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.

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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

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.

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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

Jesus Works in the Waiting

It’s impossible. At least it feels that way. That thing that you can’t budge or change sits like a 10 ton boulder in your way. We tend to try to move it anyway, pushing with all our strength, not moving an inch. When we’re tired, Jesus gently gives us another option.

Wait patiently.

Let’s be honest, that’s hard and it’s also not what we like to do. We like to DO, GO, Get ‘er done! in the Midwest. So waiting often seems lazy instead of the right choice.

Here’s what we find in Scripture. God’s people are faced with some real enemies, they are scared, and probably feeling a bit lost, but Habakkuk prays…

“I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently... Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LordI will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength...” (Habakkuk 3: 16-19 NIV) emphasis mine.

 

I have friends who are up against some hard things right now. Friends who are in the waiting period of lots of things.  I also am trying to navigate the future by faith. What if we declared the same as Habakkuk over our insecurities, health problems, lost dreams, immovable problems? Today let’s do that together, praying truth over our uncertainties…

Jesus, Even when I’m scared. I will wait patiently because I know You are working behind the scene. Though I don’t see any evidence of what I want happening, I will trust that You are doing something about the situation when it’s out of my control. In the meantime, I am going to keep my joy and be thankful that my God is working it out for me — You, Lord are my only strength. I’ve got faith You can move this mountain and Your plan for me is good.

Though I don’t see any evidence of what I want happening, I will trust that You are doing something about the situation when it’s out of my control.

Trust that waiting may be what God is asking of you. That He may want to make something beautiful in the time you spend trusting in His power instead of your own.

 

**Get more free encouraging messages and devotionals from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.

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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.

 

 

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Hope in the Deepest Pit

I always thought the story of Jonah was about a fish, but it’s really about a pit. Life is full of pits, ones we dig for ourselves, some that others shove us into– the question is how do we get out when the walls are slippery and we simply can’t. Jonah found the answer.

“To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But You brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple” (Jonah 2:6-7 NIV).

Do you ever feel like you are hopelessly sinking? Going down into debt? Anger? Addiction? Negativity? We all sink down into something at some point and it’s why we need a God who is stronger than our situation.

When Jonah was being swallowed up by the sea, there was NOTHING he could do to save himself…except… remember the Lord. That was his action. He didn’t remember a skill he had or muster the strength to overcome by himself. Jonah REMEMBERED the Lord and prayed for help. And the Lord delivered Jonah from the biggest problem of his life for Jonah’s good and so he could be used for God’s glory in the town of Nineveh.

When Jonah was being swallowed up by the sea, there was NOTHING he could do to save himself…except… remember the Lord.

So some things the story of Jonah is more than a big fish swallowing a dude, although that is rather interesting. This true Scripture is about a man in need of help and direction being saved by The Living God from a situation he couldn’t save himself from.

You and I are Jonah. Every time we throw our hands up and say, “God I can’t! But I know you can! Show up here in this mess because I can’t clean it up myself.” And our God is still the same God from Jonah’s time. He is still willing and able to pull us out of our deepest pit if we call on His name and follow Him out.

In this season of hope, let’s remember who is our hope. Jesus. And let’s ask Him to show up big where we need Him knowing He hears and cares for His people.

 

**Get more free encouraging messages and devotionals from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.

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.

 

 

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

 

Thanksgiving prayer for you

I want to take a moment and wrap us up in prayer today as we travel, gather, or stay put because Thanksgiving can be filled with both joy and sorrow…

Jesus thank you for each one of my readers. Thank you for all that you are doing in our lives that you are in control and working things out that we can’t even fathom. Father would you be so near today and comfort those who are hurting and missing their loved ones. Wrap them up in your love and comfort. Jesus glue families back together again today in your peace if they are struggling. And fill us with your never-ending joy. Help us to remain thankful after Thanksgiving. That we would recognize your blessings and praise you for them all year long. And no matter where we are in faith, just starting out or well seasoned, help us trust in you more each day and know you more so we can experience the life you came to give us. Thank you Jesus for loving us when we feel unlovable and help us really grasp that love so we can move it forward to others in our lives. In Jesus name. Amen!

With love,

Andrea Chatelain

A Christmas interview with Alexandra Kuykendall

Let’s face it, our actual Christmas doesn’t always mimic a Hallmark movie. Expectations, finances, hope, joy, sorrow, and where Jesus meets us in it all. Alexandra Kuykendall shared some practical and soulful insights during a video interview centered on her book, “Loving my Actual Christmas”.

I hope this Christmas interview blesses you as it did me as we prepare our hearts for the season…knowing that no matter our circumstances, Jesus is with us and is our source of all we need at Christmas and all year long.

 

*Visit Alex online for more Christmas insights

 

Measuring Your Impact

“What do you do?” I heard that question twenty times at an awards banquet for my journalist husband. They were experts at their craft and I was a full-time mom, beginning blogger, part-time teacher. Nothing felt impressive about my life in this circle. Measuring my impact against theirs made me insecure, but the true measurement of our impact is not found on a plaque.

Read for yourself what Scripture says about  how early followers of Jesus measured their impact…

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3, ESV).

When our faith is in Jesus, we don’t need the approval of people. We no longer need likes on Facebook or medals for a job well done. When we start living for Jesus, our impact is written on the hearts of people we love, serve, and do life.

When we start living for Jesus, our impact is written on the hearts of people we love, serve, and do life.  

We don’t love well because we want to gain anything from it. We don’t mother well because we need an awards banquet. Or work with integrity and grit for a plaque. We don’t listen to friends’ problems over coffee or bring people meals for accolades. We love, serve, forgive, encourage, and empower anyone God puts in our path because He gave us both the work to do and the faith in which to complete it.

The people around us are our plaques as they walk around with the love we have stamped on their hearts. They are the real work God cares about.

So I wonder if, like me, sometimes you aren’t sure if your work matters. Maybe you sit in a cubicle, maybe you are a network marketer, a stay-at-home mom, or you wear suits to the office everyday. Wherever you are, your real job is to love and serve the people around you well.

Wherever you are, your real job is to love and serve the people around you well.

That job is harder than any other because people are messy. We are imperfect and make a ton of mistakes a day that require patience, peace, gentleness, kindness, and self-control even when undeserved.

But we keep at this important work because God gave us those people at our office, our neighborhood, and in our home.

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1, ESV).

Don’t lose heart. That is God’s desire for us. Keep loving, forgiving, enduring, serving, encouraging, and uplifting. God gave you those people for a reason. Because your love shows them a bit of Jesus in this selfish world. Don’t. Lose. Heart. Your impact matters.

Your outfit, bitterness or grace

What are you wearing today? Does it look good on you? In times of betrayal, I’m tempted to put on the ugliest outfit of all — bitterness– and then I read my favorite verse…

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful,” (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV).

“…And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony,” (Colossians 3:14 ESV).

We are scandalously loved by Christ. And so when there is chaos around us, we as God’s people, are entrusted to extend that undeserved love to others. Because God first loved us when we were a hot mess.

Believe me, I know, it’s hard.

If you have been lied to or betrayed this is the last thing you want to do. It doesn’t mean that you say it’s all OK. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ask God for justice. But it DOES mean that you hand it over to God, completely. You hand over the outfit you were going to put on of judgment, anger, and bitterness, and you exchange it for a lighter more beautiful outfit of compassion, kindness, patience, and forgiveness.

 

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This wardrobe switch is as much for you as it is for the person who wronged you. Because these clothes feel better on your soul. They feel healing and warm and peaceful.

I don’t know what outfits are in your closet, or why they are there. I’m sure there are very valid reasons. But I pray that you and I can fold them up and give them to Jesus today as we come to him in prayer. And ask Him to help us choose to clothe ourselves in love, grace, and thankfulness so we can experience His peace.

 

Journal reflections:

book-bindings-3176776_1920What relationships are strained in your life because of sin or betrayal? Have you forgiven that person yet? What feelings would you have to give to Jesus to exchange for an outfit of grace and love towards that person? Knowing God loves you, write a prayer asking God to heal your heart and work out good in others lives.

Overcoming the Bewitching Hour

I have two bewitching hours. You know, the hours that you are just done with the day? First is suppertime when children are running crazy, hanging on my leg, dog is barking, “mom I’m hungry!!!”, and the noodles overflow. If we survive that,  bedtime is a minefield of emotions. One is crying because her head hurts, one is crying because he doesn’t want the princess cup, and one is moving like a sloth.

Lord help me finish strong.

I prayed at night when I had already let my impatience show. Then I remembered the verse I had read earlier in the day, Colossians 3:12-15.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, … And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV).

Bear with your people in compassion and patience. Forgive. Love. Let Christ rule your heart even in your bewitching hour. And be thankful.

Let Christ rule your heart even in your bewitching hour. And be thankful.

It was all so good. So perfectly what I needed. But that last line, “And be thankful” was the most important. It was the way to turn my selfish attitude into a serving heart.

As I tucked in my children, I looked at them and smiled. I soaked up their sweet little voices. I didn’t mind the need for extra dreams on their forehead or more snuggles instead of sleep. Jesus helped me finish strong by ruling my heart and creating thankfulness.

And today He reminded me again. As I sat down to read Mark 6:30-34 the disciples have put in a long day of healing, they are tired and hungry. When they list off all they’ve accomplished to Jesus, his response in verse 31 is “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (NIV).

When we are tired. Jesus wants us to come to him, in a quiet place, and He will give us what we need to keep going.denim-1839955_1920

Still while Jesus, in compassion, desired to meet the needs of 5,000, the disciples grumbled… Wouldn’t it be easier just to send them away? We’re tired! It’s late! We’ve done a lot today! Sound familiar? Those are the same thoughts that run through my mind at my bewitching hours.

But Jesus modeled what to do. He took the little food the disciples had, gave thanks and was able to feed 5,000 people with it.

Jesus is the same Son of God now as He was then. And that moment was for us, too.

When we come to Jesus in our grumbling, if we listen, He can redirect our hearts to compassion and thankfulness. Only Jesus can take the little we have left and multiply it to meet the needs of others.

Only Jesus can take the little we have left and multiply it to meet the needs of others.

Truth is I can’t conquer the day alone. Only with Jesus we are able to claim and live out Colossians 3:12-15. He enables us to clothe ourselves with compassion and patience and bear with each other in love, and make our hard moments sweet…

And make our hearts thankful.

 

 

Let’s be REAL…

sunset-401541_1920What are your bewitching hours? Where do you need Jesus to multiply the little you have left into enough patience, love, and mercy for the people around you? At work? At home? With friends or family?

Join A Fruitful Woman community on FB and see what others are saying! Or come to an upcoming WhollyLoved conference .

 

Public Teachers do God’s work

The leader of the pack was in my public school homeroom. When he wasn’t there he was most likely in in-school suspension. But after weeks and months of standing at my door giving high-fives, smiles, and compliments to students, I had gained his trust. He was in my room asking me to pray. Could a public teacher do God’s work?

“Miss C. you’re Christian, can you pray for me? I think my girlfriend is pregnant.”

How did he know I was Christian? I didn’t tell the class. I wore a cross necklace sometimes but this was public school. I couldn’t say anything about my faith. Right?

Feeling like someone would bust into my room and fire me for praying, I did it anyway. I prayed over his future, over his choices, and spoke truth of God’s love. I couldn’t help but cry. Thankful that I could pray with this one, but wished I could tell each one that God loves them more than anything.

I was thankful I could pray with this one, but wished I could tell each one that God loves them more than anything. 

But Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

Sometimes I felt like there was a gag in my mouth working in public school. Where I worked, some of the kids were more street smart than I was. But really they were just kids. Kids who needed love– a love big enough to fill in some of the hurt.

I learned quickly that showing the love of Jesus doesn’t have to be with words, or explicit gospel teaching. It truly is about showing. Our loving actions in everyday small ways opens doors for Christ to do big work in people’s hearts.

Our loving actions in everyday small ways opens doors for Christ to do big work in people’s hearts. 

John affirms this saying, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”(1 John 3:18 NIV).

Some students accidentally called me ‘mom’. Some were in foster care, some homeless, some pregnant, others from loving families. Still they were mine from 7:20-3:10. It was my responsibility to grow their minds and prepare them for the next level.

But in order to do that I had to show them I loved them like my own kid.

It was hard for me to let my oldest son go to kindergarten. And truly it doesn’t really get much easier. My heart hurts a little when he waves on the bus, and I still miss him during the day when he’s not at the table for lunch. But I know how much his teacher loves him as I loved my students. For eight hours a day, Luke is her kid, too.

So I want to say, “Thank you!!” teachers of every level and every school for loving our kids this year. You did God’s work in your classrooms and your love for our kids is one more piece of evidence showing Jesus on this earth.

See you in the fall.