom. Lead my life because I tend to make a mess of things)

“…Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast lovefor they have been from of old.Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me…

(Lord you’ve seen it all. They say you are all about mercy, grace, and love. Help me believe that because sometimes I doubt. Help me believe that you forgive all my mistakes and sins. Help me believe you love me, the real me, despite all my junk.)

They say you are all about mercy, grace, and love. Help me believe that because sometimes I doubt.

“…Good and upright is the Lord;therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness…

(Jesus you are who you say you are. You are good and loving. I know that in my core. You will do what you say you will do. You are faithful even when I’m not. I know you will direct my ways. I know you will lead me my whole life even when I don’t deserve it. You ARE the God who loves me and is for me. And I AM important to you and tucked into your grace.)

You ARE the God who loves me and is for me. And I AM important to you and tucked into your grace.

If you’ve ever been a rebel or a made a big mistake or felt far from God…take heart. You are in good company here. Jesus didn’t come for the perfect, He came for those who know they need a Savior. Those of us who know we don’t have it all together. But as our faith and trust in God’s love grows, He will lead our rebel hearts in a new way– a better way. Because of Jesus, we aren’t who we used to be. Each day when we wake up and step into His grace we are a new creation in Christ, a new and more awesome version of ourselves as we follow Him.

So as we close this month focusing on God’s love, sink deep into truth. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are worth everything to God despite your track record. You have a new track record– righteousness in Christ– because He loves you and rescued you when you couldn’t rescue yourself. You. Are. Loved. Let that truth be who you are.

You. Are. Loved. Let that truth be who you are.  

 

**Join the afruitfulwoman.com community this year and receive free devotionals and messages from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.  And Find your voice in the conversation on FaceBook.

AndreaWeb47

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

We’ve Got Love Backwards

Jesus called it the greatest commandment. The apostle John dedicated multiple letters to the theme. “Love God. Love others.” Sounds easy, but we muddy the waters adding ourselves into the equation. Raise your hand if you’re excited to love the person who annoys you most! Nobody? Shocker. Truth is we’ve got love backwards.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 ESV emphasis mine).

Let me translate…

Hey you! You dearly loved kid of God! God loves you. (I know, I don’t know why either. We’ve done nothing to deserve it. Just go with it.) Every ounce of love in you is from GOD. So extend the love you’ve been given to those around you. Keep it going. Because it’s not about you. God is love. And you’ve been tucked into that space of His forgiveness and grace for no other reason except He made you and loves you despite all your junk. If you’ve accepted that crazy love deep into your soul, unleash it on the world around you. Because God. Is. Love.

He made you and loves you despite all your junk.

But why is it so hard to accept God’s love?! Maybe because we aren’t opening ourselves up to it.

I was afraid to read my Bible for years–thought it was all about fire and hell. Then I cracked it open and couldn’t turn a page in the New Testament without reading how much God loves me. I realized Jesus didn’t come from Heaven to earth to tell us we’re awful, He came to tell us we’re loved. He came to be proof of God’s love so that we could then walk in love instead of insecurity.

Jesus didn’t come from Heaven to earth to tell us we’re awful, He came to tell us we’re loved.

” In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11 ESV)

Loving is hard when you’ve got the wrong source.

So often I make it all about me and try to love others from my own strength. But it leaves me shallow. I care for those who treat me well; I don’t naturally want to love those who hurt me, gossip about me, or abandon me. We weren’t made to be the source. We need divine help to love hard people. Jesus loves them and can show us the right way to love in all situations.

We need divine help to love hard people.

Here’s how I’ve done this in an elementary way. I continue consuming as much Scripture and study materials I can that affirm God’s acceptance of me. And I pray, Jesus help me believe I’m loved by you when I feel unlovable. Show me how to love others the way you love me. Give me opportunities to love well, and the courage to live it out…. 

“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1John 4:12 ESV).

That makes me smile. No one has ever seen God, but the more we live in His love the more we start to see rays of Him in place of us. We’ve had it backwards. We aren’t the source of love and we can’t do the hard work of loving well without God. Abide in God’s love. It’s not luke warm. It’s bubbling over and stirring inside if we choose to believe in it.

 

**Join the afruitfulwoman.com community this year and receive free devotionals and messages from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.  And Find your voice in the conversation on FaceBook.

AndreaWeb47

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Back from the Dead

I bet you never knew I was dead. Cold to the touch. My heart stopped beating. They wrapped me in grave clothes and prepared for life without me. But then I came back. It was a miracle. There were witnesses and still some people don’t believe in the one who warmed my blood and breathed my soul back into this body. What say you?

I imagine that’s how Lazarus told and retold his story. Strangely, my faith story is similar. Jesus is still in the business of restoring lives.

In John chapter 11 we learn Jesus brought a friend, dead and rotting for four days, back to life in front of many Jews. But before He did it, Jesus made them wait.

cross-1480482_1920.jpg“But when Jesus heard (Lazarus was sick) He said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

Isn’t that fascinating.

Mary and Martha were freaking out that their brother was going to die and Jesus was calm knowing that He had the power to even change a death sentence. He could’ve healed Lazarus in an instant, Mary and Martha would’ve had their brother back. But they would’ve missed seeing the power and glory of God. Instead, Jesus strengthened faith of generations through their story proving the impossible is possible for those who believe in Him.

It seems backwards, that the verse says Jesus loved them so He did nothing about their pain right away. But in His perfect timing, when the people couldn’t solve the problem on their own, He breathed life back into a hopeless situation. Sounding familiar? It does for me.

I wasn’t physically dead, but emotionally done.

I’ve given up and gone through the motions when it all seemed too much. I wondered where God was and why He wasn’t fixing things right then. But looking back, the pain I endured had purpose. He allowed me to go through the darkness so I could search for His light. So I would trade the world for His abundant life.

He allowed me to go through the darkness so I could search for His light. So I would trade the world for His abundant life.

Every Christian is Lazarus. God raised us from spiritually dead. When we surrendered and believed in Jesus and that the Holy Spirit lives and breathes within us, we came back to life– a new life.

God can raise us from negative to positive, despair to joy, hopeless to faithful, broken to empowered, victim to conqueror, and sinner to beloved child of God.

So as we end this month of reflecting on ABIDING in God, remember that we’re not the answer to our struggles–Jesus is. Our hope is not in our striving, but trusting our God is loving, sovereign, and with us.

 

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com