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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Crisis At Christmas Is Nothing New

Christmas last year

Merry Christmas to all! I hope this finds you enjoying the season. It has been a fun and busy week for me with lots of adventure! 
My sister and her family are here for the holidays so life is busy with my 3 nephews and all the Christmas preparations. Children make life fun. Christmas day will be spent with my parents, Price, my sister and her family and Mal and Rob will come in sometime in the afternoon.
Below is the article that appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times this week.

Crisis Is Nothing New At Christmas
Kerrville Daily Times Article 
December 23rd, 2011
Kathleen Maxwell

Have you ever made plans and things just didn’t turn out the way you expected? I have to say there have been many things that haven’t turned out the way I had expected or planned. Two thousand years ago, things were not going the way Mary and Joseph had planned either. They were in love and engaged. I am sure, like most couples, they had held hands and chatted about their dreams together.
Suddenly an angel appeared to Mary and told her of another plan. This plan was one that actually put her in danger of much judgement and even possible death. It was not OK for a girl to be expecting without being married. From Joseph’s point of view, he had to really decide how much he loved and trusted Mary. Seriously, this story is a little out there; however, I believe it is true. God is not always predictable and doesn’t always do things the way we expect. I guess that is why it is called a walk of faith. God sent Jesus to be Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:23
When you think about it, what more could we really want in life other than for God to be with us in every situation in life. What an incredible gift! I found myself the other day in an unexpected situation that could have been quite intense but I had been singing earlier that morning, “Come let us adore Him.” That song kept ringing in my ears in the midst of the situation. I was at perfect peace. The focus of my day was adoring Him. I think the problem is that most of us don’t remember to use the gift that has been given in Jesus. We can be at perfect peace in any situation if we choose and hold His hand and make Him our focus. 
Let’s go back to the Christmas story. There was crisis in Bethlehem. Mary was expecting and wasn’t married. There was no place for them to stay when they arrived in Bethlehem to give birth. Joseph had to trust that Mary was being honest with him and then there is an order to kill all the babies under two in the neighborhood. Can you imagine if Obama declared to kill all the baby boys under two? It would certainly be a national crisis. We really don’t have anything to complain about.  
Maybe your crisis is different. Maybe it is a divorce you didn’t want. Perhaps it is the death of a loved one or someone you love is very sick. It could be a  financial crisis you are looking at. It might be that you have someone you love caught in an addiction and it is destroying your relationship. Crisis sometimes barges in unannounced and makes itself at home.
Mary chose to focus on God and the precious gift she was given that I am sure she didn’t understand. This is a good lesson for us. Focus on God in the midst of crisis is what will keep us moving through the crisis and give us peace. The alternative is to be overwhelmed by our circumstances. She didn’t have to understand, she loved God and focused on Him and loved Joseph. This is good advice. As believers, we often are way too judgmental and simply need to focus on God and love those he puts around us. Actually, Jesus came so we could not only have the capacity to love those that love us but to love those that don’t. We don’t have to understand or figure things out, we simply need to love as Jesus did. When we do that, our trust grows in our Savior. 
If we don’t focus on God in the midst of crisis, we will miss the gifts in the crisis. 
In the midst of any crisis there are blessings. The problem is we often have to look hard enough to find them. As I have journeyed the past three years watching my late husband battle cancer and then leave this Earth, I can say I have encountered crisis that, often times, felt like a nightmare after my father was hospitalized nine times in the 18 months that followed. There were times I wasn’t sure I was going to survive the trauma, but I kept my focus on God. It was all I had to hang on to. In the midst of all the disappointments, I have found numerous blessings and know God in a way I had never experienced in my 42 years as a Christian. I will have to confess, it has taken a discipline to focus on the gifts in my crisis and some days I haven’t done so well.
Often times at Christmas I give gifts and I wonder if people will like them, but God was pretty confident in the gift he gave. 
In Isaiah 9:6, 7 he tells about the gift of Jesus. He describes him as, “Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.” Wonderful counselor means Jesus is our go between. He goes between us and any problem we have. Mighty God means He is bigger than any problem we face. Prince of Peace says that we have a God-given right to walk in peace in any situation. Jesus came to be our Prince of Peace. That means we have an escort in any situation. A prince rules and escorts. For me personally, I often picture myself being escorted by Him and overwhelming peace comes over me.
Luke 1:37, Mary replied to God in the midst of her crisis, “Be it unto me, according to your word.” She said yes to God. She trusted Him. She embraced her trial, focused on Him and let God escort her thru the situation; then she discovered the most incredible gift. 
Can you follow Mary’s example? Can I? Have you accepted the gift of Jesus? It is a question we must all ask ourselves. If we do, we just might discover the most incredible gifts of life.


C

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday 2011





     "Rejoice in your past because it got you where you are today." This is a quote from Bob Jones and I love it. It has been a great way to reframe the challenging things of life. It is true. I was telling a friend yesterday that I will never be the same because of what I have walked thru. It has reshaped me and this is a good thing. 
Christmas past...Maxwell dog pile. Is that Austin on the bottom?
     This holiday will be different. Austin and Laura will not be able to come home and we will really miss them. Mal and Rob will be with his family Christmas Eve and until Christmas afternoon. Looks like it will just be Price and me to get all the stocking stuffers!  We will celebrate with my sister and brother and their  families at my parents home. Different seems to be the name of things for me but here we go! I will miss my big kids...
     This holiday season, I am so thankful for all of you that have walked with me thru life, held my hand when I needed it and prayed for me and my family. Thank you for your faithfulness and love and I pray blessings on you and yours.


Love That Overcomes Fear
Kathleen Maxwell
Kerrville Daily Times Article
November 10th, 2011

   The longer I walk with God, the more I realize I need a fresh revelation of His love for me. I think most of us could use an upgrade when it comes to comprehending God’s love for us. Scripture is clear about the connection between the love of God and fear. 
     I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love.But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who is fears is not made perfect in love.” (NIV) The more we live in an understanding of how radically loved we are, the more confident and secure we are.
      Fear torments and is like punishment. God’s heart for us as his kids is to be free to enjoy life and live secure in his love. I feel it is imperative that we treat fear as a robber or thief instead house guest. I think I was the queen of excuses guarding the fears I had in my life. Actually, I thought they were just a part of normal life until God began to gently challenge me and show me more about his love for me. Now when I realize I am afraid, timid or hesitant I ask God for a greater revelation of His love for me.
     One of the biggest fears many face, is the fear of the unknown. It often paralyzes people and keeps us stuck and from living a life of faith. In reality, life is full of the unknown. So many times we want a guarantee before we step into the unknown but the only thing we can really rely on in life is the love of God and the fact that he promises to be with us in life. This was something I learned when my mother was stricken with a debilitating rare disease. There were many days after she was ill that I was tormented by the unknown and the fear of loosing her. One of the blessings of her illness was I learned a very valuable life lesson; God is always with me. That is powerful and has given me an unshakable confidence.
       Hebrews 10:38-39 says, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (NIV) God’s heart is for his kids to live lives confidant and courageous. Actually, God rewards our confidence in him. Hebrews 10:35 says, “So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.” What a win/win situation for us!
     Fearless people give others confidence. Have you ever noticed that after watching a great movie when an ordinary person steps beyond all odds and wins, it makes you feel like you can overcomer too?  As we conquer our fears,our own fearlessness helps others walk out of their fears. Overcoming your own fears is not just about you but also about those God wants you to impact. We must see the bigger picture in overcoming our fears.
     What about another common fear, the fear of believing again? I remember years ago I went through a time when month after month there were major obstacles in my life. There were family heart aches, our new car was stolen, a close friend suddenly died, our baby had pneumonia, my children all got pink eye and then my daughter went to a slumber party and came home with lice! In the middle of all that, my marriage was difficult. When there was finally a break in the trials, I found it difficult to believe again. In God’s kindness, he slowly used these difficulties to tear down my self erected walls of protection. He showed me he was more than able to protect me and that I could trust his love for me. 
     Are you afraid to believe again? Maybe you are a captive to doubt and unbelief.Trial after trial can lead us to loose faith if we are not careful. That is when we need others to cheer us on to help us believe again and walk in faith. Sometimes we need others to pull us out of the trap of disappointments
     Another fear I  have battled is a fear of being hurt again. When we love like Jesus does, unconditionally, we open ourselves up to being hurt by others. That flies in the face of our logic to protect ourselves. Loving unconditionally is the way Jesus loves. Unconditional love says, “there is no condition you have to fulfill for me to love you.” Loving like Jesus also opens our hearts to hurt. It is easy to  hide behind the walls we erect to protect ourselves but what also happens, is those walls imprison us. The good news is that when we take down those walls and love unconditionally, we also open ourselves up to a freedom to love and be loved. 
     The problem with too many Christians is we preach the love of God but do not really live it in giving love or opening our hearts to it.  Jesus talked about those that would be great in the kingdom of God. He challenges us in Matthew 18:2-4, “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: I tell you the truth, unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like a child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Little children are open to love. Their hearts have a purity and they fully trust. Jesus admonishes us to be childlike, openhearted. 
     The problem we all face is we encounter sinful people, dishonest or insecure leaders,  spouses  that betray us and we build walls and pitch our childlike wonder and vulnerability to the wind.  The challenge for all of us is to humble ourselves and be vulnerable to love, and be loved. How childlike and vulnerable are you? 
     
     God’s healing is here for us when we realize we have self erected walls and repent of building them and not trusting God. Why not join me today in asking God to help you tear down your walls, love unconditionally as a little child, and ask him to restore our childlike  innocence to receive His love and unconditionally love others? We could be a powerful force of love and transform our community.
Kathleen Maxwell 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

Sunday, December 11, 2011

God Is With You In Your Grief and Pain

   


 It's the most wonderful time of the year...yes it is. The key is we have to keep looking for the wonderful. 
     One highlight this past week was that I was asked to speak to a Young Adult Class at my church. Seven of my current students from YouthBuild attended and I loved watching God touch their hearts. I also loved getting to be with another group of people from my church that I don't normally rub shoulders with. I also was invited to the CWJC Christmas Party and was able to stop by for a few minutes and see some of my former students. It warmed my heart to hear of how well some of them are doing. One graduating from nursing school, another the leader of an Officer's Wives Club in the Army, another's testimony of more freedom. Yea God! It was a blessing to attend.
      God continues to encourage me daily and reminds me of his goodness to me as I go through another holiday without Joe. I don't really know how people do without God.
     December 17th I will say goodbye to 51 and hello to 52...I honestly do not feel that old but my birth certificate says otherwise. 
     Below is an article that appeared in our local paper this Friday. I have heard from several grieving people that were touched by it. Somehow God continues to work me although at times I just look for energy to get through the day.
         
Fun Christmas Memories
                                    Kerrville Daily Times Article
                                                                        Kathleen Maxwell
                                                                     December 9th, 2011
     The holidays can often times be painful for those of us that have lost loved ones. Holidays can remind people of joyful times spent with those that are not with us anymore. Many can struggle with grief during the Christmas season that may have been swept under the carpet the rest of the year. 
     Grief  seems to barge in at the most unexpected times, I guess all the lights we have up in this season make grief think it too is invited to the celebration of the season. For example, the other day I was planning a holiday party and  talking to a woman in a local restaurant. The conversation began to change after we finished preparations and she asked me a question about marriage. I answered with, “Early on in our relationship...but right before our relationship ended...” All of a sudden the words I spoke brought tears to my eyes. I looked at her with tears beginning to spill from my eyes and said, “ Give me a minute,I have never used the words “our relationship ended.”  “It really ended.” I said again.
      I had said numerous times, “ My husband died”, ”Joe is gone”, “I am a widow.” but never “our relationship ended.” The words I used hit me like a ton of bricks.The relationship we shared had ended. My friend did nothing wrong in asking a question but my response triggered the pain that still lingers and the reminder that he would not be my escort to the event I was planning.
     I have learned to just let the tears roll and I don’t mind crying in public although it is not my favorite thing to do. Grief is a personal process and not a one time event. It takes time and it is best to just keep walking through it and let the tears roll. 
      The best thing you can do as a friend to someone grieving is share their pain. Hold their hand until it passes. Let them talk. I sat next to a woman older than my mother this week at a luncheon that lost her husband of 50 years. She just needed someone to understand her pain and the challenges she faced. She needed someones love to just help her thru the luncheon that was overwhelming.
     Often times grieving people can feel like God doesn’t care about their pain. This is not true. Numerous times in scripture God says He is near to the brokenhearted. Psalms 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” This life is full of pain and suffering but God did not leave us alone and knows exactly what we feel.
      God recently allowed me to experience the truth of Psalms 34. I was shopping at Costco in San Antonio and was missing Joe that day as we frequently shopped together for the holidays. A wave of grief had come and and I was just trying to catch my breath again. I get tired of the waves...  Suddenly a woman walked up to me and said, “I think you are the prettiest woman in this store.” 
     Perhaps she had forgotten her glasses in the car but I smiled gratefully, thanked her and walked on. I had never had anyone say something  like that. 
    All of a sudden I realized that was God speaking to me. I love to encourage others to know God or see him in everyday life. I quickly turned around to find her down the next row of groceries and said, “I just want you to know God used you to bless me. I am a recent widow after 30 years of marriage and my husband frequently told me he thought I was pretty. I miss those words.” 
     She replied, “I am so sorry you lost him. You are so young.” “I lost my son years ago but that is not like loosing a spouse.” “I at least had my husband to share the pain.” she said.
      I can only imagine her the pain of loosing a child and would not want that experience. Then words came out of her mouth that again touched my heart. “The worst part is  most people don’t understand your pain because they can’t.”  “They haven’t been there.” 
     “Never let anyone minimize your pain either.” she said with a voice of authority. 
      “And you miss those hugs from your husband too don’t you?” she asked.
     Here I was just trying to shop and a total stranger read my mail! She reached out to hug me and I welcomed her arms. I knew God sent this woman to be His arms and voice of love to my weary soul. 
     We didn’t even exchange names. We didn’t need to. The most important thing was we shared the pain of not having someone with us to celebrate.
     I walked away from this precious lady knowing God knew where my heart was and that He would see me through this valley. Whatever the problem, God always has a provision for us.
     God sent Jesus to bind up the brokenhearted as he proclaims about Jesus coming in in Isaiah 61:1. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives...” Binding up our broken hearts is part of Jesus job description. God has the power to heal in an instant but I find he often wants us to trust Him in our pain. Jesus suffered and in his suffering he learned obedience. He also learned how to walk with his father and trusting in God in his pain.
     There are many in our retirement community that are widowed. There are also parents that have lost children.  Men and women that have lost brothers, sisters, and friends. There are children that don’t have mommies or daddies around this holiday season. Maybe God wants to use you to be a gift to someone this Christmas. You never know how your kindness can be healing or encouraging to someone else just like the divine appointment I encountered.
     I pray that God would show you that He knows where your heart is this holiday season and reveal to you He is Emmanuel- God with us. Let’s be a community that seeks God and allows him to use us to bless others. Will you look for your divine appointment this Christmas season?

Please let me know if this article touched your heart. You can contact me at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com or via the blog.

Sunday, December 4, 2011



Fun Christmas memories
I told someone today, I am fully confidant about God and his ability to turn my ashes into something beautiful. In the mean time, the pain is still real and it hurts. There is no way to hurry grief and it always shows up and barges in the door of my life. I wonder why it has come to see me again. I never invite it to come but who does?
I seemed to get through the last week with Thanksgiving just fine but this week has been difficult.  My job in very demanding and makes running the Job Corps look like a cake walk. I have had to work 3 nights until 6 and 6:30.. I am also on my 7th week of antibiotics and this has challenged me as I am not a sick person. I miss Joe. Our staff party is coming up and we were asked to bring our family, husband or significant other...I have no family here, Joe is gone and I can't think of one man in Kerr County I want to invite! No offense to anyone, maybe I just can't think of you at the moment! I breathe and I focus and sing to keep me going. 
And yet, God is so faithful to let me know He knows where I am in my pain. Yesterday I was shopping in San Antonio and a woman walked up to me and said, "You are the prettiest woman in this store." I smiled and thanked her, although I don't think she must have looked at many people! 
I turned around and  tapped her on the shoulder and said, "I just want you to know God used you. I am a recent widow and my husband told me almost every day that he thought I was pretty, Now that he is gone, I miss those words.
Christmas 2007...note the UT hat!
 She said, "Oh I am sorry for your loss; you are so young." I lost a son 16 years ago so I have some idea of your loss but that is nothing like loosing half of you. Honey, the worst is people don't understand your pain. Don't you let anyone minimize your pain. The one you have always shared your pain with is gone." "And you miss being hugged and physical contact." She read my mail as  she was a friend of grief. What an amazing God I serve. He sent her to comfort me. She hugged me and walked with me a few steps. We didn't even exchange names but we were two people that understood each other.
I press on in life. I had two fundraising events this week for Brad McCullouch. I am happy to use my skills to help someone else in pursuit of their dreams. He will be a great district attorney for our community and has won 98% of the cases he has tried over the last 8 years as an assistant prosecutor. Check him out at www.bradfor198da.com


                                                                                      
                                                                                

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Overcoming Begins With A Grateful Heart



I had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with my kids. Price and I went to Houston to celebrate with Mallory and Rob. You know you have done your job well when your daughter fixes a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner! It was a family affair with Rob and I working on the turkey, Price giving us his selections and Mallory and I working to make it happen. We played Corn Hole and I discovered I am not any good at that game. After our dinner, we packed up and headed to to the big UT vs. A &M game in College Station. What a game! 
Personally, this Thanksgiving was not difficult for me. I was so happy to simply be with my kids. I could tell it was hard on them to not have their daddy. I tried to get them to help me decorate our Christmas tree but no one wanted to. This year I decorated by myself. In the past, decorating the tree was always such a joyous time full of tradition for all of us. It was three years ago that Joe was getting the Christmas decorations out of the attic and bumped his shoulder. It sent a shock thru his body and was the first indication that something wasn't right...
I know coming home is difficult for Mallory and Price as it is a painful reminder that Joe isn't here. It is hard as a mother when you have worked for years to make your home a refuge for your family and now it makes the pain surface. I simply keep asking God to heal their hearts and know He will be faithful.



Overcoming Any Problem Begins With A Grateful Heart
Kathleen Maxwell
November 25th, 2011
Kerrville Daily Times Article
     Overcoming any problem begins with a grateful heart. Those are words to a song I heard years ago. When I first heard them, I thought, “how could that be true?” I wasn’t convinced that the writer of the song knew what she was talking about so I began to check the words out against my problems. Sure enough, no matter what it was I was challenged with, I really did not begin overcoming the situation until I began to look at what I had to be thankful for in it.
      Thankfulness adjusts our attitude. Does anyone out there need an attitude adjustment?  I remember my mother telling me at times to adjust my attitude. She would do so with her hands on her hips which meant I better adjust it quickly.
      I Thessalonians 5:15 is our prescription for an attitude adjustment and just what Dr. God orders for His kids. It says, “Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) God is too good to tell us to do something and not provide what we need to do it. Our job is to obey and He will supply. Our job is also to ask Him for what we need and admit we cannot do it without Him.
     Sometimes overcoming begins with simply thanking God because He is good.            Psalms 107:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good and  his love endures forever.” When we can’t think of anything to be thankful for, we can always start with thanking God for his love. No matter what we are going through, we can rest in the fact that we are loved by the creator of the universe. We may not always feel loved and actually be rejected by people, but nothing can separate us from God’s love for us. His love has comforted me on many a difficult day as I simply made the statement, “God I thank you that you are good and you love me.” Those words help me adjust my attitude and remind me of the truth. I have prayed this prayer to help renew my mind when it has battled looking at all I have lost in the death of my husband. No matter what my circumstances, He is good and He loves me.
       Let me give you a personal example of  “overcoming any  problem begins with a grateful heart.” As I have walked the past three years through the world of cancer with my late husband and then trying to establish a new life as a young widow, I have relied on thanking God for what I do have vs. what I have lost. Gratefulness is my quick access to the presence of God, especially on the difficult days. His presence is what comforts me, gives me hope, helps me and is my anchor. Some days I do better than others, but scripture says in Psalms 95:2 , “Come into his presence with thanksgiving...” (KJV) If you need more of His presence, try thanksgiving. It works for me.
       I sometimes talk to God like this; “God, I need your help. Your word says to give thanks in all things so all I can think to thank you for is what I will learn in this situation. Thank you for the experience I will gain. Thank you for helping me through this.” God is faithful but often times we must wait on Him and trust Him.
     I do not believe God just gives us patience but He will help us to be patient. As we grow in that character, we learn the benefit of trusting His timing. God doesn’t just  give us longsuffering, but He will help us endure difficult things if we look to him. I know this from personal experience as I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Anyone can quote a scripture or pass a written test, but character is developed in the soil of difficulties.
      Colossians 3:17 states how we are to conduct our lives. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Thanks is an expression of gratitude and gratefulness. Thankful is an adjective that means pleased or relieved.How thankful are you? Do you have an overall feeling of being pleased and relieved? I personally could do better at being thankful.
      I know sometimes I have to simply pray, “God change my heart.” to develop an attitude of gratitude. According to this scripture, all our words,our job and actions should be done like we were doing it just for Jesus and with a beautiful attitude of thankfulness. 
           At the end of the day, all of us have plenty to be thankful for. James 1:17 says, 
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  All that we have that is good, is a gift from God. That is plenty to be thankful for.
     Thanksgiving is not just a season in November. God intends for it to be a lifestyle. He loves for His kids to be in His presence. Let’s start today. Will you join me in thanking Him more?  




Kathleen Maxwell 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
;www.bradfor198da.com
Help Elect this man!
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Still Alive

     I know it has been two weeks since I have written which is not normal for me but I just couldn't seem to get around to it. I have spent some time with Price. I realize this is the tail end of 31 years of motherhood as I have known it and want to cherish each moment. I love my baby! By the way, he has a job when he graduates in May with Schlumberger in Houston. I am so proud of him.
     Physically I have been battling an infection in my adenoids and am on my 5th week of antibotics. I also discovered I am anemic which has made it hard to to have extra energy. Both of these have made me weary and cramp my style. Friday night I was asleep by 8:30! My immune system is down and i work around young people. I will continue to try to build it up and pray I get well real soon!
     Speaking of young people, I had the honor of leading one of my students to the Lord the other day. I was visiting her in the hospital and as we were visiting I asked her if she knew what a relationship with Jesus was about. She said no but wanted to, so I shared with her. She said she wanted a bible and then asked to pray. As I finished the prayer of salvation, the door opened and a lady walked in that was from my church and you will never guess what she had in her gift bag...a bible! The young girl immediately saw God's goodness and how He heard her prayer. It was wonderful and there is nothing better than than the joy of leading someone to the Lord.
     I enjoy my new job and working with the 27 boys and 7 girls. This past week we had a Thanksgiving Dinner to celebrate and to practice the social skills I have been teaching them. We also were in the Holiday Parade and  they built the playhouse in this photo. The job has challenged me but I know this is where God has assigned me. I know my job is to show them His unconditional love and they are responding to it. Each day is a new adventure and is action packed. There is never a dull moment that is for sure! My life now consists of walking down the street in parades to rap music with the kids! They actually built the house in the video below.
One of my students and her baby
The Holiday Parade Float
Some of my Youth Build kids
video
My lemon tree! - determined to bear good fruit one way or another!
     I have a new life in local politics helping Brad McCullouch in his campaign for District Attorney in District 198. I am learning a lot being his Campaign Manager and it is an honor to help him. I really believe he can make a difference in our community and keep District 198 a safe place. Check out his website and let's help get this godly man in office. The primary is in March but it will be here before we know it.  I also have this link on the front of my blog http://www.bradfor198da.com.

     I am looking forward to the holidays this year. The last few years I wasn't really looking forward to them without Joe but I am more settled now. The past two years have been brutal for me in more ways than one. I remember a widow telling me the second year was harder than the first and I couldn't imagine but it was for me too. I am thankful to begin year three. It is a time of hiddenness  for me and I am gaining much experience in things I never wanted to experience but that is where we gain power.  Inspiration moves us to revelation and revelation moves us to encounter. Encounter or experience moves us to transformation and power and that is awesome! I am developing in preserving and know He is preparing me for something...I just don't know what yet! I do know that there are things I will write about in the future but just can't right now. God daily encourages me in various ways. His comfort and kindness amaze me. I frequently have people I don't know stop me in town and thank me for the articles I write for the local faith section in our newspaper. I guess it shows God can use anybody! Happy Thanksgiving to all


Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Longhorn and The Silent Enemy


This weekend I went to Austin to go to the University of Texas vs. Texas Tech football game. It was a wonderful time visiting with Price, his friends, and the friends I went with. The crisp autumn breeze made the game almost picture perfect.
      My mom turned 75 last month. This was a good picture of her holding her 51 year old baby!
      Below is my latest article that appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times. Hope you enjoy it!



                                                                    
The Silent Enemy
Kerrville Daily Times 
October 28th, 2011
Kathleen Maxwell

                                                                                 

      I was with a group of people recently and as we were talking, a lady began to talk about different fears she had. She was talking about them as if she were proud of her fears. As I listened, I had to think of how far off base society has gotten from God’s intention for us. 
      Numerous times in scripture, God instructs and warns us not to play with fear. Isaiah 43:5 says,”Do not be afraid, for I am with you;” When we walk with God, we have the opportunity to step beyond ourselves knowing we are not alone. The problem is most of us entertain fear like it is a guest in our house instead of treating it like it is trespassing. Fear has robbed me too many times of opportunities.  
      Most of us do not go around talking about fears we battle, but I think fear is a silent enemy that whispers way too often in our ears. I believe fear is doubt and unbelief and doubt and unbelief is not trusting God. We were created to trust and walk with God. Fear’s main goal is to cause us to doubt the goodness of God and His love for us.
     One of the main things fear does is try to keep us down and from reaching our potential. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that you may have life and life to the full.” A fear filled life is not a full one. I can testify to that! For many hears I struggled with a fear of rejection, fear of looking stupid, fear of what others thought, fear of failure or making a mistake, just to name a few. For the longest time I thought I was the only one that had this battle. I now know many others struggle also.
     God created us to be courageous because we are made in his image. He is not the least bit afraid of anything or anybody because He knows his power is supreme. He is confidant in who he is and wants us to be the same way. My thought is that is easier said than done!
      When God called Joshua to lead the others into a wonderful life and what he had promised,  God gave Joshua specific instructions over and over again to be strong and courageous. He knew they would have to battle against their inadequacies to step into a better life. Joshua 1:7 he says, “Be strong and very courageous.” Next he command Joshua and said, “Only be strong and courageous.” Being strong means to stand your ground.God had given the people a wonderful opportunity but they had to hang on to the place they were blessed with and not be intimidated by the giants. One thing I have learned in life is that walking with God, he frequently takes us out of our comfort zone just like he did Joshua. I firmly believe if we are going to fulfill our destiny we are going to have to step on our fears and follow the words written in Joshua. We have an opportunity to walk in rightousness, peace and joy but we will have to stand our ground and believe that we deserve these gifts because God says.
     Another fear I have had to face, is a fear of rejection. There is risk in loving others and being in relationship with people. One thing for sure, at some time in life, all of us will face the fear of rejection. What I have discovered is if we are ever going to be someone who makes a difference, we will have to battle fear of being rejected. I love the words of Isaiah 41:9 which says, “You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 
     We see in this scripture that we are chosen and accepted. Believing that scripture and walking in it makes you powerful to overcome rejection. It sounds simple but it actually takes a retraining of our mind and healing of our heart when rejection or exclusion arrows are thrown at us. 
    What about a fear of looking stupid? Who likes to look like they lack intelligence? No one, if we all answer honestly. The truth is we all have things we need to learn, and the best way to learn is to ask questions. Often times we feel if we ask a question, others will think we are stupid. Wise people are those that listen and ask questions. Sometimes the best thing we can say is “I just don’t know” and admit our need to learn.
     Fear of making a mistake can keep us from reaching our potential. There is risk with stepping “out there” and risking making a mistake. Actually, often times our greatest mistakes can be our best teachers. Don’t let a fear of making a mistake hold you back.
     I have a new job working with young people that have encountered major obstacles in their lives. They are establishing new life patterns and that is hard work. They are also working on their education and learning to serve others. What they are learning takes time to master. I am passionate about helping them and others discover their potential and value.
     Scripture says in Isaiah 35:3, “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear; your God will come. he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” I believe it is imperative that I cheer and motivate these young people and strengthen them to help them overcome. Encouragement breeds courage.  All of us need it. Especially those that find themselves in the ashes of life. Harshness and insensitivity  never encourages people.
    I want to challenge you to examine your life and see what fears you need to be set free of. Fear is bondage and Christ has come to set us free. I believe it is time we learn to stand up on the inside and become the confident men and women God intended. Will you join me in not tolerating intimidation and fear?

Kathleen

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Variety Makes Life



     I am not sure what the word normal means anymore but I know my life is not normal. Nothing in it is remotely similar to what it was a few years ago. But change is good- at least that is what I tell myself.
     Last week I was talking to my dad. He asked about my week and I told him I was going to swing dance class with another couple. He said, "Well for what it is worth, I don't approve. You have no idea who you are dancing with." "Dad," I replied, "There was a time when you could tell me who to dance with, if I could dance and what time to be home. Those days are over. I am 51 and I am going dancing!" I have to love him still trying to protect his daughter. Swing dancing is lots of fun and a great workout.

     My job is challenging but I love the kids. I have no doubt that this is my new assignment from God. The kids call me Mama Max and really I feel like I teach them a few things about job preparation but most of all I simply love them and help them with life problems. The other day we were going on a field trip. I was driving an old van and it is full of boys 16-24. One of them says, "Mama Max, you are the only woman with blond hair that drives around with her own gang in her van." I said, "I know and you all are hurting my single image...how am I ever going to get a good date driving a van full of kids?" On the other hand, I don't have the time or energy for a man!
     My heart seems settled and I feel like I am beginning to find some rhythm to my life. I am seldom at a loss for something to do. My free time is spent writing, helping with Brad McCullouch's political race for District Attorney and his fundraising events, helping my parents, and with friends. There are different people in my life now as God has expanded my world. I am thankful for the opportunity. It is a new season.
     God continues to work on my heart.  I love his comfort and how he continues to speak tender words to restore me and show me who I am. I know I am in a time of accelerated development and I have said yes to the training. I know the things I face to overcome are part of the development.
     Price has had 5 job interviews and two offers. He is set to graduate from University of Texas in . I was thinking the other day of how I will get a raise next summer when he is off my insurance and on his own! I cannot believe I am coming to the end of 31 years of mothering and raising kids. I enjoyed tailgating with him at the UT game and plan to go to some other games.

email me to keep in touch - I am interested in your thoughts and comments
www.themaswellminutes.blog
kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com

   


 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fear Is Not Your Friend!

   

                                                                                                   Fear Is Not Your Friend
                                                                                                   by Kathleen Maxwell
                                                                                                   Kerrville Daily Times            
                                                                                                      October 14,2011

   Recently I have talked to a number of people that have struggled with different fears. I can certainly relate as for years I was a vicim of a variety of fears. Thankfully God has set me free from the bondage fear brings.
     Fear is defined as: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat. The feeling of anxiety about the outcome of something or the safety and well being of someone.  
     One thing is for sure, fear is tormenting. Fear is a thief and a robber of peace, joy and tranquility. I speak from experience. 
Stepping into a new world- Helping a friend in his dream to make a difference
Local parade
       There are many different kinds of fear. A few that I have struggled with in the past were a fear of death, fear of germs, fear of failure, and fear of the dark. I have found that many people struggle with the same fears that held me captive for years. I was good at justifying them telling my self that one could never be too cautious. 
     One day I heard the words, “Fear is doubt  and unbelief and doubt and unbelief is not trusting God - that is sin.” At that moment, I knew I could no longer justify my fears. Whenever I faced them, began to acknowledge them as sin.God graciously began to set me free as I was faithful to repent and resist the temptation to walk in fear. Repentance is always our friend and is found on the path to freedom. 
     IITimothy 1:7 states, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” We can conclude from this passage that fear is a spirit and it is not from God; therefore, it is not our friend. There are times when I have simply said the words, “Fear go, you are not my friend.” As long as we coddle our fears, they will hang around. We must deal ruthlessly with them if we want to  get free. 
     I love Isaiah 41:10 which says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Many times I have pictured myself holding God’s hand and that gives me great courage. Dismayed means feelings of anxiety and consternation, usually by something unexpected. Have you ever had something unexpected happen? I have. 
      When the doctor told my husband he had a rare cancer, I remember my first words to my husband were, “We have just had a suddenly.” Joe knew what I meant by the statement as we had talked about others in the Bible that encountered sudden challenges. One minute things were one way, and the next minute life was threatened. I can say God faithfully strengthened me, helped me and upheld me in the fight for his life. 
     Proverbs 3:25 tells us, “Be not afraid of sudden fear....” Satan loves to make us feel scared because then we are intimidated. Intimidation has one goal; to scare us from even engaging in the battle. Goliath used intimidation on David but David did not bow to fear. He quickly strengthened himself by remembering how God helped him slay a bear and a lion. I love David’s faith filled response to intimidation. He told the bellowing giant he would strike him down, cut off his head and give his carcasses to the birds! 
Now those are some faith filled words!
     Prior to a personal relationship with God I was terrified of dying. I had trouble sleeping at night for fear I might die. Once I accepted Jesus into my heart and repented of the fear, I was no longer afraid of dying. Knowing God personally, is the beginning of overcoming fear. Tell God you want a personal relationship with him. He will be delighted!
     I will confess that as a grown woman in my 30’s I was also afraid of the dark. I remember reading about how fear was not from God looking out my back door one night. I was afraid to go get something in the yard. I certainly did not want my children to know my fear because I wanted them confidant and secure. Then it dawned on me that is what God wanted for me. I confessed my fear to God and asked him to set me free. He did and now I jog alone at night! That is true freedom!
     I love the slogan from the US Navy and think we should make it our motto against any fears. “Life liberty and the pursuit of all who threaten it.” God wants us to enjoy life, our freedom and get rid of any fear that would threaten us. Fear is an enemy, not our friend.What are you afraid of?

Youth Build Boys learning how to build   Freedom is waiting...what are you afraid o

Kathleen Maxwell 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

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wake Up!

This weekend I went to Austin Texas and had a fabulous time tailgating at the UT game with Price. It was a new adventure as I went with several couples but lots of fun. I loved meeting Price's friends but we won't talk about how UT did in the game.
     Below is one of my recent articles published in the Kerrville Daily Times

                                                Wake Up!
                                          Kathleen Maxwell
                                        September 30th, 2011
   It was a hot Texas day in August when my late husband and I walked out of the Kerr County Court House. As we walked, we talked about the business we had just sold. All of a sudden I halted and said, “Oh my gosh, who am I?”
      He quickly replied, “What are you talking about Kathleen?” 
     “Everyone in town knows me as Kathleen Maxwell-Gymnastics, Etc. We just sold the name so who am I now?”
   “You think that’s bad, “ he said laughing. “Everybody knows me as Mr. Kathleen.” I smiled as  he  kissed me and thought how I loved that he was never threatened by my gifts or talents. But the question of who am I now, still haunted me. I was serious about the question. 
    Here I was in my early 30’s and I had to admit that I didn’t know who I really was. I had done what many people do. I got my identity in my occupation.  I also realized that I got my identity as a wife, mother and in other accomplishments. I began to ask God to show me who I am in His eyes and who he created me to be.  This was the beginning of a journey I am still on. Discovering who I really am and my truest identity.
     The first thing God showed me about my identity was when I read Psalms 8:4 &;5 “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”(NIV) I felt God say to me, “Kathleen, I’ve given you a crown but you don’t wear it.” I realized at that moment that I didn’t see myself as someone royal and as God saw me. I repented. 
     God calls me a woman of honor. He was showing me that because He is the King and I am his daughter, I have a new nature; a royal one. I began to think of how different I would act if I actually wore a crown and really made a conscious effort to remember that truth. He has crowned me with glory and honor, simply because I am His daughter. Glory means valuable. Do you see yourself as a person of honor and value or do you get your value in your accomplishment and occupation? 
     Psalms 103:4 is another passage that spoke to me. “Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” He has given us a crown of love and a crown of tender compassion. I was in a hard place when I read this scripture.  I was comforted that he cares when our hearts are broken and crowns us to restore us to a better place. Seeing myself as God saw me began to restore my dignity. The self hate I struggled with for years began to be erased from my heart. We must see ourselves as He sees us or we will never fulfill our destiny. I began to realize I was part of a bigger plan; I was a woman chosen to establish His kingdom and reveal to others who He really is.
      There were many in the Bible that struggled with the same issue. The great news is God sees our potential and His view point is always better than ours. In his kindness, he began the process of showing me how he saw me just like he did Gideon, Moses and Peter. They were men in scripture that God saw a full of potential and called them to a higher place.
   
  In Judges 6, Gideon and his people were hiding. God spoke to him and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”
Gideon saw all his inadequacies and problems but God saw a different guy; He saw a leader.  Gideon begins to give God excuses. God ignores his whining and simply tells Gideon to go face his problem and God would be with him. He didn’t really give him a lot of information, he just said “go.” I can’t point any fingers at Gideon because I have made my own excuses to God.
    In 2007 I was invited to speak at an international women’s conference in Thailand. My first response to the woman who invited me was, “I don’t speak at things like that.”  I had all sorts of excuses.  God saw my capability with him at my side when all I could see was myself, limitations and my inability. I agreed to pray about the invitation and asked God to change my perception of myself. Again, he changed my heart and mind and I traveled around the world to speak to women from 11 nations to help them discover their value and worth.
     Many of us have read and heard that we are a new creation when we make Jesus our Lord. We have the knowledge down,can quote the scripture and understand the theory; however, many Christians just like me, need to practice it. We need to ask God to show us our persona, believe Him and practice. We need to practice today and tomorrow and the next day until we become the people God wants us to be.
   For years I only had two statements of how God saw me personally.  Now I have a whole page of  “who I am” statements that God has shown me about how he sees me. The most recent revelation was that I am woman with a calling like Joshua. I am a Joshua woman. I am called to lead others to greater place. My “I Am” statements  are a source of strength and security for me and the anchor for my life, especially in the storms. Understanding and seeing our identity proceeds us fulfilling our destiny.
     Knowing how God feels about you and how you feel about Him are the two most important things in life. It is the source of our identity,security, and purpose. Too many times, we believe the hurtful things others have said about us and make it our truth. Never let other’s negative perception of you govern you. When we believe a lie about ourselves, we empower the lier. 
   Seeing ourselves as God sees us will empower us. I will close with one of my favorite quotes by Bill Johnson, author of The Supernatural Ways of Royalty. “ Royalty is my identity, servanthood is my assignment and intimacy is my life source.” I believe it is time we wake up to who we really are. Have you asked God to show you his perception of you? Let His perception govern your life.