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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Letting Go of Your Dreams





Happy 7th Anniversary to my kids Austin and Laura!





Below is the Kerrville Daily Times article for last week.

 Letting Go of Your Dreams
Kathleen Maxwell
August 19th, 2011
     I vividly remember the day in February 2009 I went for a brisk walk while my husband was having chemotherapy at MD Anderson in Houston, Tx. He had a rare cancer that only 2 in a million people get and his chemo treatments lasted 10 hours. 
     I had to get out of the hospital and get some fresh air and verbally process what I was feeling. I called a good friend who has mentored me for years. 
     “I feel like all my dreams are being threatened and I don’t think my heart can take it,” I said as tears streamed down my face. I had already had 6 years of watching my mother suffer and was weary. I  did not want to sign up for this class I had been assigned.
“Kathleen, your heart will be tethered if you don’t start letting go of your dreams and Joe now.” she gently replied. Her words are always seasoned with compassion so my heart was open to them.
Somehow I knew the truth was right although those were not the words I really wanted to hear at the moment. I decided right then and there to begin letting go of my dreams for our future, surrender to God and fight with all the faith I had for his life.
     Joe and I had often talked about our lives without our three kids for years; especially on the challenging days. I had clutched our dreams for quite a long time and wrestled with letting go of them. I told God exactly how I felt about it and that I didn’t like it.  He knows what is in our hearts and loves when we are honest with him. Nothing can shock the one who created us and loves us dearly. His love is unconditional.
     I felt him speak to me saying, “Kathleen, if all your dreams die, I will give you new ones.” My heart settled down as I took a deep breath and decided to let go of my dreams.
  “Lord, I choose as an act of my will to let go of my dreams with Joe and commit this to you, “ I  hesitantly prayed. 
   Often times the hard part of letting go is that we want to see what we are trading for. Letting go involves uncertantity. We want the security of making sure that what we are letting of is a better deal for us instead of trusting in God’s goodness.
     The disciples faced the same challenge we do in letting go. Jesus did not give them much travel information. He just said, “follow me.”  He didn’t tell them where they were going or exactly what would happen. He wanted them to have the adventure of walking with Him. The disciples had to let go of life as they had known it, their occupations, their plans for something they had never known...walking with God.
    Job struggled with letting go of his family and possessions and it was not easy for him. He declares his overwhelming feelings in his personal distress and says things like, 
 “And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me.  Night pierces my bones;
   my gnawing pains never rest.  In his great power God becomes like clothing to me, he binds me like the neck of my garment.
 He throws me into the mud,  and I am reduced to dust and ashes.
 “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
   I stand up, but you merely look at me.
” Job 30:16-20 (NIV) 
His pain was raw and real and his feelings made him feel like God was far away, but God was right there with him and had a great plan ahead. Don’t be afraid to express your pain to God...he can handle your anguish of “letting go”. Often times people that have never experienced a significant loss struggle with others “letting go” because they cannot relate. Job’s friends could not relate to his pain.  Sometimes our processing  needs to be God alone.
    In the end, God gave Job much more than he lost. Job 42:10 says, “...the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. Job 42:12 states,  “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” 
     I wish I could tell you I am accomplished  at letting go but I must confess that I am still practicing the art. Doctors practice, lawyers practice so I figure I can practice too as I grow in letting go and walking with him.
      When I  let go, I am learning that God will either catch me or teach me to fly.
     My dreams did die but God is giving me new ones. I have decided to follow him into the unknown for the joy of knowing him more. What about you? Are there dreams you need to release? I don’t know much, but I know he is faithful.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Plain and Simple

    When I resigned from CWJC in February, I told the Kerrville Daily Times in an interview that I felt like I had finished all that God had for me to do in that ministry. I also likened where I was in life to the military. When you finish a military assignment you have some time of rest and then you get new "marching orders." I have gotten my new duty station and assignment! 


      The short version of this email is that I have been working very hard at my new job. I love it and feel it is an answer to many prayers many have prayed for our community. I just get to be a part of the pie. The past two weeks at YouthBuild, the program that I am involved in with BCFS Human Services. BCFS employees over 800 people world wide so I am quickly learning about corporate America. I  have spent  a lot of my time making connections to let the public know who YouthBuild is are recruiting candidates.
    In my spare time I have been learning so many new things from new computer programs, new phone system, how the programs works and my role. There were several long nights this past week but hopefully it will get easier and the hours won't be so long. The other night I had a conversation with a friend and stated that my brain was tired! It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks!
     I am excited about how this program will help young people ages 16-24 get their education, learn the construction trade, give back to our community as well as many other things. There are 270 YouthBuilds  currently.  Play the video below to see what it is about.

My job is to oversee our 40 participants  education working with Hill Country High School,  our GED teacher, Alamo Community College, and the 5 members of our team. I will  teach life skills, resume preparation, job skills, work ethic and character. I will also help our trainees find employment after they graduate in 9 months.
     I have really enjoyed getting to know my team. They are a wonderful group and I am honored to work with such a great group. We are preparing for our community orientation, our trainee orientation, and our fall program. Lots of things to think about and plan! All on my team are in their 30's and 40's and move at a fast pace. I move fast too but somehow I feel like the senior member of the team and am simply trying to keep up.

     Some of you have asked about Lin, my friend in California. We continue to communicate but have decided that our relationship will only be a friendship. I am thankful for the gift of his friendship but am at peace with it only being a friendship. I have learned that I have to follow only where peace leads me.

     God continues shaping me in this season of my life. At the end of each day, I reflect on how he has blessed me that day. It is amazing to put it on paper. This has been a desert season for me but I have found a stream. I am learning obedience, gentleness, and more about my identity and being the beloved of God. I am also learning to have more faith in the love of God. Love never fails. Jesus requires nothing of us...He just loves us. He endured a lot but He just kept loving. He is our example.
     I have recently produced two new CDs from my recent speaking engagements on two new topics.  "The Good News About Grief" and "The Power of Gentleness." If you are interested in purchasing them contact me via email with your name and address and I will mail them to you. They sell for $4.00 which includes shipping and handling.

     Life isn't about me...it is about Him and His Kingdom. The great news is that I get to walk with Him. It is a wonderful life!

Kathleen

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Letting Go Is Here to Stay


Below is my article that appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times last week.  Hope you enjoy! I also want to thank those of you that have expressed how the articles have personally helped you. That is the purpose of my writing; to help others discover more freedom as we all walk with Him. I also love what The Daily Times said about my articles online.


 "Kathleen Maxwell, local author, teacher and women's minister shares lessons she has learned about God during her intimate spiritual journey."

Letting Go 
August 2nd 2011
I think I can safely say I have lived half of my life and I have concluded from my life experiences that letting go is here to stay. There are many things in life that I have had to let go of through the years and I  am sure many of you will be able to relate.

One cold winter day as we were driving to school, my oldest son told me he wanted to apply to the Naval Academy and become an engineer. Although I knew he would have excellent opportunities from attending this military academy, I also had to face the reality he would one day go to war. Austin was a Junior in high school and I vividly remember sitting in the parking lot at his high school after he got out of the car and talking to God and saying, “God I didn’t raise my son to go to war.” I felt God reply, “I know, but you constantly prayed for me to help you raise him for his destiny and what I have called him to. Now can you let go of him to do that?” I sat in my car in the freezing weather and wept. How could I argue with God and win? He was right.  My husband and I frequently prayed for God to help us prepare our children for His plans and purposes.
As I struggled to let go of my first born for the plans God had for him I began to change my prayers.  “God help me let go of my son.” God graciously helped this loving mother that dearly loved her son to let go. The first thing that had to change was my perspective of my children. I began to realize that they were not mine but God’s. After all, my husband Joe and I had given all three of our children to God. They belonged to Him; he just loaned them to us for 20 years to raise. As I embraced that mindset and began to see things God’s way, peace flooded my heart. 
Since that time 12 years ago, I have had to let go of many things. Dreams for my life,  relationships, job, life as I have known it, my other two children, my husband, plans I’ve made, just to name a few.  God has helped me each time to let go of people and things i have clung to. I imagine He chuckles and says, “Kathleen, I am so glad you asked because it shows that you trust me.”
Letting go is directly related to our trust in God. It is the place where we practice what we preach. There are many examples of letting go in the Bible although those particular words are not used. For example, Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to let go of her plans for her life when the angel showed up in Luke1:29-38 and told her God’s plan for her life. She had vision to simply marry Joseph and be a good wife but when the angel appeared ,she suddenly was faced with letting go of her dreams for the unknown. Her response was, “ I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” She later had to let go of her son as he was crucified. 
The great part of these stories is that letting go makes us vulnerable to the goodness of God. What Mary traded was much better than anything she could have imagined! She was chosen to be the mother of the Savior and in His death, came resurrection and our access to personal relationship with God.
Letting go has not been easy for me but I find the more I practice it, the easier it is. I have found I am confronted with my fears when I see I need to let go of something. When I look at what I fear and deal with it, it moves me to another level of freedom  and that is always great!  II Timothy 1:7 tells us fear is not from God, therefore, we need to eliminate it from our lives. 
Letting go declares my trust in God and  is an act of worship. It is saying “I submit to you   and the process you want to take me through.”
It also says “I trust you God.”
 Releasing our plans and the things we hold close, opens us to new possibilities and is a trading time. It allows us to grow in dependance on God and release the illusion of that I am in control of my life or those we love.  I have seen too many parents hang on to their children, control them out of fear and in the end, not help them to grow up and become mature adults. We should constantly be empowering our children as they grow to become independent  from us and dependent on God.
My oldest son graduated from the Naval Academy and went straight to the Persian Gulf and later to Iraq. He has been to war twice now and I now know he was made to be one of our nation’s military leaders. It is God’s call on his life and it is wonderful to see him rise to the challenge for our freedom.
What do you need to let go of in your life?. Psalms 118:7 states, “The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” God is waiting and ready to help in our time of letting go because he loves it when we trust him. (to be continued August 19th)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Whirlwind

I have come to the conclusion that God loves whirlwinds. He loves to walk with us and whirl us around! Life has bought another change my way and the past week has been a "hang on" time for me.

About two weeks ago I was reading the local newspaper and as I finished, I began to talk to God. I carry on conversation with him out loud...I sometimes think he is the only one who really wants to listen to me!
Anyway, I said to him, "Lord, I feel like I have done what I can do with my parents, I feel rested and I am ready for something else. I can't keep living on my savings. Is it time to work?" I began to look for jobs in the paper and immediately saw something I thought would be interesting. I made a phone call and was told to get a resume in by the next day because they were already interviewing. When I got an interview, I was told there was another position they thought I was better qualified for. Wednesday I found out that I got the job and I began work today! I am the Education/Employment Specialist for BCFS Human Resources new Youth Build Program.  Although BCFS has been in Kerrville for a while, Youth Build is new to our community. It is a construction training, educational, life skills and leadership program that reaches out to 16-24 year olds. I am excited about the opportunity to work with them.

It has been a whirlwind as I have quickly gone from my 6 month season of no real schedule to the alarm again! The four days I have had to prepare to go back to the work force have been packed with activities and things to wrap up. It has been a sudden shift but I think I am ready for a new adventure.

Last Thursday would have been my 32nd anniversary if Joe had still been alive. I went with a friend and her daughter to get a manicure/pedicure which was a wonderful treat. Joe would have wanted me to do something special for myself. I wore my wedding ring part of the day in honor of the life we shared. I went to dinner with friends and Price and we had a fabulous time. All in all it was a great day with only a moment of tears. It was much easier than last year. I am moving on.

Although I had not really planned to start a new life in Kerrville, it is where I feel peace. It is a new life. I started a new job today, spoke at Cowboy Camp Meeting tonight on the topic of grief and will speak this Saturday at a community wide breakfast for women at Hosanna Lutheran Church on High St. in Comfort, TX. It is an annual breakfast and the public is invited. They have asked me to speak on the topic of gentleness so I will talk about the power of gentleness. God has been speaking much to me on the subject. It is at 9:15 and is free so I hope you will come!


Whirling around but hanging on!

Kathleen