When Folks Don’t Like Your Flavor

Some people love chocolate ice cream. Others prefer vanilla ice cream (though for the life of me, I cannot understand why LOL). And there are some who fancy either one, depending on their mood. I am fixed in the chocolate camp (preferably with pecans or almonds added!), while my hubby is firmly entrenched in the classic vanilla camp. Thankfully, this has worked for us with relatively few dust-ups in almost 16 years of marriage. Have I tried to coax him to “just taste a spoonful” of my deep, rich, luxurious chocolate ice cream cone and he refused because it’s just not his “thang?” Absolutely. Has he offered to share with me his delight derived from a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream and I declined the extra calories for its blah-looking plainness? Yup. Does it have to be a deal-breaker? Of course not (if you’re wise and want to enjoy a good marriage – ha ha)!

So I’m talking about ice cream, right? Yes…and no. See, in my humble purview (especially after the week I’ve had), personalities of the people who cross our paths can be likened to ice cream flavors. <Full disclosure: I have no professional training in psychology, but bear with me for a moment.> Some people like outgoing folks – and others don’t. Some hold in high regard reserved, pensive thinkers – and others look at them like visitors from another planet. High-energy and bubbly vs. low-key and demure; impulsive free spirits vs. calculated risk-takers; there are so many seemingly diametrically opposed personality pairings we encounter during the course of a day. But that doesn’t have to turn into a conflict or a clash, right?

It’s very easy to say “you shouldn’t care whether people like you or not.” It’s quite another thing to deal with it when they are making known how much they don’t like you. I’m not as “soft” as I used to be (thanks to “mental toughness training” from a father and husband who are both former military). However, as a recovering people-pleaser, I acknowledge when I feel rejected or marginalized. That identifying and acknowledging part I’m pretty good at. It’s the mastering it and moving on part that I’m diligently working on in this season. Because while I realize that everyone doesn’t like my flavor (or me, for that matter), I don’t want any person, thing, situation, or circumstance to hold a hindering grip or exercise paralyzing power over me, impacting my present and debilitating my future. I don’t want to plan to avoid a particular location at a specific time just to get around speaking (or not speaking) to someone who has expressed disdain for my flavor. Both chocolate and vanilla have their merits – it’s just a matter of preference. And both have a place…it doesn’t always have to be either/or.

Granted, there is middle ground (and no, I’m not referring to fudge ripple ice cream, because that weak hybrid just doesn’t make any sense to me – ok, maybe it makes sense, but I just don’t like the taste…and not because it’s viewed as a compromise for someone who’s dug in their heels on one side or the other LOL). Reaching across the boundaries of personal preference to understand from another person’s perspective is a start.

Kinda like the vanilla cheesecake I made last night that my whole family enjoyed together. Even though it had light cream cheese, light sour cream, and sugar substitute. So I guess it could’ve been viewed as a compromise…but not really, because I’ve never made a chocolate cheesecake, and I wasn’t in the mood for one anyway. And I’ll be the first to admit that the vanilla cheesecake was SLAMMING and hit the spot – even though I’m still loyal to chocolate as my favorite flavor!

How can you appreciate someone else’s flavor today? You probably don’t have to look very far – and the opportunity may even find you. Accept the challenge; it may be more palatable (and maybe even pleasant) than you expect.

A Neapolitan Postscript: Ya know, it didn’t even dawn on me while writing that there are some folks who like strawberry, too. <gasp!> God’s got us ALL…and THAT, my friends, is good news!

 “12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”
(II Corinthians 12:12, 14, 17-21)

  © Copyright 2016 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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Interruptions…or God’s Call?

Recently, I got a little ticked initially (ok, annoyed, aggravated, and increasingly irritated) by two separate “interruptions” during my workday. I caught myself thinking, “There are 3 other names on the list – am I the only one they can call to sign for a package? I’m trying to focus on finishing up this assignment by the deadline.” But after the delivery people had left my office, I realized that both times that day, I’d been privileged with a golden opportunity to share the Word, let my light shine for Christ, and give some much-needed encouragement. How self-centered of me not to see the bigger picture; perhaps they were my most important assignment that day!

I had prayed for God to open doors for me to share His love…and here He literally brought the people to my door, practically dropping them in my lap, so I had to repent for not recognizing the blessing in disguise. It went right along with the Teen Sunday School lesson I was preparing to teach, so I was definitely convicted! Are you despising the gift Christ has placed in you for others?

May we always be prepared to answer when God’s opportunity to minister knocks on our door and presents itself – even at those unexpected moments! I had to take a detour during today’s evening commute…but the blessing was that I heard about the accident two lights ahead of me on the traffic report just before I saw the wreckers blocking the intersection. I was so grateful for that “interruption” of an unplanned detour (that added only 5 minutes to my commute) since it meant I wasn’t involved in the smash-up – hallelujah! My daughter rolled her ankle playing basketball during afterschool (2 minutes before I arrived to pick her up today). While that was definitely an unscheduled weekday event (to say the least!), I had to be grateful that it wasn’t broken. Though it changed our evening plans and we all had to move slower to assist her, at least she could still hop on one foot. It’s all in our perspective. This week, I challenge you to embrace a divinely orchestrated opportunity that at first glance may appear to be an interruption – God has purposely designed it with His children in mind. He is at work…may we adjust our attitudes to work with Him – all for His glory.

 “3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.
4 Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility],”
(Philippians 2:3-5, AMP)

 © Copyright 2016 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Contentment vs. Complacency: Expressing Gratitude in the Here & Now

Well, happy new year to everyone, happy Black History Month, happy belated 40th birthday to me (do I sound wiser? LOL), and whatever else we’d like to celebrate! I haven’t been on hiatus from writing (as attested by the accumulation of post-it note scribbles bulging the front pocket of my purse), but life has truly been rich and full. When there’s more happening than I can keep up to write about, you know God is at work! 🙂 Nevertheless, I’m glad to be able to send a quick shout-out of encouragement before attempting to catch a few winks…

In the midst of it all, I find myself in a somewhat unfamiliar place. Yet, it is a place God told me He had prepared for me – one where I am required to rest in Him and trust Him completely. Oh sure, there’s plenty of hustle and bustle going on around me, but He is teaching me to focus on Him alone and to not be sidetracked by the multitude of distractions that come to divert my attention from what is critical, essential, vital, and key in this season. To me, complacency implies “zoning out” or not being engaged in the present, while godly contentment entails intentional acknowledgement of the present in light of what is yet to come. Contentment involves preparation – and the process of being perfecting in the presence of the Almighty Creator.

So I’m doing a lot of introspective work these days. Trying to listen more effectively and talk less often – unless led by the Holy Spirit. Letting God’s Word sandpaper away any remaining residue that doesn’t glorify His holiness. You know, stuff like that. Which requires that I be content where I am in Him, and yet not complacent to the point that I won’t change in order to line up in obedience to His instructions. Challenging? Yes! But rewarding? Absolutely. What has your new year been like so far, and what is God speaking to your heart? Feel free to share by leaving a comment. Let’s grow together in grace this year, encourage one another in this daily walk of discipleship, and mature – all for His glory.

“Be still and know that I am God…”
(Psalm 46:10)

 “Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances.”
(Philippians 4:11, AMP)

 © Copyright 2016 by Kayren J. Cathcart

positive (+) vs. negative (-): Are YOU Sitting in the Seat of the Scornful?

scornful – contemptuous, disdainful, disrespectful, mocking, derisive, disparaging, sneering
cynical – pessimistic, mocking, skeptical, sarcastic, distrustful, suspicious, disparaging, detracting, sneering, scornful, derisive, negative, misanthropic, scoffing, sardonic, scathing
sarcastic – ironic, mocking, sardonic, cynical, acerbic, mordant, derisive, satirical, caustic

As many times as I’ve read Psalm 1:1, I can’t say that I ever interpreted it to mean that I should search myself to see if I was the one sitting in that scornful seat. I usually focused on the “blessed is the man that doesn’t walk, stand, or sit with those folks” part. Until today, when I had to examine my current position in relation to God’s Word from a fresh perspective – stripped bare of any camouflage, disguise, or mask. Last night, I read Psalm 1 because I was at an emotional impasse and just needed to simplify some things. Since I wasn’t feeling particularly full of praise, I decided to start at the beginning of the book on praise. When I saw the word “scornful,” I looked it up in my concordance and cringed; I had neither comprehended nor appreciated how intense scorn actually is.

Over the past 24 hours, God’s been revealing to me how much of a “repeat offender” I’ve been in the scorn department. I grew up watching (and mimicking) SNL humor in the 1990s (or “back in the day” as my children remind me) – sarcasm, satire, scoffing, and cynicism at its best. I thought most of the skits (before they got utterly raunchy, tasteless, crass, and uncouth) were just plain funny. However, many of the laughs are at the expense of others, are less than uplifting, and are full of scorn.

After looking at the synonyms for scorn, I realize how “unpretty” this is in me. Today, I read a health and fitness article about what to do to stay on track with your goals. It suggested a good exercise: to choose a positive attitude during challenging moments by writing down 10 positive things that could result from something particularly negative or challenging. Well wasn’t this just a timely gift?  I had several challenging moments I could try this with, so I commenced with writing my list – or at least I attempted to. But after each painstaking entry I wrote, I had a surprisingly strong snappy, cynical, and sarcastic (= negative) thought to counter it with…which kinda defeated the whole purpose of the “positivity activity,” right? I kept seeing that half-full glass as half-empty, and I realized how deeply rooted this thing was in me.

Sure, people used to call me Little Betty Sunshine and accuse me of chronic Bubbly Personality Disorder. But I guess I’ve become a little grizzled by life (in a sparkly, glitterholic kinda way) and I see things a bit differently now. I’m still able to see the positive, but I admit that I probably focus more of the negative than I should as I age, um, I mean, as I mature. Nothing like editing oneself, is there? But I want (and need) to change this…and not just because I’m not getting any younger – LOL. Prospering (according to God’s definition) has a direct correlation with me not sitting in the seat of the scornful. In light of current events, it’s easy to be negative, cynical, sarcastic, and scornful. But as believers who profess Christ in us as the hope of glory, we’re held to a higher standard, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in the face of tough times.

As we continue to adjust, change, transform, and be conformed to the image of Christ, may we turn from scornful ways (seriously!) – whether in others or in ourselves – and find our delight in the law of the Lord, meditating in it day and night. I believe that’s when we’ll start living the real blessing of Psalm 1.

“1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
(Psalm 1:1-3)

 © Copyright 2015 by Kayren J. Cathcart

The Linguistics of Lyingese

fluent – smooth, cogent, natural, well-versed, eloquent, effortless, flowing

I recently reconnected with a young lady from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who speaks fluent French. I enjoyed taking 5 years of French in high school (merci beaucoup, Madame Burwell – je t’aime!), but that was a couple of decades ago, and it seems that Spanish is in greater use in this part of the country. So when her husband asked me, “Where did you learn your French?” I grinned broadly and with my best Southern Belle twang, I drawled, “Virginia! Why do you ask – do I sound country?” and we all laughed. After being in the US for just 2 years, she tells me, “Your French is good; I’m trying to get better at English,” as we both work to bridge the steadily narrowing communication gap.

We all know how important it is to speak the same language when you expect someone to understand you and comprehend the meaning of what you’re saying. So when God illuminated this statement to me, I did a double take: “Firmly REJECT the lies of the devil – truth is a foreign language that he cannot speak fluently!” This means that the enemy of our soul is miserably inarticulate and absolutely unintelligible in the language of truth – which is the only language God the Father speaks. There is no way to translate the devil’s foolishness into something acceptable in the kingdom of God! Therefore, we cannot afford to be passive about “not receiving” a lie – as saints of the Most High, we should proactively REJECT lies in every form and iteration.

We must be steadfastly convinced of the need to incorporate this mindset into our spiritual communications. When we don’t resolutely and decisively reject what the devil introduces, suggests, or implies to us (remember – it’s a lie, because the only language he can speak as the father of lies is Lyingese), then by default, we’re agreeing with our enemy instead of with God. And that’s a dangerous spot to be in. So ask yourself today who you rollin’ with…and who’s your daddy? If you need to repent and adjust your position in light of God’s Word, I encourage you to do so right now…

“42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
(John 8:42-44)

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Temporary Light Affliction

temporary – not permanent; lasting only a short time; momentary; provisional

Last week, I really understood the saying, “When it rains, it pours.” It was enough to learn on Thursday that my daughter had been diagnosed with tonsillitis and needed to stay home from school the next day due to high fever. This was after an unexpected visit to the neighborhood urgent care facility (which I’d visited last month for my son’s strep throat diagnosis). One emergency averted, right? Good. After delivering her home to my hubby with antibiotics from the pharmacy in tow, I found myself whizzing back to the office in the dark that evening to retrieve my laptop so I could work from home the next day while caring for my sick child.

After saying a prayer for mercy and leaving my car (and keys) with the valet at the hotel adjacent to my office building, I dashed through the lobby and into my building, past the security guard, up the elevator shaft, and to my cube on the eerily empty sixth floor. As I unlocked my laptop, an unknown number was calling my cell phone. I almost ignored it, but I answered it while trying to shut down my computer. “This is the Cabarrus County Health Department; if you ate food from this particular Papa John’s restaurant between these dates…you may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus and need to get vaccinated at tomorrow’s clinic from 4:00-8:00 p.m.” Seriously? Like, right now, is this really happening and we’re among the potential 3,000 people affected?! Alas, it seemed that our pre-weekend 3/28/14 fun night at home with pizza had taken an unpleasant turn for the worse.

After a call to the pediatrician’s office the next morning, I was relieved to find out that both children’s shots were up-to-date, so they were not at risk – hallelujah! However, two more calls revealed that both my husband and I would need to get vaccinated. Ugh – I really don’t like getting shots, but that prospect outweighed a desire to be impacted by the disease’s symptoms, so up the road to the clinic we went, and into line I went to go under the needle and get my “bravery badge” that most folks call a Band-Aid. And so, another short-lived drama played itself out in our household. It came to pass…granted, I’m still waiting to see the “eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” that is yet to be revealed from this one. But I’m truly grateful that we were notified in time for the vaccine to be effective (one day later and we would’ve been outside the window); temporary light affliction indeed…God remains evermore faithful.

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,”
(II Corinthians 4:17, NASB)

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Let God’s Word Pressure Wash Your Heart

I’m watching my hubby pressure wash our deck and chairs.  Personally, I thought everything was okay “as is.”  Not so for him!  He has prepped and planned for this day for over a week – the precursor for staining it, applying protective water seal, and getting us more active outside as a family.  Until I saw the murky water running off the side, I didn’t realize how much dirt and grime had built up on the wood.  But he knew, and he wanted to get rid of it.

Now isn’t that like us when we consider the condition of our own hearts?  We reason and rationalize:  “I’m just fine…I don’t have to change…it’ll be okay if I wait until later to deal with that.”  And all the while, God (who has already examined us) is tugging on our heartstrings, encouraging us to allow Him to make much-needed change and adjustments in us.

A new-looking deck is now beaming back at me and beckoning me to spend time on it once it dries.  Yet, the wood had to yield to the pressure for cleansing – and somebody (my hubby) had to put in some elbow grease to “get ‘r done!”  This week, may we yield to the pressure God allows in our lives to remove the buildup and residue of the world – so we can be thoroughly cleansed.  Then He’ll apply the protective seal of the Holy Spirit to keep us in this “new and improved” condition.  You’ll likely be able to identify the “before and after” distinctions encountered when restoring a valuable work of art…after all, we are His workmanship. 🙂

“Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.”
(Ezekiel 16:8-9)

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
(Ephesians 5:25-27)

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
(Hebrews 10:22)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
(Ephesians 2:10)

 © Copyright 2013 by Kayren J. Cathcart