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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 © Copyright 2015 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Matters of the Heart: Recognizing the Un-Gift

Kayren’s generic definition of “un-gift” – a masquerading “blessing” that will likely end up being a curse due to its intrinsic or inherent value (or lack thereof)

The other day, a restaurant near my job e-mailed me some coupons. Now anyone who knows me is aware of how much I love getting a deal, a perk, or a freebie. However, as I looked at the nutritional info for the lunch item to be discounted, I realized that in my right mind, I can’t afford to receive and use their coupon because it makes no sense for a person on blood pressure medication to knowingly ingest over 1200mg of sodium in one entree. “But it’s on sale…yeah, but it’s gonna take you somewhere you don’t need to be, fool!” Back and forth I argued in my mind, until I tentatively scheduled when I’d cross the street to try this disaster of a meal choice (since the coupon expired within 2 weeks – of course, creating an urgency to hop aboard this train wreck of an externally-influenced decision). Finally, I confessed to my family when I got home that I had been tempted by this cleverly-disguised, flesh-tickling “offer.” However, knowing that it wouldn’t benefit me (or my family if my blood pressure skyrocketed), I asked for their support as I made myself accountable to them (once again) with my personal health stewardship. 

I should’ve gotten a clue when that same week, I got a separate “congratulatory” message from this same restaurant telling me I’d “earned” a “reward” for a dessert I don’t even like (they are few and far between, but they do exist – LOL). So let’s see here, I’m getting the “opportunity” to pay 99 cents for a food item I don’t like, one I probably wouldn’t eat even if it was free, and I’m ingesting extra calories and sugar I’ll have to work off in the meanwhile? No thank you! Honestly, I’d been contemplating whether to unsubscribe from this restaurant’s e-mails because their suggestions for food I hadn’t even been considering is moving from slight annoyance to constant bombardment. I can turn off the faucet to their cleverly-marketed “gifts” with one click – that may be the best gift for my health!

It seems simple, but every day, we’re faced with innumerable choices to receive “gifts” offered to us. It’s helpful to remember that just because something is offered doesn’t mean we have to accept it! If we actually take a moment to evaluate the pros AND cons before receiving an offer, it will help us stay aligned with the will of God for our lives instead of getting sidetracked, derailed, or distracted by ungodly, untimely, unwanted, or unwarranted options sent on assignment by the enemy of our souls. Whether well-intentioned or not, if a gift isn’t of value or benefit, it’s not really a gift. My prayer is that we stay alert and aware to keep and guard our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23) – not only in this Valentine’s Day season when emotions may be more vulnerable than usual, but each and every day. There’s no sin in responding “Return to Sender” for some gifts (or un-gifts)! 

“He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.”
(Proverbs 27:14)

© Copyright 2015 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Is Your Heart Calloused? Slough Off the Deadness and Live!

Disclaimer: While you may want to go ahead and schedule that overdue pedicure, this is an “ouch!” message; read at the risk of inciting and inviting godly change into your life…

Recently, I’ve been forgetting that I was already dead. How’s that, you ask? 

After the hellacious week (or two…or maybe even 3…I dunno, it’s all running together) I’d had, I was beseeching God for some serious answers. Imagine how He got my attention when the answer came by way of “random” morning pop-up scripture on my phone’s Bible app, underscored by a focus on the exact same scripture passage during Bible Study that evening (Colossians 3). Amazing – He heard me…and responded! Though I’d felt alone in the wilderness, He had been right there with me all along.  After acknowledging the validity of my Heavenly Father’s timely reminder: “Your flesh should be crucified and dead in that area, daughter – so why is this issue bothering you so much?” I groaned, repented, and then proceeded to pull myself back together with the capable assistance of the Holy Spirit.

During my time of testing, I wondered if I just needed to become tough to the point that I didn’t feel anything anymore (I know it sounds extreme, but that’s where I’d allowed my mind to drift). A bit of web research modified that out-of-control, irrational thinking and taught me:

  • The formation of calluses is caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells that harden and thicken over an area of the foot. This callus formation is the body’s defense mechanism to protect the foot against excessive pressure and friction. (source)
  • A callus (or callosity) is a toughened area of skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure, or other irritation. Rubbing that is too frequent or forceful will cause blisters rather than allow calluses to form. Since repeated contact is required, calluses are most often found on feet because of frequent walking. Calluses are generally not harmful, but may sometimes lead to other problems, such as skin ulceration or infection. (source)

Pressure, friction, irritation, aggravation, frustration…well, didn’t that just shed some light on my present status of suffering (temporary light affliction, I know – but affliction nonetheless). Hmmm…“faint not” even though you feel like throwing in the towel after shredding it to ribbons…“crucify the flesh” and it’s not even close to Easter season…“he that is dead is free from sin” – well, I like the end result, but enduring the process is not something I’m not particularly looking forward to. Honestly, as I’m reflecting on my week, typing this, and reviewing the scripture verses below, I’m crinkling my nose, shaking my head, and saying to myself, “Naw, I don’t like that either…ouch, ouch, ouch – but Your Word is true, Lord.”

Needless to say, I’ve had some serious perspective maintenance and mental adjustment going on in this season of my life – because it really isn’t about me anyway. And I am not alone. I am eternally grateful for the strong saints He’s placed to undergird me with prayer and encouragement while cheering me on to finish the race God has chosen and designed expressly for me to run – and complete. As I embrace this new maturity (whether reluctantly or with joy, I haven’t quite determined) I realize – no matter how uncomfortable it is (and it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar, trust me!), it is for His ultimate glory.

If you realize that some dead cells have built up and developed into callouses in, around, or over your own heart, I invite you into my personal prayer, “Lord, please fix me so I’m aligned with YOUR Word, and not my feelings. Help me to fight the good fight of faith and not be a passive soldier in Your army.” He desires to do a new work in each of His children…will you allow Him to do so in you – starting now? 

“1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 
 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 
 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
(Colossians 3:1-3)
“11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
(2 Corinthians 4:11-12, 16-17)
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
(Galatians 5:24)
“5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
(Romans 6:5-7) 

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Boogers, Warts, and Ashy Skin

Hey, are you still blogging?
I haven’t seen you post anything new in a while…

For anyone who happened to wonder where I was, I chalk it up to being “under construction” – literally and figuratively.  We recently had a new home built, which was a 6-month process – relatively swift and painless (actually, a JOY with our builder). But add to that preparing for the process of moving (in both the natural the spiritual realm), ensuring a smooth change of my children’s school districts, my own outside-the-home job role evolution, and endeavoring to maintain family and ministry commitments with godly excellence, and you see an equation in which I found myself under a lot of pressure.  It wasn’t necessarily negative pressure, but I had to adjust to the quantity of pressure coming from different directions – all at the same time. And of course, a lot of the pressure was self-induced by a recovering unrealistic perfectionist.

So about the glamorous title of today’s post – you know how we all have ‘em, but nobody wants to admit it or talk about it – let alone highlight it?  Well, I’d kinda backed away from blogging during this latest season of transition because a lot of undesirable “yuckies” were unearthed.  Not only was I purging old, nearly forgotten about stuff from the back of the closet, attic, and garage, but I was doing the same thing with the clutter in my soul. And because I’m pretty transparent when I write, I didn’t want anybody to see my boogers, warts, and ashy skin.  Sure, I could admit they were present, but I didn’t want to shine a huge spotlight on them while I was in the midst of the purge – it was too fresh, too new.  But I encountered all three along my journey to this “new place.”

Nevertheless, I can look back with 20/20 hindsight and thank God for bringing me through the press He designed expressly for me.  Pressure causes one to change, transform, and conform to the image of what’s wielding the pressure.  So I continue to yield my will to His will for my life.  Perhaps in subsequent posts, I’ll be sharing lessons learned and insights illuminated.  Or just reflecting on the process.  Whatever unfolds, it’s not predetermined by me – I am an instrument in the hands of the Master Potter, desiring to be hidden behind the Cross for HIS ultimate glory.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…”
(Romans 7:18a)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
(Romans 8:1-2)

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Let God’s Word Pressure Wash Your Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 © Copyright 2013 by Kayren J. Cathcart