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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Your encouragement can make a difference in someone's day or life

Encouragement
copyright 2016
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie


I love how God is good at being a genius! He always sees our hearts and is attentive to our needs. He is the best friend I have ever had, because he is always around and always listening to me. He does not always answer my prayers in my timing or the way I want him to; however, I have learned to rest and trust and simply walk with him. He is really awesome at encouraging me, especially when I ask and need it the most.
Back in early 2016, it was a cold and cloudy day. I had experienced some difficult weeks with back to back meetings, living out of a suitcase and very long hours. The cloud of adversity loomed over these particular weeks and nothing seemed easy to accomplish, even simple ordinary tasks. 
I continued to find my joy in the fact that God was with me and I had overcome many other obstacles in my life; however, I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and personally needed some encouragement. 
As I walked into a local meeting, I whispered a simple prayer, “Lord, you know me and know my heart. Encourage me today.” I ate my lunch, visited with a few colleagues and decided I really needed to get back to the office so after about 30 minutes, I left the meeting a little early, briskly walking back to my car.
“Excuse me,” said a deep voice from a man doing some landscaping. “Are you Kathleen Maxwell that writes for the paper?” the voice continued. “This is David (not his real name). Our sons played ball together years ago and your husband, Joe, coached,” he said.
“Oh yes, I recognize you now, but that has been 15 years ago!” I said. “ A lot has changed, how is your son?” I asked. We chatted a few minutes about our boys, where they were and what they are doing now.
“I have been wanting to talk to you and told God if I ever saw you, I would share with you what a difference you made in my life,” the bright eyed African-American gentleman shared. “I made some wrong choices in life and found myself in jail, and while I was locked up, I began to read your articles,” he continued. “I saved every one of them and shared them with other inmates. They changed my heart and I gave my heart to God and He gave me hope. They showed me that God really loved me and had forgiven me and had a plan for my life,” David continued. “I even shared them with the chaplain and he began to use them in chapel. Now, I want to share with others what God has done for me and I want to thank you,” he shared. “I just wanted you to know how you help me and that your writing makes a difference.” 
By this time, I was a puddle of tears! God normally doesn’t answer my prayers in 30 minutes but he did that day, just when I needed it the most. 
I shared with David that I had just prayed, less than an hour ago, asking God to encourage my heart, and of all the people in the world, God chose him to answer.
“Do not ever doubt God’s hand on your life, David.” I encouraged him. “God used you today to encourage me and answer my prayer.” We visited a little longer and I was able to pray with him about a few things he shared. I headed to my car with a big smile on my face, reflecting on the goodness of God and how He touched my heart that day. I also thought of how short life really is  and think about the call God has on my life.
Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily…” and I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Encourage one another and build each other up…” Everyone needs encouragement and all of us need someone cheering us on. God may want to use you today to encourage someone in your family, your workplace, or in our community. Our words, written or spoken, either speak life or death to others. 

Who can you encourage today? I challenge you to look around and ask God who you can encourage. Someone you are around today needs encouragement. God does not look at our qualifications or our past mistakes. He looks for willing vessels he can use to touch others.
If you need encouragement, ask God to encourage you. He is the one we always need to turn to when we have a need. It will be exciting to see how he chooses to answer your prayer and the person he uses.
That encounter with David not only encouraged me on a dreary day, but boosted my faith and put a spring in my step. God is never too busy to hear the simplest prayer. He cares for you and me and loves walking with us through each and every day. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Who needs kindness and why we should practice it

Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie


Who needs kindness and why should we practice it?
July 2016

copyright

The hot Texas sun was beaming down highlighting the green rows of cotton, corn, and melon that lined the road. I was driving down Highway 90 on my way to Uvalde, Texas thinking of how I love seeing all the fruits and vegetables this part of the country produces. My husband was a farmer for several years in the 80’s and it is always interesting to hear his farming stories. He tells of the long hours each day he invested to produce a good crop and some challenges.

There were years that he made good money and then there was the year he was ready to harvest onions, and the night before the harvest, there was a hail storm that destroyed the entire crop. There was also the story about the beautiful bell peppers he grew in October that were plump and full of color and he woke up one morning, to an October snow and lost every bell pepper.

Growing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is not always easy and takes a lot of hard work and practice. Often times, it is in the difficult soil of life that we have the opportunity to plant the seeds and cultivate them. 

Galatians 5:22 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.” (NIV) Basically, this is saying when you practice these fruits, they will always work for you, not against you. Practicing these always puts you in the winners circle and will benefit not only you, but others.

I have recently been studying about each fruit, to cultivate them in my own life and see what God says about each one and what He requires of me. Recently I have been looking at kindness.

What is kindness? Who should we be kind to? What are the benefits of kindness? 

Kindness is the quality of being considerate, friendly and generous, thoughtful and loving. Kindness considers where someone’s heart is and acts accordingly. It is also showing superior qualities of grace. I think we would all have to admit, we like it and it makes us feel valued when others are kind to us, especially when we really do not deserve it. 

I have asked God to open my eyes to His kindness in my life and I am amazed at what I have discovered. Day after day I have seen God’s kindness and it has caused me to have a deeper desire to be kind to others. It has begun to change my heart and made me want to practice kindness to a greater degree on those around me.

Cousins-learning to be kind on vacation
Jesus tells us in Luke 6:35 that he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. It is easy to be kind to our friends but a little more challenging to be kind when others are ungrateful and ugly to us but I think those are the people that need kindness the most. I have to admit, God has given me the chance to practice kindness recently on some ungrateful and unkind individuals and it has taken every bit of Jesus in me to preserve! The good news is God has helped me and I it is actually getting easier!

Proverbs 16:25 says, “kind words cheer up an anxious man.” Just today I was talking to a woman and she was very fearful and anxious. As I spoke kind words to her in a soft voice, I saw her countenance change right before my eyes and she left our meeting with a smile on her face.  Her circumstances hadn’t changed yet, but I watched kindness cheer her up.

I Thessalonians 5:15 states, “Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (NIV) That about covers anyone you will encounter each and every day! 

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:16 &17, “ a kind woman gains respect and a kind man benefits himself.”(NIV) If you want respect, the answer is being kind. We win when we are kind and there is power in our kindness to change a situation. Kindness makes us a hero.


Flowers in Uvalde 

I still have much to learn about kindness and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit.  I want to challenge you to join me and practice kindness in the days ahead. Sow good seed of kindness to the difficult people in your life and all others around your home, workplace and community. Ask God to open your eyes to how he is kind to you and let his kindness change your heart. I am now seeing his kindness each day in my life. Most of all, enjoy the wonderful blessings and benefits that being kind will reap in your own life. You will not only bless others but will receive many blessings yourself.