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


Obedience to Authority is NOT Grievous: Stay Under the Umbrella of Protection

“Obedience is better than sacrifice!” My mama used to drill this into my head as a child (which isn’t altogether a bad thing, now that I reflect upon it). Usually, it was to remind me to just go ahead do what she’d said instead of analyzing it first, then putting my own “personalized interpretation” on it, and possibly getting around to doing what she’d told me to do much later than she desired. The scripture verse referenced comes from the story of King Saul who – to his own detriment, demise, and utter downfall – decided to “do his own thing” because he thought his idea was better than God’s (or perhaps he imprudently figured that God wouldn’t realize he did something different from what was instructed… and grossly miscalculated – I dunno).

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to minister encouragement to a precious sister in Christ. I was led to gently (but firmly) remind her that God had placed her husband in her life for her protection, and therefore she should stop trying to “figure it out” by herself, and receive the wisdom and counsel coming from within her own house, and apply it (in a timely manner) for her benefit. Well, wouldn’t you know I got tested on that very same thing within less than an hour of saying it to her?

My wonderful husband is fiercely protective of our family. Since I’m certain it has something to do with him taking seriously the fact that he will have to stand before God and give an account of how he cared for those he was given stewardship over, I really try not to give the brother a hard time! Being the health/safety/well-being oriented person (and hence weather-watcher) that he is, he was mindful of the fact that our area (multiple counties – indeed a great part of the state) is under a tornado warning until 10 p.m. Now I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Doubting Thomas, but even after seeing the headlines on two local news websites and checking the weather app with the big ol’ red shading over 1/3 of the state, it really didn’t faze me; I was prepared to carry on with my planned evening routine…that is, until my hubby pulled rank and the emergency brake, and my plan came to a screeching halt.

His phone call during my commute was crisp, curt, and to-the-point, “I see how the weather is looking on this side of town; call and cancel the children’s piano lesson tonight.” Casually glancing around at the balmy sunshine and fluffy white clouds, I opened my mouth, then closed it after many thoughts zoomed through my head but I wouldn’t let them outta my lips, “It’s probably not gonna even do anything over this way…the piano teacher is 5 houses down the street from ours…even if something did happen, I’m sure we could get home safely…” It wasn’t worth a protest, or even asking my infamous “what if” since no commentary, opinion, or feedback had been invited or solicited. He had spoken; it was my turn to obey. So I did. (Score 10 “spiritually maturing wife” points for the short girl – she finally learned to just roll with the prophetic unction without asking 50 zillion questions because she didn’t have all the details). 🙂

By the time I’d picked up both children and we were heading home, little splotches of raindrops had turned into an all-out steady rain – who knew those pretty white clouds held such amounts of water on a sunny day? And if tornadoes were featured on The Weather Channel last night and thunderstorms were in the forecast, they were definitely heading this way. Needless to say, I’m glad to be where I’m supposed to be right now – at home in the ark of safety and under the Shadow of the Almighty – just like my hubby told me to be. As the piano teacher said, “I respect the power of those storms; no problem rescheduling their lessons!” Likewise, we must respect the power of those in authority over us who are merely trying to save our lives from hurt, harm, danger, and destruction. I don’t have to see debris flying all around me to realize the need for protection. No more walking the “obedience tightrope” without a net, hoping to thumb my nose after the fact and say, “See? I knew nothing would happen.”

Things I’ve learned about obedience:

    • Delayed obedience = DISOBEDIENCE.
    • There’s no such thing as “creative obedience” or “intended but poorly executed obedience.” That’s an obscure, self-deceiving excuse.
    • We can call it any of these “other” things, but if it’s not obedience…it’s just not obedience! trying it my way first; testing out an option; eventually getting around to the original instruction; making a variation; proposing an alternative; being open to adaptation; allowing a modification; tolerating a glaring disparity or discrepancy; reworking; alteration; deviation; departure; distinction; difference…and the list goes on…

Call me apocalyptic (in light of the deluge and onslaught of current earthquakes, tsunamis, pestilence, plagues, and epidemics, do you really blame me?), but my prayer is that we hearken to the truth (and obey!)…no matter how the message is delivered. Pay attention, saints! It’s time out for foolishness in any form…selah.

“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
(I Samuel 15:22)

 © Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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