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

Monday, January 15, 2018

Widows and widowers are special to the heart of God

Widows and widowers are special to the heart of God
January 2018
copyright
     
Recently I received a phone call from a woman whose world was suddenly turned upside down.

 “Kathleen, this is Susie,” she stated. “I need your help.” she continued.

 “Susie, is everything okay?” I asked. “No, Bill is dead. He was traveling and I received a phone call that he collapsed and he is gone,” she said in a state of shock. 

“No!” I responded with a loud voice. I did not want anyone to experience the pain I had experienced as a widow. 

Since that day when my friend called for help, I have had numerous other acquaintances  that have lost their mate.  I hate it for all of  them and my heart is tender towards them.

None of us have any guarantees in life. Bad things  happen to good people and it is in our broken places, that God’s love, grace and hope peeks in to see us through the pain of life. In the mean time, we all have our place in history.

 For some of us, it is to push through with all we have in us to live life again. For others, we have a mandate that are the basics of Christianity to help those that are in distress or hurting.

 If you have lost a mate and are a widow or widower, take heart. There are some wonderful promises in scripture. If you have not, you have a wonderful opportunity to practice the basics of Christianity, “look after the fatherless and the widow in their distress.” James 1:27 (NIV)

Widows and widowers are dear to the heart of God. It is easy to feel alone, lonely, and wonder where you fit, now that you are no longer married. All these feelings are natural as part of you, is now gone. Scripture says that when we marry, we become one; therefore, when a mate leaves this earth, part of you is missing. The unwanted  journey of discovering who you are now without your mate, your place in society as a single person, begins.

In my own three year journey as a widow, several scriptures became very special in that season. 

Psalms 68:5 proclaims God’s character and says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing.” (NIV) The basic nature of God is compassion for those that find themselves in ashes.  



God’s heart is tender for those that are fatherless, and for many children, they are fatherless for a variety of reasons; abandonment, prison, addiction, just to name a few. God will defend the widow and be a daddy to the fatherless and He cares for those that are lonely. 

I have personally seen how God has defended me in situations when I did not  have a husband to protect me and look out for my best interest. Knowing I had a special place in the heart of God gave great comfort.

 Another passage that is a favorite of mine is Psalms 146:9, which says, “The Lord watches over the alien, and sustains the fatherless and widow...” (NIV)

 When I first read this passage, I looked up the word sustain to find out it’s meaning. Sustain means to prolong, keep up, strengthen or support physically or mentally. There were times I did not think I could make it, having the responsibility of everything all alone after 30 years of sharing everything with a partner. It was not that I could not do tasks that my husband did, for me it was balancing everything alone from work, single parenting, finances, caring for my elderly parents, the house, the yard and the trash, etc. I just wanted the trash fairy would drop by my house and take the trash out! Sometimes, a kind neighbor will bring my trash cans back to my house and those acts of kindness showed me God’s provision and how He sustained me. 

Isaiah 1:17 is another promise and reflection of the heart of God. It states, “Seek justice, encourage the  oppressed, Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (NIV) Again we see what God has to say about what is important to Him. If it is important to God, it should be important to me.

 If you are widowed, you can hang on to how special you are to the heart of God. There were many times I have prayed and asked God to send someone to plead my case and help me. 

I had a situation when my dryer broke and was having to go through a lot of red tape to get it fixed, as it was under warranty. I asked God for help and  the assistant to the president of the company, over saw my case and came to my defense after weeks of waiting. Ask God to raise up those that will defend you.

 Being a retirement community, there are plenty that need us to fight for, defend and plead their case. How about you? Do you encourage those that are oppressed by sin, discouraged by circumstances, do what is right in business, help the child whose dad is in prison or parent has abandoned them thru divorce or death? Do you help the widow in your neighborhood or church? Have you even asked what you might do to help in some way? 



Exodus 22:22 is  another reflection of God’s heart. It proclaims, “Do not take advantage of a widow or orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused and I will kill you.” (NIV) It is a good thing we live by grace and not law anymore! This scripture shows us that God hears the cry of the orphan and the widow. His heart is  particularly soft towards them and is a just God. He does not tolerate treating them unjustly. 

James 1:27 gets right to the point about what is important in our Christian walk. It says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and  faultless is this; to look after the orphans and widows in their distress...” (NIV) It is just that simple. 

Sometimes in our busy world, we forget to to the basics of life. We can get caught up in all our ministry goals, busy lives, bible studies, committees etc. and forget what God says is pure and what is right. 

Do you need to help in your church or neighborhood? Is there a foster child, a child without a mom or dad, a widow or widower that needs you to include him or her in your lunch or holiday plans? It is something to think about. Looking after these that are right outside our back door is important.

Jesus said,  “I have come that you may have life and life to the full.”  If you are a widow or widower, you have a God given right to live life to the full again. Starting over isn’t easy but God is right there, to help and guide. 

My late husband has been gone eight years now and I remarried five years ago. I have a full and fun life but will never forget the kindness of God and people during my three hard years of being a widow. I am forever grateful for all I learned in that season of my life.
    
We are very blessed to have plenty of opportunities to practice the heart of God to the orphans and widows that are down the street, around the corner, in places of business and church.  Look around and let’s  get busy in the mission field God has placed before us. Will you join me?


Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie will be speaking Tuesday, January 23rd from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Dietert Center on “Thriving through seasons of grief”  You can register for the class by calling 830.792.4044 or at www.clubed.net


Kathleen is a native of the Hill Country. 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

Friday, December 22, 2017

Loving difficult people during the holidays

Loving difficult people during the holidays
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
December 2017
copyright


About 27 years ago, I was a busy mother of three, running my own business, and preparing for the Christmas holidays.  There just did not seem to be enough time to get all my shopping done, prepare for holiday travel and work. To complicate things, I was not real thrilled about where we would be spending Christmas because quite frankly, there were just difficult people we were going to be around that particular holiday.

I remembered the last Christmas we went up north, my little girl was 4 years old, all decked out in her Christmas attire with her big red bow. She was absolutely adorable and had such a sweet spirit. One family member, 6’4” tall with tattoos all over his body and long uncombed hair, came up to my little girl and picked her up and in a gruff voice said, “I’m Santa Clause!”

Her froze and her eyes got as big as saucers and she looked at me with horror. I quickly walked across the room and comforted her, as my husband’s relative chucked and walked around the corner, delighted he had scared her. 

No, I was not looking forward to the travel and feeling like I had to be on guard all the time…

As I was praying for our upcoming trip, I felt God ask me a question.

“Kathleen, if I asked you to go to the mission field this Christmas would you go?”

“Yes Lord, I would,” I said excitedly.

Then I felt Him say, “Prepare your heart and pray for your trip just like you would if I were sending you on a mission trip to a foreign country.” 

“I am sending you to serve and love those you will be around,” I felt Him say.

All of a sudden, I felt humbled and challenged about my trip. My circumstances had not changed, but my perspective had.

“God, give me your heart for these people,” I prayed, just as I would if being sent abroad for a mission trip.

Matthew 1:21 states, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (NIV)

One of the main reasons Jesus was sent to this world was to love the unlovely, the difficult people, also know as, sinners or those who mess up. Really, that is you and me and all of mankind, if you think about it. 

Some people are just harder to love than others. We all have them in our lives and I believe they can help us change and become better people as we choose to love and accept the tough job, just like Jesus.

Jesus was sent to the earth with a tough job. He was sent not only to take away our sin but to love us, just as we are. When we receive the gift of Jesus, His love and forgiveness, we are to then give that love and forgiveness to those around us. 

I John 4: 11 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (NIV)

I love this scripture because when we really grasps that God loves us dearly, we get the new job description of loving those around us and we grow in becoming like Jesus! 

II Corinthians 5:20 tells us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God, God made him who had no sin to be sin for use, so that in him we might become the rightness of God.” (NIV)

As my attitude about the Christmas trip changed, so did my heart. God wanted to use me as his ambassador and I am happy to report, it was a good holiday. I looked for ways to serve those I was around and for opportunities to love them Seeing the trip as a mission trip, made all the difference in the world to me. The fact that God had hand picked me for this assignment gave me a new purpose that Christmas.

I knew God was with me in my assignment and I was not alone. 

Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” - which means, “God with us.”

Having God with us in all circumstances of life is one of the best gifts ever. I was a Christian for many years before I realized the true benefit of never being alone and drawing on the strength and friendship Jesus provides, especially in challenging times.

God never gives us an assignment without providing what we need. The key is keeping our heart right. 

This Christmas, I challenge you to see those difficult relatives, difficult people as your mission field and love them. Show them the real meaning of Christmas and do not forget, God is with you.





Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie 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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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Holidays-The pain, the promise and the adventure

Holidays-The pain, the promise and the adventure
December 2017
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
Copyright

West Texas beauty
Christmas and the holidays are a time many families gather together for fun and to celebrate, however, for many, the holiday season may be difficult. The holidays only remind them of what is NOT in their lives anymore. 

Grief often shows up unexpected during this season, triggering the pain that might have remained hidden the rest of the year.

The good news is God sent Jesus to be with is in our pain. I speak from experience… The things I have learned from walking through grief have been some of the best teachers in my life.  One of the things I have learned is no matter what has occurred, God has held my hand and was full of compassion. 

Matthew 1:23 tells us that Jesus was sent to be with us. “The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel-which means, “God with us.” (NIV)

 Psalms 73:23 also tells us, “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; You hold you by the right hand.” (NKJV) 

These scriptures gave me great confidence, as I went through my first holidays without my late husband, my mother and my father and other family members I’ve lost. Knowing God was with me and cared about my pain has also expanded my compassion for other people and these lessons are priceless.

 God cares when our heart hurts and wants to heal us. 

 Psalms 34:17 states “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  

Alpine
This is a promise we can hang on to. It may not feel like God is close in our pain but the truth is, He has never been closer.  

As I have prayed the simple prayer of, “God, I give you my pain and the hurt in my heart,” I have experienced Him guiding me, encouraging me, and His kindness, has made the above scripture very real. 

Too many times, our feelings can lie to us in tough times, and we can feel like God has forsaken us. In these times, we must believe the truth of God’s word; He is near, He cares, He wants to deliver us from our pain and He is good. We must press through the negative feelings and give him the broken pieces of our lives.

If you are brokenhearted over losing a loved one, have been recently divorced, or experienced another loss, let me encourage you to ask God to open your eyes to see His nearness and to encourage your heart. I have ask Him in my life and it works! The truth is you are precious to Him and He cares and will heal you as you look to him.

Barrett-my stepson and me
Five years ago, both my parents passed away. As the first Thanksgiving without them approached, I began to realize that this would be my first holiday in my life without my mom, dad or my adult children. At first, I was sad but then I ask God to give me His perspective of the holiday and help me to see it as He saw it.

I felt God showed me that I needed to look at things differently, to look forward to the adventure that was ahead and what good things He had in store for me. I felt God say to love those He put in my life during the holiday as I would my parents and children. All of a sudden, the approaching holiday began to look different. 

That holiday, we went to Alpine, Texas. My husband has hunting business so we spent Thanksgiving at a ranch in west Texas with several mule deer hunters and my stepson, Barrett. There were many blessings and new experiences that I enjoyed as I embraced the adventure and the new assignment I had, to love those around me.

I challenge you to ask God to help you see the approaching Christmas season with His perspective. Looking for the adventure makes you look forward to what could be ahead.

 You may not be grieving this Christmas season, but God may want to use you to be His arms of compassion and love to others. Often people that are grieving just need people someone to affirm their pain and loss and encourage them. Perhaps you will be the one God uses to bring healing to someone hurting. 

Life is very different and difficult without those that have been a huge part of our lives. It is challenging and hard to go on without them. Love and compassion will always win and bring healing. Love never fails. Sometimes, a hug and kind words mean the world to a grieving person. 

God promises to heal broken hearts. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” This is your promise to hang on to this Christmas.

Give God your broken heart, and begin to thank Him for the healing that will come this holiday season.  Look forward to who God wants to be for you, knowing that Immanuel is right there with you and focus on the new adventure that is ahead. 

I ask God to touch your heart this holiday season and make it  a special one. And remember, you are not alone.




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. She welcomes your  contacting her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com or visit her blog at www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Adapting to your husband and investing in your marriage

Adapting to your husband and investing in your marriage
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
November 2017
copyright

From September 1st until the first weekend in November,  I trade my heels, dresses and pearls for snake boots, gun, jeans and camouflage. I also trade my purse for a bird bag. I  spend every weekend riding around in a pick-up truck with my husband, checking on our dove hunters and in the evenings, we are entertaining our lodge hunters. 

This has been my life in the months of September and October for the past five years and at first, it was quite a change for me. I have loved the adventure of learning new things and have had to learn to adapt to my husband, Stephen. He has had quite a few changes being married to me too…

Good marriages do not just happen. They take work. My mom told me years ago, “Kathleen, if you are not working on your marriage, you are working against it.” I try to be intentional on looking for ways I can invest in my relationship with my husband. How are you working on your marriage?

Spending quality time with your mate is very important to keep the relationship alive and growing. We live in such a hectic society, however, it is vital for a husband and wife to take time for just the two of them. Developing a good marriage also takes effort, and a willingness to put your spouses needs ahead of your own.

I was married 30 years to my late husband, Joe. Three years after he was gone, I met Stephen and realized when we were talking about marriage, I could not put the same grid on our relationship as I had in my previous marriage. I had to study Stephen, learn about him, and learn how to be his wife. One of my constant prayers is to be the wife Stephen needs. 

Ephesians 5:22 says, “You wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your husbands, as you submit yourselves to the Lord, for the husband is the “head” of the wife in the same way Christ is head of the Church and savior of the body.” (Phillips version)

I think it is important for a wife to study her husband. Learn what is important to him, what he likes and dislikes, what makes him feel loved and respected. Men are different and this scripture is telling each of us as wives, to adapt to our own husband. Even basic jobs require studying and learning, and yet somehow, many people get married without really learning what marriage is all about and the God given roles of husbands and wives. 

According to Siri, the word adapt means, “to make something suitable for a new use or purpose; modify, become adjusted to new conditions.”

My late husband was an investment banker that wore a coat and tie each day, pretty much worked 8-5, enjoyed spending weekends at home doing yard work. My husband Stephen, is a self made man, owns several businesses, most days wears jeans and boots, a cowboy hat and his work schedule varies from 6:00 a.m. some mornings and his phone rings sometimes late in the evening. Needless to say, I had some adapting to do when I remarried in 2012.

Stephen is a very hard working man and he loves to play as hard as he works. He is not the kind of guy that likes to sit around all weekend and watch TV. When we first got married, I had to adjust and adapt to him, by being ready to go and do something most weekends. We are usually hunting, fishing, visiting with our friends, kids and grandkids, attending events, church, etc. I feel it is important at this stage in life that we find things we can do together to build our relationship. 

Men need respect and a women need to feel loved and cherished. One way I try to show my husband respect, is by really looking him in the eyes when we are talking. That is important to him and I’ve had to learn that. Another way I try to show him respect is by getting off the phone quickly when he comes in from work. I want him to know he is more important than anyone else in my life. I feel it honors him and shows him respect. What are some ways you need to respect your husband?

I love how The Message version states Ephesians 5:22. It says, “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife, the way Christ does to his church. not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.” (MSG)

Submitting is not being a door mat. It is important for a wife to give her husband input on matters. I like to look at it as submitting my ideas to him because our marriage is a partnership as well as a covenant and  commitment. He is good about listening to my thoughts on matters. There are times I may not agree with Stephen and I share that to him. If I feel he is not listening to me, I have found, God can change is mind much easier than I can. Prayer is my best friend in situations where we do not agree.

One of my favorite prayers when we do not agree is, “God change my heart or his.” This puts us in a win-win situation. I have seen God change my heart at times and I have seen him change my husband’s heart too. God blesses unity and it is important in business, family life, and marriage.

Men, it is imperative that you cherish your wife and do what makes her feel loved. A woman that feels cherished and love will bend over backwards for her husband. What can you do today that will make your wife feel loved and cherished?

Praying together is also great building block in a marriage. It brings two people together for a common cause. I am not talking about long amounts of time, even a few minutes each day in prayer together is powerful. Sometimes, Stephen and I are in different towns due to work commitments, however, we usually pray together on the phone. Praying with him, lets me know what is on his heart and mind and vise versa. It is an investment in our marriage that alway reaps blessings in our lives and relationship.
  
Marriage is about two people walking to together in life and committing their lives to one another. Building your marriage is important and it takes time, communication and forgiveness. It is never too late to invest in your relationship with your spouse or begin to adapt to them. How can you invest in your marriage today? I challenge  you to begin today to look for ways you can sow into your relationship. Not only will you reap the benefits, but your children and grand children will benefit greatly too.

Strong marriages build strong families. Strong families make strong communities. I still have a lot to learn about my husband and adapting to him but I am working on it. Will you join me in investing in your relationship with your spouse? It might take a little time to see the results of your investment, however it will be worth it. Today is a great day to adapt and invest.



Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie is a native of the Hill Country, educator, 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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Monday, November 20, 2017

Giving thanks when things seem to be going wrong


Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
November 2017
Copyright


“How on earth do I give thanks when I feel like life is so difficult right now and painful,” I muttered to myself as I pondered everything going on in my life. 
I was a tired mother of three children, a busy business owner with 250 clients, active in the church and community and my marriage was not doing great. I was exhausted, to say the least.

A day or two after I said the above question, my baby got pneumonia. This generated extra care for my little one, frequent breathing treatments he despised and would scream through, as I tried to be a good parent. 

A few days into the pneumonia battle, my daughter spent the night at a friend’s house and came home with lice. This created even more work for me, as if taking care of a house and three children was not enough. The next day, the school called and said my oldest son had pink eye!

“Surely God understood that I had enough on my plate and did not have time to be thankful,” I said to myself as I tended to my tasks.

The truth is, God did understand and He wanted to help me overcome the adversity I was facing. Some days in our life on this earth are just awful. He does not engineer difficult circumstances just so He can produce good; however, He works within us and through us to bring us to a better place. We are in Christ no matter what is happening in our lives and we just have to tap into that place with Him.

“Help me Lord,” I prayed. I knew God was the only one I could depend on.

The next morning, I opened my Bible and began reading II Corinthians 2:14, which states, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and though us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” (NIV)

If you read the first part of the chapter, things were not easy for Paul, however, Paul had a confidence in God’s ability to overcome his challenges. I needed that and I needed it yesterday!

Several words stuck out to me as I read and reread this verse.

  • thanks
  • lead
  • always
  • triumphal procession

I discovered, I had to do my part and that was give thanks. I  began to thank God for his ability to lead me to triumph. I also began to thank him for my kids, even though they all had physical battles and  I was exhausted and miserable. I began to thank God for his love for me. My heart began to change. Thanksgiving adjusts our attitude.

Next, I began to look to God and believe that He would lead me. My job was to submit my day and my heart to Him and to follow Him. I began to thank him for my husband too, even though I was not real happy with him at the time.

“God, I thank you for my husband and kids, thank you for your love and thank you that you want to lead me and help me overcome,” I prayed. “I choose to believe you always work things together for my good and I look to your ability, not my own,” I continued. Please note I did not thank God for the difficulties but for what I could be thankful for and put my trust in Him.

In the days and months that followed that Thanksgiving, the lice and the pink eye were gone from my house, even though these childhood plagues went through all three kids. My baby got over the pneumonia, however, he had to continue the breathing treatment for a while as he was sensitive to upper respiratory infections.

I continued to give thanks for my husband and God began to work in both of our lives, and I began to look to God to change things in our marriage, instead of me trying to change him. Our marriage began to heal and it started with my heart changing first.

Not long ago, I reread II Corinthians 2:14 and could see very clearly how God led me in triumphal procession, step by step. I had to smile at God’s faithfulness. 
Pop meets Grant

Yes, there are still difficult days in my life, however, I am real quick to give thanks and look for how God is going to lead me step by step to get the better of the situation. He is always there to lead me, I just have to follow.

The great news is when we partner with God, thank Him and lean on Him in difficult days, we are developing a testimony in our lives  and a confidence in Him. Others see that in our lives and are drawn to that fragrance. In the two days I have been working on this article, I have had four people text or call for prayer or encouragement. I know it is not me, but Christ in me they are drawn to.

Right now is a good time to thank God for something in your life and partner with Him. If you are having difficulty, ask Him to help you develop thankfulness in your life. We can always thank Him for being with us and helping us. We can ask Him to open our eyes to see how we can be changed and triumph. Get excited about the triumphal procession that is ahead!


Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie is a native of the Hill Country, educator, 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