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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Totally Personal

Dinner with Austin and Laura
I have recently returned from a good visit with my oldest son and his wonderful wife in Baltimore.  I haven't had a chance to really visit with them since spending time with them after Joe's death. I loved every bit of mothering my kids when they were little but I absolutely really love my adult children and enjoy being their friend. It is fun to hear their views of life and get a glimpse of their lives now.

Our visit wasn't all roses...there was a hard blow. Crockett, their Golden Retriever died the first morning I was there. Crockett was part of the family. For me, it was hard seeing my kids loose something they loved dearly. I was glad I could be there for them as I am well acquainted with lose and grief. We will all miss Crockett and pray for Austin and Laura.

We decided to go to Lake Anna in Virginia for the weekend. The kids have a boat and I had so much fun on the lake watching them ski and wake board. I loved just being with them, riding in the boat and visiting. Austin reminds me of his dad in his demeanor and how he conducts life.
Boat time with Austin and Laura

(funny video of my attempt to wake board)

I heard that Price told Austin to video me if I tried to wake board as he didn't think his mother could do it...I had to prove him wrong and yes, you can teach old woman new tricks! I learned to wake board and I am still alive although I was very sore the next day!'

Union Station
On Monday Austin and Laura went to work and I went to Washington DC for the day. It was a fun experience as I learned to navigate alone in a big city. Joe and I had been to DC when Austin attended the Naval Academy so it wasn't totally new, but still an adventure. I enjoyed Union Station, Georgetown and walking around our capital city.  The best part was that I didn't get lost and somehow made it back to Texas.
Botanical Gardens in DC

Washington Cathedral

I am learning to travel alone, although I can't say I really like it. I still wonder where my life went but am determined to press on. Price is home for two weeks and it is good to have him home. He is doing well in his summer job with Dynamic Offshore Resources. He is  learning much as he shadows the head engineer in the Gulf of Mexico. He has grown over the summer and is now over 6'2" and has put on a lot of muscle!

Thursday I had my first book signing on with a group of authors and artists at a special event hosted at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm.  I was honored to be a part of the event.

My parents are doing well and my dad is gaining strength and weight. Mom enjoys each day and loves just being with dad and likes it when I stop by.

Mallory and Rob are busy with their new home and should be in next weekend for a wedding. I can't wait to see them.

As I approach this week, I have to admit that I have shed some tears. August 4th would have been our 32nd wedding  anniversary.  32 years ago I was busy preparing to be a bride and wife...
celebrating our 25th anniversary
Joe and I  frequently went away this week to celebrate our anniversary. I was fortunate to have a man that made our relationship a priority.  God continues to hold my heart as I journey along as a single woman. Life is different and there is nothing I can do to change the cards that were dealt to me but play them well and try to win the game.

Below is a scripture that I recently came across from a member of a group I am a part of. It is someone's personal version of Jeremiah 29:11 from Ned Espritu @ The Mission in California:

"I (still) know the (amazing) plans I have (just) for you. (while it may not look like it now) they are (unfailing and perfect) plans (for you and your family's) good, and definitely not disaster, to give you a (brighter, stronger and more joyful) future(than you can ever imagine) and an ( unshakable, rock solid, water walking, mountain moving) hope."

I love this scripture as I journey into the unknown with God. I wait on Him and rest in His love for me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Living in Uncertainty

Living in uncertainty

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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 5:51 pm | Updated: 5:53 pm, Wed Jul 20, 2011.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation and simply did not know what to do? Have you ever felt like the odds are against you? Are you in a place where you just do not have the answer?
Maybe you planned something and then it does not happen or you are in a place in your life where you cannot plan too far ahead because things are uncertain. How do we walk in this place? I have recently found myself in all of the above situations.
When my late husband was diagnosed with a rare cancer, suddenly our plans for our lives changed in a day. I quickly realized there were many unknowns in the world of cancer, and I had no guarantees in life.
We had raised our three kids and started our second honeymoon. The words "Joe, you have a very rare cancer" not only changed his healthy world but also my plans for the two of us.
Life was suddenly uncertain, and I wasn't a fan of the unpredictable. If I made a plan, it was changed because of chemo, a doctor's decision, test results, etc.
In reality, all of us live in uncertainty, but most of us just don't realize it. None of us have any guarantees in life.
The company you work for goes under and you are out of a job. Your child is in a wreck. Your teenager tells you she is expecting. Your mate suddenly has a heart attack and is gone. The list goes on.
Our certainty must be rooted in the nature of who God is. He is faithful when life is uncertain. I never know what is around the corner, but for me, loving God and walking with him through life gives me something to hang on to. Although I do not know what my future holds, I do know who holds my hand if I let him as I walk in life's uncertainties.
The Bible has an answer of how we are to navigate through such a season. I found it in II Chronicles 20 in a story about King Jehoshaphat.
Several vast armies were coming against his kingdom and he did not know how to handle it. What I love about this great leader is how he handled his questions and problems.
He modeled for his people seeking and magnifying God, not his situation. Jehoshaphat declares in verse 12, "For we have no power against this vast army that has come against us. We know not what to do but our eyes are on you."
He does not deny his problem but humbly admits he does not know what to do and then declares that he will keep his focus on God.
God responds to Jehoshaphat's problem by saying the battle is not Jehoshaphat's battle but God's. God tells him to not be discouraged or afraid and to "set himself, stand firm and see the salvation of his God." Wow. All of a sudden Jehoshaphat is in a pretty secure place. All the king of Israel has to do is focus, stand and worship God. We could all take a lesson from this king.
Worshipping God is a powerful weapon because it aligns our focus with the one certain thing in life - God loves us and is for us. Giving thanks to God (because all blessings come from God), reminding ourselves that his mercy trumps any sin we have committed, is an amazing way to do battle against what comes against us. The end of the story says that, after Jehoshaphat defeated his enemies, it took his people three days to collect all the blessings. Rest and peace came to his nation.
I daily face things for which I have to answer "I don't know" or "I don't know what to do," but I am beginning to say "I don't know yet."
Keeping my focus on God, his faithfulness and love and me constantly having a song in my heart helps me find the answer I need. It also helps calm my soul while I live in the YET.
For me, I have adopted the mindset that trials or crisis are adventures. It is not a good adventure story unless something goes wrong and character overcomes the challenge. I believe we have a God-given right to overcome in any situation we face when our heart is right and we focus on Him.
I have decided to follow Jehoshaphat's example to keep my eyes on God, seek him for what I can learn in the adventures of life and have fun. A good song keeps a spring in my step as I take his hand and round the corner of uncertainty.
Kathleen Maxwell is a public speaker, author and the former executive director of the Christian Women's Job Corps. Contact her at

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To order a book written by Kathleen or hear her speak on various topics, email her  with your order.

Book -Wake Up To Who You Are! - $4.00 (includes shipping)
CD’s: All CD’s are $3.00 plus shipping
Wake Up To Who You Are (understanding your value and worth)
Walking In Peace I and II (learning to walk in peace in life’s stressful situations)
Focus and Praise (a powerful way to navigate when you do not know what to do)
Handling Crisis (how to manage in times of crisis)
You Are An Overcomer (you have a God given right to get the better of any situation)
Living Out of Your Value Instead of Your Needs (we have have needs but should live from our value)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shifting and Letting Go

I have tried for several days to post something but have not been successful. I took a class on video blogging but obviously did not learn the last part about posting! One day I will video blog.

I am enjoying some time with my oldest son and his wife. It is amazing to me that Austin grew up. Joe and I would tell him when he was a teenager that he needed to pray for us because we didn't know what we were doing with him. He was our firstborn and therefore the one we practiced on. 

I want to talk about shifting. Life is full of shifting. A shift can occur at anytime and sometimes we don't know it is going to happen. Other times we can see the shift coming. When things shift, it is important that we let go; otherwise we can have even more pain in the shift. On the other hand, it is important that we hang on to the one thing that is secure in this life and that is God. He never changes, is always there in the time of our greatest need and loves us. Even in the greatest shift we can breathe deep and rest because we have something that keeps us steady, gives us hope and we can find comfort in the fact that Jesus will get us through the shift.

When things shift, it is important to let go quickly. The pain of letting go is directly related to the attachment to the person, pet, life change, or the item. For some people, losing a pet is not that big of a deal because it is something that we feed and guards the house. Other people might have a lot of difficulty when a pet dies because the pet has been through life with them and is a constant companion. Leaving a job may be no big deal to one person because it is only a place to earn a paycheck and yet for others, it can be difficult because they have invested much of their life and time. 

I am learning to adjust to the shifts of life. Shifting is here to stay and the quicker I can wrap my mind around the shift, the easier things are. When life shifts, it is important to hang on to the hand of God. It is always there for us no matter what. In every situation God says, "It is ok. I am right here." Reminding ourselves of that shatters fear; fear  we can't make it, fear of the future, fear the emotional pain will never subside. There are many scriptures that remind us that God's heart for us is to hang on to him and not be afraid. Fear is not from God. It is against the law of Christ
I have had another small wave of grief hit. It has been a while since I've had one which has been nice. You never know when one will hit. One day last week I was walking and saw a flower. All of a sudden I started to cry. I missed Joe sending me flowers. He was good at that. It was something that made me feel loved and special to him. I miss talking to him about things and hearing his perspective. There are many things I still miss but the pain has subsided. This week I had to let go of him sending me flowers. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are You Wearing Your Life Jacket?

Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 6:04 pm | Updated: 6:05 pm, Wed Jul 6, 2011.
You are never a failure unless you fail to see God's love for you. That sentence was the topic of my last article, and I want to continue to expound on it.
Living in the Bible belt, we frequently hear "God loves you." I encounter many people, though, who don't live like they believe it. I must confess I've lived most of my life as a Christian who did not really believe the fact that God really loved me dearly.
I will never forget the evening about 20 years ago when my late husband and I finished leading a Bible study on trusting God.
In our study, the statement was made that a person could not really trust God fully if they did not really believe he loved them. I broke down and confessed to my husband and to another couple that I struggled with trusting God and really believing he loved me. I had plenty of head knowledge but needed that which moved to my heart.
It was a humbling moment for me as a Bible study teacher to confess that, but it was true. My problem was that I looked at my circumstances and things I had been through and had doubted God's love. My confession and honesty opened the door for God to forever erase those doubts.

I asked him for a revelation of his love. I know he loved the day I offered up that prayer and my journey began in experiencing God's love. One day, one of my students brought me a valentine that had a scripture on it. I knew God was speaking through that little girl's gift.
The scripture was Jeremiah 31:3, which says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
It quickly became a treasured scripture because it is a constant reminder that God's love is unending for me. His love will never cease. Everlasting means now and always. I also love it because it also shows me that God is tenderly drawing me to himself. His kindness is birthed out of a heart of love for me.
Not long after, God took me to a scripture found in Deuteronomy 33:12.
It 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."
I remember when I was little and sat on someone's shoulders. I felt on top of the world because I was suddenly bigger than everything. I felt special. Things that once looked big to me suddenly were not that big.
God's heart is for his kids to rest and to know they are loved. When we climb up on his shoulders, resting in his love, then we can see our lives from his perspective.
God's viewpoint is always better than mine. He issues us an invitation to rest and come up higher.
When we have an understanding that God really loves us and is for us, we can rest in the middle of any storm in life. It is easy to focus on the storm or the problem, but when I focus on the fact that I am dearly loved, his beloved, his love acts as my life jacket. It helps me ride the waves. The life jacket of his love allows me to rest and not fight the waves and to quit trying in my own strength.
When I wear the life jacket of his love, prepared for whatever storm may arise, I stay above the waves of what is coming against me. God has provided for our safety because he is good. We have a choice to wear it or not.
About four years ago, I was taking my nephew, Taylor, out for a special fun day. My sister and her husband waited a long time for Taylor, and he was not only very special to them but to me, as I don't have grandchildren - yet.
He is a child who wakes up each day full of energy and excitement. Each day he is ready to enjoy and conquer life.
Taylor was in the back seat of the Jeep and was singing and enjoying his day with Aunt Kathleen. As we drove, I felt the Holy Spirit invade the Jeep and I began to weep. I felt God speak that Taylor was free to enjoy each day because he knew he was dearly loved by his parents as well as me.
Taylor knows we will take care of everything that concerns him, protect him, and he knows that we enjoy him as a person.
Then I felt God say, "Kathleen, I want you to live as my much-loved child."
I have felt so much more freedom from stress and anxiety as I have been learning to live as a much-loved child. When we really believe God is a loving father and will take care of everything that concerns us, we are free to enjoy every situation we encounter.
I am learning that when I am stressed or anxious, I just need a greater revelation of his love for me.
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 fears is not made perfect in love."
Who am I? I am a much-loved child of God.
Who are you? YOU ARE A MUCH-LOVED AND WANTED CHILD, and you are never a failure unless you fail to see God's love for you

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