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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Understanding is Valuable

March 27, 2011
I had an amazing, divine appointment this week! I had gone to the grocery store to shop for my parents. It is difficult for my dad to shop now, so I have been going for him each week. While I was shopping, simply trying to get the things he needed, I ran into a young woman I know. I was aware that her mom had been in the hospital recently because I had received prayer requests for her. It was a serious illness. Although I had compassion for her mom’s condition, I felt compelled to pray for her daughter who I knew was single. I know what it is like to watch someone you love suffer, and I knew the mom was in ICU. Also, she had lost her dad several years ago.
A few months have gone by, and the mom is much better. As I told this woman how God had put her on my heart, she began to share with me. Her words brought such life to me as she told me how God was her strength in this season and even how God had watched over her and cleansed her of the trauma she had encountered. I loved hearing about her journey.
Then the conversation switched to how her life had changed for her and her mom after her dad died. She shared how many of their Christian friends did not know how to respond to her mom as a young widow. And how I could relate! I know a lot of widows in our retirement community but don’t know any that are young. I think at times we expect more of our Christian friends because they know God; but sometimes when they have not shared our experiences, they can do more harm than good because of their lack of understanding and desire to see us let go and be healed. They may know God but at the end of the day, they are just forgiven people who are healing from their own pain while stumbling through their own lives and trials. None of us are exempt.from trials...sometimes people just are not transparant. This beautiful girl shared how her mom and dad was in ministry and how people just didn’t know what to do with her mom, and how she and her mom felt misunderstood and left out of things because people simply did not know how to respond to this young, grieving family. Although well meaning, sometimes people add more injury to those already hurting and letting go of so much.
Each of us grieves differently, and the grief is often tied to the depth of the relationship or change that has occurred and the value placed by the one left. Each person’s journey is different. Some take longer than others; some never heal; others have more to grieve than others because of the time, love, and energy invested. When the degree of love is great, I believe the grief is much harder to walk through. The letting go is more painful when you have poured your love and heart into something or someone. I knew exactly what this girl (who was old enough to be my daughter) felt like. For example, many girls lose their dad; but for my daughter, her loss was profound because she was a “daddy’s girl.” Some daughters, unfortunately, never have that kind of relationship with their dads, or they don’t even get along with their fathers, so the loss is differentAs we stood in the Coke isle, this young woman shared how God had brought healing to her heart, and I was encouraged. She was someone who I felt really understood some of the pain I had experienced, and I understood to a degree what she was talking about. What I have discovered in my journey through grief is, often times, I just need to be heard and held to get through the painful times. Love, encouragement and understanding is what we need. That is what helped Job.
Back to the wonderful girl I met in Wal Mart. -- She also encouraged me for my own kids’ healing, and I know God will heal their hearts of the loss of their daddy, too, as He has hers. And this precious girl offered to pray for me! I have prayed for a number of people when I have shopped at Wal Mart, but this time I was the recipient and someone was interceding for me! What a comfort and blessing my shopping experience was. So, the moral of the day is: Go to Wal Mart, and go down the Coke isle! Seriously, God knows our needs, and He understands and will meet us if we keep seeking Him.
My days have been spent letting go, healing, getting taxes done (Joe, where are you when I need you?), talking to attorneys and others to help my parents get things in order, having lunch with friends (a huge deposit in my bank), helping a little at CWJC, and attending two writers groups, and talking to my  in California, and all the while discovering new life takes a lot of energy! I even went swing dancing last night with another couple because a girl must dance no matter what she goes through!
This past weekend I received a huge blessing when Mallory and Rob come on Sunday afternoon for a quick visit. I had not seen them since Christmas, and I have missed my girl! My amazing new son-in-law fixed some things for me and even cleaned the garage while my daughter and I visited! I told Rob he would receive a double blessing for not only helping a widow but for loving a fatherless girl! It is fun to watch their love grow.
Thanks for “listening to me.” Seeing so many follow our story helps me keep pushing on in life. I was thankful for a word someone gave me recently: “The plan is bigger than the pain!” I hang on to that promise. Oh...I forget to tell you that the Kerrville Daily Times asked me to write for them and my first article will come out this Friday!
Kathleen


Monday, March 21, 2011

Abiding In The Vine and Loved By The Vinedresser


March 21, 2011

Life in Kerrville is showing signs of spring everywhere, which is very nice. I have enjoyed planting flowers and have even attempted getting the flower beds cleaned out and actually bought mulch! This has always been Joe’s job, and I confess that Price was a big help with the flower beds. It has been wonderful having him home a little for Spring Break.
Recently, I have felt God challenging me to spend more time abiding with Him. I remember years ago reading John 15 about abiding, and I decided if I didn’t read anywhere else for a year but there, it was worth it to figure out how to stay connected to the Lord throughout my day.
Abide means: to dwell in, stay close, remain in. John 15 talks about abiding and God being the vinedresser; the one who tends to the vine and decides where and when to prune, how much water, etc. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, and apart from Him, there is no fruit. In other words, the Father takes care of everything in our lives; Jesus is the source, and if we have a hope of being fruitful in our lives, we must abide with Him. Anything we do on our own or apart from Him is of no lasting value.
Recently, while in California, I visited several vineyards and was fascinated with the vines and the story behind each one. Some vines had been around for over 100 years, yet others were brand new. It was amazing to look at the bare, pruned branches and imagine that in just a few months they would be green and fruit would be on those branches. The interesting thing is that pruning is done to allow more fruit to come. As I thought about this, I had to admit that I have never signed up for pruning nor have I heard anyone pray for it! It is necessary, though, to produce strong branches that can hold and produce good fruit, and even the oldest vines were pruned each year. Another interesting thing they do is stress the vine by with holding water and this makes a sweeter grape. I can relate to being stressed a little and will wait for the good fruit! John 15:6 says, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (NIV) That paints a pretty clear picture of life apart from God.
Everything in our lives is about relationship with him and with others. John 15:7 says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.” (NIV) When we stay connected to the Lord, we are in alignment with the Father. Proper alignment brings answers to prayer and favor. Perhaps many of our prayers go unanswered because we are not staying in His presence. He loves being with us! John 15:9 says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” Jesus is telling us to stay in the mindset of how precious and dear we are to Him. I love that verse because it conveys our value--we are loved by the Father as much as He loves Jesus! He wants us to stay in His love, keep connected to it, and remain in His love, because it protects us, makes us secure, gives us confidence, and makes us fruitful. There are plenty of things in life that try to steal our identity and value: unkind words, abandonment, neglect, misunderstanding, just to name a few. Stepping into that place of being His beloved daughter eradicates any identity theft. I find, personally, there is a spring in my step and joy in my heart the more I abide with Him. One of my favorite ways to abide is through singing. I can’t say I am very good at singing, but worship is my oxygen. I also love sitting on the deck and just telling the Lord how much I love Him and opening my heart to His love for me. Abiding is a discipline and one we constantly need to upgrade.
Intimacy with Him makes our relationship special and is intimidating to the enemy. I recently was ministering to someone, and her brother was part of the Mexican Mafia in our community. He was in the car when she stopped by, and I asked her if I could pray blessings on him. She said “Yes”, and after I prayed for the man, he told her, “She scares me!” I know it was my intimacy with the Lord that made him scared. How scared can one be of a 5’3” blonde with curls?!? I love it!
 
There is power abiding with Him.
Remaining in His love,
 
Kathleen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Suddenly

In any good story there is always something unexpected that happens.  That is what makes a story an adventure!  In my own life I have had my share of sudden occurrences; illness, death, retirement just to name a few.    “And suddenly…” are the words I would use to describe my recent days.  I am learning to adjust quickly when I feel the sudden shift of God and he changes my plan.  There are times it makes me gasp for breath, wipe my tears, or laugh with excitement and bewilderment and ask, "Could this really be my life?”

My recent "and suddenly" moment came when God opened a door for me to go to California for a conference at The Mission in Vacaville CA featuring Graham Cooke.  I had contemplated going to the conference back in January but dismissed the idea until someone kept insisting I attend.  I am so glad she did!   Graham Cooke has been one of my mentors for a number of years via books he has written.  His books have challenged me.  About six months ago his ministry restructured their prayer team and you had to apply to be a part of it.   I applied and was accepted.    It has been good to keep me accountable, rub shoulders with other believers that are warrior class people….people that don’t just want to survive their circumstances but thrive in. adversity.  My time at the conference was an amazing deposit in my bank…although I had been asked to attend as part of the prayer team I took 43 pages of notes to process and was overwhelmed by the love from the other 7 members of the Texas team and was honored to be a team member.    I know I received more than I gave.  

 At the conference, I was reminded of how Joe died a champion…he never complained about his cancer, the pain or his lot in life. He took it fighting with all he had in him and looked it straight in the face. The old Kathleen and that life died too. Joe has a new life and it is good…so is my new life. It has been my heart to respond as his widow looking the pain and all the letting go in my recent days straight on and to grow this process. I have decided to live as a joyful champion too. I want to say thank you to those of you that were praying for me during this trip. I really appreciate your love and commitment to me. The rest was good and a different environment was great. I also got to go to San Francisco while I was there. It is my favorite city in the world! I love the diversity and all the people groups. I also visited a vineyard in Napa Valley where Joe and I visited 18 years ago; we often talked about how it was our favorite vineyard. We had purchased a bottle of wine we were saving for our 30th anniversary and we frequently talked and dreamed of going back to Peju Vinyard. Going back alone was another letting go of a dream…but as I looked at this beautiful vineyard such a peace and confidence rolled over me about my future.
God has been writing many things on the pages of my heart and I am learning what it is to be romanced by the King. He is full of surprises, healing and adventure. I cannot imagine walking thru life without Him. He is my security, strength, confidence and hope.
While I was in California, I got a call at 4:20 am that my dad had fallen…this is the second time that has happened since I was gone. He was alright, but just getting the call puts me on high alert. I love my parents dearly and want to help them maintain their independence and quality of life. The roles have reversed in our lives and that is difficult but it is a part of life. They need so much help right now and I try to do what I can.
I still shake my head at times and say…”this is not my life…but it is:”

Advancing and shaking my head,

Kathleen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


My life has recently been a mixture of things…from the difficulty of once again letting  go of something precious to an intense time of God speaking many things to me.  But I have come to understand that life with God is about walking in extremes.  If you read the Bible you see that through out the lives of many of its characters. Letting go of my role, the everyday routine and the people that were part of that routine has taken a lot of energy to process. When life suddenly shifts, no matter how good it is one must find their balance and find out where they are in this season, who God wants to be in this season and who am I in this situation. I say process because healthy grief is a process and it must be gone through to come out healthy emotionally. We live in an instant society and we must not ever sacrifice going thru things properly at the expense of speed.  My job is to travel well through the process even when people do not understand.   I know too many people that deny their pain, idolize it or simply choose to pretend it doesn’t hurt their hearts.  I have learned from past grief that one can only move on to new life to the degree they process the change or loss or it will come back to bite them later in life.  My job was not just a job but a calling and I loved the people I invested and was involved dearly.  To simply say it is over and let’s run on to the next thing would be denying the power and fruit of the process of letting go once again of something precious to me.  God’s grace is sufficient therefore I know I have to embrace it in order to move on.  I feel like I have finally found my balance again and I know from being a gymnast, when you loose your balance on the balance beam…you cannot finish the routine until you gain your balance.  When life changes or shakes our plan up, the only way we can find peace and joy is found in trusting Him to get us balanced and thru…the quickest way out of a situation is to go thru it.  That is why it is so important that we should always seek to know God more and His heart for us, His nature…not just facts about Him.

I personally have been practicing loving and extending grace to those around me as I have felt those are things I need right now in my own life.  In the kingdom of God when you need something you first have to give it away. The scripture tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment all the time.  Jesus endured hard times for the joy that was set before him and he is our example.  Although I have gone thru much loss and constant change I know that it is part of the training and the gym I have been in to develop new spiritual muscles for the next season.  It is time to rest a little and then move on.  I know I am learning gentleness, forbearance, patience and steadfastness and there is no easy way to develop these qualities.  Someone spoke the other day and said, “Kathleen, the plan is bigger than the pain.” 

Learning, Balancing and training,

Kathleen