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

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

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

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

A Mother’s Day Rebuke…and a Reminder of God’s Promises

rebuke (noun) – reproach, reproof, scolding, telling-off, lecture, criticism
rebuke (verb) – reprimand, reprove, scold, admonish, chide

Now that the title has grabbed your attention (‘cuz we ALL know a mama or two – or more – who can put down her share of a good ol’ piece of rebukin’! LOL – but we know it was ultimately for our benefit), I’ll give you the backstory…because I always have a backstory, right? 🙂

One of the Bible apps on my phone featured Isaiah 32:17 as the daily scripture this week (and since after the doozie of a week it’s been, I was longing for peace, quietness, and assurance like you wouldn’t believe!), so I decided to read the scripture verse in full context of the chapter this morning during my personal Quiet Time. Granted, I wanted to sleep late while my hubby was out cutting grass at church, but the irresistible draw of opening the blinds to watch the lively bird sanctuary in my backyard inspired me to take advantage of this morning time of solitude. While the children were still sleeping, I seized the opportunity to have some moments of meditation with my Creator.

17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
(Isaiah 32:17-18)

Sounds wonderful, eh? Yep, it just put me into a mindset of tranquility. So on I read from the beginning of the chapter, and I was a little surprised at what I found…but I shouldn’t have been, because God is full of surprises! I found some verses that addressed women…how timely in light of this being Mother’s Day weekend.

“9 Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.
10 Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.
11 Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.
12 They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.”
(Isaiah 32:9-12)

 Here’s a mini-breakdown from my study time:

Verse 9 – women at ease and careless daughters are called to attention and away from slothfulness (hence, the title of this post); it’s not saying that most women are “trifling,” but we all know that being a godly mother requires hard WORK – and lots of it!

Verse 10 – vintage = harvest of grapes; lack of productivity or harvest has long-lasting repercussions

Verse 11 – we must repent and change ALL ways that do not glorify God

Verse 12 – the things real godly mothers are supposed to provide, produce, render, and give include and are represented by:

  • Teats – for nurturing and nourishment
  • Pleasant Fields – homemaking is a lost art that must be rediscovered and recultivated for the continued perpetuity of a civilized society
  • Fruitful Vine – productivity (at home, in business, as a wife, in child-rearing, etc.) entails and encompasses ACTIVELY working in and pursuing the things of God (because we’re all virtuous Proverbs 31 women, right? Right!) 🙂
  • If any of these components are missing from our “mothering,” deficiencies will be evident.

After seeing that analysis, I honestly couldn’t take much more and stopped reading to catch my breath after the wind was knocked outta me (“You said that for real, God?!”). But at the same time, I was overwhelmed with God’s miraculous love that gives mothers such a tremendous job, but it’s given along with His promise to never leave nor forsake us, and His promise to provide the wisdom and guidance we need daily. How comforting to know that we’re never alone as we face the challenges and joys of motherhood!

May your Mother’s Day weekend – and every day going forward – be filled with the joy of the Lord which is your strength. Do we get tired and weary sometimes? Absolutely! But we can walk in abundant blessings as we undertake every task and assignment associated with and required for building the foundation of future generations – no small feat, but one for which God has thoroughly equipped us (with His Word and His Spirit) to accomplish in excellence and for HIS glory. Be encouraged as you trust the Lord to guide you through every twist and turn along the journey of motherhood. I am! 🙂

“37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
(Luke 1:37-38)
“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 1:3)
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
(III John 1:4)

© 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