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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

God's love never gives up on us

 God's love never gives up on us 
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
April 2017 copyright




A father's love for his little girl
 Several years ago I walked into the gym to workout  and noticed a man wearing a t-shirt that said, “Never give up.” God had spoken those words to me years ago when I was about to tell a client she had exhausted all the grace I had. “That was it; she was dismissed from participating in the program,” I thought. As I drove to her house and prayed, I felt God’s presence invade my vehicle and God firmly spoke to me and said, “Kathleen, never give up on people because I don’t.” I knew that if I did what I wanted to do, it would be contrary to what God wanted for this woman. I obeyed God and extended mercy and grace, with firm boundaries to this young woman. I treated her with love and respect. I am happy to say that years later she is highly successful and living a godly life. That experience taught me a valuable lesson that I live by today.
     The words, “never give up” on the man’s shirt  reminded me of how God never gives up on us. He never stops loving us or believing the best about us. I Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails.” (NIV) God loves us so much he gave his only son, Jesus, for us. God let go of what was dear to him so we could enjoy life abundantly no matter what. The beauty of the Easter story is that Jesus never gave up on God. Jesus’s love for his father never wavered, even as he hung dying.  I am sure he didn’t understand because how on earth could a good father allow such a thing? Loving isn’t always easy but it never fails.
     I Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter in the Bible and talks all about real genuine love for others and how we are to love. If I were a Bible translator, which I am not, I would translate it like this:

 “If I am a wonderful eloquent speaker but do not speak with kindness and a heart of love, I miss the drum beat and the all my notes are sharp and flat.
     If I am  smart, educated, and can see into the future; and if I believe in God so much I can move Mt. Everest, but do not daily love others, I might as well go back to bed and forget the day.
     If I am generous and give to the poor, if I sacrifice my body for others but don’t do it with the right motive, I have wasted my time and money.
    Real love never gets in a hurry, it waits and doesn’t push others. Selfless love is gentle and looks for what it can give; mature love makes others feel more important than oneself. it makes others feel valuable,important  and wanted and does not have a high opinion of oneself. A person walking in love, walks in humility.
     Love is not sarcastic or and does not put others down; it always looks for the best in others and sees the good in them and  getting angry is the exception, not the rule. Love does not keep remembering when others hurt them. It makes a conscious effort to put the hurt and bad memories behind them.
      Love does not go around telling of others failures, it covers their failures. Love tells the truth.
My sweet mother-in-law and step-daughter 
     Love does not ever quit. it believes and looks for the best in others, love always has hope for others and endures the roughest seas and the hottest deserts to make the relationship a good one.
     Love will help you win the race every time. You can loose your ability to do your talent, you can forget the things you studied for years, 
     None of us know everything and we need each other.
     When I was young, I could get by being immature, unforgiving and mad at others but it is time to grow up.
     At the end of the day, three things hang around, faith, hope and love. But you will be a winner in the eyes of God when you walk in love; love is all that matters.” 

      Real love takes sacrifice, it isn’t easy, but it is worth it. I challenge you to read I Corinthians 13 daily for a few weeks and let the words wash over you and speak to you. Ask God what he wants to speak to your heart about His love for you and how you are to love those around you.
     God and Jesus both demonstrated their love for us in the Easter story. Love, forgiveness  and overcoming are the basic message in Christ’s death and resurrection. Before his death, Jesus was asked a question in Matthew 22:36-39,”Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself.”
     All of us will die one day. What will really matter to God and others, is how we loved. Do you love God with all your heart? Do you love others well or do you need to keep practicing? Do you daily tell God you love him and tell others you love them with your actions and words? Pride is often what keeps us from telling others and God we love them.
      I challenge you to open your heart to more of God’s love for you and daily tell God you love Him. He wants to hear those words from you. Join me in daily telling those around you that you love them. They need to hear it. We all do. And never give up on loving others because God never gave up on you.


    

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Giving up judgement for Easter

Are you quick to judge or extend compassion?
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
copyright
March 2017



How do you see others?  Do you see their faults instead of the good about them? Are you quick to see someone and make a judgement about them and their situation instead asking God how he sees them? If so, you might need to take another look perhaps consider some new spiritual glasses and seeing with the eyes of God. 

 I Samuel is about a woman named Hannah, her husband Elkanah, Eli the priest, and Pininnah-Elkanah’s other wife. To set the stage if you have not heard the story, Pininnah had many sons and Hannah had none.  Yearly they made a trip to worship and make a sacrifice. I Samuel 1:5 says, “But to Hannah, Elkanah gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb.” ( NIV) What stood out to me is that Hannah

was dearly loved and her husband had great compassion for her. He did not love her for what she could give to him, he simply loved her. This is a good thing for any husband to consider. I am grateful for my husband that does a good job of loving me and my children.

Notice from the above scripture that GOD closed Hannah’s womb. God in his great wisdom had not allowed Hannah to conceive. For some reason, this was God’s design for Hannah for this season of her life.  I recently felt God say to me personally when I was questioning Him about something in my life, “Kathleen, when I design something, it is beautiful because I designed it.” Case closed, He is God and I am not. My opinion needed to change, not his.

I Samuel 1:6 says, “And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year.”(NIV) Pininnah was giving Hannah more grief than she already had. Hannah was already struggling with her identity as a woman, the grief of infertility and then the other woman rubs it in her face. Perhaps you have someone in your life like that.   I know I have struggled in my own grief at times and had people unknowingly, (at least I choose to believe they were not intentional) add more pain to my plate.  Pininnah was what I call Hannah’s grace grower. Hannah had a choice in how to react to her rival. Hannah’s name actually means “gracious.” I believe Hannah did not react in her flesh but allowed her grace grower to make her more gracious. Hannah used her problem to develop her character.
We can all learn from this example.


When I am gone from this earth, I want to be known as a woman that loved others well. I have a personal value statement that is, “I am what I love, not what loves me.” It is a decision that I have made that defines me. I have grace growers, also known as irritating people, in my life and sometimes I have preach to myself and say,“ Kathleen, you gotta love um.” It is my way of reminding myself that any other behavior is not acceptable for me. I have also been known to ask God “just give me five minutes in the flesh and I could handle this.” He never gives me permission, which is a good thing as I am sure I would regret it.
Spring Break with Ellis
I Samuel 1:10 says, “In bitterness of soul, Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” (NIV) Hannah went to the temple to pour out her grief to the Lord. She made a wise choice to go to church and worship in her grief, however, her grief was misinterpreted. The religious leader didn’t see what God saw. Eli made a quick judgement, thought Hannah was not in her right mind and thought she was drunk. At a time when she needed comfort and encouragement, he totally misunderstood the anguish of her soul. In Eli’s defense, how could he understand the pain of a woman’s barrenness? There are people that come to church, searching for help to get through another day.  This is a good reminder to all of us to ask God, “How do you see this person and how can I encourage them?” Everyone needs understanding and encouragement, not judgement.

Hannah responds to Eli’s accusation with, “Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of the great anguish and grief.” Not only was she heart sick that she could not have a baby but she was also being tormented by her rival and judged at church! Eli had no idea what was really going on in her life and misunderstood her. His judgement made her feel worthless when she was already struggling with her identity as a woman. This had to feel like insult to injury as Eli was someone in the church she trusted. 

As Christians, we must be very careful to not judge others, especially when we have not been in their shoes or experienced what they are going through. In Luke 6:37, Jesus tells us, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” If you love Jesus, seek to understand and love those He puts in your path. Too often, assumptions are made,  judgement passed or correction quickly given when when what people really need is understanding and love. We are called to love.

I believe God is calling all of us to a higher standard of stepping back in our spirit and asking God how he sees someone instead of making a quick assumption with our natural eye and out of our limited experience. What Hannah really needed was encouragement, compassion and understanding. I know that sometimes in my hurried life, I have been guilty of making a judgement from a snapshot of someone and giving a quick statement when I should have asked God what I could say to encourage and comfort someone. Jesus was moved with compassion and understanding. When we see someone with the eyes of God, we see them with affection, we see the best in them, and see them through the eyes of love.

Collins-my grand girl!
Our community is a retirement community and we have many widows and widowers. It is imperative that we comfort and encourage  those that have lost someone they love as as they attempt to make a new life and redefine themselves as single individuals. I was widowed for three years and I have had people comfort me and encourage me as I picked up the pieces of my life. I am forever grateful for those friends.  Like Hannah, I have also felt at times, my grief was misunderstood by those that have not experienced the loss of a mate or the depth of my personal anguish. The misunderstanding has added more pain for me to dig through at a time when I really didn’t need anymore pain. 

The story of Hannah has a beautiful ending. The Lord remembered Hannah and she conceived and gave birth to a mighty man of God named Samuel. Hannah’s job in all this was to keep a right heart and look to God. This is good advise for all of us.

We must first see ourselves as God sees us before we can see others as God sees them. When we see as He sees we give people the power to become better people. We see the treasure in them instead of what is wrong in them. Imagine how different our community would be if we saw and treated people like God. The Hill Country would be amazing!

As Easter approaches, how about giving up judgement of others? Will you repent today of making a quick snapshot judgement of others and ask God to reveal truth to you? Will you join me in looking for those you can comfort and encourage instead of misunderstanding them and judging them? I can’t wait to see what our community will become. It will be amazing!




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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Peaceful and trusting or anxious and shaken?

Peaceful and trusting or anxious and shaken?
March 2017
copyright
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie

If we were to look at your “trust thermometer” how would it read? Would it show that you are a peaceful trusting person or anxious and shaken person? Who can you trust these days? Life is full of trials and hardships and all of us are just one phone call from being on our knees. The days we live in are full of bombings, Isis, the threat of diseases, change in our government and job layoffs.  It is imperative that we have someone to depend on and the only one I can think of for that job is Jesus. 

I will never forget the day I got the phone call from the neurologist concerning my mother. My mom’s processing and ability to do normal tasks had rapidly faded away and there were no answers. Finally, some tests were ordered, MRI of brain and other tests, and as I stood in my parent’s kitchen, the phone rang. I answered it, “Jones residence, this is Kathleen.” “Kathleen, we have the results of your mom’s tests,” the doctor stated. I quickly grabbed the brown paper bag that was near and a pen so I could write the results down.

“The damage to her brain is irreversible.” the doctor continued. I wrote the words down but simply could not comprehend what I was hearing. “What do you mean irreversible?” I asked in disbelief and hoping I had the wrong definition of irreversible. The doctor continued to explain that unless there was a miracle, my mom would not get better in her ability to do normal tasks as the area of her brain that processes information had been permanently damaged. Mother was only 65 at the time and had been so full of life before she got sick with the rare  disease. Suddenly, my world shook as I tried to absorb the news.

At that moment, I had to make a decision. What would I do? I had too much on my plate to panic and knew anxiety was not my friend. I remembered Proverbs 3:5 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” As I began to trust God with what I could not understand, he was faithful to direct me and lead me in the days ahead.

Trust is the firm belief in the ability and strength of someone or something. God is the only one I know that I can really trust. I have lots of great friends but God is the one constant friend that is always there.

Col. 1:17 says, “He is before all things and in him all things hold together.” (NIV) I wish I would have read this passage years ago to hang on to,  but now I know it is true. I saw the hand of God hold things together when I did not have a clue how I would balance taking care of both of my parents, work, be a mother to my children and wife to my husband. Step by step, God walked me through that time of uncertainty and trial and held all things together for me. The phone call from the doctor was 13 years ago and was the soil God use to grow peace and trusting in trusting God in my life.

It was imperative that when anxious thoughts came, and all the questions I did not have answers for yet, that I pushed those thoughts away and focused on God’s ability and love for me. I had to literally speak out loud, “God I trust you and I will walk in peace,” as I needed to hear those words. 

David in the Bible spoke those similar words when he was in crisis. Psalms 56:3-4 states, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise-in God I trust and am not afraid.” (NIV) Where do you put your trust?

Psalms 62:1-2 tells us where we can find rest for our souls in times of difficulty and who we can depend on. It says, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (NIV) God always provides what we need, it is just up to us to access the provision and use it.

Truett practicing the scriptures I taught his mom  when she was little
My friend, whatever you are going through, marriage difficulty, financial trouble, letting go and starting a new life, loss of a job, God is trustworthy and wants you to take his hand and walk with you. There is purpose in your trial and growing in trust reaps a wonderful crop of peace that you have a God given right to enjoy and then give to others.





Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie is a native to the Texas Hill Country, a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping people discover their value and worth and God’s love, You can reach her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com or visit her blog at www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Waiting on the God of grace, compassion and justice

The value in the process of waiting on God
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
February 2017
copyright


One of my grand girls-Miss Ellis 
I have always been the type of person that operates from a list and likes to get things done yesterday. This has served me well in many areas of my life but also has been a challenge in situations where I have seen I needed to wait on God’s timing of things and for him to reveal truth.

I remember over 20 years ago, a visiting speaker came to our church. He made a statement to me, “you like things done today-TODAY-and God wants you to wait for his timing and his season.”  I knew God was speaking to me and wanted to change something in me. I began to pray for God to help me wait on Him. 

Since that day I have learned to surrender to God’s timing and have grown in waiting on God. I am not perfect at it, but I am much better than I was. I have learned the value of the process in the journey. In the process, we have the opportunity to become who God intends for us to be. The process makes you rich and we get the opportunity to grow in our faith and character.

I have encountered numerous situations since that time to practice waiting on God to fix situations where there had been an injustice, misunderstanding or for God to reveal the truth about something. 

Having fun with my husband
One of those situations included a colleague at work. I was doing some work in a different community and as I showed up to work, I knew something was just not right. My colleague was a nice lady and I liked a lot about her, but things were not adding up and were out of order in the business. I continued to pray for her, her family and the difficult situation I was in. I notified those above me in the chain of command of the concerns I had, however, I did not seem to be heard. God seemed to be showing me to love her, practice my kindness and extend grace.

As time went on, things got even more challenging and difficult and this person even accused me unjustly of some things.  All I could do was wait on God to reveal truth and redeem the situation.

Isaiah 30:18 became  promise I hung on to and it states, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait on him.” (NIV) Often times in the middle of a trial, we can wonder where God is, does he hear us and will he answer. God was very gracious to me, gave me the grace I needed to endure and taught me some things about being gracious to others. He was my comforter and I felt his compassion and love. 

Over a year went by and I had moved on to other projects. The rest of the story is that truth eventually came out and the woman is no longer with the business. God was faithful to me and others saw that the concerns I had stated previously were correct. He truly is a God of justice!
sometimes waiting on God can feel like the desert 


I learned much in that season and the process of waiting changed me. He loves you just as much as he loves me and I want to encourage you to trust that God has compassion for you, is gracious and will give you the grace you need and will redeem things in life. Keep looking to Him and asking what you can glean in the process of waiting and I pray you will come to know Him in a greater way.




















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Monday, February 20, 2017

Loving one another and difficult people

Loving Difficult People
copyright January 2017
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie

As long as I can remember, I have heard the phrase - love one another. I heard it in Sunday School as a little girl but it was not until I was much older that I understood this commandment and its vital importance in everyday living. Why did Jesus give us this commandment? I think one reason was he knew we would encounter difficult people and would need the reminder.

Apline, Texas
Loving one another is a commandment that defines us if we choose to obey. John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV) God’s love for us is unconditional, constant, and always there. When we believe and receive God’s love for us, we have a responsibility to give it away.  Is your love for others you encounter just like God’s? 

There have been a few times in my life I just have not felt love for a person due to hurt or disappointment. I simply did not feel like loving like God does. 1 John 3:23, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” (NIV) God never requires something of us without His provision for us. I have learned to quickly and constantly ask God to give me his love for certain people. Loving the unlovely can only be done well when we acknowledge our need for God’s grace to help us. When we ask for His help, we align ourselves with God and his love. We become a conduit for love to flow. Who do you need to ask God to give you his love for?

Romans 13:8 states, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”   We never arrive at the finish line when it comes to love. We will always have a responsibility to love those around us. There are ten commandments, but if we simply remember to love, we fulfill all of the other nine commandments without thinking. Simplify your life and choose to love.

Alpine, Texas
Where does real love come from? I John 4:7 tells us it come from God. That is freeing to me. I do not have to beat myself up when I do not feel like loving, however, my job is to open my heart to receive His love for me and then I can give it away. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (NIV)  I have prayed many a times, “God, I open my heart to you. Fill me with your love for ________.” In loving the irregular people in our lives, we get the opportunity to know more of God’s love and who He really his. Love is the core of who God is and it is in our DNA too as his kids.


When we choose to obey and love, we choose freedom for ourselves. As we celebrate the freedom our forefathers provided and Christ provided, let’s follow in their footsteps and lay down our lives and love one another...then enjoy the benefits!