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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012






You Are Called to a Supernatural Lifestyle Above the Clouds (c)
 by Kathleen Maxwell

You and I are called and equipped to live a  supernatural lifestyle. Yes, believe it or not, we are not to lead normal lives. Normal is gone when you walk with God. I’ve learned that I have traded normal for supernatural. I did not just wake up one morning and discover that. I’ve discovered the supernatural life I am to lead as I have faced difficult circumstances, trials, conflict, misunderstanding, disappointments and being determined to discover what God is up to in those situations. How about you? Have you encountered any of the above mentioned things lately? How did you handle them? Did you waste the opportunity  to grow?
The word supernatural is defined as -above our circumstances, above natural or to exist above and beyond nature. We have a God given right to  rise above our circumstances and paint a picture above the clouds or storms of life. Jesus rose above the storm in Matthew 14 and even called Peter, an average guy, to do the impossible. What are you facing right now that seems impossible? Perhaps it is staying with in a difficult marriage. Maybe it is dealing with a difficult coworker. It could be letting go of a love one. I know at times I have said to myself or someone else, “I just can’t do this.” The truth is, I can’t but when there is a greater dependency on God, I can. The key is dependency.
It has been my experience that God doesn’t ask us to do things we can do, he usually requires us to do something beyond ourselves so we develop a dependance on him. It is a dependance that turns us to a better outcome that we have the privilege of experiencing with Him than without Him. Often times in our society, dependance has a bad connotation. Dependance also  means a resting with reliance and trust. I like that definition. When life happens, who do  you depend on? If our dependance is rooted in anything but God, we will always live life under the cloud and be tossed by our circumstances. Stress and anxiety will dominate our life. Do you rest with reliance and trust? Why would God want our dependency and trust?When I was raising my children, they were dependent on my late husband and me for what they needed. This dependency created numerous conversations with us. The conversation usually started with, “I need money, I need new tennis shoes, I need you to take me here, I need you to do this for me.” This created questions on our part. “What do you need the money for, how much do you need, will that be enough, or you need to consider something else son.” Or maybe the conversation sounded like this, “Why do you need me to do this for you? You can do it! I know you can and I will be right here with you cheering you on.” Their dependency created conversation and usually more questions. 
Throughout the Bible there are numerous questions Jesus asked his disciples and those he walked with. He loves our questions and loves relationship with us. He is never too busy to listen but  as in any healthy relationship, our conversation needs to go both ways. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we talk. Do you listen or just talk to God? He loves your heart and loves to share his with you.The key is learning to listen for his voice.
In early July, I was in church one Sunday and I felt the Lord speak to me in quite way. I felt him say, “Kathleen, things are going to happen fast, but I am in them.” I wrote those words in my journal. About 15 minutes later, someone spoke in our church and said, “God is doing some things and is doing them fast. Be prepared.”Sometimes he speaks in a whisper and other times he speaks a little louder. I began to ask God questions about what he meant. I make time to sit and just be with him. It was a discipline at first but now I can’t do without just simply sitting and listening. I would wager to say, this is not normal for a Type A personality. But those conversations with him, steady my heart and help me to be supernatural or live life above the stress or clouds of life. Things have happened at a fast pace in numerous ways for me but because of those words, I can rest knowing God is with me and is developing me when life seems uncertain, stressful or fast.
I was talking to someone the other day, and the woman made the comment that she was so stressed out. I have had my share of stressful situations and life will be stressful if we live in our circumstances. God sent Jesus so we can find joy in life not matter what is thrown at us. The Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6: 10 says, “On earth as it is in heaven.” There is no stress in heaven, therefore, when we walk to the rhythm of thanking him, praying and then resting because we have left our problems with him, we learn to live life above the cloud. We live a supernatural life. 
I John 4:17 says, “ ...as he is, so are we in this world.” There are plenty of people that lead stressed out lives. They are everywhere. I want to be someone that is known for living a life of joy and peace. Jesus paid a great price for me to do that. I owe it to him to be responsible for my own development in not letting circumstances steal my joy and peace. This means I have to discipline myself to step back and live from the inside out. What about you? Do you need to discipline yourself a little more? Do you live in your circumstances preoccupied with the problem or step back into Christ in you and be at peace?
You and I are called to reveal to those around us who God really is. Our actions should speak even louder than our words. We are are not called to lead normal lives but supernatural lives. His promises, words, and our confidence in who God is should lift us above the clouds of life. Too many times, crisis happens and we are reacting and calling his promises down into our circumstances instead of living in the promises, living the Word of God and standing in confidence because we know Him well. 
Have you ever even asked Christ to come into your heart and forgive you? It is the beginning of relationship with Him. Do you need to get to know him better? Do you need to walk with Him more and listen intently? He adores you just the way you are! Will you join me in painting a beautiful picture above the clouds of your life? 
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.
     

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Happened to Normal and Goodness?


What Happened to Normal and Goodness?
Kerrville Daily Times Article
September 6,2012



    
  My last few years as a widow, I have had to find a new normal. Normal as I knew it left my life the day my husband was diagnosed with a rare cancer. I would not even begin to say that my life is normal now that almost three years have gone by, but I will say I am discovering that a life with God is not really normal as we define it either. God marches to the beat of his own drum and that melody is found in scripture. Normal for him is to pour out goodness on the biggest sinner. Normal for him is to always love no matter what. Abundant goodness and rich in love are part of his everyday life on heaven and on earth. That lets me know, I need to adjust my thinking and trade what pieces of normal I have, and make it my new normal.
Our last family picture- 3 years ago
      God does not ration his goodness. He is not reluctant to bless you. Over and over again in scripture it states that He is good and his goodness will follow us all the days of my life. For me that means I need to look for His goodness. Psalms 118:29 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his loves endures forever.” Psalms 119:68 says, “ You are good and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” Sometimes those words are hard to swallow as we try to make sense of life’s difficulties and disappointments. What I find is, the jewels are found in the waiting and persevering. We can give thanks because we know that no matter what, we are loved and valued. We can give thanks because he will work it together for our good. It may not always feel like it in the midsts of life’s turmoil, but we must keep looking for the silver lining and trust God. I find that too many people, quit trusting and quit looking for how God is going to work things together for their good. I know I have struggled with this personally in several situation and have had to discipline myself to hang in there. Good things come to those who wait.
   
     One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 2:4  “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness (goodness), tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Think about that for a minute...Normally in our society, when someone does something wrong and needs to repent of their wrong, we normally do not think of how good we can be to them. God says, let’s pour out more goodness and let that convict them, leading them to wanting to repent. I will have to say, I have not always felt like being good and kind to those that are not that way to me. If I live in those feelings, they can lead me on a wrong path. God’s ways are so much higher than mine and his work. My ways do not always work, and therefore, I must submit to his ways. Normal to pour out kindness and goodness? It’s normal for God so I guess we need to learn a new normal.
    What do we do when someone takes advantage of us? Normal to God is found in Romans 12: 19-21. “Do not take revenge, my friends but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, say the Lord, On the contrary, “ If our enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this,will  heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (NIV) 
We frequently have seen in our society, evil ways and evil things invading our nation’s families, politics, businesses, and even churches. Evil is around us, like it or not.What if that is because we really believe God is on a budget and we keep His goodness for ourselves instead of giving it away? God pours out his goodness on us all the time. I believe we often just don’t realize it. Often times we feel that God is reluctant to bless us and that is just not true. What if we became a community that poured out our financial resources, our time, our energy to help those that have broken the law, have unkept neighborhoods, are irresponsible and don’t know God? Normal in our society is to criticize and judge those that have messed up in life. I know because I have been guilty of judgement and have had to repent. I believe we are called to live above the norm and bless and bless again those that struggle in life. We really are not called to live a normal life when we walk with God.
     There was a time in my life when I really felt misunderstood by someone. They totally misinterpreted my actions and words. It hurt my heart that their communication was harsh, judgmental, and that they withdrew their love and support in a time I needed it the most. My challenge was/is how am I going to respond? Withdraw myself? Continue being kind and walk in love? Love is a choice,so is kindness and forgiveness. I have to believe that God is working it for my good, teaching me many things, and I am growing to become like Him. Has it been easy? No. Will I one day see his goodness to me in this situation? Yes, I have and will continue to  believe his word and hold on to the promise.
Dove Hunting- my new normal
     I think we have a world around us that is longing to see God as he really is. He is good, he is for us, he is with us and therefore, we can be full of joy, peace, kindness, and his goodness. What if God wants to use you and me to reveal his mercy and love to another? Can you say yes even when it is hard?
       In crisis, the most important thing people look for is love. Think about how much hugging there is at funerals. Remember when you’ve met a friend at the hospital after an accident. In our society, we usually hug the person to affirm our love and that we care. We need the goodness, understanding and compassion to help us thru the crisis. When we don’t see that or experience it, the lack of goodness, compassion and love makes the crisis harder to go thru.  God always is abundant in goodness towards  us. That is the very reason he sent Jesus. To pour out His goodness upon mankind and bring restoration. Goodness is at the core of who God is. If you haven’t asked God to come into your life  and forgive you, you can do so right now. He is waiting to pour out his goodness on you.
     Will you join me in letting God mold you and shape you? Will you be the one to pour out a kind word or goodness to someone who has not valued you or dishonored you? All of mankind is waiting for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed. You could be the next one God wants to use!


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

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Normal is Gone When You Walk With God



Normal is Gone
Kerrville Daily Times Article
Community Journal
August 2012

 I will never forget the day not long after my husband died that a mentor and dear friend of mine said to me, “Kathleen, normal as you know it is gone. You will find a new normal, but life probably won’t even settle down for several years, so don’t even look for it.” 
I cannot say those words were the most comforting spoken to me. Somehow I knew she was right, even though it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. The words of this wise woman, Katie Bess, have been true for me.
Although I have longed for days that were what I was use to, I have embraced the fact that life will never be the same. In fact, I frequently say, “my life is not normal.” 
The other day, I was reading a passage in the Bible and it hit me that for those of us that walk with the Lord, our lives should not be normal. Normal is defined as conforming to a standard, usual, typical, expected and regular. Let me explain why our lives should not be normal when we walk with God.
Isaiah 55:8 and 9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 
Normal for us is to try and figure things out on our own, but scripture is clear that His ways are out of this world. With that said, why on earth don’t we constantly ask God to reveal His thoughts and His ways to us? We are so use to our society’s way of looking at things, and I believe we are missing the boat.
I Thessalonians 5:15 says, “Be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong but always try to be kind to each other and everyone else. Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 
I would not say that is the way people normally respond. Normally, in life, when someone says something ugly, the natural tendency is to say something negative right back. Someone does something unkind and most people are quick to think of how they can get even. And always try to be kind … let’s face it, it is not always easy to be kind. That is not typical for most people. Being joyful always … I will have to confess, there have been days I have had to preach to myself and say, “I know my joy is somewhere, I just have to find it.”
Christians are called to not be normal, just supernatural.
I would wager to say that many people don’t pray, but for those that do, most prayer happens at church or before we go to bed at night. However, for those that walk with God, prayer and constant conversation with God all day should be a part of our lives. Too many times I find that people feel the little things don’t matter to God. The truth is, if it matters to you, it matters to Him. It matters because He loves you. 
I will confess I pray as I walk or jog in the mornings, pray in my office, pray as I drive. OK, true confessions, I prayed for God’s mercy the other day when I got stopped for speeding. The nice officer extended mercy and only gave me a warning. That simple prayer as I was fumbling for my driver’s license worked. Praying in the shower, praying in the elevator, praying as we sit in stressful meetings is not typical for most people. We should have a constant conversation with God. Besides, he is the only one that really understands your heart so why not talk to him about everything?
Giving thanks in all things is not easy or normal. What this passage means is that we are to look for what we have to be thankful for in each situation in life not necessarily, “thank God the event happened.” When my husband passed away, I don’t think God expected me to thank him for taking my husband from this earth. He wanted me to thank him for how he daily gave me strength to face another day. I could thank God for never leaving me, even in my darkest moments. I was thankful for those that were constant faithful friends and helped me. I had much to be grateful for.
Another passage that reminds me that we are not called to live normal lives is found in I Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessings, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
We must discipline ourselves to respond like that. 
There was a time in my life when I had a coworker that simply did not like me. He caused much strife in the work place with others. He would say things that were unkind about me to others. I thought of ways I could retaliate, but fortunately for him and me, I came across this scripture and remembered what I was called to do. I was called to be a blessing to him. I chose to look for the good in him and compliment him. Let me state, this was not easy. It took all of Jesus in me to do this, and I would daily have to call on God to help me. I began to ask God to show me ways I could bless this man and God did. I even had a friend tell me he made the comment one day, “Why does she do nice things for me? She knows I don’t like her.” As believers, we are called to a higher standard that is not normal.
How about you? Are we kind to those that are unkind? Do you bless them? Can we find joy in all aspects of life? Let me challenge you to not live the normal life.
Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” When we walk with God, we are called to change our thinking. We do not have the luxury of thinking normal. For me, that is constantly asking God to reveal truth to me about situations and asking him to help me see things from his view point. When we change our thinking, we change our lives. Have you ever noticed that negative people usually live pretty negative lives? Something is always going wrong and they are seldom really enjoying life? They wait for their circumstances to change instead of changing what they think about.
When I lost my high school sweetheart and husband, it was challenging to see the good in my future. I had to constantly ask God to show me how he saw my life. He has been faithful to answer that prayer and show me the future he has for me.
Normal is gone when you walk with God. The good thing about normal disappearing is that I have found a life of constant adventure and wonderful opportunities. 
My friend, don’t live a normal life. You are called to something bigger and better. Discover the adventure of walking with a God who loves you dearly and wants to share many adventures and fun with you. I think Kerrville will be a much better place to live when we let go of normal. Will you join me in not living the normal life?
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