Capturing THIS Moment: A Celebration of Life

LIFE = Love In Full Expression
Kayren’s “definition of life” – February 2017

The vat of cheap bubble gel I bought over month ago for a leisurely dream bath (replete with candles) mocks me as it sits by the tub…unused. Each day, I’ve rationalized that “a shower is quicker and more convenient” when I’m exhausted after yet another long day, but I know I’m just putting it off. One small but significant act of self-care could have slowed down my merry-go-round of life for just a few moments – but I let the opportunity slip through my fingers like grains of sand. Today is the day I needed a bubble bath most…over a month ago. Get the picture?

In the past month, I’ve experienced the unexpected passing of my father-in-law, the joyous wedding of my nephew, a reflective Valentine’s Day with my wonderful hubby of nearly 17 years, and the commemorative 14th birthday of my firstborn son. Whew – talk about a sentimental time! With all of these life events touching significant men in my life, I’ve been calling my own daddy a lot more frequently – and the support on the other end of the phone has been vital, timely, and greatly appreciated. To say that these life events have taken me on an emotional roller coaster may not be an accurate analogy. Perhaps the churn of a washing machine more closely describes the variety of “cycles” I’ve whizzed through (at an accelerated pace) in a relatively short time span.

Which brings me to this unpoetic moment (inelegantly – yet perhaps appropriately – orchestrated by my dishwasher droning in the background) that I’m capturing to do what I encourage so many others to do in order to stay spiritually and emotionally healthy: journal. My cup nearly ran over today as I teetered dangerously close to the edge (trying to look like I’m keeping it together but I really wanted to go sit undisturbed in a dark closet for a few minutes to savor the silence and stillness). My mental filter was clogged and I needed to download and offload the multitude of thoughts cluttering my mind, heart, and soul. Yep, I was bracing for impact as I anticipated the sound of me smacking the wall. Nevertheless, God in His infinite grace used His strategically-placed children to pull me out of the melancholy. Because I still have a job to do for the King of Kings. My itty-bitty fickle feelings haven’t exempted me from fulfilling my purpose or completing my assignment. So I get back on track.

And I rejoice in this moment because I have much for which to be grateful. From now on, I will think of life in terms of “love in full expression” – it runs the gamut of highs and lows, ups and downs, sweet and bitter, laughter and tears – and spans everything in between. Love and life are inextricably intertwined. And I’m learning each day that God intentionally designed it that way. It solidifies my need for Him – my utter dependence on Him for every moment of every day…not just when I feel like my tank is low or empty because I’ve come to the end of my own sufficiency. What amazing grace from an awesome God…worthy of celebration. Take this moment to render a heartfelt worship to your Creator; it will shift and align you back into proper position to hear His next instruction. At least that’s what happened for me today…

“18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.
19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
(Psalm 94:18-19)
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
(John 14:6)

© Copyright 2017 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Advertisements

Taking Inventory, Measuring Growth

What a full year it’s been; I have MUCH to be thankful for – and I’m sure you do, too! The “Watch Me Grow” chart with the giraffe comes to mind – you know, the one where a parent measures how tall their child is growing every so often? It felt like God kept His spiritual measuring stick handy for me in 2016, but thinking back over the year, I wouldn’t change a thing. Every step of the journey was preparation for what is yet to come.

In retrospect, God has kept my family through one transition after another, and I am grateful. One of the most significant adjustments was the mid-year 180⁰ career change of my spouse. Prior to that, God sustained us during a stint when my hardworking hubby endured a 3rd Shift role with valiant strength and dogged determination that ministered volumes to our family and friends alike. Both children are in middle school and are successfully navigating those potentially turbulent waters with the God’s grace, parental patience, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and protection. Were things perfect in my family this year? By no means – but I am a witness that consistently-applied discipline DOES indeed bring forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness! 🙂

I’ve put a renewed focus on my personal role within the ministry of marriage as we celebrated our “Sweet 16 Wedding Anniversary” for an entire month. As I committed to make my 40th year on the planet fabulous every day (and it has a wonderful celebration filled with glitter, laughter, tears, and joy!), I learned that a sign of true maturity is to admit the things I don’t know (and to be okay with it) – this was a liberating epiphany (especially since I consider myself to be a planner extraordinaire)! I’ve learned to embrace where I am at this specific point in time instead of allowing dissatisfaction to propel me to attempt to achieve some unrealistic and elusive goal that was never mine to begin with.

We’ve mended bridges with family members and friends, realizing that time really does heal all wounds, even though it doesn’t change the past. I’ve learned to extend forgiveness proportional to the amount of times I need to ask for it.

I’ve diligently worked on holding my tongue so I don’t respond before thinking (as much…trust me, this is progress for someone with my DNA – LOL). I’m doing this not through clenched and gritted teeth to “finally take that vow of silence I’ve been threatening forever” (but been woefully unable to make good on – it’s in the genes; what can I say?!). Now, this refined behavior comes from a primary desire to please God and to allow the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in every facet of my life.

Sometimes we can’t see how much we’ve grown because it’s like waiting for a flower to bloom 5 minutes after we dropped the seed into the dirt – or more accurately, it’s like watching paint dry. We’re too close to the action to be able to fully absorb the progress. Yet, by stepping back with objective observation through a time lapse lens, we notice the flower unfurl, the seed begin to sprout and bring forth abundance, and our personal growth and development come forth according to God’s Word. I encourage you to take inventory of your own growth over this past year – you may be surprised to see that, though you’re not where you intend to be, you’ve far surpassed your starting point…and this, my friend, is indeed praiseworthy!

Join me in looking ahead to a new year full of promise and potential with joyful anticipation…God’s best is yet to come!

“20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
25 The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”
(Lamentations 3:20-26)

 © Copyright 2016 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Absolutely Audacious Residue: God’s Cleansing Rx is the Fix

audacious – daring, bold, brave, overconfident, impudent, risky, foolhardy

How audacious, big-headed, and myopic to be a tool (in the hands of the Master) that wants to be used only in the way it sees fit, instead of in the way deemed proper and timely by the Expert Creator of the Universe. It is a selfish and unloving view indeed that cares only about how I feel instead of how my obedient service will bless someone else or supply the need of another part of the Body of Christ.

Am I so intimacy-averse and apprehensive of true transparency of my own underlying issues that I’d contribute to atrophy of muscles being developed within the Body of Christ? When I move out of my God-ordained position, do I acknowledge that I’m giving place to the devil? When I feel like giving up, giving in, quitting, or throwing in the towel, do I admit that I’m really telling God that the joints He put in my presence to supply my need are woefully insufficient and inadequate? Do I see that I’m devaluing God’s creation (that He made in HIS holy and righteous image) when I attempt to separate into a cocoon and isolate myself from my brothers and sisters?

When I’m too agitated to pray, too distracted to see the needs of others (needs that may prompt them to act unseemly or out-of-character), and too absorbed in the mindset governing my personal universe and its exclusively hand-selected inhabitants – I need to step back and allow God to correct my focus according to the lens of HIS unconditional love.

These words flowed from my pen when I recently found myself needing an emergency “spiritual chiropractic adjustment” before I was fit to minister before God’s flock. Faithful as ever, God was answering even as I was calling. Have you ever cried out from that wretched place of brokenness and repentance, pleading to be changed and cleansed so you could be put back into service with a right heart? It is a highly cathartic experience called confession that really is good for the soul. If you find some audacious residue built up in your heart that’s hindering a free-flow of pure worship, obedience, peace, or anything else that is promised to a child of the Most High, I recommend humbling yourself and making an appointment with The Throne Room…for today’s prescription.

“10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
(Psalm 51:10, 17, KJV)
“5 Everyone who is proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting and exceedingly offensive to the Lord; Be assured he will not go unpunished.
6 By mercy and lovingkindness and truth [not superficial ritual] wickedness is cleansed from the heart, And by the fear of the Lord one avoids evil.”
(Proverbs 16:5-6, AMP)

© Copyright 2016 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

Of Secrecy & Shame, Transparency & Truth

We all know John 3:16 by heart, right?  But when I did a www.BibleGateway.com search for “truth and light,” John 3:21 popped up.  Then I chose to read the prior verse for proper context.  While reading a few more verses above that, something clicked:  When we walk in the light, we’re showing forth the love of God; conversely, when we walk in darkness, of course we realize that there’s no love in this.  I experienced a simple, yet significant, moment of awareness.

When we keep things to ourselves, attempting to hide our foibles and struggles, we’re not being honest with ourselves – or others.  What good is a pretty façade when the inside is crumbling?  Why act like you’ve got it all together when you’re really “tore up from the floor up?”

It takes courage to stand boldly in the truth…yep, the butt naked truth.  It can be intimidating at first, but it is indeed liberating and cathartic – as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.  Why?  Because you’re no longer trying to hold everything together with an amalgamation of scotch tape, paper clips, staples, and push pins.  Instead, you’re admitting, “This is a bit of a mess, and I need some help and support to get through it until things come together.”  And you know what?  After that, the help you need becomes available.  Transparency makes ya vulnerable (that’s the story of my life on this blog).  Downright exposed.  But it’s the only way to start a genuine healing process.  Bringing things into the light brings life.

So today, I typed up the progression of my blood pressure readings over the past few months to share with my doctor during tomorrow’s appointment.  I’m gonna do this while taking a deep breath (perhaps several!) – because I’ve been dodging her for a while.  However, since I want to be healthy from the inside out (and not just an outward show), this is my first step.  What’s yours?

“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
(John 3:16-21)

© Copyright 2012 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Real Love In Action IS Action

I’m just sayin’…

Real love makes you pan fry fish on a weeknight at your spouse’s request.  Without grumbling.  Or rolling your eyes…at least not a lot.  After you’ve worked all day – and he has, too.  When you were excited that there was already a meal prepared during your massive amounts of weekend free time (NOT!) and waiting in the fridge.  So you were planning to kinda chill out after checking homework, facilitating bath time, reading bedtime stories, and tucking children in.  And you’re on Weight Watchers and you know that you don’t need to have fried food.  Even though you put some fish in the oven to bake it for yourself.  Because it’s healthier.  And you didn’t get to exercise today because you forgot about the lunch meeting with co-workers on your calendar during your workout time.  And you “treated” yourself to french fries then when you didn’t really need ‘em.

But you’re a southern chef (sort of) and naturally, you taste while you cook.  So at least you eat more baked fish than fried fish once it’s all cooked.  And you’re happy to serve your spouse with a smile. Because you’re grateful that God has blessed you with this particular spouse.  Even though it would’ve been a little (okay, maybe a lot) easier to make a healthier choice if your spouse had asked for baked fish.  But you love your spouse and you want them to have what they ask for.  With hot sauce, of course.  Did I mention that the baked fish was really good, but the fried fish was slammin’?

Real love in action.  Know what I’m sayin’?  Yeah, that also includes my workout tomorrow…

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

(I Corinthians 13:13, NIV) 

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Growth in the Blink of an Eye

It seems like just yesterday we were watching the mama robin build her nest in a rafter on our front porch.  We marveled at the beautiful little blue eggs, being careful not to disturb “the babies.”  Then they hatched – featherless and funny-looking, big heads and beaks protruding from the nest, begging to be fed whatever their mama brought back for them.  Before I knew it, one was hopping on the walkway.  Though it couldn’t fly, it was out of the nest.  Amazing – it happened so quick!  We mused among ourselves whether it had fallen out or if the mama bird had pushed it out.  Whatever the case, that tiny nest was no place for that bird to make its permanent abode. 

Over the course of a few days or a couple of weeks, all of the birds were out of the nest, and we could see them testing out their wings and swooping through the yard, sometimes in a wobbly pattern.  But they were trying.  Why?  Because they were created to fly, not to sit in a nest they’d outgrown.  Sure, it’s safe and comfortable to stay in the place where you’re nurtured, fed on schedule, and taken care of from morning until night.  However, over time, you are required to take what you’ve learned and apply it.  That process, my friend, is called growth.  I recently had a real-life experience to underscore that lesson. 

When picking up my daughter from daycare one afternoon, I called myself leaving the car door open so she could get in on her own – imagine, a child of mine with an independent streak? Tee hee hee!  I tend to be a “helicopter parent” (hovering over my children – LOL!) and I’m trying to relinquish my tight hold on some of the more mundane tasks of the day.  Kudos, right?  Well, I turned to say something to the daycare provider, and in literally 2 seconds, I heard my daughter cry out in pain.  When I turned my head, she was lying in a fetal position near the rear tire on the driver’s side of the car.  To this day, I don’t know HOW that child fell; her shoes were tied, I don’t think her pants were too long, and I don’t think the earth’s gravitational pull shifted suddenly.  But whatever the reason, she fell and ended up with bloody boo-boos on her elbow and knee (through the clothing…did she lose her balance? I’m still puzzled).  They weren’t life-altering emergencies, but you don’t know how I wished I’d held her hand and walked her to the car, watching her like a hawk (like I usually do)!  Nonetheless, though I want to protect her 24/7, it’s ridiculous to think I can tote a 5 year-old from daycare door to car door every blessed day God gives.  At some point, she’s got to learn to walk on her own.  When she gets hurt, I’m there with the peroxide, antibiotic ointment, band-aids, hugs and kisses.  But to obsess about preventing every accident or growing pain isn’t realistic for me as a parent.  If I’ve taught her well, she’ll apply my lessons and flourish.

Isn’t that how God is with us?  He watches over us, fiercely protecting us from hurt, harm, and danger.  He gives us instructions on moving ahead, going beyond what we know and moving into areas where we have to exercise our faith in HIM knowing the outcome.  We don’t have to figure it out; He’s mapped out our course for us.  When we obey, we’re covered by Him.  What could be better?  We’re not on our own in this day-to-day walk.  When we trip and fall, He’s there to correct us and set us back on the right track.  Praise God!

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

(Psalm 91:1-2)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart