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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Who Will Catch You When You Take A Leap Of Faith?
Kathleen Maxwell
Kerrville Daily Times Article

Have you ever done something crazy? I recently got myself into a situation that made me wonder if I had lost my mind. My work colleagues and I went to a local camp for an afternoon of team building activities. After a few simple things, we went to a secluded spot to do the high ropes course. I am adventurous and a risk taker, but as I got to the top of a 30-foot pole and attempted to stand on a small platform, I began to wonder if I left my brain on the ground below. 
I had to remind myself this was one more thing I could check off my bucket list, and the worst that could happen is I could die and be with Jesus. Once I stood on the 2- by 4-foot platform, the next thing to do was to jump and catch a swinging bar. This part of the ropes course was called the Leap of Faith, and I concurred that it was appropriately named.
I am not afraid of much, but this was a stretch for this old girl. Attempting this was a real leap of faith for me in more ways than one and made me question my sanity. 
Shaking, I finally gathered the courage I needed to jump and reach for the swinging bar that was about 6 feet away. With a yellow helmet on and all this protective gear, my feet left the small platform, and my hands tried to grab the bar. … I missed it. Thankfully, only my pride was hurt. The ropes instructor and the rope kept me safe as I took this leap of faith, and I was slowly lowered to safety. 
The key here is I took the leap of faith.
As I stood on the ground, looked up and reflected on what I had just attempted, I was reminded of the scripture in Hebrews 11:6 which says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God …” (NIV) 
God clearly states that faith is a vital part of the life with God. Faith is defined as belief that does not rest on proof, complete trust or confidence in someone or God. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (NIV)
I think God knew there would be very little in this world that we could count on. He knew we would need someone we could believe in and someone whose character would never change. God knew we would need someone secure to hang on to when nothing else made sense. The reality of life on earth is that there is risk in almost anything; therefore, we must be a people of faith. God highlighted people who trusted God in-spite of the odds that were against them. Hebrews 11 lists many people of faith. Some of these individuals faced incredible things but kept believing God no matter what. They believed in what they could not see, and God honored them.
Hebrews 11:13 says, “And these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.”
We can conclude that real people of faith do not 
always get to see in this life the things they believe for. 
The key is that they keep trusting God and hang on to faith no matter what happens.
I know a woman whose grandson has been very ill for a long time. I know this family has been praying for healing for a long time and yet it hasn’t come yet. I recently told this woman how much I admired her because it is easy to believe when our prayers are answered and miracles happen. I honored her because I know, as a young widow, what it is like to fight with faith for those we love and still watch them suffer. Our faith is tested when we believe and prayers are not answered. Yet God still catches us and helps us when we take those leaps of faith, and it looks like we or God failed.  Again, faith is defined as belief that does not rest on proof. 
We often look for the end result of what we are praying for, and I believe we often miss what God is trying to teach us in the process. I know I have learned so much about God’s faithfulness and His ability to walk me through deep and dark valleys of watching those I love suffer and die. I don’t like hard times anymore than the next person, but I do know that my intimacy and dependency on God has increased as my faith has been tested. 
Faith makes us reach beyond our own ability. Faith pleases God. Faith makes life exciting, and I have yet to meet a person full of faith and full of fear. Fearful people need a serious upgrade in their faith because faith and fear are opposites. Fear intimidates and looks at what will not happen while faith looks for what can happen. 
Hope is a feeling of expectation while faith rests in complete confidence and trust. II Corinthians 1:24 says, “...for it is by faith you stand firm.” Our faith, complete confidence and trust, must be in the character of God. He always is faithful  and loving us. He will catch us, help us through our circumstances, as we look in faith to Him.
I love walking with God through life. Not all circumstances are joyful, but walking with Him is full of adventure. I never know what is around the corner, but I know He is with me. (Psalms 73:23) My faith rests in his faithfulness to see me through whatever is ahead. 
As crazy as it was to climb a 30 foot pole, stand on a very small platform and jump to a swinging bar, God reminded me that afternoon to simply take the next leap of faith. I might miss, but that is OK. I don’t know much, but I know Him and he will catch me. 
Where does your faith rest? Were your prayers not answered as you wanted but you are still walking with God and trusting in his faithfulness? If so, your faith pleases Him and He delights in you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Family Pic last week
     The past several weeks have been filled with kids, dogs, fun, work and family. Laura, my sweet daughter-in-law lost her father. It was sudden and Bob Parsons will certainly be missed. It is hard to believe that both Austin and Laura have lost their dad's at such an early age. I have no doubt that God will use them in the days ahead to help others who have lost loved ones as they both have compassionate hearts.
     I loved having all  5 of my kids in for a few days. It was an incredible gift to me and I am so thankful. It was fun hearing them laugh, chat, and just being together. We shared a few breakfasts together and late night chats by the fire. For the time being, I have grand dogs instead of grandkids. I will wait patiently but in the mean time, it seemed like a zoo around here. Austin and Laura have a new Golden Retriever puppy named Finley and Mal and Rob have Jonah.
     Work has kept me quite busy recently as I am preparing my students for the workforce. Some days I feel I make great progress an other days I wonder. It is a very busy job. My 27 students and coworkers make it very interesting. I have had to work a lot of overtime recently. Pioneering something new isn't easy.

     Price is back at college and this is his "last first day of school picture." For years I made the kids pose for the first day of school pictures. This is the end of an era. I am so proud of Price as he will graduate in May. He has worked hard and done well. He is 6'4 and quite big. He hunted a good bit on his Christmas break and my freezer is full of deer.
          God continues to show me how dearly loved I am by Him and his faithfulness.   He is my security, my strength, the one who holds my hand as I step out daily and try to figure out how to live life alone. It has certainly been an adventure lately.
This is a strengthening season in my life and I have felt the Lord say "Dance with me thru the valley." Isaiah 42:1 and 16 have spoken to me lately. "Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight....I will lead the blind by ways they have not known. Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These things I will do. I will not forsake them." Yea God!
   Thirty one years ago today, I was in labor. Austin Maxwell entered the world on January 25, 1981. What a gift his life has been to me as well as many. Happy Happy Birthday Austin!

     I continue to work with helping Brad McCullough in his race for District 198 District Attorney. He is a great man and will represent our district well. Go Brad Go!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are You Your Worst Enemy?

Kerrville Daily Times

January 5th,2012

Kathleen Maxwell

Faith Section Article 

Are You Your Worst Enemy?
 The year 2012 is here and with it comes a chance for new beginnings for each of us. What do you want to start fresh this year? I am very happy to see a new year with new opportunities.
Maybe you need to start over this year with a new attitude toward someone, or you need to start exercising more. Perhaps you need to be more disciplined in an area or quit complaining so much. Establishing anything new takes patience because there is a learning curve with new ways of living or establishing new habits. I have discovered there are a few components that help make starting over successful: Patience with oneself and others, a determination to press on, forgiving and forgetting.
To be successful at anything takes determination. I remember talking to my grandfather years ago, he had been married to my grandmother for more than 65 years. I asked him what their secret was to staying married so long. He said, “Just never quit.” That was simple but good advice. Most people fail at things because they quit too soon or get discouraged. Winners don’t quit and often times have to encourage themselves to press through. The book of Psalms is full of David encouraging himself as he attempts to battle discouragement. Psalms 42:5 says, “Why so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” David encouraged himself on days when you could tell he was tempted to quit.
Abraham Lincoln failed at a number of things before he was successful. He failed as a farmer, a shopkeeper, his first attempt at political office, a business man, his first attempt at Congress and the U.S. Senate. That could be a little discouraging, but our famous president was determined. He didn’t quit and pressed on with the things he knew he was meant to do. He also lost two children at young ages. That is a lot to overcome, but he kept pressing on.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. Beginning new habits or beginning again in anything, we need to face the reality that we are on a learning curve, which means we are likely to make some mistakes or even fail at our first attempt at something new. Sometimes we can get frustrated and mad at ourselves when we fail. This only leads to more turmoil within ourselves and robs us of peace. Jesus paid a great price for us to have peace but we often ignore the peace we could enjoy. We all want to do well in life, and many times I have seen in my own life I have a greater expectations of myself than I do others. 
One time, I remember someone saying to me, “Kathleen, the devil doesn’t have to bother attacking you, you attack yourself.” At first, I got mad at the statement and the person who said it, but it made me think. There was an element of truth to the words, and I had to admit it. Any time someone makes us mad, we need to ask ourselves if there is any element of truth in what they have said. It might not be “the truth,” but there might be an element of truth in their statement, otherwise we wouldn’t get mad. Pride often gets in the way.
I have seen many people act as judge and jury and punish themselves far worse than anyone else would, especially God. Scripture says, “When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” 
God is not a God that keeps making us pay for our mistakes. Yes, there are consequences to our sin, but God is quick to forgive and forget when we come to Him with repentant hearts. If God forgives us, why do so many people refuse to forgive themselves and therefore, keep punishing themselves? There is rest for our souls and peace when we simply accept His gift of forgiveness. If you are lacking in rest and peace, you might consider forgiving others or yourself.
The beauty of a relationship with God is that His love and mercy are new every morning.  Fresh love and brand new mercy each day. What more could we want? 
Psalms 86 says, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”(NIV)
Mercy is defined as a compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or someone subject to one’s power. How much mercy do you show yourself? Do you keep punishing yourself for your failures? What often happens is when we don’t like ourselves and don’t admit it and release ourselves from mistakes made, we often don’t extend mercy to others and are quick to find fault with them. To give mercy to others, first we have to receive it ourselves. 
Pressing on in establishing new things often begins with changing our mindset about the past. Way too many times we rehash and dwell on things in our past. Dwelling on negative things in our past keeps us stuck.
Philippians 3:13 says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
It is hard to put things behind us, to press on, and I find I sometimes have to ask God for help to do this. Philippians 4:8 is quick to say that we must keep our minds fixed on what is true, honorable, just, pure, winsome and gracious. These are all positive things, not negative. 
Philippians 4:9 says, “Practice what you have learned, and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living it, and the God of peace (of undisturbed well being) will be with you.” (AMP) 
We choose what our mind dwells on. Can you choose to forget the negative of last year? Can you choose to forget your failures? Can you forgive yourself as well as others? These are questions we must ask ourselves in order to embrace new opportunities and discover the wonderful things God has for us in 2012. Will you join me?

Vote For Brad McCullough for District 198 District Attroney

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Holding Those That Are Letting Go

Austin and Laura
    I have discovered that life on this earth is one of constant letting go. The only thing we can hang on to is God. We love to hang on to people but people will move another life.
     This week has brought more letting go to our family. Rob, my son-in-law had to say goodbye to his grandmother this past week. Her service is tomorrow.  Please remember Rob and his family at this time.
     Yesterday my daughter-in-law Laura, found out that her father passed away suddenly. Austin, my oldest had to break the news to her. He loves her so and I know he hated having to give her such news.
     Both of my "extra" kids have been thru tough times this week and lost those they love. My heart hurts for them as loosing those you love is not easy.
     I know this has to trigger things for my own kids but my constant prayer has been that none of us get stuck in the grief process. The pain of grief is painful but is a process all must go thru to healing. It doesn't do us any good to run from the pain. It will catch up with us in time. No one likes pain but The good news is God is with us in the pain. We don't have to walk thru the valley of the shadow of death alone.
     My heart hurst for my "extra" kids that have to say goodbye to those they love dearly and all I can do is let them know I love them, am praying for them, hurt with them  listen and hug them.

Rob, Mallory and me!
     As I reflect on my own life, I see how God has been with me every step of the way. He has sent things to delight my heart in the midsts of great pain. He is faithful every step of the way. Life on this earth is not easy.  Please pray for our family at this time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Light In The Darkness


 Today three years ago, January 8, 2009,  our lives changed forever. Joe went in for a simple doctor's appointment and we began the battle to fight cancer. Our family as we knew it began to unravel. There was a rest and peace over me today. In some ways it seems like yesterday and in others it seems like many years when I look at the many changes in my life.  I know one thing. I am much stronger than I ever imagined and am amazed I am still alive and smiling. By God's amazing grace, life goes on.
     Our healing journey continues. Today at church they sang a song that our family held on to when Joe was sick. The name of the song is Healer. The words are, "You hold my every moment, you calm my raging sea, you walk with me thru fire, you heal all my disease. I trust in you, I trust in you. I believe that you're my healer, I believe you're all I need." It stung when the song began to play and I felt tears begin to spill down my cheeks. Mal and Price were at church with me and the song was difficult for all of us. For me, I have chosen not to run from the pain but to embrace it and endure it. I don't like it but I know in the long run it is the best way to handle grief. I sang this song today differently than I did 3 years ago. Three years ago we sang it clinging to the words for Joe's healing. Now I sing it hanging on to healing for all our hearts. I also could sing with confidence and authority the part that says, "you hold my every moment, calm my raging sea and walk with me thru the fire." I have lived them...they aren't just words. It is wonderful when God heals like we pray for. It is painful for those left behind when God doesn't. To me, the journey when God does not heal is a true walk of faith as we continue trusting in God although we didn't get the miracle we asked for.That is where the rubber meets the road in life. 
     I had a wonderful surprise this weekend. Mallory came in unexpectedly and stayed with us as Rob went hunting with his office gang. It was a great gift to have her around and somehow for about 36 hours life felt normal again. I loved sitting and visiting with her and doing girl things together. Price and Mallory took me to the River Walk in San Antonio to celebrate my birthday and we had a great time. I have much to be thankful for in 2012 and will look for the adventures this year holds. 


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012

Tammy helping me celebrate my birthday
Happy 2012 to everyone! As I reflect on the past year, I have to smile at God's goodness in the midsts of the hardest year I have faced. I remember at the beginning of 2011 I felt God told me he would sustain me this year. Sustain means to "keep up, to maintain, to prolong." God promises to sustain the fatherless and the widows and I clung to that fact.  Somehow and someway God has sustained me. I am thankful. 2011 started with me being wiped out from numerous hospitalizations (nine to be exact) with my parents. I was exhausted and not sure how I would keep going. I am thankful for good friends that helped cheer me on and love me thru this year.
Christmas 2011

A highlight of 2011 - UT Football with Price
Brad McCullough for 198 District Attorney
     Change, pain, and determination are three words that describe 2011 for me. I also have to say growth, new adventures and comfortable in my skin describe the past year. There is a strong determination in me to grow in each change and with each painful thing I had to embrace. I am determined to grow in the hardships of my life. This takes lots of energy but it is worth it. I hate to waste trials and disappointments. I have learned more about who I am as a single woman standing all alone in my life. I know who I am, I know where I am going, I just don't know how I will get there. There is a new security  in me. I have learned to step out and try things I never thought of like politics, writing for the newspaper and a new job.
Love my girl!
     Most of all, I have discovered who I am without a husband or my kids. My kids are all grown now with their own lives. Joe and I raised them to be independent and they are. Sure there are things I want to change about me but I like how God made me and am secure in my identity and love discovering more about who I am. I believe the more you love who you are, the more you can love others around you. Far too many people don't like or love themselves and therefore have difficulty loving others.
      Although 2011 was very challenging and painful for me, there were many things that made me smile. I was able to travel some, I have loved the freedom in my life and the new friends I have made. God has brought new and different people into my life and I love the diversity. I have had a few dates during the holidays and that has made life interesting! My life certainly is not what I expected it to be at this time in my life but it is my life and I have learned to hold His hand and keep walking.

Tired of taking pictures
Holding a friend's baby! A little miracle! Baby Brayden