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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Giving Birth and the Book of Elijah?

January 25th, 2011



Thirty years ago today, I was in labor with my firstborn. It had been a long labor and I was tired and not sure if I had what it took to give birth. But when the doctor said, “Come on Kathleen, one more push and you will have that red headed baby," I seemed to come alive. Joe and I both had dark hair. At the moment I couldn’t figure out how we could have a redhead, but with what strength I had left I looked into Joe’s eyes and said, “I promise its yours.” Minutes later Joseph Austin Maxwell entered the world. What a wonderful gift this child/man has been. Joe’s grandmother and my mom both had red/auburn hair, so the mystery was solved. God uses Austin today as an officer in the Navy.

Somehow I sort of feel some of the same feelings now I felt that day 30 years ago. In my spirit I have never felt stronger and more alive, but in my body and emotions are at a weaker place and I am finding it necessary to rest more and let God restore me. The events from the recent months have caught up with me, and with the events of recent years, I just can’t bounce back as easy. But this is a good place to be, because I get to discover who God is for me in this season of my life. I may not know much, but I do know he told me he wanted to be my sustainer. How wonderful to be sustained and comforted by the creator of the universe. I hang on to that promise as I watch my dad’s fragile health and my precious child-like mother. I have a rich godly heritage and much to be thankful for. We had a family meeting this weekend, and as I shared my weakness my mom who drifts in and out of reality with her dementia said, “We need to pray for Kathleen.” Then she and my dad blessed and prayed the sweetest and most heart felt prayer of blessing over me. Mom’s mind may be failing but her spirit is very alive and in those moments she was “there.” As hard as this season is I must spend more time in worship. God reminded me that singing is how I got through the tough days with watching tumors grow-worship helped me focus in the storm, so I am stepping up my worship. On our worst days, God is still worthy of being worshiped. Stepping into my pain and worshipping regardless of our circumstances is called lamentation, and many other people in the Bible documented their experience. Habakkuk 3:17-19 says, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be in the vines; Though the labor of the olive mail fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls- Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” ( NIV) In this time, I have the opportunity to establish my own story of God’s faithfulness to rescue me and sustain me. In this time I will rest more, worship more and trust Him more. I will step into that childlike place and since he is sustaining me, my position is being one of staying in that place of a much loved child and letting Him nurture and love me in my new life. I appreciate all prayers for my family and me we navigate this season of life. On a lighter note I sometimes entertain myself. The other day I opened the mailbox and saw a jury summons for Joe. I laughed and thought “I have to get in touch with him so he can get back here for this summons! How can that happen when his death certificate is on file in the county? I am filing that under “things I don’t understand.” Another thing that made me laugh was when I recently decided to read the story of when God fed Elijah by the brook. I opened my Bible and began looking for the book of Elijah…I searched the old testament a few seconds and then remembered that there is no book of Elijah! I just laughed at myself, and wondered if I had really been a Christian for 41 years.

Singing, Resting and Laughing,

Kathleen

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reflecting and Learning

As I look back at 2010, I have concluded it has been the hardest year of my life in many ways, and yet a year of intense learning. 2010 was a year of walking with God in the extremes of life, but isn’t that what life is all about? It is not the destination but the journey that counts. I look at the tears I shed in 2010, and know God holds them and will one day turn all of them to joy. I guess the fact that I am still learning many things at 51 is a good sign I still have some life in me. In order not to reflect on the difficulty of the year, I have chosen to look at some of the things I have accomplished and learned:


-I have learned to depend on God as my husband, and learned to single parent with Him. Although Price thinks he is grown, he still is not totally on his own and needs parenting!
-I have learned to make many of the financial decisions that Joe made.


- I have learned to let go of a lot of things, and to hold on to everything loosely: kids, parents, coworkers, dreams and “the way it should have been.” Seasons come and seasons go and God is Lord of them all - His ways are perfect and He is good.


-I have learned to look at everything through the lens of God’s goodness. I’ve learned to thank God more this year than in years past. In the middle of all the loss and pain I have much to be thankful for.


-I love my long time friends but have made new friends this year that are single and have enjoyed the new relationships, knowing that God in his goodness is in all of them. I have a friend that is single and we share a lot of life together. I have another friend that is about my age and dating, and I have enjoyed her friendship and sharing stories. My married friends can’t really share that with me, although I have a number of people that have said they are living vicariously through me! I have learned to date as a middle-aged woman and I have enjoyed the adventure and freedom of single life. I can’t say I would like to stay in it very long, as I loved married life. I have learned to swing dance in 2010 and will keep dancing through my life.


-I have also learned how to be the mother of a bride and go through a major life event as a single woman. Mallory’s wedding was one of the highlights of the year for me. It was so much fun.


-I have learned how to press through depressing feelings and not live in my feelings. I have learned to keep contending for the peace and joy that are mine as a child of God.


-I have learned to keep pursuing my dreams even when I feel I have lost everything that really matters in life and my life cheerleader. Joe believed in me and saw my potential and always cheered me on; he was never threatened by God’s call on my life.


-I have learned how loved I am by my community. Most of all, I have learned that I am stronger than I think I am and much more capable than I ever thought. In the last few days of 2010, I felt the Lord say to me that He was my SUSTAINER. I looked the word up to find the meaning and found this: sustain- to keep up, keep going, maintain, prolong, to favor. Truly God is my sustainer! I totally depend on those words in 2011. Today I read Isaiah 46: 3-4. “You whom I have held since you were conceived and have carried you since your birth. Even in your old age and gray hairs I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and will rescue you.” What a promise for me! Then I read Psalms 146:9: ”He sustains the fatherless and the widow.” Yes, He is my sustainer and if anything is accomplished in 2011, I know it will be Him and not me. I have come to the conclusion that it is in the difficult seasons of life that we really get to see the face of God like never before and know Him in a deeper way. 

 
Sustained-
 
Kathleen

Friday, January 7, 2011

Upside Down and a Splash



January 6th 2011

2011 started with a big splash for me…I went down a 50 ft slide into the 44 degree water!  The Polar Bear Splash was a fundraiser for Christian Women’s Job Corps and was a huge success.  We had 100 sliders which is the most the event had ever had.  I have never done anything like that and all I can say is it was fun and very cold and above all I kept my crown on!  You can see pictures of the event at www.cwjckerrcounty.org

As I look at going from 2010 to 2011, I have come to the conclusion that EVERYTHING in my life has changed…from the world of cancer to the death of my mate, married to single, house full of people to living alone, role reversal with my parents…I am the parent now,  and then my hair dresser moves!  Oh My Gosh… nothing stays the same!  I have to get a stranger to fix my hair now!  Another major change in my world is that my assistant of 6 ½ years at the Christian Women’s Job Corps just retired at the end of 2010.  This was another big loss for me as Debbie Ridout has been my right hand…I even gave her Joe’s speed dial number on my cell phone after he was gone.    I always said that Joe and Debbie enabled me to do my job well…now I enter a new session at CWJC without both of  them. This is another grief as it is the end of a great season with a very significant person in my life. Sometimes I feel like a baby totally upside down and squeezed in an unknown world.  Birth is the only time it is normal to be standing on our heads!  Deep down I know something is being birthed in me…a new life yet to be discovered.  “Focus and breathe Kathleen,” I tell myself…

 I know I am in a huge transition time in my life at several levels but I know God is in all of it.  Transition is defined as moving from one place to another.  It can give up wisdom and broaden our horizons.  I have a tremendous opportunity for growth and change…I just forget it sometimes and wonder how on earth I am going to live through  it!  I am also learning that where the stress is…God’s anointing is also present for me.  For example, yesterday I had a girl walk into CWJC and want some information.  I normally don’t leave my office to handle things like this but my new assistant was busy so I greeted the young girl and shared about our program.  She said she didn’t know if she could commit to a 12 week program as she had a lot going on.  As she finished her sentence her lip began to quiver.  I asked her if I could give her a hug and she said yes hesitantly and then sobbed in my arms.  She then told me she was interested in CWJC  because she had seen such a change in her sister who graduated recently.  I gave her an application and instructions and then asked her if I could pray for her before she left.  She said, “oh would you please?”  As I prayed she wept and then I felt to ask her if she had ever invited Jesus to be Lord of her life.  She said, “No but I want to.”  I led her in a prayer to accept Christ.  What a way to start 2011!  I may be upside down but I do feel His presence and favor surrounding me. 

My dad is weak but is slowly getting stronger.  He was not doing well Monday and I thought I would have to return to the hospital but prayer and a few phone calls saved the day.  I don’t like watching those I love suffer…You would think that I would be use to it and I am but I don’t like it.  It takes a lot out of me.  I have been doing it for 7 years and I am tired…ready for a new season.

Upside down but it is ok

Kathleen