An Honest Account of Love, Grief and Walking With God
Finding God's Goodness in Life's Disappointments

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Your encouragement can make a difference in someone's day or life

Encouragement
copyright 2016
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie


I love how God is good at being a genius! He always sees our hearts and is attentive to our needs. He is the best friend I have ever had, because he is always around and always listening to me. He does not always answer my prayers in my timing or the way I want him to; however, I have learned to rest and trust and simply walk with him. He is really awesome at encouraging me, especially when I ask and need it the most.
Back in early 2016, it was a cold and cloudy day. I had experienced some difficult weeks with back to back meetings, living out of a suitcase and very long hours. The cloud of adversity loomed over these particular weeks and nothing seemed easy to accomplish, even simple ordinary tasks. 
I continued to find my joy in the fact that God was with me and I had overcome many other obstacles in my life; however, I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and personally needed some encouragement. 
As I walked into a local meeting, I whispered a simple prayer, “Lord, you know me and know my heart. Encourage me today.” I ate my lunch, visited with a few colleagues and decided I really needed to get back to the office so after about 30 minutes, I left the meeting a little early, briskly walking back to my car.
“Excuse me,” said a deep voice from a man doing some landscaping. “Are you Kathleen Maxwell that writes for the paper?” the voice continued. “This is David (not his real name). Our sons played ball together years ago and your husband, Joe, coached,” he said.
“Oh yes, I recognize you now, but that has been 15 years ago!” I said. “ A lot has changed, how is your son?” I asked. We chatted a few minutes about our boys, where they were and what they are doing now.
“I have been wanting to talk to you and told God if I ever saw you, I would share with you what a difference you made in my life,” the bright eyed African-American gentleman shared. “I made some wrong choices in life and found myself in jail, and while I was locked up, I began to read your articles,” he continued. “I saved every one of them and shared them with other inmates. They changed my heart and I gave my heart to God and He gave me hope. They showed me that God really loved me and had forgiven me and had a plan for my life,” David continued. “I even shared them with the chaplain and he began to use them in chapel. Now, I want to share with others what God has done for me and I want to thank you,” he shared. “I just wanted you to know how you help me and that your writing makes a difference.” 
By this time, I was a puddle of tears! God normally doesn’t answer my prayers in 30 minutes but he did that day, just when I needed it the most. 
I shared with David that I had just prayed, less than an hour ago, asking God to encourage my heart, and of all the people in the world, God chose him to answer.
“Do not ever doubt God’s hand on your life, David.” I encouraged him. “God used you today to encourage me and answer my prayer.” We visited a little longer and I was able to pray with him about a few things he shared. I headed to my car with a big smile on my face, reflecting on the goodness of God and how He touched my heart that day. I also thought of how short life really is  and think about the call God has on my life.
Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily…” and I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Encourage one another and build each other up…” Everyone needs encouragement and all of us need someone cheering us on. God may want to use you today to encourage someone in your family, your workplace, or in our community. Our words, written or spoken, either speak life or death to others. 

Who can you encourage today? I challenge you to look around and ask God who you can encourage. Someone you are around today needs encouragement. God does not look at our qualifications or our past mistakes. He looks for willing vessels he can use to touch others.
If you need encouragement, ask God to encourage you. He is the one we always need to turn to when we have a need. It will be exciting to see how he chooses to answer your prayer and the person he uses.
That encounter with David not only encouraged me on a dreary day, but boosted my faith and put a spring in my step. God is never too busy to hear the simplest prayer. He cares for you and me and loves walking with us through each and every day. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Who needs kindness and why we should practice it

Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie


Who needs kindness and why should we practice it?
July 2016

copyright

The hot Texas sun was beaming down highlighting the green rows of cotton, corn, and melon that lined the road. I was driving down Highway 90 on my way to Uvalde, Texas thinking of how I love seeing all the fruits and vegetables this part of the country produces. My husband was a farmer for several years in the 80’s and it is always interesting to hear his farming stories. He tells of the long hours each day he invested to produce a good crop and some challenges.

There were years that he made good money and then there was the year he was ready to harvest onions, and the night before the harvest, there was a hail storm that destroyed the entire crop. There was also the story about the beautiful bell peppers he grew in October that were plump and full of color and he woke up one morning, to an October snow and lost every bell pepper.

Growing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is not always easy and takes a lot of hard work and practice. Often times, it is in the difficult soil of life that we have the opportunity to plant the seeds and cultivate them. 

Galatians 5:22 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.” (NIV) Basically, this is saying when you practice these fruits, they will always work for you, not against you. Practicing these always puts you in the winners circle and will benefit not only you, but others.

I have recently been studying about each fruit, to cultivate them in my own life and see what God says about each one and what He requires of me. Recently I have been looking at kindness.

What is kindness? Who should we be kind to? What are the benefits of kindness? 

Kindness is the quality of being considerate, friendly and generous, thoughtful and loving. Kindness considers where someone’s heart is and acts accordingly. It is also showing superior qualities of grace. I think we would all have to admit, we like it and it makes us feel valued when others are kind to us, especially when we really do not deserve it. 

I have asked God to open my eyes to His kindness in my life and I am amazed at what I have discovered. Day after day I have seen God’s kindness and it has caused me to have a deeper desire to be kind to others. It has begun to change my heart and made me want to practice kindness to a greater degree on those around me.

Cousins-learning to be kind on vacation
Jesus tells us in Luke 6:35 that he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. It is easy to be kind to our friends but a little more challenging to be kind when others are ungrateful and ugly to us but I think those are the people that need kindness the most. I have to admit, God has given me the chance to practice kindness recently on some ungrateful and unkind individuals and it has taken every bit of Jesus in me to preserve! The good news is God has helped me and I it is actually getting easier!

Proverbs 16:25 says, “kind words cheer up an anxious man.” Just today I was talking to a woman and she was very fearful and anxious. As I spoke kind words to her in a soft voice, I saw her countenance change right before my eyes and she left our meeting with a smile on her face.  Her circumstances hadn’t changed yet, but I watched kindness cheer her up.

I Thessalonians 5:15 states, “Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (NIV) That about covers anyone you will encounter each and every day! 

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:16 &17, “ a kind woman gains respect and a kind man benefits himself.”(NIV) If you want respect, the answer is being kind. We win when we are kind and there is power in our kindness to change a situation. Kindness makes us a hero.


Flowers in Uvalde 

I still have much to learn about kindness and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit.  I want to challenge you to join me and practice kindness in the days ahead. Sow good seed of kindness to the difficult people in your life and all others around your home, workplace and community. Ask God to open your eyes to how he is kind to you and let his kindness change your heart. I am now seeing his kindness each day in my life. Most of all, enjoy the wonderful blessings and benefits that being kind will reap in your own life. You will not only bless others but will receive many blessings yourself.











Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Restoring Kindness and Dignity

Family time-Austin, Laura, Collins, Mallory, Rob, Truett and Ellis-me and Stephen

Restoring Kindness and Dignity
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
Copyright July 2016


Not long ago, I observed someone being condescending to another person and then experienced it myself. True confessions, it made me mad. God always makes us feel valuable and loves to restore our dignity. I am passionate about helping people restore their dignity and value. If there is anything that can make me mad quick, it is to see someone devalue another person. It is never right. None of us have that privilege. If God almighty calls us by name and is kind to us, who are we to not do the same to others?

     Scripture tells us in Psalms 8 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, therefore, it is imperative that we treat others with respect and kindness. I think it is interesting that the people Jesus rebuked  in the New Testament were the Pharisees because the Pharisees were not interested in people’s hearts, they were just interested in the letter of the law.They were more concerned in how things looked to others instead of how people were treated.

     God always treats people with honor and value because He loves us. So how do you treat others? Do you make them feel less than you? Do you treat ALL  that you come in contact with the same?

      One of my favorite quotes is, “People may forget what you said, they may forget what you know, but they never forget how you made them feel.” This is a good quote to live by.
 I know people that are prejudice and treat those of another race different. Each and every person you and I encounter needs to be treated with respect. Respect is defined as deep admiration for someone. It does not matter if the person is young, old black, or white, each is fearfully and wonderfully made and made in the image of God.
Sunflower field in Uvalde- getting ready for dove season...

     When I was teaching school, one of the things I frequently dealt with was kids putting other kids down. Kids are notorious for making fun of others and pointing out others failures. I would frequently have a child or youth come to me complaining that someone in the class had made fun of them or tried to demean them. I would always talk to the offended and tell them that wounded people always try to wound other people. They have to step on others to make them feel better about themselves. Next  time you encounter someone that is condescending, remember that they are wounded individuals  that have to step on someone to make themselves feel better.

     `Scripture says in I Corinthians 13 that love never fails. Love is kindness in action. Love makes you kind to others. Kindness makes you likable and make others want to be around you. Do other like being around you? Do others feel better or worse after being in your presence? Do you radiate kindness? Do you point out the good in them or are you constantly highlighting their inadequacies?

      Proverbs 3:3 states, “Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]; Bind them [securely] around your neck,Write them on the tablet of your heart.” (AMP) We are encouraged to let mercy, kindness and truth define us, just like they define the character of God.

     Everyday we encounter people that are struggling. Often times we don’t realize it because we simply are not aware. What if you are the one that has the opportunity to make someone’s day? Kindness touches people’s hearts and reveals what is in our heart. Actually, kindness is a major part of the character of God. He is always kind. Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Again, kindness is love in action. And love never fails. 
     I was in the grocery store this past week and there is a man that has worked for the company in management a number of years. I’ve noticed several times that even though he is a supervisor, you see him showing his employees his respect and kindness bagging groceries right there with them. I admire that he is revealing God’s heart to his employees and showing them they are just as valuable as he is.Ephesians 6:9 states, 
Our grand babies
“And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” In the heart of God, all of us are precious, valuable, and dearly loved; therefore, that is how we should treat one another.
My baby...Price
     It does not matter if it is your boss, your spouse, the garbage collector or the janitor at your place of business, each needs to be treated with respect and with the same dignity. I can only imagine what our community would be like if all people treated each other with honor and respect. This requires honoring others and a desire to be like Jesus and to live as He lived. He lived a life of kindness caring more about people’s hearts than anything. Will you join me in looking for others you can be kind to and be a part of the healing process in their lives? Kerrville would be a better place if we were all made an effort to hang on to kindness and give it away to those we are around. 


Kathleen Maxwell is a native of the Hill Country, a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping others discover the joy of walking with God and their value. You can contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com and on her blog www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com




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Friday, July 1, 2016

Forgiveness Brings Freedom

Forgiveness Brings Freedom
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
Copyright July 2016

We live in a country founded on freedom but are you really living free?

I had a conversation not long ago with an old acquaintance I ran into at the grocery store. Our brief visit left me concerned for my friend’s personal freedom.

“It is so good to see you, how have you been?” I asked cheerfully.

“Oh fine, busy with grand babies and my kids,” she replied. 

A few minutes into our dialogue, she began to talk about how mad she was about something that happened years ago between her and someone else we both knew. She was still bitter and went on for a while about incident. 

It made me sad to see her heart and mind hanging on to the offense. As I  left her and in the days since our meeting, I have prayed for her to have the grace to forgive so she can be free.

Freedom in our personal lives is critical to a positive outlook on life and our physical well being.  Life happens and we often encounter those that betray us, are unkind, self centered, take advantage of us or those we love, just to name a few. This can open the door of hurt, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Unless that door is shut, we can lose freedom in our hearts, unless we forgive. 

Forgive means to cancel or pardon a debt, to stop feeing angry or resentful of someone for an offense. Almost 30 years ago, there were several people that betrayed me. The hurt was real and the pain was deep and cut to the core of my being. I had read the Bible and knew I needed to forgive but really did not feel like it. I was mad. It did not seem to matter where I went in my hometown, I ran into my offenders. It did not matter if I went to the grocery store, church, a party or the basketball court, they were there. I remember sitting in my vehicle in tears at the gym because once again, Iran into them  and it pricked the pain that was in my heart. I sat there and asked God, “Why on earth do I keep running into them?” God’s simple answer to me was, “Kathleen, I am giving you the opportunity to forgive.” I sobbed a little more and then realized God loved me and wanted me free from the pain. I could keep pulling the victim card or I could choose to forgive.

Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV) Luke 6:37 states, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV)


We forgive because we need forgiveness for our sins. I knew I was not perfect and needed forgiveness from God, however, I was struggling with my feelings. I did not feel like forgiving and kept putting it off until I felt like it. I finally realized that forgiveness is a choice and God in his mercy kept giving me the opportunity and reminder I needed to chose his way, not mine.

I was honest with God and simply prayed, “God, I don’t feel like forgiving but I choose it as an act of my will to forgive  because you said to do it.” That was the beginning of the process of forgiving.

Forgiveness is not a one time event. Often times, it is a process. The greater the hurt or betrayal, the longer the process can take because we have more pain to work through. The key is committing to the process and the good news is God will help us. 

From the day at the basketball court and my surrender to God, each time I would encounter those that caused the hurt or replay the video in my mind, I would chose to forgive again, and eject the video. It took months for me to be fully free, but I can honestly say, the forgiveness was worth it and God healed the hurt. I am free.

Forgiveness aligns us with trust in God. We do it because his word says to do it if we want forgiveness. We forgive for own sake, benefit and freedom. Who do you need to forgive so you can walk in freedom? Choose to do something good for yourself and forgive. 



Kathleen is a native of the Hill Country and is a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping people discover their value and worth. Contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com or visit her blog on www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com




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Friday, June 17, 2016

Healing for your heart this Father's Day



Healing your heart on Father’s Day
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
June2016
Copyright


My father, Landon Jones
“You’re a good good father, that’s who you are, who you are - and I’m loved by you, that’s who I am, who I am,” were the words of a popular Christian song my little two year old granddaughter, Collins, sang as we walked to the park a few days ago. I had to smile wondering what she understood about those words. Her parents have been teaching her about Jesus and God, however, I also know she is two and dearly loves her daddy, so I’m not sure she comprehended the true meaning of the song. The sweetness of her voice singing these words were music to my ears.

Collins is the daughter of my oldest son, Austin, and she definitely has her red headed 6’4” daddy wrapped around her finger.  My son adores his little girl.

Many will celebrate Father’s Day in a couple of days and honor their earthly fathers, stepfathers and grandfathers. I was taught from a young age to honor my dad, so Father’s Day, for the majority of my years, has been a day of celebration.

In my years of ministry, social work and personal life, I also know that Father’s Day can also be difficult for many. Unfortunately, there are men that have either abandon their responsibility as dads, abused their children with their words, actions, or emotionally withdrawn themselves. These interactions between father and child can produce wounding and painful memories that many carry into adulthood.

For others, losing a good father to illness, cancer, suicide or a sudden death can make Father’s Day difficult.  My father died at age 84 and I know I missed him terribly the first June he was gone from this earth. He was not perfect, made mistakes, but I always knew he loved me and he took care of me. I still miss him…

When my three children were growing up, I made sure they honored their  dad on  Father’s Day by getting  up early, fixing him breakfast and either buying or making him a special present. The first year he was not with us on Father’s Day was painful for all four of us.

God is so gracious to provide for us in every circumstance of life. He is truly a good father.  Psalms 27:19 says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.” (NIV) 

This is a powerful promise for those of us that have lost our dads by either death or life circumstances.  My dad was a good godly man and when he was gone, I thanked God for this scripture, as I knew God would be that council I needed, protector, and the father that he would never forsake me.

God, as our father, also promises to bind up the broken hearted. 

Isaiah 61:1 says “…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim freedom for the captives…” (NIV) Ask God to heal your heart and be a daddy to you. In doing so, you give a gift to yourself, as well as your father and open the door to a wonderful relationship with God as your father.

 If your father has wounded you in any way, I challenge you to take steps toward your own personal freedom this Father’s Day and choose to forgive him. If that is too painful, just ask God to help you to be willing to choose to forgive your dad for how he has hurt you or abandon you.

When my three children were growing up, I made sure they honored their  dad on  Father’s Day by getting  up early, fixing him breakfast and either buying or making him a special present. The first year he was not with us on Father’s Day was painful for all four of us.

Last dance...
Ephesians 6:2 says, “Honor your father and mother-which is the first commandment with promise-that it may go well with you and you may enjoy a long life here on earth.”  (NIV) This scripture tells us that it is a commandment to honor our father. This can be difficult for people when a dad has dishonored their children through abuse. I have had numerous people ask me about this passage and how to honor their father, when they have been hurt deeply by their dad.  I think some ways you can honor in these situations is to honor their position, honor that they gave you life, be respectful and say “yes sir, no sir.” Scripture does not say we have to like everything they do or say but it does command us to honor them.  

If you have dishonored your father, you can always ask God to forgive you and if your dad is living, ask his forgiveness also. I am so thankful that God loves to forgive us when we have done wrong.

God is the one father that is always there, always has time to listen, absolutely adores you, sees your potential, and constantly loves you no matter what you have done. Will you let him be your daddy?

This Father’s Day weekend, I ask the Lord to heal any misconceptions you have about God being a good father. I ask God to touch your heart and bring healing  where you have been  wounded by your dad.  I pray for grace to forgive your father of anything hurtful said or done to you and I ask our heavenly father to wrap his arms of love around you. I bless each father reading this article and ask God to give each of you a fresh understanding of his great love for you. May Father’s Day 2016 be a healing one for each of you.

Kathleen Maxwell is a native of the Hill Country,  a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping others discover the joy of walking with God and their value. You can contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com and on her blog www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com