Pull the Plug on Foolishness

After transparent self-disclosure while teaching Teen Sunday School class last week, I knew by Monday what I had to do. And I was more than a bit irritated as I scrolled past the sports shows and sci-fi stuff to delete the mini-hoard of chick flicks (harmless, right?) I’d accumulated on the DVR since December…here’s the backstory…

I admit that I’m artistic and quirky, perhaps not in that order. I like documentaries, cooking shows, black and white movies, mysteries/suspense/conspiracy theories…and unbeknownst to me until the recent holidays, Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel. The ribbing from my family got so bad that my hubby would enter the room (where I’d hunkered down with popcorn and my comfy fuzzy socks) and smugly grin, “Hey – I know how this one’s gonna end! The dude’s gonna ride in on his white horse and save the day…” He would come in on the last 5 minutes of the movie and blow my warm happy feeling right outta the water (like sports doesn’t get repetitive – someone wins and someone loses every time, right?!).

I’m not a hopeless romantic, but “Cinderella” was my favorite Disney movie as a child (and still is). I say there’s nothing wrong with a formula movie or a predictable movie – I mean, it takes a certain degree of creativity to rework the same plot in 50 different ways and in 50 different movies (whether by changing the setting, the characters, or the theme); I think this nurtured the creative writer in me. I convinced myself that I was just enjoying a movie with a happy ending that seemed like good, clean entertainment. I looked past the lie of Santa Claus, multiple tree lightings on the town square with hot cocoa, countless mentions of luck/wishes juxtaposed with the lack of mentioning Jesus (though multiple holiday carols were sung – how can this be?) to remind myself the importance of witnessing Christ to others – and not just during the Christmas season. However, Christmas movies rolled into Winter movies, which rolled into Valentine’s Day movies. Why? Because this TV channel is an outgrowth of a greeting card company that capitalizes on getting money and marketshare by tugging at the heartstrings and manipulating emotions. And I thought I wanted to work for them after I got out of college…however, I digress.

As I set my DVR to record the movies that looked interesting to me (the ones about career, cooking, and mother/daughter relationships – and don’t forget WEDDINGS and princesses – rose to the top of my list), I was amassing a veritable library for which I couldn’t be the curator. I knew I didn’t have time to watch all of this content and take care of my responsibilities. Plus, they were centered around stuff that doesn’t even pertain to me (dating?! um, hello – I’ve been happily married for 17 years LOL…snowboarding – yeah right, I don’t even pretend to have a personal interest…yet, I watched that movie for 2 hours after my household went to sleep).

Strong conviction came as I talked to my middle-schooler about time-management during our morning commute…after I’d stayed up until 2:30am that morning to watch 4 hours of movies. I couldn’t find where I’d spent 4 hours communing with God or studying His Word over the past week. My actions needed to change to align with what I said were my beliefs (“I love You, Jesus”). So that brought me to this very moment when I knew the fantasy world, make-believe, play-play, pretending, princess fairy tales, and imagination had to come to a screeching halt in the intersection with real life. I briefly considered keeping 1 or 2 movies for a “rainy day,” but quickly dismissed that unviable non-option since I didn’t want to have the accursed thing in my camp. I have discarded anything that might prove to be a stumblingblock.

I must’ve deleted at least 15 movies (both in queue and set to record this weekend)…I stopped counting as I scrolled and clicked the remote. It felt like pulling the plug for the bathtub drain, but it didn’t really hurt. Some movies I’d recorded weren’t particularly worthy of watching – it was just comforting to know I’d have something to watch while the rest of my household was engrossed in sports – mind candy or mental fluff…a way to pass some idle time (like I have that laying around to spare! Something important was obviously going undone, getting neglected, or being postponed). In the midst of my resolute and determined progress, the DVR powered itself down and rebooted. Undaunted, I picked up where I’d left off and plowed ahead determinedly. The recording space available went from 9% to 18%.

Full disclosure: I’ve gotta admit, I was looking forward to watching “Cooking With Love.” And the sequel “All of My Heart: Inn Love” (not because the first one was so good – because it wasn’t stellar – but because I wanted to see what happened next with the characters). Were these movies my personal kryptonite like spy thrillers, solitaire, spy thrillers redux (that I blogged about 7 years ago), or Words With Friends (moment of silence…would someone in my house please play live Scrabble with Mommy so she doesn’t have to think about WWF???). I dunno – but they sure were a distraction from me obeying the Master with a clear heart and mind.

Why am I taking time to put all my stuff in plain sight for everyone to see? Because even if you happen not to be a closet Hallmark Channel junkie, there’s something that competes for your attention, devotion, affections, and investment of time and energy – and it draws you away from building relationship with your Creator. The question is: when are you gonna pull the plug on your foolishness? I just did – now it’s your turn.

“O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.”
(Psalm 69:5)
“I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.”
(Psalm 119:113)
“The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.”
(Proverbs 15:14)
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
(Colossians 2:8)

© Copyright 2018 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

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

Are YOU Allergic to Foolishness?

The dictionary’s definition of foolishness – stupidity, idiocy, silliness, imprudence, thoughtlessness
Kayren’s definition of foolishness – insignificant or of little consequence in the big scheme of the cosmos; sheer and utter nonsense and ridiculousness causing needless agitation or aggravation

Take your pick for however you feel it’s best defined, but our society is fairly saturated with foolishness these days – don’t you agree? Everywhere we turn, we’re surrounded by annoyances, irritants, hassles, and provocations – the majority of which have little to no eternal value. Yet, we can find solace and restoration in the presence of the Lord.

It’s almost Spring, a time when some people experience seasonal allergies. Itchy eyes and runny noses are only a couple of symptoms endured by those who are allergic to some of the environment’s blossoming bounty. However, as saints of God, we should have a 24/7 allergic reaction to sin…and that’s the root of foolishness. What’s the cure/remedy/treatment for Foolishness Allergy? Inoculate yourself with the Word of God so you’ll be able to fight the wiles of the devil and UTTERLY REJECT foolishness in its myriad forms all too prevalent in our daily routines! The good news: there’s no way to overdose on this vaccine. 🙂

Though we may encounter foolishness, we don’t have to be contaminated or overtaken by it. For example, we have the strength, power, and authority through Christ to turn the channel, walk away from a conversation, or not respond to an argument. Ta-dah – instant Foolishness Repellant! Unofficial prescription: Apply liberally until allergic symptoms subside…and if we’re growing in maturity, we can even pray for those who are steeped in foolishness. You may be pleasantly surprised at the rapid, positive results of smearing this remedy when encountering your next “foolishness situation…”

“O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.”
(Psalm 69:5)

“Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.”
(Proverbs 10:14)

© Copyright 2016 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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

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