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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Giving -A Different Twist

Below is an article I wrote for our local newspaper that appeared  two weeks ago.  The next one will come out this coming Friday.

Early the other morning as I awoke, I felt God whisper to me the following words:  "It is better to give than to receive."  I knew the scripture God was referring to because I had heard it many times.  In fact, it was one I had memorized from numerous sermons I had heard about giving money to the church as well as to missions and other worthy organizations.  Then I heard Him speak again:  "It is better to give than to receive."  So I asked God a question:  "What are you saying to me?"  God loves it when we talk to Him and when we ask Him about life.  He is the expert and loves to share His wisdom.  As the mother of three adult children, I love when they ask my opinion, and God over and over tells us to seek Him and His wisdom.  He is all about relationship with us. 

We all like to receive gifts, and especially those we really need.  It is great when we are given a gift of money or a gift certificate.  We all love to receive kindness and understanding.  It is wonderful when we are forgiven by others when we have done wrong.  But Acts 20:35 says, "It is more blessed to give than receive."  The word "give" means to bestow, bring forth, commit, deliver, grant, minister, offer, have power, put, adventure.  Isn't it interesting that the word "give" means adventure?  We have the opportunity for adventure when we give!  We receive a greater blessing when we give kindness than when we receive it.  We are more blessed when we grant someone forgiveness than when we are forgiven by others.  Luke 6:35 says, "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful . . . forgive and you will be forgiven.  Give and it shall be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap."  We simply cannot out give God!  He will always give us more than we give.  When we give what we need the most, it declares out dependance on God and our relaince on Him.  When we give, it proves our abundance and that God is our source.  We cannot go wrong when we give what we need the most, because it proves our trust.  Psalm 84:12 says, ". . .blessed is the man who trusts in you."  We are granted a blessing simply by trusting Him.

I am going to be blessed when I give the right thing.  Therefore, I am going to be blessed more if I give a person kindness when they are unkind.  It is to my benefit to give others understanding than to expect it for myself.  This flies in the face of our self-centered world and challenges us to walk a different way than most people.  For example, as a young widow, I have faced quite a different world after being married to my high school sweetheart for 30 years.  Although there are many widows in our retirement community, and I have great friends, I have yet to find other women who lost their mate in their 40s.  It is a coupled world, and all my friends are married, so I have longed for others who have an understanding of my new life.  But they just cannot understand because they have not been in my shoes.  When I give understanding to them for not understanding my struggles, according to scripture, I am going to receive a blessing from God.  Giving understanding puts me at an advantage vs. receiving understanding.  My character is expanded also.  The key is that we draw from God the things we need in order to bestow them on others.  I am learning to look at problems in a different way, because God will help me overcome and become a better woman of God in any problem I face.  I am learning to look at what is missing in the situation and what I can give.  As a child of God, I always have something to give, and if I feel like I do not, I can always access His grace to help in my time of need.  What can you give to a troubled situation today?  Join me in the adventure of giving!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rings and Big Kids

Today is Good Friday and the day in history that Jesus went to the cross and suffered.  Most of us do not really like to suffer in any capacity.  We don’t like to be inconvenienced, feel physical pain or feel emotional pain.  Many addictions are a result of not wanting to embrace pain.  But recently I found a scripture that challenged me and was a comfort to me in the sufferings I am personally going through.  
Isaiah 53:10 says, 
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.”

The truth is there is great value in suffering; but who wants to hear that?  I believe sometimes when we see others go through very difficult situations the enemy can raise fear in us because we suddenly realize that bad things can happen to good people.  Bad things certainly happened to Jesus. But by the power of God, He overcame and now we have that God given right to overcome in any situation we face.   The amazing thing is that the will of the Lord is prospered at the same time. When we look to Him in these trying situations, He makes all things work together for our good.  In all that I have been though, I have not doubted that God loves me or is upset with me.  It has just been God’s plan for my life.  Even Jesus, who knew no sin, suffered because it was in the plan.  The hard part for most of us is the perseverance it takes to get the point where we see how He is working everything for our good.  That’s where faith comes in.
On a personal note, my father is still in the hospital and is now in rehab.  He will be there another week at least.  He is still pretty weak and needs much help.  We had to have a “father-daughter” talk the other day when he was refusing medication. My mom has missed him very much and is lost without him.  They have been married 53 years and remains at home with a caregiver.

Price got his senior ring the Wednesday from the University of Texas.  I was so glad to be there for the ring ceremony and am so proud of Price.  I know his dad was beaming, too.  The fact that he has kept high expectations of himself and has made great grades in light of the loss of his dad speaks highly of him and God’s grace on his life.  Many young people would have just quit, but he has persevered.  
I am spending a little time with Rob and Mallory in Houston. I have missed my girl and my wonderful son-in-law.  It is fun to get to peer into their lives. I also am looking forward to seeing Austin and Laura this summer. I love my adult children and their lives even more than I did when they were little; I love the relationship I have with my kids, but I miss that they are not a part of my every day life.  My job is never done, but now I am their is good.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Still Sining, Still In Hospitals, Still Pressing On

The sound of my cell phone ringing at 4:30 am startled me and made me suddenly jump for the phone.  My father was on the other end of the line saying, “Kat, I am in an awful lot of pain and I can’t move.  I need to go to the hospital.”  “I’ll be right there dad,” was my reply and I quickly threw on my blue jean skirt I had failed to hang up the night before, put the dog out, grabbed bottled water and my computer and jumped in the car.  Water and my computer...I knew what is ahead and what I needed.  My father is not a complainer and the daddy in him still tries to protect me since Joe has been gone.  He is tough and I could tell from the day before he wasn’t doing well.
As I drove, I called EMS to meet me and the caregiver so I didn’t have to take my mother.  EMS got there minutes after I arrived and they put my father on the stretcher while I reassured my mother that I would take good care of daddy.  After hours in the emergency room, his doctor came in and said he had a severe strain in his back and he would also take care of his GI tract problem...I wasn’t convinced this was correct and told the doctor my dad had fallen early in March, complained of pain and had declined since.  I asked for an orthopedic evaluation and second opinion.  About 7:00 pm it was concluded he had a compression fracture in his spine.  
After 14 hours at Sid Peterson Hospital I was very weary.  I called my daughter and talked to her for a while.  Weariness got the best of me and was causing me to loose hope for a new life and making me feel like hospitals and doctors sick people were my future.  She patiently listened for a while and then sweetly said, “Can you do me a favor and find my mother?”  “What?” I replied.  “I do not know who I am talking to because what you are saying is going against everything you have ever taught me.”   “Read Romans 8 Mom.”   I was busted!  I have lived long enough for my children to preach to reap what you sow!  She was right and I learned a good lesson.  Weariness is not my friend; it can lie to me, cause one to loose hope, and distort the future.  Rest is vital and I must guard it.

Thankfully we got to the root of the problem and he is having the surgery as I type to cement the fracture.  He has several other issues and they are saying he will have two weeks of rehab there or at a nursing home.
I am concluding that there is more for me to inherit in the continual hospitals visits and the hard things I have had to face and let go of.  Suffering is not fun; but  as Graham Cooke says, “God allows in his wisdom what he could prevent in his power. “  Suffering develops compassion and that is always good.  Many lack  compassion and are quick with answers instead of being sensitive to people.  Jesus was moved with compassion and that was the bedrock of His ministry. Many in the body of Christ need to grasp this truth.  

I am learning to press on no matter what.  Life goes on.  Seasons come and seasons go, and He is Lord of them all.  I balance  my life with rest, my parents affairs, my kids, friends, different people God sends to me to minister to, lots of walks, working out at the gym, enjoying my convertible, swing dancing, writing for the local newspaper - my article appears on Friday in the Kerrville Daily Times.  I love long mornings on my deck with my coffee, my cat Charlie, my watch dog Maggie and the two writers groups I am a part of.  I love swing dancing in San Antonio and go with a couple as often as I can. We are the older ones at Sam’s Burger Barn as most the dancers are younger.   It is a lot of fun and good exercise.  Last week I danced with 10 different guys!  I teach Joe Maxwell to leave me!  This is not my life...
Still Singing, In Hospitals and Pressing On-


Friday, April 8, 2011

Learning, Discovering and Moving On

I have been without a computer the last few days but now I am back in business.  I had an amazing week and feel like I took huge steps in the right direction in several areas.  Today marks 18 months since Joe  left this earth and I am smiling at God’s goodness to me.  I am also proud of my children and how they have all handled this challenge.
My parents have needed my help to get some things in order.  No one likes to update their wills but it is something that is very me on this one.  Fortunately Joe and I got things in order in our lives in the nick of time.  Last year I personally got all those things done as I do not want my own children to have anything extra to do if something happened to me.  I had been working for weeks to help my father with the process and we finally were able to cross this item off the list!  I also helped him with getting some things done with his finances.  There is still much to do but the ball is rolling the right direction.  The will was a big accomplishment as I have asked my father to get things in order since my mother got sick 7 years ago.  I discovered the last time it was updated was 1978 when I was 18 so it was time to make some changes.
I also finally had the time to get all my personal items out of the Christian Women’s Job  Corps.  I have worked to help the transition go smoothly and just have not had the energy or time to deal with this with travel, parents, taxes, transition, etc.  CWJC was a big part of my everyday life.  It was not my life or identity although people in my community associate me with the organization.  The other evening I got all my items and carried them out to my car.  I personally needed to do this as it was a closure for me.  When Joe died, I wanted to personally deal with his closet.  I needed to do that for me, not have someone do it for me; and with his things, I had to do it a little at a time.  Endings are personal and each person needs to deal with it in a way that will enable them to go on. As Bill Blackburn said in our local paper this past week, “you have to grieve to go on.” That is a simple statement that is profound.  One cannot really go on in life until they grieve the loss or change.  As my friend Nina always said,  “ Never let anyone tell you how to grieve”...
The Kerrville Daily Times asked me to write a column for them some months ago and I finally submitted my first article that was published in last Friday’s paper.  I am taking little steps to keep moving on in life although I am not sure exactly what this picture will look like.  I want to exercise and improve the gifts God has given me.  Somehow in Joe’s loss I have discovered another way to communicate but I can’t say I am a huge fan of English.  
I have also been asked to speak at a Baptist Church in  the Houston area in June am excited about the opportunity to step into something I am passionate about.  I love sharing the things God has taught me and is teaching me.  At the end of the day, we are all people dealing with life’s struggles.  I have been through much pain in my life but being honest about it and sharing with others I think helps them to not feel alone as they     seek to know God more in their own ups and downs.  I have found that people are hungry for the truth.  God is a God of truth and the Bible is full of stories of honest men and women.  Truth is like a hammer that shatters lies.  Often times the enemy of our soul lies to us and makes us feel that we are the only one that has ever struggled in an area.  Praying for God to reveal truth is one of my favorite prayers and it is the one prayer that He always answers.  I love it!

Yesterday I attended the Texas Writers Conference at Schreiner University.  The workshops challenged me and I even wrote my first poem.  I was with a diverse group of people that were from various religions and some New Age.  Often times we were asked to read our writings to the group and I loved sharing my faith in a non threatening way and left so thankful that I know a God full of hope and healing.  Many there were full of pain and I was moved with compassion for them.  We will see what divine appointments develop from these relationships.  Below is one of my writings.
What I  Don’t Want To Tell You
by Kathleen Maxwell
Life can be so painful at times
Suffering comes like a faithful friend
But what I hate to tell you is that suffering has been my best teacher in life
Through the hardest times I have learned the most as I have been determined not to waste the pain
Walking through the valley of the shadow of death I have discovered gems that have made my life sparkle again
Watching tumors grow on the man I loved for 33 years and letting him go has given me an unshakable confidence to do things I never thought possible
I have discovered things about myself
I have learned how dearly loved I am by God
I have found new friends to share life’s adventure with
I now know to the core of my being- I am never alone and silence is a treasure
Personally God has been teaching me recently about being His beloved.  Years ago He taught me about being His much loved child.  I feel I am in a season of growing up and into a new place in Him; maturing into His beloved bride that rests in His affection for me. Deuteronomy 33:12 says, “ Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” (NIV) I feel His intentions  for me at this time is to be captivated by thoughts of Him and resting in the fact that He adores me and only wants what is best for me.  Isn’t that how a groom in love is?  He only wants the best for the one he loves.  Joe was that way with me.  
Learning, discovering, and moving on-