Latch Onto Flat Irony

A few years ago when she was an impetuous elementary school student, we bought my daughter (now a full-blown middle schooler) a latch hook set. Harmless enough, right? Read on, my friend…
It’s a hair thing – I’m sure you’ll understand…

It was a small, simple soccer ball pattern that shouldn’t have taken long to complete, and we thought it would teach her tenacity and persistence – along with giving her a sense of accomplishment – once she saw the completed product she’d created. We challenged her to finish it within a month…and then within several months, and then before we moved. I even threatened her (with what, I can’t remember…but obviously, it was an ineffective tactic). Neither challenges nor threats worked, and that latch hook soccer ball was never finished so she could hang it proudly on her wall or use it as a rug – or whatever folks do with completed latch hook projects. So today (after apparently unearthing some foreign objects submerged in her closet region), she meekly approached my husband and asked to use the internet. When he inquired the reason and she said she wanted to search for a latch hook tutorial – he seemed more than pleasantly surprised and more than eager to oblige her.

I courteously stepped aside from the household budget spreadsheet I was reviewing on the computer to allow her to conduct her own YouTube search. Sidebar: Since my son just entered high school and I can no longer get away with operating as Helicopter Parent-In-Chief, I’m making a daily concerted effort to step back to allow my children to use their own wings. As a matter of fact, I went to my room and started journaling about adjusting to feeling not-quite-as-needed (and rightfully so) now that my children are growing up into teenagers. Then I heard a knock on the door. When I heard my daughter’s voice, I invited her in. What she said next, I wouldn’t have expected in a million years. Really.

“Mom, I was scratching my head, and I got this stuck in my hair.” And there (in all its glory) was the latch hook tool suspended in air like a linear halo as her hands gestured towards the back of her head. Incredulous doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt about this unlikely and improbable turn of events. Like seriously – this has really happened…just now? Like, I leave you alone for 5 minutes in the dining room and you get a small metal object stuck in your hair? (Though I was grateful this didn’t precipitate a trip to the neighborhood urgent care – where I think we’re a couple of visits from achieving VIP status). Mind you, she has cornrows….in a bun. Yes, let the mental picture sink in. I could just picture myself having to take down 3 rows of braids tonight and explaining to people in public that we’re just hanging on until her hair appointment in 3 days.

I calmly stepped away from my journal and said, “Let’s take a look at this under the bathroom lighting.” As I got my small comb and began to extricate the hook from the first braid, I gently probed, “Did you not consider putting the tool down before scratching, dearheart?” to which she replied with a straight face, “I forgot I had it in my hand.” And what else would you expect from a middle schooler? Gratefully, this story has a happy ending: the latch hook was disentangled (expeditiously, safely, and without further incident) and the braids are still – for the most part – intact. I witnessed today – up close and personal – the miracle-working power of Almighty God. I dare say that when this soccer ball is completed, I will shout hallelujah, ‘cuz He’s faithful! Can I get a witness?

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
(Jeremiah 33:3)

© Copyright 2017 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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Relief, Rest, and Release from Unrealistic Expectations

Over the past month, several wake-up calls have underscored my finite capacity and helpless inability to whip out the “invisible Wonder Woman cape and boots” from the back of the closet at a second’s notice. Not that I didn’t realize I had limitations (gee, am I aware of my personal limitations!)…but in my trying not to focus on them, I kinda blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. I didn’t notice that I’d been slowly but steadily creeping back to attempting to save the world in my own strength – again. But my sheer exhaustion and utter fatigue should’ve tipped me off.

Case in point: Last Thursday, I learned about an extra-curricular activity (regional academic team competition) my children had earned the opportunity to participate in…outside of the city…on this Saturday. (Anyone who knows me is aware that I LIVE by my meticulously updated family calendar). Now a *normal* person who *already* had several commitments on that same day would have no problem identifying that they couldn’t squeeze one more ounce into an already full container. But not me! I didn’t go into flat-out panic mode. Yet, I DID start brainstorming options for how to “make it happen” – for my children, the team, the coach, the school whose reputation would be enhanced by a team win…world peace – yeah, my foolishness was just that lofty and unrealistic. Unfortunately, this entailed either (or all of the following):

  1. Asking my wonderful hubby to forgo his work assignments to get at least one child to another city by 9am…because I was already committed to an activity that starts at 10am in Charlotte.
  2. Putting my child in a car for a 1-hour drive with a parent I’d only met once who was going to the same event.
  3. Assuming that there would be no traffic or accidents on I-85 while attempting to get the second child back for afternoon orchestra rehearsal (for a concert in 2 weeks)…by 1:30pm.
  4. Ignoring the fact that I’m scheduled to be in choir rehearsal Saturday at 1pm, so I probably wouldn’t be of any real assistance in these transportation gyrations.

If you think there were gaping holes in my logic, you’re right…I was just trying to cobble together potential solutions, regardless of the feasibility, practicality, or achievability of my improbable pseudo-goals.

None of these options would fly with my husband (especially the second one: “What do you know about their driving habits, what they’re carrying in their vehicle, who else will be with them?” etc., etc.). I knew before I asked him that I had no satisfactory answers. Yet, I asked anyway, in a feeble attempt to salvage the mirage of “being able to get it all in and assuage all parties involved.” And for what? You already know that he firmly vetoed every option I unconvincingly presented.

The children’s egos wouldn’t have been crushed by not participating; they were cool with it and knew there were prior commitments on our schedule. Yet, I still had that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to have to tell one or more parties, “I’m sorry, but we’re unable to participate in this activity at this time.”

Relief (from self-imposed anxiety because I anticipated potentially disappointing someone else) came only with the cheery e-mail response that the teacher completely understood that I was unable to 1) clone myself, or 2) be in two cities (one hour apart) at the same time. In the meanwhile, I had worked myself up into a froth – in vain. There was absolutely NO GODLY FRUIT to show for this flurry of mental histrionics and “what ifs.” How absurd was that on my part?

So what’s my point? Let’s free ourselves this year from the “what will people say?” mindset. Commit to “stop doing crazy.” Fight that random, bizarre pop-up thought that may be residue from PPD (People-Pleasing Disorder) or CHD (Chronic Helping Disorder) that still lingers, no matter how hard you’ve scrubbed. 🙂 As long as we’re doing our best to walk in excellence according to God’s Word – which includes taking care of ourselves and our families (and not minimizing or excluding this as a priority) – we can breathe a sigh of relief, rest in the Lord, and release ourselves from unrealistic expectations (whether real or, most likely, perceived). Then we can be about our Father’s business…

“28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

© Copyright 2017 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Pop-Up From the Past: Ongoing Saga of the Accursed Chili

Have you ever thought you were over something, and then a trace of its residue just rears its ugly head at the most unexpected time? Yeah, me neither LOL…

Being the self-declared “delivered from cluttering” gal that I claim to be (intentional tongue-in-cheek sarcasm), I was grabbing one of those super-useful plastic grocery bags to <ta-dah!> reuse (of course, you saw that one coming, right?). Well, lo and behold if it didn’t contain a grocery receipt – not just any grocery receipt, but the one from 9/29/16. Why is this significant? September 29, 2016 is the fateful day that I purchased the remaining ingredients to complete my masterpiece homemade turkey chili – a meaningful demonstration of loving sustenance for my family on an overcast Fall day.

What made this a less-than-perfect foray into slow cooker bliss was the kidney beans. Alas, I choose to put the onus for the gas that came upon us all on the fact that I got a different brand (I know, I know, bigger isn’t always better, and the sale item may not be the highest quality item – yada, yada, yada – I get it). But my innards can tell the story that lasted for several days as those beans meandered their way through my intestines…oh so very slowly. Thankfully, I recovered (with assistance from some leafy greens). But I really didn’t need a reminder of the experience – and I really wasn’t expecting that today. And here was that receipt, weeks later, staring me in the face from the bottom of that plastic bag that I was about to place in the bathroom trash can. Memories…it just made me mad all over again as I scowled at the receipt I should’ve shredded days ago.

I’m being a bit dramatic (who, me? ha!) to drive home this point:

When it’s time, throw away the turkey chili.

No matter how good it tasted (and still tastes). In spite of how warm it made you feel on a cold night. Forget the fact that it was perfectly seasoned. It’s no good for you. You’ll regret it later – trust me. Trust that inner voice. Trust what your family is telling you. Trust the rumbling in your belly.

No matter how much is left in the container you prepared for a busy week. Ignore that brilliant last-ditch idea to valiantly take it with tortilla chips for a twist on workday lunch at your desk because no one else in your house is brave enough to face the inferno in a bowl.

If it’s giving you gas (or something worse), it has to go. Now.

Spiritual application: Get rid of the old, useless, and hazardous to your health stuff you’ve been hanging onto for way too long – things you’ve been holding in your heart, emotional baggage that’s weighing you down, relationships dangling by a thread that you just haven’t cut off for your own good, whatever.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned. If you ignore this wisdom (garnered from personal experience), you may unnecessarily have your own October horror story. My take on it: not worth it. Let it go. Pass! (pun intended…)

See hubby, I did learn my lesson (this time…after all of my other similar and near-disastrous gastrointestinal incidents). Progress – let’s savor that flavor!

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
(Proverbs 4:23)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
(II Corinthians 5:17)

 © Copyright 2016 by Kayren J. Cathcart

XS: When is “Just Enough to Satisfy” Really Too Much?

excess – extra, additional, surplus, spare, superfluous, glut, overload, overflow, overindulgence, immoderation, extravagance
abscess – boil, sore, swelling, eruption, blister

So the title of this post is a play on words (XS makes me think of an “extra small” sized t-shirt that I haven’t fit into since high school – okay, middle school LOL), but I figured it needed explaining. While watching “Love it or List It” on HGTV last night, I was awestruck by one of the homes a family was looking at “upgrading” to. It wasn’t that the house was so grand – I was more amazed that they’d leave the ample space they already had for something that was obviously more space than they needed. The walk-in closet alone (that was deemed a “must have” for the father/husband of the family) was the size of a bedroom…and there was one for the wife, too…and it went on from there. Believe me, I love a well-appointed set of bathrooms under one roof as much as the next gal, but this was a bit over the top even by my standards.

Perhaps I’m more attentive to excess in light of presently dealing with an abscess (under my armpit, no less). I’ll spare you the “armpit selfie” I had my daughter take for me (encouraging her inner Doc McStuffins meets medical photographer – yes, blatant career planning and exploration is around every bend in our household, even with mom’s unfortunate mishaps). The good news is, after last Thursday’s doctor appointment when I couldn’t take the pain and tenderness of that ballooning bump any longer and they scheduled me for a surgical procedure to drain it (2 weeks out was the soonest they could get me in), the bump burst on its own and started draining on Monday morning, to my surprise. As unpleasant as it is to see (and feel) that fluid draining under my arm, it’s a great relief to get the pressure and swelling down, along with deflating the sizeable bump that looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame had taken a detour under my arm. And it’s an answer to prayer, because I really wasn’t looking forward to a small surgical procedure, even if they promised to numb me and send me on my way as good as new in 30 minutes. Yes, I’m making light of it, but it made me realize that there was something extra inside of me that didn’t need to be there – and my body was taking expeditious steps to get rid of it.

What are we trying to overcompensate with (and for) these days? Society tells us we need “bigger, better, more, extra” – and we keep believing the hype. Do we really need a newer (or different) vehicle, outfit, accessory, or companion? Do we need to acquire additional items when our closets, drawers, and storage bins are already bursting at the seams? Do we need the extra serving on our plate just because it’s offered? When will we be content? Is there excess we can resist (or even expel) in our small corner of the world? Is there some emotional baggage we’ve carried for way too long that needs to be offloaded? (Can you tell I’m starting to parent pre-teens?!). Prayerfully consider – then decisively act. When we earnestly consider the valuable gifts God has placed in our lives, we must admit that we have more than a-plenty. As we enter the season of giving thanks, may we be truly grateful for that which we’ve already been given – which is much.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
(Philippians 4:11)
“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
(I Timothy 6:6-8)

© Copyright 2015 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Sparkle & Shine: Confessions of a Glitterholic

sparkle – to produce small flashes of light; to be or become bright and lively
shine – to give off light
glitter – to shine by reflection with many small flashes of brilliant light;
to be brilliantly attractive, lavish, or spectacular
light – the form of energy that makes it possible to see things;
spiritual illumination

Happy New Year to everyone in the blogosphere! I’ve been celebrating my birthday ALL month long (okay, I’ve really been celebrating LIFE, love, family, and the joy of the Lord since Thanksgiving 2014…and it showed up in my annual physical, so I’m gonna keep working on that). 🙂 I’m just a year shy of the milestone “big four oh,” but I’ve purposed in my heart that I would celebrate each and every day this year instead of waiting for a round number to make it special. And boy oh boy, have I been having FUN!

I decided to get outta my familiar box (some would call it a rut of routine mundaneness) and try some new things. One of those was an indulgence in my love for all things glittery, sparkly, and shiny – not just for “special occasions,” but for anytime. I feature a photo of my birthday nails in this post because it’s a tiny representation of the sparkle and shine that I’m going to allow to radiate through my life this year. Sometimes we get weighed down, dulled, and downright tarnished by the everyday cares of life. This year, I’ve determined that even if those cares are still present, I’m not going to focus or dwell on them – but I will instead meditate on the good (Philippians 4:8-9).
K's sparkly bday nails 2015

Granted, as one with a CGH (Compulsive Glitter Habit – a harmless and relatively inexpensive passion, in my humble opinion), I add glitter to my gel manicure 99.9% of the time (thanks, Sophie – big shout out to my awesome nail tech in the University area!). However, the extra “bling” of the rhinestones along with a new-to-me polish color (who knew pink could be so much fun at this age?!) took me to a new level of euphoria as I left the nail shop. Was pink glitter with bling the most practical choice for work in the corporate setting? Probably not. Was it necessary for my day-to-day activities as a mom? Nope. But has it significantly increased my daily level of sheer delight, bliss, and elation? Absolutely! Every time I look down at my nails while typing, I smile and think, “I did something different – I went just a little beyond my comfort zone and regular boundaries of ordinary tedium and monotony. Why? Because today is worth celebrating with the Light of the World living on the inside of me!”

I was recently introduced to the glee of adding glitter stickers to my scripture journal during personal Quiet Time in the Word…whoa, talk about kickin’ it up a notch – BAM! 🙂 My prayer for you in 2015 is that you find your personal glitter, sparkle, and shine this year that makes your heart sing. The joy of the Lord is around every corner…may you run smack dab into the middle of it and wallow in His goodness all year long, letting your light shine for His glory. 

“8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
(Philippians 4:8-9)

 “14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16)

© Copyright 2015 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

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