Intrinsic Value

Along with planting a vegetable (and fruit) garden, my wonderful hubby has decided to create a bird sanctuary…in our backyard.  It’s a rather noble endeavor, because our children seem to enjoy seeing wildlife up close and personal (with the exception of the opossum duly noted in my previous blog entry).  And surprisingly enough for this indoors-loving bookworm, so am I.

One birdfeeder obviously wasn’t enough, so he headed to the home improvement store to purchase 2 more seed feeders, plus a nectar feeder because he “wanted to see some hummingbirds.”  Isn’t it fantastic when we can appreciate God’s creation with childlike fascination?  “Indeed, he is a compassionate man,” I noted as he strategically placed the full feeders throughout the yard and secured them with hooks.  I would’ve casually tossed out some stale bread crusts, deemed it a community service event benefitting the environment, and called it a day. 

But he must be rubbing off on me – and leading by example – since I found myself talking to a tiny bird while waiting for the train yesterday.  I even offered it some seed if it could find its way to my house…but of course, it wouldn’t find my house, now would it?  As the bird flew away, I remembered that my signature solo wherever I sang as a teenager – many moons ago – was “His Eye is On the Sparrow.”  Then I experienced one of those epiphanic moments of understanding when everything converges all at once and in one place – and I remembered how truly special I am to God.  “He’s been thinking about me for all these years!” I gasped.  Have you considered that lately?  Take a moment to gratefully reflect on what He’s been saying to you this week…you may see what you’re really worth in a different light.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And yet not one of them is forgotten or uncared for in the presence of God.

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not be struck with fear or seized with alarm; you are of greater worth than many flocks of sparrows.”

(Luke 12:6-7, Amplified Bible)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart


Playin’ Possum: High Drama in the Suburbs

It’s time for me to recount another colorful weekend, and I tell ya, this one still makes me laugh!  Please do not drink any beverages while reading this post…don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A couple of weeks ago, our backyard fence was finally completed, a welcome prelude to the warmth of spring, family BBQs, and balmy evenings for my children playing safely outdoors.  Enter one intruder to interrupt this idyllic picture of placidity, and you have a formula for me to witness a murder in my own yard on Saturday before 9:00 a.m.  Well…almost.

Saturday morning, I was up earlier than I would’ve preferred, preparing to head out to a meeting and my wonderful hubby was getting ready to make pancakes for the children.  As he bustled about to complete his routine “morning security check” of our property, he spotted something in the backyard and started dressing quickly.  “Uh oh,” I thought to myself, knowing that my hubby is fiercely protective of his family.  “Whatever it is should prepare to meet its Maker.”   He pointed out an opossum near the fence and I froze; that thing was HUGE.  Next thing I knew, he was dressed in full lumberjack gear and heading toward the fence carrying a big shovel – the heavy one used for snow removal just a few weeks ago.  Equally repulsed and captivated by what was unfolding before my eyes, I braced for the impact, and heard the “whack!”  It wasn’t pretty.  The body stopped moving, but I saw the opossum’s long tail flopping about.  Did I really want to finish eating my high-fiber cereal after this?  I bravely munched on, staring through the sliding glass door as if I was watching HDTV.  I cringed at the next whack(s) – like who’s counting? – then saw my hubby retreating from the yard.  Was he victorious?

He wondered aloud, “Now what am I gonna do with that thing?”  I was wondering the same thing, because it was pretty creepy looking.  “Couldn’t you call Animal Control?” I weakly offered.  He grabbed his phone and dialed.  Yay, teamwork.  “Is it dead?” I asked hesitantly.  “No; I saw some babies peek their heads out, so I knew it was a mother.  I don’t think I have anything sharp enough to kill it, and it hissed at me.  Those things could have rabies.”  “Oh great,” I thought.  “Now we have to wait for the government to come dispose of this creature.”  After he hung up, he reported that it had to be dead before Animal Control would come pick it up, AND (adding insult to injury) we’d have to get it to the front curb for them to pick it up – yikes!  I don’t think that was a risk he was willing to take; I knew I wasn’t!  All I could picture was trying to shovel the fat opossum into a brown paper bag and tying it up in a plastic garbage bag.  That didn’t sound too safe.  I headed to the car en route to my meeting, confident that my hubby had the situation under control and the critter would be gone when I returned.

Five minutes into my drive, my cell phone rang.  “I injured it, but I didn’t kill it,” my hubby reported.  He informed me that the opossum had crawled back through its entry point, a breach in our neighbor’s fence.  “I cancelled the Animal Control call.”  I don’t think he spared its life because it was a mother; I think he knew he was outmatched without the proper tool to remove the animal swiftly and humanely.  And Lord knows what we’d have done with motherless opossum babies scattered about.  At least he reinforced the weak part of our neighbor’s fence with more wood, because my eyes were as big as saucers, visualizing what would happen if the incapacitated party came back for restitution.  I’m almost certain that I heard the melodic strains of “Circle of Life” from The Lion King

Did I mention how wonderful my hubby is?  I can’t imagine how this story would’ve ended if I’d been the party responsible for handling the opossum incident.  I don’t even want to think about it.  I’ve finally summoned my SuperMommy powers so I can kill spiders by myself in one fell swoop – most of them, anyway.  I dare not consider what could’ve been in the backyard if we didn’t have that fence; I don’t think I’m ready to handle animals bigger than that.  Really.

Honestly, before this unfortunate turn of events, the only interaction I’d had with opossums was seeing them as road rugs.  I don’t recall having the privilege of a face-to-face encounter with one.  And I wasn’t at all thrilled to think one (or more) might be roaming around my backyard or wiggling under my deck.  But from this experience (combined with a bit of web research), I’ve learned that an opossum is a marsupial (that means it has a pouch – like a kangaroo) and carries its young.  Sooooo…what is the meaning in all of this?  I hadn’t thought about a spiritual message on Saturday between laughing and squirming, but as I reflect, perhaps it was just a simple reminder from nature that God is always watching, covering, protecting and guiding us.  Just as we watch out for our children, animals care for their young offspring…and God cares for us. 

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

(Psalm 91:1)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Lasting Change

It’s slowly dawning on me that I really don’t want the “old way” anymore.  And it’s exciting to see myself changing, because I did the “old way” very well for so long!  This past weekend, I had my first ice cream cone of the year with my family.  And that was it – one ice cream cone after a balanced dinner at home.  No secretly sneaking to eat it alone between meals in a room behind closed doors. (If it sounds like the “old way” took a lot of scheming and energy, go with that – you’re right).  I didn’t revisit the freezer for a 2nd or 3rd cone (glorious change!).  I was truly content with eating in a more healthy way that would profit my body.  I didn’t even feel deprived when I gave my children some ice cream for dessert last night; I passed up my portion. 

Additionally, God made a way of escape for me when my hubby wanted to treat us to Sunday dinner out so I wouldn’t have to cook – he selected a buffet.  I didn’t say anything to him that morning (gotta appreciate your spouse’s thoughtfulness!), but I prayed that God would give me wisdom in selecting foods from the buffet that would glorify Him and not stuff my body full of junk.  And you know what?  By that afternoon, my hubby had changed his mind – without me saying a word (imagine that!).  He decided that we could eat at home, save some dough (yippee!), and I still didn’t have to cook because we’d prepared well a few days before and had plenty in the fridge.  I was so delighted to eat a chicken breast sandwich topped with bleu cheese dressing, fresh spinach, and red grapes at home!  When I remarked to my hubby, “I definitely wouldn’t have gotten something this healthy at the buffet,” he agreed and we both laughed.

I am grateful that God wouldn’t allow me to eat myself to death – literally.  Why?  Because He has a purpose and a plan for my life that I must fulfill.  So it is with you, my friend.  If you’re facing something that seems absolutely insurmountable and you haven’t gotten victory over it the past 10 times you tried to overcome it, I encourage you to try one more time.  But this time, allow God to change your heart (give Him free reign, holding nothing back for yourself) so you can change your mind, and your lifestyle will begin to change.  He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  I am a witness!

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

(Hebrews 11:6)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Less is More

I should’ve known God was up to something that would create major change in me.  You know what tipped me off?  It wasn’t one particular “struck with a lightning bolt” moment.  But it was a gradual realization of, “Hey – something is different here!”  That “something different” is the reason I haven’t visited my co-workers’ candy dishes since the Christmas holidays…who knew that 20 miniature chocolates in one week (or in one day) would add up on your hips if left unattended???  Right – I should’ve known then, but now I know better, and I do better.  Allow me to share a couple of observations.

About a month ago, we went to a restaurant that serves chocolate mints after dinner.  Our server was kind enough to give us 2 for each person.  Now I remember a day when I would’ve taken the mints from my children so I could have more (I hate to admit it, but I guess that’s hoarding).  This time, I reached (out of habit) for one mint, then subconsciously jerked my hand back.  I remembered, “That was my old way of doing things; I really don’t want that candy, nor do I need the extra calories…nor do I desire to eat one and end up with an urge to finish off the rest of them.”  My family didn’t notice my mental conversation, but I did.  And I’m proud to report that the candies my children didn’t eat are still in a drawer in my kitchen.  I see them when I pull out twist ties, and they’re safe – it’s not even a temptation anymore.  I am grateful for God changing me from the inside out. 

As if to prove that it wasn’t a one-time deal, another test-type situation presented itself one afternoon at work.  I headed to the break room to refill my water bottle, passing by the “free” coffee and rich, calorie-laden hot cocoa.  Then I saw them – leftover cookies from a meeting.  Neatly preserved in a box.  And nobody was looking.  Oh sure, they’d been put there for anyone to help themselves – but that someone didn’t have to be me!  I took a peek to see what flavor presented itself – livin’ on the edge, right?  Peanut butter, with visible peanut butter chip chunks.  “Hmmm,” I mused as I inhaled, noticing how soft the cookies looked.  “Peanuts are healthy,” I reasoned.  Then I snapped back to reality, shut the box, and walked back to my desk with my full water bottle.  I didn’t really want or need a cookie, and that wasn’t what I’d gone to the break room for anyway.  I acknowledged it as just a distraction.  Kayren – 1 point, cookies – zero. God had made a way of escape for me. This time – thankfully – I took it.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

(I Corinthians 10:13)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Gravity Works in My Favor

For the first time in a VERY long time, the scale is actually reading about 10 pounds lesswith me standing on it.  Who would’ve thought I’d actually see results this time?  Not me – at first.  Then I kept checking the scale week after week, and it was going down – a pound here, a pound there.  I was hesitant to believe it – and I definitely wasn’t gonna write about it in case I was just dreaming and someone had to shake me back to reality and say, “No honey, you’re still as heavy as you were – wake up!” 

At the beginning of the year, a good friend of mine told me she wanted to lose 40 pounds by her birthday in July.  It sounded rather impossible for me to apply her enthusiasm to my own need to lose the same amount – as my doctor had been gently nudging me to do (then firmly insisting) for the past few years.  Though I wasn’t convinced it could work for me this time, she chirped, “It breaks down to about 2 pounds a week” and I decided that was considerably more manageable to attack than 40 pounds in one fell swoop.  Plus, she said I’d inspired her to be more healthy (imagine that!), so because I wanted to be supportive of her efforts, I agreed to be her accountability partner as we built healthier habits into our daily lifestyles.

She has lost over 15 pounds and is well on her way to reaching her goal.  I’ve lost about 10 pounds (though I was really hoping more than I was believing I’d lose any weight at all), my knees don’t hurt anymore, and I’m feeling ready to run around in the yard with my children when the warm weather arrives.  It’s remarkable how changing your perspective can improve your quality of life!

I didn’t get liposuction (who has money laying around for that these days? and I certainly don’t want anyone carving on me like a Thanksgiving turkey), I didn’t get scammed and subsequently disappointed by the newest “miraculous fat melting pill/powder/beverage fad” (to take my money without delivering results), I haven’t starved myself (though I’m convinced that camels really can live off their humps, and I do have plenty of calories stored up), I haven’t missed any meals (just made the ones I eat healthier and more proportionate), and I have added a little exercise to my week (there’s always room for improvement).  Good ol’ fashioned discipline.  Taking in fewer calories than I burn off.  Not eating everything that comes across my path and isn’t nailed down.  I had to change my mind first – then my body followed.

Can you tell how incredulous I am about the whole thing?  It’s nothing short of amazing, in my opinion.  Yet, with the right input, you can have favorable results.  Since I’d been putting in junk, I was getting excess calories.  When I started putting in more fruit, veggies, and water – voila! – the excess pounds begin to melt away.  Not only am I responsible for taking thoughtful stewardship of my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, I am also responsible for setting a godly example for others – including my children.  My lifestyle must witness louder than my words.  Finally, my convictions are translating into action and change.  And better health is just one of many benefits I’m reaping.

It all adds up…to less.  I am grateful that God is at work in my life.  Can you hear the chisels and jackhammers?

“Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

(I Timothy 6:19)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Spring Forward: Preparation for Acceleration

As we approach the warmth and accompanying new growth of budding blossoms that Spring holds, we come face-to-face with this fact: it will cost us an extra hour of sleep.  I’m not so sure I’ve embraced this concept yet.

I guess I’m getting older (ha ha!), because I have been very tired these past few days.  Could be that I’m worn out from all my decluttering activities.  Perhaps I’m just being more productive.  Maybe I need more sleep.  Or a combination of the above.  Whatever the case may be, I’ve decided to start preparing for Daylight Savings Time now by going to bed 30 minutes earlier for a week instead of trying to “cram” sleep the night before.  You’re laughing – but you know you’ve tried it, too!  🙂

I’m starting now so I can greet the new promises encapsulated in Spring mornings with a smile instead of groggy, bleary eye-rubbing.  The word “spring” implies action, movement, and momentum.  Join me in anticipation of the newness of a fresh start…ready – set – go!

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Purging In Progress!

Propelled by the momentum of discarding old, unnecessary materials at work and organizing what remains, I made a major leap forward this weekend – I attacked (and conquered) the angst-evoking clutter corner in my kitchen!  Celebrate with me!  I was so ashamed of the piles of 3-ring binders, year-old children’s artistic masterpieces, choir rehearsal lyric sheets, Christmas photo cards, expired coupons that I’d had every good intention of using, et cetera…but I had also become complacent about it – can you relate?  I’d cook, load the dishwasher, disinfect my countertops, and sweep the floor, but that menacing corner always lurked just beyond the grasp of my ever-elusive ideal of being “finally organized.” 

Well, this weekend, I made a decision to just do it – no matter how tired or disheartened I felt (and believe me, I felt both!).  I even rediscovered (and subsequently tossed out – devoid of my usual emotional attachment) a boarding pass from a summer 2008 plane trip…don’t ask – of course I had no clue it was there, so I won’t miss it.  I wasn’t even saving it for sentimental reasons; it had just accumulated, like most of the other bits and pieces straining my poor, overburdened little side table.  And you know what?  I felt better when I was done – because the seemingly overwhelming task that had loomed overhead for far too long had been completed…at last.  After that, I pressed on toward the office – another potential abyss of clutter pandemonium (to which I was a chief contributor).  With a furrowed and resolute brow, I declared war on the army of boxes that had assembled in the middle of my floor; I think I won the battle.  Some contents were discarded; the contents of other boxes were consolidated.  And the Earth did not stop rotating or revolving because I threw some stuff away – what a relief!

Before I could ever change my external environment, I had to change my mind – and that was preceded by allowing God to change my heart.  It was (and continues to be!) a process…one that took (and is still taking!) time and patience.  And growth and maturity.  And a commitment to change.  We don’t like to admit that “our stuff ain’t working,” but God is gentle, patient, kind, and loving as He guides us into what we deem to be new territory.  So I guess my Pastor’s sermon series on “Allowing God to Do a New Thing” is really taking root…and bearing fruit.  I am grateful. 🙂

 “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

(II Peter 1:8-9)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart