The Power of Active Choice vs. Default

default – failure to act; course of action that a program or operating system will take when the user or programmer specifies no overriding value or action

Saturday afternoon, I had a great conversation with another mom of growing adolescents. Our chat meandered from grocery store budgeting tips for keeping our giants nourished to specific foods they like. As we talked about the weeknight (anytime!) lifesaver known as ramen noodles, I told her I didn’t eat them anymore because of the high sodium content of the flavor packets. She quickly assured me that she enjoys hers with reduced sodium chicken broth…and I saw sunbeams emitting from the heavens.

Sunday afternoon, my hubby grilled hot dogs for the family. Knowing I didn’t need the excess sodium, I skipped the hot dogs, but wasn’t sure what I wanted for lunch. After my nap, I thought about those ramen noodles and pulled out my low-sodium chicken broth. Three minutes and three dashes of pepper later, I was enjoying some tasty soup on my front porch while birdwatching. It wasn’t until halfway through the bowl that I realized, “Hey, I made a better decision instead of just going along with what everyone else was doing!” I also took a 20 minute walk with my children instead of perfecting my couch potato skills all afternoon.

Fresh off of yesterday’s triumph, I ordered a salad today for lunch. When I opened the box, nestled right next to the wheat crackers and the pickle spear, I noticed a frosted sugar cookie (that I didn’t order) wrapped in cellophane…staring at me…summoning me to take a tiny nibble. I refused the invitation and promptly took the cookie intruder to our office break room so someone else could give it a new home.

So many times I just gave in to the thing in front of me because it was easier than politely declining or steadfastly refusing something that looked/smelled/sounded/seemed soooo good – but really wasn’t. Yet, these past couple of days have been different. So I guess the “Shake Up Your Routine” speech I gave this week at Toastmasters is having an impact on ME. And I’m proud of myself for finally making some necessary changes. Sure, it was “just one meal,” “just one walk,” and “just one cookie that didn’t slide down my gullet.” But it was a start. And it was MY fresh start of commitment to continue down a better path so I can see positive results and experience improved health. This week, challenge yourself not to yield to the default…leave a comment if you’d like some support on your journey – because you’re certainly not the only one who has to put effort into actively making righteous choices!

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”
(Deuteronomy 30:19)

© Copyright 2018 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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Pull the Plug on Foolishness

After transparent self-disclosure while teaching Teen Sunday School class last week, I knew by Monday what I had to do. And I was more than a bit irritated as I scrolled past the sports shows and sci-fi stuff to delete the mini-hoard of chick flicks (harmless, right?) I’d accumulated on the DVR since December…here’s the backstory…

I admit that I’m artistic and quirky, perhaps not in that order. I like documentaries, cooking shows, black and white movies, mysteries/suspense/conspiracy theories…and unbeknownst to me until the recent holidays, Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel. The ribbing from my family got so bad that my hubby would enter the room (where I’d hunkered down with popcorn and my comfy fuzzy socks) and smugly grin, “Hey – I know how this one’s gonna end! The dude’s gonna ride in on his white horse and save the day…” He would come in on the last 5 minutes of the movie and blow my warm happy feeling right outta the water (like sports doesn’t get repetitive – someone wins and someone loses every time, right?!).

I’m not a hopeless romantic, but “Cinderella” was my favorite Disney movie as a child (and still is). I say there’s nothing wrong with a formula movie or a predictable movie – I mean, it takes a certain degree of creativity to rework the same plot in 50 different ways and in 50 different movies (whether by changing the setting, the characters, or the theme); I think this nurtured the creative writer in me. I convinced myself that I was just enjoying a movie with a happy ending that seemed like good, clean entertainment. I looked past the lie of Santa Claus, multiple tree lightings on the town square with hot cocoa, countless mentions of luck/wishes juxtaposed with the lack of mentioning Jesus (though multiple holiday carols were sung – how can this be?) to remind myself the importance of witnessing Christ to others – and not just during the Christmas season. However, Christmas movies rolled into Winter movies, which rolled into Valentine’s Day movies. Why? Because this TV channel is an outgrowth of a greeting card company that capitalizes on getting money and marketshare by tugging at the heartstrings and manipulating emotions. And I thought I wanted to work for them after I got out of college…however, I digress.

As I set my DVR to record the movies that looked interesting to me (the ones about career, cooking, and mother/daughter relationships – and don’t forget WEDDINGS and princesses – rose to the top of my list), I was amassing a veritable library for which I couldn’t be the curator. I knew I didn’t have time to watch all of this content and take care of my responsibilities. Plus, they were centered around stuff that doesn’t even pertain to me (dating?! um, hello – I’ve been happily married for 17 years LOL…snowboarding – yeah right, I don’t even pretend to have a personal interest…yet, I watched that movie for 2 hours after my household went to sleep).

Strong conviction came as I talked to my middle-schooler about time-management during our morning commute…after I’d stayed up until 2:30am that morning to watch 4 hours of movies. I couldn’t find where I’d spent 4 hours communing with God or studying His Word over the past week. My actions needed to change to align with what I said were my beliefs (“I love You, Jesus”). So that brought me to this very moment when I knew the fantasy world, make-believe, play-play, pretending, princess fairy tales, and imagination had to come to a screeching halt in the intersection with real life. I briefly considered keeping 1 or 2 movies for a “rainy day,” but quickly dismissed that unviable non-option since I didn’t want to have the accursed thing in my camp. I have discarded anything that might prove to be a stumblingblock.

I must’ve deleted at least 15 movies (both in queue and set to record this weekend)…I stopped counting as I scrolled and clicked the remote. It felt like pulling the plug for the bathtub drain, but it didn’t really hurt. Some movies I’d recorded weren’t particularly worthy of watching – it was just comforting to know I’d have something to watch while the rest of my household was engrossed in sports – mind candy or mental fluff…a way to pass some idle time (like I have that laying around to spare! Something important was obviously going undone, getting neglected, or being postponed). In the midst of my resolute and determined progress, the DVR powered itself down and rebooted. Undaunted, I picked up where I’d left off and plowed ahead determinedly. The recording space available went from 9% to 18%.

Full disclosure: I’ve gotta admit, I was looking forward to watching “Cooking With Love.” And the sequel “All of My Heart: Inn Love” (not because the first one was so good – because it wasn’t stellar – but because I wanted to see what happened next with the characters). Were these movies my personal kryptonite like spy thrillers, solitaire, spy thrillers redux (that I blogged about 7 years ago), or Words With Friends (moment of silence…would someone in my house please play live Scrabble with Mommy so she doesn’t have to think about WWF???). I dunno – but they sure were a distraction from me obeying the Master with a clear heart and mind.

Why am I taking time to put all my stuff in plain sight for everyone to see? Because even if you happen not to be a closet Hallmark Channel junkie, there’s something that competes for your attention, devotion, affections, and investment of time and energy – and it draws you away from building relationship with your Creator. The question is: when are you gonna pull the plug on your foolishness? I just did – now it’s your turn.

“O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.”
(Psalm 69:5)
“I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.”
(Psalm 119:113)
“The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.”
(Proverbs 15:14)
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
(Colossians 2:8)

© Copyright 2018 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Fun vs. Folly: Are YOU Deceived?

fun – amusement, pleasure, entertainment, merriment, diversion
folly – foolishness, madness, idiocy, craziness, recklessness, imprudence, foolhardiness
deceived – tricked, misled, betrayed, swindled, double-crossed, cheated, defrauded, duped, deluded, conned, two-timed, misinformed

The spirit of this “trick or treat” season is deceiving and is motivated by deception. Jesus operates in light and truth – because He IS Light and Truth! So obviously this month’s “holiday” is not about Him, no matter how people may try to frame, twist, revise, or rewrite it. Many folks think it’s relatively harmless to partake of the “festivities,” perhaps by distributing a little candy here or allowing their children to dress-up in costumes (maybe at school) there.

If you can even slightly contemplate compromise by participating in the idleness and fruitlessness of the season, take a moment to sincerely pray and ask the Lord for discernment and direction. Before you counter with “it’s not really that bad” or “everyone else is doing it,” consider the source of your counsel according to Proverbs 16:22b “the instruction of fools is folly” and Proverbs 14:24b “the foolishness of fools is folly.”

A crack in the foundation can open up to become a gaping breach. Saints of God, it’s time for us to rise up in righteousness, get our houses in order, and live like our God is watching for us to be a righteous reflection of Him in the Earth – because He is. If you’re righteous, be righteous and do righteousness – it’s pretty clear. Let no man deceive you – and don’t deceive yourself! We cannot allow contamination or confusion in because we didn’t take a bold and firm stand against unrighteousness. Make a deliberate decision to let the light of Christ shine brightly through YOU today…

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.”
(Proverbs 15:21)

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”
(II Timothy 3:13)

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
(I John 3:7-10)

© Copyright 2015 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Dressed Up…For Battle or For Compromise?

Philippians 4:8 tells us as Christians to meditate on things that are honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; virtuous and praiseworthy. Does a “holiday” that exploits instilling fear and worshipping death meet any of these criteria? If we turn the channel so little eyes and ears aren’t subjected to zombies, vampires, witches, or other images that might give them nightmares, should adult vessels of honor fit for the Master’s use partake of them?

This one is short and sweet (with no calories or cavities!) because the Word does all the talking. Read the scriptures below, and then check your outward attire as well as how your inner man is clothed. May we repent for the areas we’ve allowed complacency to turn into compromise, and concessions to turn into cooperation with the world. James 4:4 admonishes, “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God..”

Are you destroying the works of the devil, or serving as his walking billboard? A “free” bag of candy is a terribly unwise unit of exchange for an eternal soul…and why costume yourself to identify as someone you’re not?

“10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
(Ephesians 6:10-13)

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
(I John 3:7-10)

© Copyright 2015 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Matters of the Heart: Recognizing the Un-Gift

Kayren’s generic definition of “un-gift” – a masquerading “blessing” that will likely end up being a curse due to its intrinsic or inherent value (or lack thereof)

The other day, a restaurant near my job e-mailed me some coupons. Now anyone who knows me is aware of how much I love getting a deal, a perk, or a freebie. However, as I looked at the nutritional info for the lunch item to be discounted, I realized that in my right mind, I can’t afford to receive and use their coupon because it makes no sense for a person on blood pressure medication to knowingly ingest over 1200mg of sodium in one entree. “But it’s on sale…yeah, but it’s gonna take you somewhere you don’t need to be, fool!” Back and forth I argued in my mind, until I tentatively scheduled when I’d cross the street to try this disaster of a meal choice (since the coupon expired within 2 weeks – of course, creating an urgency to hop aboard this train wreck of an externally-influenced decision). Finally, I confessed to my family when I got home that I had been tempted by this cleverly-disguised, flesh-tickling “offer.” However, knowing that it wouldn’t benefit me (or my family if my blood pressure skyrocketed), I asked for their support as I made myself accountable to them (once again) with my personal health stewardship. 

I should’ve gotten a clue when that same week, I got a separate “congratulatory” message from this same restaurant telling me I’d “earned” a “reward” for a dessert I don’t even like (they are few and far between, but they do exist – LOL). So let’s see here, I’m getting the “opportunity” to pay 99 cents for a food item I don’t like, one I probably wouldn’t eat even if it was free, and I’m ingesting extra calories and sugar I’ll have to work off in the meanwhile? No thank you! Honestly, I’d been contemplating whether to unsubscribe from this restaurant’s e-mails because their suggestions for food I hadn’t even been considering is moving from slight annoyance to constant bombardment. I can turn off the faucet to their cleverly-marketed “gifts” with one click – that may be the best gift for my health!

It seems simple, but every day, we’re faced with innumerable choices to receive “gifts” offered to us. It’s helpful to remember that just because something is offered doesn’t mean we have to accept it! If we actually take a moment to evaluate the pros AND cons before receiving an offer, it will help us stay aligned with the will of God for our lives instead of getting sidetracked, derailed, or distracted by ungodly, untimely, unwanted, or unwarranted options sent on assignment by the enemy of our souls. Whether well-intentioned or not, if a gift isn’t of value or benefit, it’s not really a gift. My prayer is that we stay alert and aware to keep and guard our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23) – not only in this Valentine’s Day season when emotions may be more vulnerable than usual, but each and every day. There’s no sin in responding “Return to Sender” for some gifts (or un-gifts)! 

“He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.”
(Proverbs 27:14)

© Copyright 2015 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Back to Basics: Sufficiency, Satiety, and Satisfaction

satiety – the quality or state of being fed or gratified to or beyond capacity; the revulsion or disgust caused by overindulgence or excess

Do we really believe that God is big enough to supply all of our needs, fulfill us, and satisfy us? Do we rest in the fact that He is able to provide for us spiritually, emotionally, financially, and physically – in an all-encompassing way? If so, we have a strange way of walking by faith in the fact that what we currently have is a-plenty. When we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit that we often see inconsistencies in ourselves before others do.

In today’s American culture, I’m not sure how much “revulsion or disgust” we have for overindulgence or excess. On the contrary, we’re infatuated and obsessed with obtaining “more.” If we watch a 30-minute TV program, we’re tempted by the offer to “binge watch” the entire season of episodes with one effortless download. No consideration of wasting an entire day (or more!) of productivity when we can have a glut of what we just tasted…it’s within easy reach. We want everything better, faster, in greater quantities – and we want it NOW. Even infomercials that offer us “the next big trinket” hook us with the promise of something EVEN BETTER than the fantabulous deal we’re already salivating over, baiting us with the nauseatingly predictable “but wait – there’s MORE…we’ll double your order for FREE if you call within the next 8 minutes!” And you know when they suggest that you give the extra one away as a gift, most of us end up with it sitting in a drawer, under a cabinet, or on a shelf collecting dust for months (or years). Even though we can only use one item at a time, we want more…because we’re never grateful enough to be satisfied with what we already have.

Godliness with contentment is great gain (I Timothy 6:6), but are we ever really content with what we have? Or are we subconsciously striving for “the next thing” instead of valuing our present state? My church’s theme for the past year has been “Looking Unto Jesus to Maximize and Strengthen What We Have.” If we thoughtfully and thoroughly count our blessings, we must realize and conclude that we need to take better stewardship to be effective with what we already have before we receive an additional drop of anything. Before lusting after that new pair of shoes/boots/outfit/purse/jewelry/home décor item, evaluate what we’re doing with the pile of similar items currently occupying our closet or running out of our drawers. I was particularly convicted when I acknowledged that before we’d finished our plenteous Thanksgiving meal leftovers, I was already wondering what we’d have for our Christmas feast. And yes, that type of overindulgence and excess will be taking me straight to the gym next week…and for MANY weeks to come…

As we reflect on the entirety of 2014 rapidly coming to a close, my prayer is that 2015 will be a year in which we fully and wholeheartedly embrace what God has for us – and appreciate it – no matter how it looks. In spite of whatever warped, perverted messages or misrepresentations advertisers and marketers attempt to bombard us with, may we receive the truth in our hearts that Jesus is the only One Who can satisfy, fulfill, and complete us. 

“1 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
(Psalm 103:1-5)

 © Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Spammed!

spam – disruptive messages, especially commercial messages posted on a computer network or sent as e-mail; unsolicited, undesired e-mail; the e-mail version of junk mail

Thank goodness my self-esteem is intact enough today that I didn’t fall for a fake ego trip (again – LOL; it’s true what they say about being older and wiser…). I got a comment from an unknown poster complimenting my writing skills (go figure – that college degree is coming in handy) and blog layout (it’s a template, for heaven’s sake). Since it appeared to be a link to a bootleg online luxury products outlet (again, age and deliverance make a healthy combination), I decided to Google the link in the attempted flatterer’s signature instead of clicking on it. (I absolutely detest internet “cookies,” and the thought of getting unending pop-up ads for who-knows-what makes me livid). When that initial search didn’t give me adequate or specific details about my phony admirer from afar, I searched the text “I am really impressed with your writing skills” and lo and behold if that site wasn’t listed multiple times, and in various languages. My suspicious hunch was right. With a few clicks, I’d confirmed that the message wasn’t from someone who genuinely appreciated my literary prowess (ha!), but instead, it was a sham from someone who wanted to squat on my web property for free advertising. Kinda like realizing that you’ve gotten a photocopied “love letter…” and you feel just a bit less-than-special…Needless to say, I hit delete on that message.

Rather ironic, since I just retrieved an e-mail message I’d been awaiting since last month – only to find out yesterday that it had – unbeknownst to me – been relegated to my “Junk” folder – yikes! The sender had been awaiting my response…and I’d been completely unaware that the important information had been sent to my attention weeks ago. Then I felt horrible that my delay had impacted my ability to disseminate the information to other people who needed it. What a ripple effect – ugh!

The value of a message can be determined by the identity of the sender, right? Unwanted message gets received, desired message doesn’t get received…I’m no techno-whiz, but it’s nearly a herculean feat to keep track of my own electronic traffic these days. And who (or what algorithm) determines that I should get daily shoe sale e-mails in my Inbox, while important personal messages get condemned to the abysmal Junk folder?!?

How often do we get spammed in a spiritual sense? We’re having a great day, focused on the goodness of the Lord, then – WHAMMO! – something unauthorized and definitely not legit comes from outta the blue that sends us spinning off course. Saints of the Most High, we must be on guard for potential intruders and distractions that desire to run roughshod and ramshackle through our emotional and spiritual well-being, leaving overturned tables and broken vases in the wake of their forced entry. What disruptive, unsolicited, or undesired messages have been bombarding you lately? In these last and evil days, our recourse is in the Person of the Holy Spirit. We need His discernment, wisdom, guidance, and protection. I dare assert that He is the ultimate spam blocker!

“1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.”
(Psalm 61:1-4)

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart