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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Overcoming Begins With A Grateful Heart



I had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with my kids. Price and I went to Houston to celebrate with Mallory and Rob. You know you have done your job well when your daughter fixes a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner! It was a family affair with Rob and I working on the turkey, Price giving us his selections and Mallory and I working to make it happen. We played Corn Hole and I discovered I am not any good at that game. After our dinner, we packed up and headed to to the big UT vs. A &M game in College Station. What a game! 
Personally, this Thanksgiving was not difficult for me. I was so happy to simply be with my kids. I could tell it was hard on them to not have their daddy. I tried to get them to help me decorate our Christmas tree but no one wanted to. This year I decorated by myself. In the past, decorating the tree was always such a joyous time full of tradition for all of us. It was three years ago that Joe was getting the Christmas decorations out of the attic and bumped his shoulder. It sent a shock thru his body and was the first indication that something wasn't right...
I know coming home is difficult for Mallory and Price as it is a painful reminder that Joe isn't here. It is hard as a mother when you have worked for years to make your home a refuge for your family and now it makes the pain surface. I simply keep asking God to heal their hearts and know He will be faithful.



Overcoming Any Problem Begins With A Grateful Heart
Kathleen Maxwell
November 25th, 2011
Kerrville Daily Times Article
     Overcoming any problem begins with a grateful heart. Those are words to a song I heard years ago. When I first heard them, I thought, “how could that be true?” I wasn’t convinced that the writer of the song knew what she was talking about so I began to check the words out against my problems. Sure enough, no matter what it was I was challenged with, I really did not begin overcoming the situation until I began to look at what I had to be thankful for in it.
      Thankfulness adjusts our attitude. Does anyone out there need an attitude adjustment?  I remember my mother telling me at times to adjust my attitude. She would do so with her hands on her hips which meant I better adjust it quickly.
      I Thessalonians 5:15 is our prescription for an attitude adjustment and just what Dr. God orders for His kids. It says, “Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) God is too good to tell us to do something and not provide what we need to do it. Our job is to obey and He will supply. Our job is also to ask Him for what we need and admit we cannot do it without Him.
     Sometimes overcoming begins with simply thanking God because He is good.            Psalms 107:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good and  his love endures forever.” When we can’t think of anything to be thankful for, we can always start with thanking God for his love. No matter what we are going through, we can rest in the fact that we are loved by the creator of the universe. We may not always feel loved and actually be rejected by people, but nothing can separate us from God’s love for us. His love has comforted me on many a difficult day as I simply made the statement, “God I thank you that you are good and you love me.” Those words help me adjust my attitude and remind me of the truth. I have prayed this prayer to help renew my mind when it has battled looking at all I have lost in the death of my husband. No matter what my circumstances, He is good and He loves me.
       Let me give you a personal example of  “overcoming any  problem begins with a grateful heart.” As I have walked the past three years through the world of cancer with my late husband and then trying to establish a new life as a young widow, I have relied on thanking God for what I do have vs. what I have lost. Gratefulness is my quick access to the presence of God, especially on the difficult days. His presence is what comforts me, gives me hope, helps me and is my anchor. Some days I do better than others, but scripture says in Psalms 95:2 , “Come into his presence with thanksgiving...” (KJV) If you need more of His presence, try thanksgiving. It works for me.
       I sometimes talk to God like this; “God, I need your help. Your word says to give thanks in all things so all I can think to thank you for is what I will learn in this situation. Thank you for the experience I will gain. Thank you for helping me through this.” God is faithful but often times we must wait on Him and trust Him.
     I do not believe God just gives us patience but He will help us to be patient. As we grow in that character, we learn the benefit of trusting His timing. God doesn’t just  give us longsuffering, but He will help us endure difficult things if we look to him. I know this from personal experience as I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Anyone can quote a scripture or pass a written test, but character is developed in the soil of difficulties.
      Colossians 3:17 states how we are to conduct our lives. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Thanks is an expression of gratitude and gratefulness. Thankful is an adjective that means pleased or relieved.How thankful are you? Do you have an overall feeling of being pleased and relieved? I personally could do better at being thankful.
      I know sometimes I have to simply pray, “God change my heart.” to develop an attitude of gratitude. According to this scripture, all our words,our job and actions should be done like we were doing it just for Jesus and with a beautiful attitude of thankfulness. 
           At the end of the day, all of us have plenty to be thankful for. James 1:17 says, 
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  All that we have that is good, is a gift from God. That is plenty to be thankful for.
     Thanksgiving is not just a season in November. God intends for it to be a lifestyle. He loves for His kids to be in His presence. Let’s start today. Will you join me in thanking Him more?  




Kathleen Maxwell is a native of the Hill Country, educator, writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping others discover the joy of walking with God and their value. You can contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com and on her blog www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Still Alive

     I know it has been two weeks since I have written which is not normal for me but I just couldn't seem to get around to it. I have spent some time with Price. I realize this is the tail end of 31 years of motherhood as I have known it and want to cherish each moment. I love my baby! By the way, he has a job when he graduates in May with Schlumberger in Houston. I am so proud of him.
     Physically I have been battling an infection in my adenoids and am on my 5th week of antibotics. I also discovered I am anemic which has made it hard to to have extra energy. Both of these have made me weary and cramp my style. Friday night I was asleep by 8:30! My immune system is down and i work around young people. I will continue to try to build it up and pray I get well real soon!
     Speaking of young people, I had the honor of leading one of my students to the Lord the other day. I was visiting her in the hospital and as we were visiting I asked her if she knew what a relationship with Jesus was about. She said no but wanted to, so I shared with her. She said she wanted a bible and then asked to pray. As I finished the prayer of salvation, the door opened and a lady walked in that was from my church and you will never guess what she had in her gift bag...a bible! The young girl immediately saw God's goodness and how He heard her prayer. It was wonderful and there is nothing better than than the joy of leading someone to the Lord.
     I enjoy my new job and working with the 27 boys and 7 girls. This past week we had a Thanksgiving Dinner to celebrate and to practice the social skills I have been teaching them. We also were in the Holiday Parade and  they built the playhouse in this photo. The job has challenged me but I know this is where God has assigned me. I know my job is to show them His unconditional love and they are responding to it. Each day is a new adventure and is action packed. There is never a dull moment that is for sure! My life now consists of walking down the street in parades to rap music with the kids! They actually built the house in the video below.
One of my students and her baby
The Holiday Parade Float
Some of my Youth Build kids
My lemon tree! - determined to bear good fruit one way or another!
     I have a new life in local politics helping Brad McCullouch in his campaign for District Attorney in District 198. I am learning a lot being his Campaign Manager and it is an honor to help him. I really believe he can make a difference in our community and keep District 198 a safe place. Check out his website and let's help get this godly man in office. The primary is in March but it will be here before we know it.  I also have this link on the front of my blog http://www.bradfor198da.com.

     I am looking forward to the holidays this year. The last few years I wasn't really looking forward to them without Joe but I am more settled now. The past two years have been brutal for me in more ways than one. I remember a widow telling me the second year was harder than the first and I couldn't imagine but it was for me too. I am thankful to begin year three. It is a time of hiddenness  for me and I am gaining much experience in things I never wanted to experience but that is where we gain power.  Inspiration moves us to revelation and revelation moves us to encounter. Encounter or experience moves us to transformation and power and that is awesome! I am developing in preserving and know He is preparing me for something...I just don't know what yet! I do know that there are things I will write about in the future but just can't right now. God daily encourages me in various ways. His comfort and kindness amaze me. I frequently have people I don't know stop me in town and thank me for the articles I write for the local faith section in our newspaper. I guess it shows God can use anybody! Happy Thanksgiving to all


Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Longhorn and The Silent Enemy


This weekend I went to Austin to go to the University of Texas vs. Texas Tech football game. It was a wonderful time visiting with Price, his friends, and the friends I went with. The crisp autumn breeze made the game almost picture perfect.
      My mom turned 75 last month. This was a good picture of her holding her 51 year old baby!
      Below is my latest article that appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times. Hope you enjoy it!



                                                                    
The Silent Enemy
Kerrville Daily Times 
October 28th, 2011
Kathleen Maxwell

                                                                                 

      I was with a group of people recently and as we were talking, a lady began to talk about different fears she had. She was talking about them as if she were proud of her fears. As I listened, I had to think of how far off base society has gotten from God’s intention for us. 
      Numerous times in scripture, God instructs and warns us not to play with fear. Isaiah 43:5 says,”Do not be afraid, for I am with you;” When we walk with God, we have the opportunity to step beyond ourselves knowing we are not alone. The problem is most of us entertain fear like it is a guest in our house instead of treating it like it is trespassing. Fear has robbed me too many times of opportunities.  
      Most of us do not go around talking about fears we battle, but I think fear is a silent enemy that whispers way too often in our ears. I believe fear is doubt and unbelief and doubt and unbelief is not trusting God. We were created to trust and walk with God. Fear’s main goal is to cause us to doubt the goodness of God and His love for us.
     One of the main things fear does is try to keep us down and from reaching our potential. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that you may have life and life to the full.” A fear filled life is not a full one. I can testify to that! For many hears I struggled with a fear of rejection, fear of looking stupid, fear of what others thought, fear of failure or making a mistake, just to name a few. For the longest time I thought I was the only one that had this battle. I now know many others struggle also.
     God created us to be courageous because we are made in his image. He is not the least bit afraid of anything or anybody because He knows his power is supreme. He is confidant in who he is and wants us to be the same way. My thought is that is easier said than done!
      When God called Joshua to lead the others into a wonderful life and what he had promised,  God gave Joshua specific instructions over and over again to be strong and courageous. He knew they would have to battle against their inadequacies to step into a better life. Joshua 1:7 he says, “Be strong and very courageous.” Next he command Joshua and said, “Only be strong and courageous.” Being strong means to stand your ground.God had given the people a wonderful opportunity but they had to hang on to the place they were blessed with and not be intimidated by the giants. One thing I have learned in life is that walking with God, he frequently takes us out of our comfort zone just like he did Joshua. I firmly believe if we are going to fulfill our destiny we are going to have to step on our fears and follow the words written in Joshua. We have an opportunity to walk in rightousness, peace and joy but we will have to stand our ground and believe that we deserve these gifts because God says.
     Another fear I have had to face, is a fear of rejection. There is risk in loving others and being in relationship with people. One thing for sure, at some time in life, all of us will face the fear of rejection. What I have discovered is if we are ever going to be someone who makes a difference, we will have to battle fear of being rejected. I love the words of Isaiah 41:9 which says, “You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 
     We see in this scripture that we are chosen and accepted. Believing that scripture and walking in it makes you powerful to overcome rejection. It sounds simple but it actually takes a retraining of our mind and healing of our heart when rejection or exclusion arrows are thrown at us. 
    What about a fear of looking stupid? Who likes to look like they lack intelligence? No one, if we all answer honestly. The truth is we all have things we need to learn, and the best way to learn is to ask questions. Often times we feel if we ask a question, others will think we are stupid. Wise people are those that listen and ask questions. Sometimes the best thing we can say is “I just don’t know” and admit our need to learn.
     Fear of making a mistake can keep us from reaching our potential. There is risk with stepping “out there” and risking making a mistake. Actually, often times our greatest mistakes can be our best teachers. Don’t let a fear of making a mistake hold you back.
     I have a new job working with young people that have encountered major obstacles in their lives. They are establishing new life patterns and that is hard work. They are also working on their education and learning to serve others. What they are learning takes time to master. I am passionate about helping them and others discover their potential and value.
     Scripture says in Isaiah 35:3, “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear; your God will come. he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” I believe it is imperative that I cheer and motivate these young people and strengthen them to help them overcome. Encouragement breeds courage.  All of us need it. Especially those that find themselves in the ashes of life. Harshness and insensitivity  never encourages people.
    I want to challenge you to examine your life and see what fears you need to be set free of. Fear is bondage and Christ has come to set us free. I believe it is time we learn to stand up on the inside and become the confident men and women God intended. Will you join me in not tolerating intimidation and fear?

Kathleen

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Variety Makes Life



     I am not sure what the word normal means anymore but I know my life is not normal. Nothing in it is remotely similar to what it was a few years ago. But change is good- at least that is what I tell myself.
     Last week I was talking to my dad. He asked about my week and I told him I was going to swing dance class with another couple. He said, "Well for what it is worth, I don't approve. You have no idea who you are dancing with." "Dad," I replied, "There was a time when you could tell me who to dance with, if I could dance and what time to be home. Those days are over. I am 51 and I am going dancing!" I have to love him still trying to protect his daughter. Swing dancing is lots of fun and a great workout.

     My job is challenging but I love the kids. I have no doubt that this is my new assignment from God. The kids call me Mama Max and really I feel like I teach them a few things about job preparation but most of all I simply love them and help them with life problems. The other day we were going on a field trip. I was driving an old van and it is full of boys 16-24. One of them says, "Mama Max, you are the only woman with blond hair that drives around with her own gang in her van." I said, "I know and you all are hurting my single image...how am I ever going to get a good date driving a van full of kids?" On the other hand, I don't have the time or energy for a man!
     My heart seems settled and I feel like I am beginning to find some rhythm to my life. I am seldom at a loss for something to do. My free time is spent writing, helping with Brad McCullouch's political race for District Attorney and his fundraising events, helping my parents, and with friends. There are different people in my life now as God has expanded my world. I am thankful for the opportunity. It is a new season.
     God continues to work on my heart.  I love his comfort and how he continues to speak tender words to restore me and show me who I am. I know I am in a time of accelerated development and I have said yes to the training. I know the things I face to overcome are part of the development.
     Price has had 5 job interviews and two offers. He is set to graduate from University of Texas in . I was thinking the other day of how I will get a raise next summer when he is off my insurance and on his own! I cannot believe I am coming to the end of 31 years of mothering and raising kids. I enjoyed tailgating with him at the UT game and plan to go to some other games.

email me to keep in touch - I am interested in your thoughts and comments
www.themaswellminutes.blog
kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com