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

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

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

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

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