Love Sincerely

It’s time for KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid! That was my broadcasting professor’s motto in college. That principle made my writing better, and it also translates into life. So often we complicate love and relationships, or we abuse them with insincerity. But what God asks of us is simple. No more acting, love each other sincerely.

Romans 12:9 reminds us to “Let love be genuine…”, and in other versions the word is translated that love must be sincere.

Why would the early church planter, Paul, have to remind God’s people to love sincerely? Because our natural bent is to serve ourselves. Because it’s really easy to do things out of selfish ambition instead of thinking of someone else’s good.

But our love points to Christ. And Christ was a giver, not a taker.

But our love points to Christ. And Christ was a giver, not a taker.

He saw people, their need, in their everyday life, and He sought to make them whole with His love. He healed their pain, fed their hunger, restored their dignity. Jesus loved each person He encountered sincerely.

What would it look like for the church to be a blanket of genuine love like Jesus? It would look like less self promotion on social media and more quiet giving of time in real life. Less spending on personal kingdoms and abundant financial sacrifice for God’s Kingdom. Less worrying about my future, and more planning of how I can make someone else’s future better. I want to be this. I want to the root of everything I do to be real love. I mess up so many times, but this is my desire.

Love must be sincere. Everything we do, sister, must come from a place of deep affection for each other. Because the world is watching us, and they are used to people using each other for personal gain. And we are to love differently than the world. When others look at us, they need to see a true reflection of a beautifully loving God. One who cares deeply for them.

Will we be perfect? No. But as we consciously decide to surrender our relationships, finances, time, and plans to Jesus, I know He will be faithful to rough out our hard edges and soften our hearts to love others well.

So we have to ask some hard questions. How have we loved falsely? How have I cared more about my status, finances, plans than others? How have I been a taker, not a giver. What do I need to drop so I can replace it with sincere love??

Jesus forgive us for when we have been those things and help us to love the way you love. 

 

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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 with WL on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk

 

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We made this for YOU! Grab your copy of our newly released 90-day devotional HERE. It’s full of life changing truth that points to the One who sees you, knows you, and loves you.

 

The beauty of the Ugly Cry

Yep, I snorted. Inhale. Snort. Cry. Snort. Mascara smudged my cheeks and I was all the feelings at once. I ugly cried today for me and all the women around me who can’t make time stand still. Life why do you go so fast? Why do babies become bigs, and bigs become teenagers, and teenagers move out somewhere between never-ending days and lightening-fast years? 

Change can feel both sweet and soul crushing. Terrifying and exciting. Natural and counter productive. For the best and painful. All at the same time. 

That’s the beauty of the ugly cry. It releases all those emotions without a word. Just maybe a snort.

I wonder what has made you break down lately? What have you had no words to describe? What ending have you mourned or what beginning have you celebrated?

Today I walked the school hallways with a huge smile. I could’ve won an Academy award with my brave face for my daughter.

“You’re going to have SO MUCH FUN!” 

Then I dropped her off in her room and the girl who clung to me last year in Kindergarten shooed me away in 1st grade — too big for selfies with mom with everyone watching. It’s a jolt that means she’s big now. And my mind jumps ahead to the someday of when she will be bigger than big. Someday she’ll be grown. And I will miss her.

I’ll miss her notes spelled wrong. Her little shoes. Her mismatched clothes and ponytail wisps. I’ll miss her scooter zipping and her coloring table. I’ll miss brushing her teeth. 

Cue ugly cry.

I want to give you permission to be what you need to be when life shifts under your feet. When it moves a little fast or throws you off. 

If you’re a wreck at the end of summer break, preschool graduation, senior prom pictures, or the last or first day of anything in life…. You’re not alone. Change is hard. Even if it’s good. It’s still hard. Embrace your beautiful ugly cry. Let out all the snorts. Life deserves it for going so fast.

 

**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

 

Devo promo DWe’re made this for YOU! Grab your copy of our newly released 90-day devotional HERE. It’s full of life changing truth that points to the One who sees you, knows you, and loves you.

Scandalous Kindness

Kindness doesn’t seem sensational. It’s lumped into the boring, normal, ought to category. But the more I research, the more scandalous kindness is. We’re numb to the miracle that kindness is. It’s a triumph over selfishness. And that undeserved kindness also goes by the name… grace.

But we won’t truly grasp the magnitude of kindness if we don’t own our need for it.

Yes we are forgiven and free in Christ, but why is that? Because we needed scandalous kindness. Your sin and mine bought us a one way ticket to eternity separated from our creator. But our God saw us through the lens of grace, reached out in sacrifice for His beloved creation, and took the blow meant for us.

But our God saw us through the lens of grace, reached out in sacrifice for His beloved creation, and took the blow meant for us.

Who would you do that for? Maybe your children, husband, best friend?

Once my 3 year old was riding his red “Cars” big-wheel in the street when an SUV roared down the hill. There was no way he could cross in time alone. So I ran to the middle of the street, pulled him from the big-wheel and ran out of the way. I didn’t think about my own life, my love for my kid innately spurred me into action despite danger to my own life.

I believe God’s kindness for us is even deeper and more innate and ours mirrors His. After all, we are made in His image (Gen 1:27), so any seed of love comes from Him.

We are made in His image (Gen 1:27), so any seed of love comes from Him.

Pause for a second and think of how you’ve been kind this week. Did the person deserve your kindness? Or was it grace– scandalous and undeserved?

Our God is a kind God. I’ve stumbled on this idea in the past. Why would God want a sinful person like me? Answer- because I’m His kid. And so are you. He didn’t make us for sport. He fearfully and wonderfully made us and adopted us into His family. Never to be lost again. Because of His scandalous kindness.

 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3-5 ESV)

 

**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

 

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.

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

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.