Latch Onto Flat Irony

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2017 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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Life is Like a Fireworks Show

On this humid Independence Day holiday weekend, I purposed to stay unplugged from electronic devices (and hence, my usually tightly choreographed schedule) and enjoy vacation in every sense of the word – especially physical and mental. It started with yesterday’s long country drive with my family – replete with taking in the cows, goats, and horses in various pastures green with nothing in particular to do. It truly made me smile. Tonight, my kinda calorie-free southern fried beauty included sitting in my wicker porch chair watching the fireworks from my front lawn while rolling my hair by the streetlight’s glow – priceless!

After returning from a lovely informal afternoon family gathering full of grilled yumminess and plenty of funny stories (shout-out to the Cathcart Cousins Council!), I decided to take in the fireworks before showering and getting ready to return to work and daily routine in about 8 hours. Little did I know that God had a message in store for me – written colorfully across the sky. So what parallels did I draw between life and a fireworks show?

Both life and fireworks can be:

  • Noisy – and then full of intermittent silence while gearing up for the next BOOM!
  • Beautiful – as many times as I’ve experienced fireworks, I never cease to be delighted by what I see…especially the sparkly, glittery ones!
  • Smoky – after the beauty, some things have to blow over…so just let it GO!
  • Unpredictably spontaneous – though I didn’t know what color combination or size fireworks would be displayed next, I still waited with bated breath for the spectacle of the next dazzling array.

So why don’t I appreciate these same characteristics when I encounter them in real life? Why are my feathers so easily ruffled by the unexpected and the unknown? Aside from the obvious answer of still getting over some traces of being a semi-OCD control freak…after 2 funerals in the past week (one at the week’s start and one at the week’s end), I’m admittedly more pensive than usual. But I’m coming to realize (that along with my own aging process – which is hopefully accompanied by maturation and increased sagacity), I have to become more deliberate in setting the pace for my day – rushing and busyness to a future God holds in the palm of His hand have got to take a backseat to intentional consciousness of the present moment.

Yes, the consummate planner in me has to take off her hat periodically and just breathe instead of always pushing forward. So as I approach the second half of this calendar year, I plan to incorporate these concepts for balance, serenity, and peace. It’s got to be better than mindlessly zipping along and speeding through on the interstate of life. I don’t want the cares, worries, and distractions of this world to choke out my ability to enjoy the abundant life in Christ. I want to be fruitful and productive, so I will actively practice the spiritual muscle-building exercise of casting every care on Him – and enjoy the fireworks…and the freedom Christ provides! What about you?

“And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit.”
(I Peter 5:7, AMP)
Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].”
(Matthew 13:22, AMP)

© Copyright 2017 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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

A Beautiful Moment Unfurled

Sometimes we have to step back to really appreciate the things (or people, or circumstances, or situations) that God has purposely placed in our lives.

flower-photo-10-22-16This rose (in the picture) graces my front yard, but I didn’t really notice it blooming until the other day as I barreled around the corner (as usual) after a long workday commute home. I remarked to my husband that I remembered accompanying him to the home improvement store when he bought the thorny rosebush, bare of blooms, months ago. I remember when he planted it. And then, I stopped thinking about it. This morning, the beauty of this single rose (amidst the lush foliage that testifies to my husband’s attentive “lawn love”) struck a chord with me. I was inspired to grab the camera and snap a glimpse of the image that has been etched in my memory – before the cold weather takes the petals away for the season.

My exquisite organic basil is withering away, the cucumbers from our summer garden have become a distant memory, and everything changes. Boy, does everything change! Yet, I have the gift of this precious moment. I chose to snap photos from three different angles of the same flower. Each position offers a diverse vantage point from which to appreciate another facet this creation offers.

 unfurl – open up, unfold, spread out, expand, develop

What intrigues me about flowers is that they bloom when they’re ready to – it’s an internal trigger mechanism that God placed in them to fulfill their potential. There’s no speeding up the process unnaturally. There’s no prying it open before the appointed time. Only pure patience will yield the satisfaction of seeing a beautiful bloom come to fruition in its season. May we apply the same patience to the seedlings and baby blooms in our everyday lives. God may have some delightful (and beautiful surprises) ready to spring forth right beneath our noses! And yes, I did take time this morning literally to smell this rose and savor all it had to offer…a timely, symbolic, worthwhile, and necessary activity for this creative being. I am filled with gratitude…

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

 © Copyright 2016 by Kayren J. Cathcart

You Choose: The Light of the World vs. The Weight of the World

encumber – burden, hinder, hamper, load, handicap

Do you ever feel heavy, weighed down, sluggish, ho-hum, blah, out-of-it?  Sometimes we get so busy doing stuff that we don’t place adequate focus on who we’re in the process of becoming – or on Who orchestrates that process for His divine purposes.

In this season of reflecting on the death, burial, and resurrection of our glorious Savior, let us truly see Him as the Light of the world Who takes away our sin.  As we look unto Jesus, we’ll see that many things we’ve allowed to weigh on us weren’t really ours to carry in the first place.  He went to the cross in our stead and conquered death and the grave so that we wouldn’t have to bear the burden of our own sin.

Because of the gift of salvation, we can experience the joy that freedom in Christ affords – on a daily basis!  Yet, it’s an intentional and deliberate choice.  So unpack your bag and offload some of the extra accumulations that you just don’t need for this leg of the journey.  Then rejoice!

“But Martha was cumbered about much serving…”
(Luke 10:40a)

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Hebrews 12:1-2)

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
(I Peter 5:7)

They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.”
(Psalm 34:5)

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
(John 8:12)

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
(Revelation 1:18)

 © Copyright 2013 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Chronic Disease Alert: Conquer DLS by Resting in the Lord!

Have you ever suddenly snapped back to consciousness after realizing that you hadn’t been paying attention for the last couple of minutes?  I have.  “Zoning out” can happen when you’re driving, in the midst of a conversation, sitting in a meeting, or in any other variety of scenarios.  Breaking news: you can overcome chronic DLS (Distracted Living Syndrome) by focusing on the Word of God – I’m a witness!

This may not be an earth-shattering report in your opinion, but for me, it was life-changing.  And I only started to notice when I voluntarily cut out some familiar distractions.  You see, as an extremely detail-oriented person, I knew that I was easily distracted by “little things.”  However, I didn’t realize how many “little things” I had allowed to invade my atmosphere…nor was I aware that they were rapidly accumulating.  At that point, I had to decide (consciously or sub-consciously) which distractions to filter out or pay attention to.  That led to a lot of mental exhaustion (and some admittedly ADD/ADHD tendencies), because our minds aren’t designed to constantly process information – at some point, they need to rest.

But in our “24/7 on” society fueled by TV news (or gossip), internet connectivity, roadside billboards, magazine advertisements, computer pop-ups, automated phone calls, text messages, instant messages – and the list goes on – only YOU can draw the line and say when “enough is enough.”  And when you do realize that your cup is about to overflow, I pray that you’ll run to the arms of the Lord to lay every burden at His feet, in exchange for receiving the rest that only He can give.  When we cut out some of the other voices in our ears, we can hear the voice of the Lord with astonishing clarity.  Try it today – unplug from the world and reconnect with your Creator – He’s waiting for you…

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
(Isaiah 26:3)

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].”
(Isaiah 26:3-4, AMP)

 © Copyright 2013 by Kayren J. Cathcart

The Delight of Deleting Audio Clutter to Savor the Sound of Silence

Over the weekend, instead of watching TV while I munched on my afternoon salad, I sat in front of my bedroom window and peered out.  I didn’t see any birds or clouds moving, but guess what I did notice?  A twig on a sapling moving back and forth ever so slightly in the wind.  How serene; it spoke peace to my very spirit.  I ruminated, “If nature’s not in a hurry, why should I be?”  I would’ve never been conscious of something that miniscule with the distraction of an electronic box constantly flashing images at my eyes and blaring background noise into my ears.

This morning, I drove to work at a leisurely pace.  I kept the radio off.  And I relished the delicious sound of silence.  It was absolutely sublime.  I saw my commuter train pulling up as I parked and I decided not to run for it.  (Yes, if I’d run through 2 yellow lights, I could’ve been on that train, but refer to my previous posts – I have turned from my wicked ways!).  So I sat patiently in the (warm) car and waited to get on the next train that would arrive in 10 minutes – no harm, no foul.  I visually absorbed my surroundings before stepping out into the drizzle, and then I faced my morning with a smile instead of a dubiously furrowed brow – or worse yet, the “blahs of another dreaded day in the office.”

I am taking my own advice to SLOW DOWN and invest time to reflect on the beauty God has placed within arm’s length.  Are you?  I encourage you to take notice of something today that you haven’t appreciated lately – a delightful surprise might be closer than you think!

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
(Psalm 94:19)

“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
(Psalm 37:4-5)

 © Copyright 2013 by Kayren J. Cathcart