Family: A Beautiful Cacophony

This weekend, I was delighted to host my parents – along with my sister (whom I hadn’t seen in ages) – for a Sunday afternoon visit. While I didn’t have a clear meal plan, I had a hankering to serve brunch – I’m always game for French toast with powdered sugar (yum!), and I felt I owed my sister the real deal since I’d sent her a picture on her birthday of the breakfast I’d fixed in her honor across the miles…and taken it upon myself to eat it for her, too. Anticipating that I wanted everything finished in advance so I could spend quality time with my guests, I lovingly prepared the French toast together with 3 dozen zucchini mini-quiches with fresh basil from our garden on Saturday – because what’s more fun that cooking eggs in a muffin tin?! 

The funny thing was that my mom, on the other hand, prepared chicken fettuccini alfredo and brought Hawaiian bread (yum!) and various salad toppings to go with my other freshly-harvested garden goodies in the salad I made for folks who wanted dinner foods. My hubby blew it all outta the water when he finally fixed the 9-hour slow-cooker pot roast with potatoes that he’d been talking about all week. 

It was absolutely hilarious to see my mom, the consummate event planner and ultimate “hostess with the mostest,” as she set our “party table” with the blue plastic tablecloth that she somehow produced out of thin air, replete with sparkly curled banners of festiveness for a centerpiece, accompanied by her handy-dandy pink travelling placemats, convenient matching paper plates (and salad bowls, of course), red plastic cups, and a full place setting of clear plastic cutlery. Voilà! She is usually determined to make a major production out of the most informal gathering…so we humor her and watch her gesticulations with amusement.

Like our assorted table setting, there was absolutely no coherent theme to the menu, but we all sat down together to graze and munch contentedly, starting with my fruit tray of navel oranges and grapes and ending with the brownies Mama had individually bagged and tied with a cheery ribbon for each family member. Seeing my semi-vegetarian and formerly vegan sister succumb to the tender pot roast (placed atop her salad) was therapeutic. Everyone let their hair down and savored the comforts of family and home (not just a place, but a state of mind, in my personal opinion).

My ears relished the ebb and flow of concurrent conversations punctuated by raucous laughter of not-so-distant shared memories. My sister and I ended the evening by trying on clothes Mama had picked up from an estate sale and deciding who looked thinner in which outfit – that yielded a ton of cackles. I surveyed the scene with the ironic consciousness that my family puts the “fun” in dysfunctional, which is pretty much the only normal I’ve known. I’ve often wondered why God put people who just wanted to be hassle-free and to enjoy undisturbed solitude smack dab in the middle of a family. As I grow in age, wisdom, and grace, I’m just thankful that He did it for me – I think I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Family is the gift that keeps on giving, and I’m appreciative for the entire package. I hope you’ll take a moment to give thanks for your own family (in whatever shape, form, or quantity it may appear), and let them know how much you love, value, and treasure them. Today is the perfect day to reach out and (re)connect…

“God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell…”
(Psalm 68:6a)

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Progress Cometh – Wait For It…

This morning, I allowed myself to be served breakfast (in bed, no less – at my request while I made provision to have some much needed quiet time to pull my thoughts together for the day) by my daughter. No big deal, right? Well, for a normal person – maybe. But for me, it was evidence of my own personal growth and development since I actually thought about the pros and cons of asking her to do it before yielding to what I sensed the Lord leading me to ask her to do. This seemingly small act of obedience caused me to walk in:

  1. Humility – I know what I like and how I like it (my husband says I have “funny ways;” what does that mean? Don’t we all? LOL). Now I had to humble myself to receive what someone else was going to give me.
  2. Being apt to teach – Would she follow my directions as instructed, or add her own “creative spin…” like I’ve been guilty of doing so often with God?
  3. Patience, gentleness, and meekness – I’m used to “doing it myself” and being done with it – but as the interdependent Body of Christ, there’s no room for “Lone Rangers.”
  4. Not taking myself too seriously – I mean, really…if I can’t trust my own 9 year-old (whom I’ve trained by my own example of service) to bring me a bowl of cereal, I have bigger issues than can be dealt with through journal writing!
  5. Allowing God room to pleasantly surprise me – I had to break out of my regularly anticipated routine and be willing to receive a blessing (instead of always trying to be a blessing to someone else; the Spiritual Principle of Sow and Reap goes both ways).

Granted, I did specify which particular bowl and spoon I desired, but to my great astonishment and delight, she complied with a great attitude – huh? I’m sure it’s fun living with a slightly OCD mom (I should know – ha ha). Perhaps she had been waiting for me to sit down long enough for her to be able to jump in and do something considerate for me. Needless to say, it was nice to see a teachable spirit on display. This was my opportunity to see that she’s actually been learning from me – even when it seemed like she wasn’t listening. Especially when I felt like I was droning on and on like a broken record. Fruit cultivation takes time, but the harvest will come. My pastor always says, “Teaching is repeating until learning takes place.” Sometimes seeing evidence of learning takes longer than we’d like or expect. But wait for it…it’s worth it.

To all who prayed for my child (and me!) over the past school year when I was pulling my hair out over her less-than-stellar attitude at school and at home, thank you – this is your praise report, too!  For those tried-and-true mothers and grandmothers who encouraged me that “this too shall pass,” I appreciate your wisdom and reassurance. In the words of a precious dearly departed saint of God (I think he had about 7 children, so he must’ve known what he was talking about), “You can’t…rush…God.” Seriously – he drawled it with pauses just like that. When I first heard him say it, I was in high school, and I scowled that it took him so long to get that short phrase outta his lips.  But now, I just sit back, smile, and nod knowingly in agreement – because it’s true, and I know this for myself. 

“Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.”
(Psalm 143:10)
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
(Proverbs 22:6)
“24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;”
(2 Timothy 2:24-25)

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Is Your Heart Calloused? Slough Off the Deadness and Live!

Disclaimer: While you may want to go ahead and schedule that overdue pedicure, this is an “ouch!” message; read at the risk of inciting and inviting godly change into your life…

Recently, I’ve been forgetting that I was already dead. How’s that, you ask? 

After the hellacious week (or two…or maybe even 3…I dunno, it’s all running together) I’d had, I was beseeching God for some serious answers. Imagine how He got my attention when the answer came by way of “random” morning pop-up scripture on my phone’s Bible app, underscored by a focus on the exact same scripture passage during Bible Study that evening (Colossians 3). Amazing – He heard me…and responded! Though I’d felt alone in the wilderness, He had been right there with me all along.  After acknowledging the validity of my Heavenly Father’s timely reminder: “Your flesh should be crucified and dead in that area, daughter – so why is this issue bothering you so much?” I groaned, repented, and then proceeded to pull myself back together with the capable assistance of the Holy Spirit.

During my time of testing, I wondered if I just needed to become tough to the point that I didn’t feel anything anymore (I know it sounds extreme, but that’s where I’d allowed my mind to drift). A bit of web research modified that out-of-control, irrational thinking and taught me:

  • The formation of calluses is caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells that harden and thicken over an area of the foot. This callus formation is the body’s defense mechanism to protect the foot against excessive pressure and friction. (source)
  • A callus (or callosity) is a toughened area of skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure, or other irritation. Rubbing that is too frequent or forceful will cause blisters rather than allow calluses to form. Since repeated contact is required, calluses are most often found on feet because of frequent walking. Calluses are generally not harmful, but may sometimes lead to other problems, such as skin ulceration or infection. (source)

Pressure, friction, irritation, aggravation, frustration…well, didn’t that just shed some light on my present status of suffering (temporary light affliction, I know – but affliction nonetheless). Hmmm…“faint not” even though you feel like throwing in the towel after shredding it to ribbons…“crucify the flesh” and it’s not even close to Easter season…“he that is dead is free from sin” – well, I like the end result, but enduring the process is not something I’m not particularly looking forward to. Honestly, as I’m reflecting on my week, typing this, and reviewing the scripture verses below, I’m crinkling my nose, shaking my head, and saying to myself, “Naw, I don’t like that either…ouch, ouch, ouch – but Your Word is true, Lord.”

Needless to say, I’ve had some serious perspective maintenance and mental adjustment going on in this season of my life – because it really isn’t about me anyway. And I am not alone. I am eternally grateful for the strong saints He’s placed to undergird me with prayer and encouragement while cheering me on to finish the race God has chosen and designed expressly for me to run – and complete. As I embrace this new maturity (whether reluctantly or with joy, I haven’t quite determined) I realize – no matter how uncomfortable it is (and it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar, trust me!), it is for His ultimate glory.

If you realize that some dead cells have built up and developed into callouses in, around, or over your own heart, I invite you into my personal prayer, “Lord, please fix me so I’m aligned with YOUR Word, and not my feelings. Help me to fight the good fight of faith and not be a passive soldier in Your army.” He desires to do a new work in each of His children…will you allow Him to do so in you – starting now? 

“1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 
 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 
 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
(Colossians 3:1-3)
“11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
(2 Corinthians 4:11-12, 16-17)
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
(Galatians 5:24)
“5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
(Romans 6:5-7) 

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart