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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Never Give Up On God Because He Never Gives Up On You
March 30th 2012
Kathleen Maxwell 
Kerrville Daily Times
It was 5:45 p.m., and I had just finished a long but good day at work. I walked into the gym to workout and wondered if I had enough energy to exercise. I met another widow as I entered the gym, and we visited and laughed about how we were both stumbling along trying to figure out how two middle aged women that had been married all our lives were to live single. We were both determined to go on and live life to its fullest. We were determined we would not give up, we would just laugh as we discovered new adventures where we found ourselves in life.
As I began exercising, a gentleman walked by wearing a T-shirt that said, “Never give up.” God had spoken those words to me years ago when I was about to tell a client she had exhausted all the grace I had. “That was it; she was dismissed from participating in the program,” I thought. As I drove to her house and prayed, I felt God’s presence invade my vehicle and God firmly spoke to me and said, “Kathleen, never give up on people because I don’t.” I knew that if I did what I wanted to do, it would be contrary to what God wanted for this woman. I obeyed God and extended mercy and grace, with firm boundaries to this young woman. I treated her with love and respect. I am happy to say that years later she is highly successful and living a Godly life. That experience taught me a valuable lesson that I live by today.
The words, “never give up” on the man’s shirt reminded me of how God never gives up on us. He never stops loving us or believing the best about us. That simple T-shirt reminded me of the scripture in I Corinthians 13:8 which says, “Love never fails.” (NIV)
It reminded me of how God loves us so much He gave his only son, Jesus, for us. God let go of what was dear to Him so we could enjoy life abundantly no matter what. The beauty of the Easter story is that Jesus never gave up on God. Jesus’s love for his Father never wavered, even as he hung dying. I am sure he didn’t understand, because how on earth could a good father allow such a thing? Loving isn’t always easy, but it never fails.
I Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter in the Bible and talks about real genuine love for others and how we are to love. I’ve recently been studying this passage and have been challenged. I won’t quote the passage but if I were a Bible translator, which I am not, I would translate it like this:
If I am a wonderful, eloquent speaker but do not speak with kindness and a heart of love, I miss the drum beat and all my notes are sharp and flat.
If I am smart, educated and can see into the future; and if I believe in God so much I can move Mount Everest, but do not daily love others, well, I might as well go back to bed and forget the day.
If I am generous and good at giving to the poor, if I sacrifice my body for others but don’t do it with the right motive, I have wasted my time and money.
Real love never gets in a hurry, it waits and doesn’t push others.
Selfless love is gentle and looks for what it can give; mature love makes others feel more important than oneself. It makes others feel valuable, important and wanted. It does not have a high opinion of oneself. A person walking in love walks in humility.
Loving like Jesus is not sarcastic and does not put others down. It always looks for the best in others and sees what is good about them, getting angry is the exception, not the rule. Love does not keep remembering when others hurt them. It makes a conscious effort to put the hurt and bad memories behind them.
Love does not go around telling of others failures, it covers their failures. Love tells the truth.
Love does not ever quit. It believes and looks for the best in others, love always has hope for others and restoration. It endures the roughest seas and the hottest deserts to make the relationship a good one.
Loving will help you win the race every time. You can lose your ability to do your talent, you can forget the things you studied for years.
We can all learn, none of us know everything. We need each other, like it or not.
When I was young, I could get by with being immature, unforgiving and mad at others but it is time to grow up. It is time to put your big girl panties on and deal with your excuses for not loving well.
At the end of the day, three things hang around, faith, hope and love. But you will be a winner in the eyes of God when you walk in love. Love is all that matters.
After studying this familiar passage for a couple of weeks, what hit me was the enormous power of love. What scares me is how much God values love and the responsibility I have to always walk in it. I was challenged by the purity of God’s love for me and the fact that it is constant. I had to look at how pure my love was for others. God’s love never stops. There is so much about God’s love I have yet to discover.
Real love for another takes sacrifice, it isn’t easy, but it is worth it. I challenge you to read I Corinthians 13 daily for a few weeks and let the words wash over you and speak to you. Ask God what He wants to speak to your heart about His love for you and how you are to love those around you.
God and Jesus both demonstrated their love for us in the Easter story. Love, forgiveness and overcoming are the basic message in Christ’s death and resurrection. Before his death, Jesus was asked a question in Matthew 22:36-39, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it ­— love your neighbor as yourself.”
All of us will die one day. What will really matter to God and others, is how we loved. Do you love God with all your heart? Do you love others well or do you need to keep practicing? Do you daily tell God you love him and daily tell others you love them with your actions and words? I think pride is often what keeps us from telling others and God we love them.
I challenge you to open your heart to more of God’s love for you. I challenge you to daily tell God you love Him. He wants to hear those words from you. I challenge you to join me in daily telling those around you that you love them. They need to hear it. We all do. Never give up on loving others because God never gave up on you.

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 and on her blog

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Living In Transition

Going Away Party- some of my kids
     The past few weeks have been very fast and amazing for me. I finished my time with BCFS Health and Human Services YouthBuild and said goodbye to the kids I had learned to love so much. It has been neat to see  many of them obtain their GED and get jobs. As the Education and Career Specialist, I coordinated GED registration, job shadowing, jobs for them as well as doing anything a mother would do. The kids all called me Mama Max. I really was just their cheerleader.
     I have worked some very long hours wrapping up my duties with being in the middle of GED testing and kids getting jobs. Our students are now working with local businesses like Wells Fargo, JMLowe Construction, Subway, Fox Tank and more. I am so proud of all of them!
  They gave me a going away party that was real sweet. I had numerous opportunities to pray with these young people at different times as God opened doors. Although I will be in another department at the same company, they have instructed me to keep connected with the kids as it is so important when trust is built, to still be that stable trusted connection in their lives. They don't need another person walking out of their lives. I totally agree and will stay connected. Relationships  and communication are key to the success of any organization or ministry.
YouthBuild helps Mama Max with her new furniture

New Office
     My new position as Development Officer has challenged me as I have had many new things to learn. Transition seems to be where I am living but I have convinced myself that constant change keeps me growing. My first week took me out of town to BCFS HHS Lubbock Transition Center to meet the staff and learn about their programs. This week I went to Abilene Transition Center and met the staff and helped host a coffee with influential women in the community. It is exciting to be a part of an organization that reaches out to at risk youth and orphans of communities to help any young adult 16-25 transition into  the adult world.  My job will be raising community awareness of the services offered, developing support thru in- kind donations,  coordinating fundraising events and recruiting volunteers. I am excited about the opportunities ahead.
My beautiful daughter
     I have also gotten a chance to have a little rest the past few weekends. I have done some fun things with friends and family. I have actually been gone 9 days in the past few weeks between work and weekend trips. Last weekend, Mallory and Rob came in for less than 24 hours but it was so good to see them. Price came in from a Spring Break trip to Florida and then left for the Texas coast. Don't ask me to explain it... I love my time with my kids.  Mallory looked at the back yard and said, "Mom, dad would not like all those thistles in the back yard." She was right, but I can only do so much. Joe was meticulous about his yard. She and Rob pulled weeds while I cooked lunch.  We all miss the life we had with Joe but keep pressing thru the waves of grief.
     I also had my dad in the emergency room  and in the cardiologist office with congestive heart failure. He has been retaining water. Mother has had some falls recently but I am convinced they both have well over 9 lives.
     This week I felt God tell me my life was just beginning. I feel that I am stepping into my new life in more ways than one. I am not sure what it looks like yet but I feel it coming. Spring has come. It has been a long haul, but God has been faithful each step of the way. Yea God!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Do You See With Eyes Of Judgement or Compassion?
Kerrville Daily Time Article
by Kathleen Maxwell
How do you see others? Do you see their faults instead of the good in them? Are you quick to see someone and make a judgement about them and their situation verses asking God how he sees them? If so, you might need to take another look, perhaps consider some new spiritual glasses and seeing with the eyes of God.
I have recently been studying the passage in I Samuel 1 as part of a class. It has challenged and encouraged me. I Samuel is about Hannah, her husband, Elkanah, Eli the priest and Pininnah-Elkanah’s other wife. To set the stage, if you haven’t heard the story, Pininnah had many sons and Hannah had none. Yearly, they made a trip to worship and make a sacrifice. I Samuel 1:5 says, “But to Hannah, Elkanah gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb.” (NIV) What stood out to me is that Hannah was dearly loved and her husband had great compassion for her. He didn’t love her for what she could give to him, he simply loved her. This is a good thing for any husband to consider. I had a man that loved me well for 30 years before he passed away and I will certainly not settle for anything less in the future.
Notice from the scripture that God closed Hannah’s womb. God, in his great wisdom, had not allowed Hannah to conceive. For some reason, this was His design for her — He had called her to a special task. He doesn’t state why. “Why?” is not the key question, “what?” is a much better question. The question I have learned to ask is “What can I learn from this situation, God?” instead of “Why me?” I recently felt God say to me personally when I was questioning Him about something in my life, “Kathleen, when I design something, it is beautiful because I designed it.” Case closed. He is God and I am not. My opinion needed to change, not his.
I Samuel 1:6 says, “And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year.”(NIV) Pininnah was giving Hannah more grief than she already had. Hannah was already struggling with her identity as a woman, the grief of infertility and then the other woman rubs it in her face. Perhaps you have someone in your life like that? I know I have struggled in my own grief at times and had people unknowingly (at least I choose to believe they were not intentional) add more pain to my plate. Pininnah was what I call Hannah’s grace grower. Hannah had a choice in how to react to her rival. Hannah’s name actually means “gracious.” I believe Hannah did not react in her flesh, but allowed her grace grower to make her more gracious. Hannah used her problem to develop her character.
We can all learn from this example.
When I am gone from this earth, I want to be known as a woman that loved others well. I have a personal value statement that is, “I am what I love, not what loves me.” It is a decision that I have made that defines me. I have grace growers, also known as irritating people in my life, and sometimes I have to preach to myself and say, “ Kathleen, you gotta love ‘um.” It is my way of reminding myself that any other behavior is not acceptable for me. 
I have also been known to ask God “just give me five minutes in the flesh and I could handle this.” He never gives me permission which is a good thing as I am sure I would regret it.
I Samuel 1:10 says, “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” (NIV) Hannah went to the temple to pour out her grief to the Lord. She made a wise choice to go to church and worship in her grief, however, her grief was misinterpreted. The religious leader didn’t see what God saw. Eli made a quick judgement, thought Hannah wasn’t in her right mind and thought she was drunk. At a time when she needed comfort and encouragement he totally misunderstood the anguish of her soul. In Eli’s defense, how could he understand the pain of a woman’s barrenness? On the other hand, there are people that come to church, searching for help to get through another day.  This is a good reminder to all of us to ask God, “How do you see this person, and how can I encourage them?” Everyone needs understanding and encouragement.
Hannah responds to Eli’s accusation with, “Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of the great anguish and grief.” Not only was she heart sick that she couldn’t have a baby but she was also being tormented by her rival.  Eli had no idea what was really going on in her life and misunderstood her. His judgement made her feel worthless when she was already struggling with her identity as a woman.  This had to feel like an insult to injury as Eli was someone in the church she trusted. We must not make a judgement about what we see on the outside.
I believe God is calling all of us to a higher standard of stepping back in our spirit and asking God how he sees someone instead of making a quick assumption with our natural eye and out of our limited experience. What Hannah really needed was encouragement and compassion. I know that sometimes in my hurried life, I have been guilty of making a judgement from a snapshot of someone and giving a quick statement when I should have asked God what I could say to encourage and comfort someone. Jesus was moved with compassion. When we see someone with the eyes of God we see them with affection, we see the best in them and see them through the eyes of love.
Our community is a retirement community, and we have many widows and widowers. It is imperative that we comfort and encourage  those that have lost someone they love as they attempt to make a new life and redefine themselves as single individuals. As a widow of two years, I have had people comfort me and encourage me to pick up the pieces of my life. I am forever grateful for those friends.  Like Hannah, I have also felt at times my grief has been misunderstood by those that have not experienced the loss of a mate or the depth of my personal anguish. The misunderstanding has added more pain for me to dig through at a time when I really didn’t need anymore pain. 
We must first see ourselves as God sees us before we can see others as God sees them. When we see as He sees, we give people the power to become better people. We see the treasure in them instead of what is worthless in them. Imagine how different our community would be if we saw and treated people like God. The Hill Country would be amazing. 
Will you repent today of making a quick snapshot judgement of others and ask God to reveal truth to you? Will you join me in looking for those you can comfort and encourage instead of misunderstanding them and judging them? I can’t wait to see what  Kerrville will become. It will be amazing!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I have had a lot going on recently and am amazed at God and how his kindness has overwhelmed my life.   Not long after the first of the year, I was standing in the back of my church during worship and uttered a simple prayer, "God, I just need a word of encouragement today. I need to hear something specific." 30 seconds after I spoke those words to God, a woman 3 rows in front of me walked back to me and said,
" The Lord wants you to know that your winter is over and your spring has come. Are you  ready for your new life?" I just wept at the words and how quickly God met me that day. I tucked the words away in my heart but it has been amazing how there has been a new season in my life in many ways.

I've seen God open doors and bless me at work and in my personal life in only ways that He could. I have  had the opportunity to date and that has been fun. God spoke to me soon after Joe died and said that there were people he wanted me to touch in my single life that I wouldn't have the opportunity to touch any other time in my life. Let me say to date at 52 is a new adventure and it takes energy to press on. I've seen Him work and i have certainly been blessed.

Another blessing is I have gotten a promotion at work. . My time at BCFS YouthBuild will come to an end this Friday as I have accepted  a position as the Division Development Officer for BCFS.  I am still working for the same nonprofit but will be moving into a management position. I am excited about the new position and have been quite busy wrapping things up with the kids I have been working with. We have had GED testing recently and I have been coordinating job shadowing as well as helping 8 YouthBuild clients obtain jobs.

My life has been so different than it was several years ago. I had a husband, worked with all women and had a staff of women. Lately I have had no husband, worked with a staff of 4 men and 20 plus young men! I would say, "God I am not connecting the dots but I know you are in all of this and I am where I am where you want me." After months of simply trusting, I am seeing the dots connecting.

My experience with BCFS YouthBuild has prepared me for my new position and what God has in store for the next chapter of my like. My new position will involve some travel as well as raising the community awareness of the many wonderful programs BCFS Health and Human Services provides for young people, many that are orphans in one way or another for various reason.

It is a new season and I will have to say I have laughed more in the past month than I have in years. Yea God! He is so faithful to sustain the widows and the orphans and makes all things new.

I have laughed more in the past month than I have in the past few years. I really feel somehow, someway, my spring has finally come. I feel like my feet are under me again. It has been a wonderful adventure seeing God's faithfulness to heal my heart and delight it too.