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

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hugging Grace

What a whirlwind life has been for me!  Somehow I was under the impression that when I retired from CWJC, life would slow down.  Well, color me surprised. . . it has not!  The main reason it has not is because of the season I am in with my parents.
After two and a half weeks in the hospital for a fractured vertebra, my father was released Saturday.  Being a caregiver and widow has been the hardest thing I have ever done.  In my heart, I know God is using these things to develop me.  I know I am growing in long suffering and endurance, and these will be necessary for where God will take me next.  This process has challenged me.  When someone you love is in the hospital and suffering , it shifts the world you know around and puts new demands on the caregiver emotionally as well as physically and mentally. Every patient needs an advocate and I am a professional one now! I remember a nurse  advising me to use caution because so often the caregiver dies  or become ill before the patient because of the stress.  I am having to exercise extreme self-care right now in my life.  I talked yesterday with a woman who said it has been years since she was a caregiver of a family member, and she still hasn’t recovered.  

Saturday I arrived at the hospital at 10:30 a.m., and at 4:30 p.m. I still had not stopped long enough to eat lunch.  Just getting him home, settled, medicated, grocery store, prescriptions filled, and then my mom was having trouble breathing, had a mini sezuire  and  then became  listless, so I had to take care of that. all while the help we had hired had to leave!  I crawled home, completely exhausted.  This is a season where I have the opportunity to serve my wonderful parents and develop new spiritual muscles that I never knew I had; become the woman God knows I am, and prepare for the dreams He has for me.  He is a great economist!

I think it is totally amazing how God answers us when we look to Him!  I love how He uses different ways to speak to us.  We are the most blessed of all people to have a living God that wants to speak to us and help us in our need.  I have recently struggled with feeling like hospitals, doctor visits, care giving will never end. I have been dealing with this constantly for 7 1/2 years now, intensely the last two years with Joe and the 8 hospitalizations my parents have experienced since he died 18 months ago. God brought encouragement to me in several ways and I adore Him for cheering me on in my quest to overcome the circumstance I have found myself in.

Leia Francisco, a Life Coach and dear friend asked me to lunch and it was a huge deposit in my bank.  Our lunch had been planned for several months.  She works with women all over the nation and world that are dealing with transition in their lives. She has even appeared on TV and is a national speaker.  I was honored to go to lunch.   As we visited, she made a comment that encouraged me.  She said, "I have worked with many women for years, but I have never worked with anyone going through so many transitions and endings at one time: aging parents and anticipatory grief, children marrying leaving home, death of a spouse, a job ending, you have seen your last child go out into the world and are moving into another decade of your life.  You are managing both external and internal transitions."  Then she said, "You will never be the same.  You are not only grieving at many levels but reinventing yourself and it all takes a lot of energy.  You have to go through the rituals of letting go and that takes time and energy.  Rituals are very important.  The old Kathleen isn't and can't come back because these events have changed you. And you are progressing in the journey at all levels."  Then she said, "Some people will struggle with the fact that you will not be the same."  I  told another friend the other day, "There is a better version of me coming!"  I know these circumstances are designed by God to help me become the woman He has intended for me to become although at times I wondered if they would kill me in the process! I think they are pruning some of the things that need to go in my life.  

 Yes, the suffering  has been intense because He is intent on my accelerated development.  Some days I have a good attitude, find joy, walk in peace and some days I don't do so well and wish I would have done better.  It has been much more difficult without my mate to hold me and cheer me on but I am learning who Kathleen Maxwell is without the things that have always been there for me to lean on.  Some days I stumble and gasp for breath and others I stand tall.  The important thing to me is that I get back up and keep trying to walk.
After lunch I was walking through the hospital and ran into  someone who had been a family friend for years.  He asked what I was doing there and I told him about my dad.  He compassionately looked at me and said, "You have been through hell.  We will be praying."  He was a man that had lost a child years ago and understood grief and validated the challenge.  Those words blessed me and actually encouraged me because he felt my pain.  That is what Job longed for was friends that could share his pain with him and cheer him on.
This past week I had the honor of attending a Christian Men’s Job Corps graduation.  I helped start this ministry six years ago, and one of my graduate’s husband graduated.  Joe and I have parented them through the years, and it was wonderful to see this family growing in God.  Congrats to Benny and Andrea!  I felt like a proud Mama and Grandmother.
I also attended the annual Christian Women’s Job Corps Style Show.  It was wonderful to see the ministry I have been passionate about for years continue.  I had several ask me if it was hard or sad for me; not at all.  I know my season there is complete, and I have done my job.  I am thrilled for the new Executive Director and for her assistant to have the opportunity I had and know God has a new assignment for me.  As I watched the event, I was at perfect peace and love cheering others on.   It was great to see so many from my community that I love and get so many hugs.  I miss all the hugs I got at CWJC.  Tonight is CWJC graduation and it will be awesome to see the women I interviewed graduate from the program and Friday there will be a retirement party for me at Rails at noon.
The rest of the week was spent attending Relay for Life, the annual fund raising event to honor cancer survivors, caregivers, and those lost to the disease.  This year was easier than last, and again I got to cheer others on.  I walked around the track with the crisp spring breeze blowing my curls listening to the music in the background.  The words to the song were, “It is just a little time and Jesus will be coming soon.”  I felt God reminding me that life is short, make a difference, and know it is all about life in heaven--not here on earth.

Life goes on and on a fun girlie  note I had the pleasure of visiting with a newly engaged young woman and her mom and we shared wedding stories.  I also went with another friend to help her get things ready for her wedding and to celebrate her being a bride.  We are close to the same age and have both been dating and now she is getting married.  We had so much fun!  Life may be difficult but I will figure out a way to have fun!
God continues ministering to me, revealing truth, and giving me promises.  We all love the promises, but the process of obtaining them is not always funThe process, however, gives you authority and power.  Here are just a few promises for those of you who are widowed.  We are really quite dear to His heart!  Psalms 68:3-5 says, “. . . rejoice before God. . .sing praises to his name, He is a father to the fatherless and a defender of the widow.”  He will be our defense!  Whooo hoo!  Psalms 146:9 says,” . . . he sustains the fatherless and the widow.”  This brings great comfort for me and my children.  God is on our side, because He knows and understands the distress as it states in James 1:27.  Reinventing yourself is not easy, and I have been challenged with more than I have been able to write about, but I will overcome as I hug His grace and hang on to joy.  His presence is where I find them.  I also know that many of you are struggling with big things in your life.  Keep getting up, pressing on and hang on to Him.  God is working on all of us and we will be a radiant bride!
Hugging Grace and Hanging with Joy,


  1. You have been and continue to be such an inspiration to me. Rejoicing, for our God is good, and He loves us enough to never leave us where we are, ever molding and shaping us for His perfect plan for our life to reach others.
    I love you. Your Sister in Christ- Kim

  2. Great post, Kathleen. It was good catching up with you a bit. I've never been in your situation, and cannot begin to imagine what it's like, aside from the growing older part.

    For me, I'm not sure it's so much reinventing myself as much as becoming who I was meant to be all along. As you say, it often takes hardship and suffering to get us to that point.

    Just remember that everyone you meet is going through trials of their own. They may not be as apparent, but they are painful all the same. God is stretching all of us in unique ways of His own choosing and design. You encourage us by your example and your transparency even when you fall short....

    I'm glad you are enjoying some girlie frivolous times in your not-so-fun season of life right now. Do take care of yourself!

  3. Loved much as I love you...