Close Encounters of the “Furst” Kind

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 English Standard Version (ESV)

My husband and I have two pups, who I’m ashamed to admit, nightly share our king-size bed with us. There are times throughout the night that both dogs will snuggle up so closely to me, it’s impossible to even roll over. One dog is usually sleeping by my head (occasionally sharing my pillow) or curled into my stomach; while the other dog tucks himself into the curve of my legs.

In spite of the fact that these two fur babies hog my space,  I’d still rather have them with me throughout the night than not. There’s something very soothing and therapeutic about rolling over and having a sweet little fur ball nestled next to me.

Research has shown that people who sleep with dogs or frequently pet dogs are more likely to live longer than those who don’t. Okay, I probably read that on Facebook – which we all know is the source of all wisdom — but who knows? It could be true. I hope it’s true.

The great thing about being a dog person, is the satisfaction I get knowing that these two pups love me wholly, completely and totally without reservation. I’ve never doubted their love for me, not even for a moment.

I wish I could say the same thing about my relationship with Christ. I’ve walked with the Lord for a few decades now, yet there are days when I still doubt His love for me. I blame it on the fact that I’m a “feeling” person, even though the Bible speaks repeatedly about the dangers of following our emotions or “feelings.”

Other than the fact that God’s Word tells me repeatedly that nothing can separate me from God’s love and that He will never leave me and is with me always – I still struggle with “feeling” loved. In fact, there are days that I “feel” utterly and completely abandoned by God – even though I KNOW that is a lie straight from the enemy.

Because life can be challenging and stressful sometimes, there are days when I wish I could cuddle up to the Savior the same way my dogs cuddle up to me. When I have a particularly trying day, I want nothing more than to crawl up onto Jesus’s lap and let Him love on me and hold me the same way I love up on my fur babies.

Since there’s no chance that any of us can “cuddle” with Jesus this side of Heaven, are there ways that we can fulfill the longings of our souls and FEEL the love of Christ?

What I fail to realize is that God is speaking to me and telling me how much He loves me DAILY, if I bother to listen. It starts very simply each day with those morning cuddles with my dogs. God created these loving creatures and they’ve proven to be loyal, affectionate and trustworthy friends.

Watching the sun rise with my morning cup of tea, listening to the birds singing their wake-up call, the sweet smell of spring flowers, a hug from my husband, one of my kids or my grandkids, a kind word or a smile from a stranger … the Lord reminds me daily that He is in all of these things.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT)

Because I’m an emotionally needy person, I sometimes still desire more. The longing of my soul is to know Jesus as intimately as is humanly possible. It’s been said that God created each of us with a God-size hole in us. And while many try to fill this unexplained void with material substances and earthly pleasures, I’ve always known that it’s only God that will fill my void.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)

Because I believe the Bible to be true and the inspired Words of God, I need to immerse myself in those words — especially on the days when I’m feeling the most emotionally vulnerable. Admittedly, it’s not a hug for my flesh, but it can serve as an emotional salve for my emotions. As for the physical hugs, I think that is surely why God created dogs! Thanks be to God …

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. Psalm 36:6 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.



Falling on Unanswered, Answered Prayers

Have you ever had a prayer that you’ve been praying for soooooo long, that you are tempted to give up on it altogether thinking that God is NEVER going to answer it? I’ve had many such prayers over the years. Praying for the salvation of unsaved loved ones tops that list. With these prayers, I am confident that God will answer them … eventually. After all, He loves my loved ones more than I ever could and He’d like nothing more than to bring salvation to all of the unsaved. So, while the prayers for salvation are taking their sweet time, I know those prayers will be answered in God’s timing sooner or later and not according to my timetable.

This past year, however, I did see the fulfillment of a prayer that had gone unanswered for many, many years. Every January as I prayed this prayer, I felt certain God was sitting up in Heaven laughing His head off at me because I’d prayed this prayer so many times without results. This prayer was starting to feel like an impossible request.

My prayer has always simply been to weigh what it says on my driver’s license.

Where I live a driver’s license is issued for up to 25 years. In my defense, I DID weigh what it says on my license when it was first issued nearly 20 years ago. Since that time though, I’ve lived a lot of life. As many can attest to, when life happens, it usually shows up on your face or your body.

The 50 pounds that I gained beyond my ADL (Arizona Driver’s License) weight began shortly after my mother’s death 14 years ago. Rather than seek a doctor for treatment of the depression caused by that major upheaval in my life, I self-medicated with Double-Stuff Oreo’s, Ice Cream, Cheese Balls and all manner of assorted junk foods. The slide into obesity led to depression that coincided with a simultaneous and very long, slow courtship with Mr. Menopause. Factor in some major Empty Nest Syndrome depression and before long I’d become unrecognizable to myself. I loathed my very reflection that mocked me every day, reminding me that I was out of control with a serious eating disorder.

During this time, I sought help in group therapy sessions for my emotional eating issues. I attended church and prayed like a Sister Woo-Woo mad woman. I begged and pleaded and played “Let’s Make a Deal” with God and only made minimal progress. Years of yo-yo dieting had all but crippled my body’s fat burning system. No amount of therapy, counseling or prayer could fix what was broken inside of me. There were moments during this long period of darkness that I felt it nearly impossible to climb out of the black abyss my self-esteem was lost in. Overwhelmed to the point of self-harm, I felt scared and abandoned by God. So much so, that prayer became forced, difficult and fairly pointless over time.

And then one day … God set a series of unfortunate incidents into motion that would eventually lead to His answering my long unanswered prayer.

I fell. Literally. Flat out on the asphalt while walking my dogs one night. At first, I laughed it off. My daughter’s wedding was six weeks away; my son’s wedding a few months after that. All I could think of was thank goodness, I didn’t hit my face when I fell! (I was more worried about how my face would look in upcoming wedding photos rather than my body.) Because I was walking with two other people at the time of the incident, my ego and pride suffered more injury than my body. Or so I thought.

Slowly over the next few days I realized that I’d done some serious damage to my right knee and right hip. I already had a bad left knee from minor surgery years ago, but suddenly my bad knee became the good knee and I had a brand new bad knee. Because it was nearing the end of the year and I was light-years away from meeting my insurance deductible, I opted to forego any exams or treatments because it simply wasn’t in the budget at that time. Hopefully time would heal all wounds.

Fast-forward to my daughter’s wedding and I was still in considerable pain. Walking, sitting or standing were new adventures in pain. I missed all of the wedding dancing which only fueled my mounting depression. I ended 2016 battling chronic pain and the worst depression I’d suffered to date, which carried over to the first few months of 2017. I was finally able to schedule a doctor’s appointment which was scheduled for two days after my son’s wedding in March 2017.

At my doctor’s appointment I was referred to a pain management doctor and prescribed – at long last – some much-needed depression medication. I waited nearly a week before I began the anti-depressant. I wanted to give God ample opportunity to heal me supernaturally, but eventually felt like God was telling me that it was time. Time to fight my way out of the darkness. Time to shake off the shackles of food addictions, low self-esteem, pride, obesity and time, at long last, for healing years of grief and self-hatred.

I began a course of injections for my knees and trusted God to work through the medication I was taking. The depression meds worked quickly in the fact that one of the side-effects was an appetite suppressant. I was eating less and with my knee pain starting to subside, I was able to start working out again. I quickly began feeling the effects of a unique domino principle as everything lined up.

Falling and injuring myself was the first initial domino, which forced me to see a doctor who not only referred me to a pain management specialist, but also recognized serious depression when she saw it. The medication helped me to make my way out of the darkness as well as deal with eating issues, which led to weight loss, exercise and a new outlook on life.

As 2018 gets under way, God accomplished more in the past year than I ever imagined possible. As of today, January 3rd, I am officially at my driver’s license weight and I’m mostly pain free. (Hey, I am 60 years old, so there’s bound to be some age-related aches and pains!) I’m still on the depression medication, although my dosage has been cut back. My appetite has returned so now I’ve got to do the work to keep from overeating and putting the weight back on.

Without the chronic pain now, I work out every day. Not because I HAVE to, but because I GET to. Some days, the exercise is harder than ever and I definitely don’t feel like pushing myself. What motivates my exercise obsession is the possibility of waking up one day and the knee and hip pain will have returned making exercise difficult again. I’m taking every advantage of being able to work out now without pain. For now, exercise is a blessing.

Through this unexpected journey I’m reminded every single day that we serve a BIG God. Every day that I wake up and put on smaller sized clothes, I want to weep with appreciation for all that God has done. At the beginning of this voyage I prayed for God to keep me grounded in the fact that I would recognize that HE, God alone, was responsible for my good health and weight loss. My faith was, is and always will be in God – not medication, doctors, injections, the foods that I eat, exercise or anything else tangible. God has certainly used all of these outlets to bring about my success story, but it’s to Him that I give all the glory for making all of these things available to me.

The question begs to be asked … did God allow me to fall in the first place to set the wheels in motion? Or was that dumb luck? Was it merely coincidence that I fell or me just being clumsy? Perhaps it was the enemy who tripped me hoping to make me miserable — but God intervened and used my fall for His glory.

Only God knows.

What I DO know is that God hears our prayers but chooses to answer them in HIS timing … even if that timing may take 14 years and even if He answers those prayers in an entirely different manner than what we would like.

But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Blessings in Christ … Happy New Year … and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.


You blink … and before you realize it … 30 years have passed. It seems as though just yesterday my husband and I said our vows, pledging our undying affection and devotion for one another, but yet here we are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary!

I can remember so many details of our wedding day in perfect clarity as if it just happened, yet I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. (Did I even eat lunch yesterday? Who knows.)

“The days are long but the years are short.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

In my head, I don’t feel 30 years older. I feel much the same now as I did in 1987. I have many of the same insecurities, doubts, fears, hopes and dreams — but I know in reality both my husband and I have changed – a lot.

One look in the mirror and there is no denying that a considerable amount of time has passed since we said our “I do’s.”  There are the obvious changes in our bodies and hair color, of course. (What’s left of my hubby’s hair has silvered. My hair, while somewhat thinner, has retained its “natural” color since I learned I can achieve the perfect blend of honey blond and soft brown by squeezing it out of a bottle every 4-6 weeks.)

We think differently now about so many things than we did 30 years ago. And how could we not? We are completely different people now at 60 than we were at 30. Thirty years – that’s a lifetime!

There are times that it would be nice to fire up a time machine and go back to the beginning of our marriage and do things a little differently. I would have savored the simple things and not made mountains out of mole hill problems that in the end, always seemed to work themselves out. I would have exercised more and eaten less junk food. I wouldn’t have bought many of the things that plunged us into debt that ended up not being worth the money spent.  I would have dropped the vacuum cleaner more often in order to play Legos with my son, or Barbies’ with my daughters whenever they asked. I would have spent more time with my parents before they passed away.  I would have worried less and trusted God more.

They say that with age comes wisdom and I certainly don’t disagree. But, the relentless “if only” dialogue playing on an endless loop in my head serves no purpose other than wanting to kick myself for the string of bad decisions made long ago. And at this age, with my bad back and bum knees, I’d likely break the one hip that doesn’t hurt all the time and end up in traction.

Now that we are 60, we are embarking on a new adventure into a whole new decade. (I still haven’t gotten past the overwhelming urge I feel to throw up in my mouth every time I think about how old I actually am. In my defense, I’ve only been 60 for 12 days. I’m not fully acclimated yet.)

There are of course, senior discounts to look forward to. My bank no longer charges us a fee to run spare change through the coin machine. Our date night movies now cost us 50 cents less – per ticket. There are first Wednesday senior days at the grocery store, free coffee at McDonald’s, a senior menu at Denny’s and … the countdown has begun for Silver Sneakers free membership at the gym, filing for social security and applying for Medicare – so there’s that, at least.

With age comes the ability to recognize that material things no longer hold the appeal they once did. Rather, it’s the little non-material things in life that should be cherished. Suddenly there’s a race to soak up as much time with our kids and grandkids as possible. Realizing that you are beginning the last third of your life makes you want to try that much harder to be the best version of yourself you can be; and to right as many wrongs as you can. It’s the people and relationships that matter most now. (*For the record, all of these things have always been important, but when you’re 30, you think you’ve got lots of time to work it out. Statistically, at 60 you’ve already lived more years than you’ve got left.)

The best gift we can give one another at this age — is TIME. TIME to turn the TV off and actually talk about our day. TIME to offer encouragement to one another and to others who are struggling with life challenges. TIME to visit someone who is lonely. TIME to hang out with our kids for a game night or movie night. TIME to invite friends and family over to share a meal. TIME to watch the grandkids at their swim meet, baseball game or dance recital. TIME to visit an aging parent and glean all that you can from them before they are gone. TIME to say “I’m sorry” and move past old hurts. TIME to thank the Lord for life’s blessings. TIME to say “I love you” to loved ones  as much as you possibly can.

There are a million other things we could and should be doing with our TIME – besides just wasting TIME or killing TIME. We cannot borrow TIME. Once you spend it – it’s gone and you can never get it back. If the last 30 years is any indication of how quickly TIME passes, it’s likely only going to speed up from here on out.

Each day is a gift. No one knows how much TIME they have left. Are you living on borrowed TIME? TIME is of the essence, so make TIME for loved ones in a TIMELY fashion before your TIME runs out.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time for war and a time for peace.
 a time to love and a time to hate,
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Blessings in Christ … and as always … happy reading!

Kathy K.

A Ton of Fun and a Pound of Perservance

If you’ve ever been on a weight loss program or know someone struggling to lose weight, you’ve probably heard this statement before … maybe even said it yourself.

“Oh my gosh! You’ve lost a ton of weight!”

I’ve been on a weight loss journey for the last few months (okay — my entire adult life) and have managed to shed nearly 30 pounds in the last four months. I’m at a crossroads of emotions that waffles (Mmm, yes please, with maple syrup – maybe a side of bacon while we’re at it) between annoyance that few people have noticed my transformation to irritation at those that exclaim the above-noted phrase.

Oh thanks! You think I’ve lost a ton of weight, do you? To have lost a ton of weight implies that I had to weigh considerably MORE than a ton when I began my weight loss journey. I started thinking about that phrase and quite frankly, it really chaps my buns (make it a Kings Hawaiian with lots of soft, creamy butter) to be given such a back-handed compliment.

So … just how much is a ton of weight, you ask? Check out this list of what is in the neighborhood of a ton:

• An African elephant
• A rhinoceros
• A walrus
• A hippopotamus
• A fully-grown giraffe
• A barnyard cow
• A Smart Car or 2 Golf carts
• A fourth grade class

These are but a few animals or things that weigh roughly one ton – give or take.

Being called a fat cow in middle-school was a crushing blow to my ego, to be sure, but surprisingly, those comparisons still sting, even at my advanced age. I’m smart enough now to know that all of that sticks and stones stuff of childhood is a whole lot of bologna (not a favorite, but sliced thick, sandwiched between wheat bread toast and crushed wavy potato chips slathered with a layer of mayo, and hey — we’re in business). I’m human after all, and words still hurt.


I know I should have thicker skin by now (yummy potato skins served with a generous dollop of sour cream — you betcha), but alas, I still find I’m a tad bit sensitive when it comes to any weight related issues.

While it is nice to have people notice the fruits (most especially all things strawberry, blended up in a nice thick shake), of my weight loss/exercise labor – I really don’t want to be compared to a ton of anything.

If you feel the need to compliment someone who is working hard to shed a pound or two (maybe just a slice of pound cake wouldn’t hurt), why not compare them to something a little less offensive. Try instead … “Oh my gosh you’ve lost the equivalent of weight to that of a fully grown Shiu Tzu or a large sack of potatoes!”  (Best when sliced Julienne and fried to a golden brown, generously sprinkled with salt and served with a ton of ketchup. Oh wait, I digress – not a ton per se, but rather, about 12 little packets from the fast-food place.)

Whether we’re working hard or hardly working to maintain our girlish figures, we gals NEVER, and I repeat – ABSOLUTELY NEVER AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, do we ever want to be compared to African mammals or barnyard beef stock. (You’ve got to try it reduced down to a lovely au jus served as a complement for thinly sliced roast beef.)

So, the next time someone says, “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight,” stand up for yourself and remind them that losing weight is not a piece of cake (Cake? Did someone say cake? I could go for a piece of red velvet covered in mounds of Buttercream right about now).

(Me thinks this weight loss thing is for the birds — specifically if it’s drumsticks and wings in a large bucket of the Colonel’s extra crispy).

The struggle is real. All calories are not created equal. It’s not about what I’m eating … but rather, what’s eating me! And right now – what’s eating me is the fact that life isn’t the same without the fun foods. The reality however, is that I’m a little more fun without carrying around a ton of extra weight.

I may have lost some weight, but I pray I’ll never lose my sense of humor …

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading … and maybe try a little healthy eating while you’re at it!
Kathy K.

Happy Father’s Day 2.0

*This is from a blog I posted many years ago. I updated it and am re-sharing …

Father’s Day is one of those “iffy” kind of celebratory days. If you were lucky enough to have a Leave it to Beaver or Brady Bunch type of father growing up, then Father’s Day is most likely a happy day filled with warm fuzzy memories. If however, you’re like so many people who grew up with a childhood swathed in dysfunction – then today is oftentimes a day spent suppressing buried pain.

I grew up somewhere in the middle with a father that didn’t fit the mold of either Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady, but leaned more towards a Don Corleone or Archie Bunker type of father. I knew my dad loved me … but he parented with fear and yelling rather than hugs and praise.

My father issues date back to my parent’s volatile ugly divorce when I was six. Growing up is hard enough for the average child, but when you throw in a nasty divorce, custody battles, feuding parents, weekend parenting, remarriages, step-children, half-children … woo-wee, you end up with a recipe for scarred, emotionally handicapped children. Oh wait – maybe that was just me.

Like so many people with father issues, entering into a relationship with the Lord of the universe came with its own set of challenges. God is supposed to be my Abba Father; my daddy; my protector, an ever-present help in time of trouble. That’s quite a leap of faith for someone with daddy issues. The image of a Heavenly Father that thunders from the mountain tops and wants to smite me for my disobedience is easier for me to identify with because I grew up with thunder.

My dad wasn’t a horrible dad, mind you. For most of my childhood he was simply an absentee father, which left me with rejection and abandonment issues. The time I did spend with him was often stressful as I lived in fear of his unpredictable temper. The saddest thing about our relationship was I don’t think I was ever able to share an honest opinion or emotion with him. I was very guarded with him until the day he died. I regret not ever being confident enough to truly share my feelings with my earthly father.

It’s taken a lot of years, but I’m happy that I’ve finally reached that comfort level in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. There is nothing I can’t share with him. Once I was able to get past the fear of the thundering and smiting Father – the loving, protective Father surrounded me.

Rather than dwelling on the negative memories of my relationship with my dad, today I celebrate my father and hope he’s enjoying his Father’s Day in Heaven celebrating with the angels and his Heavenly Father.

I still miss my dad — especially today.  I’m comforted by the knowledge that my father developed a deep relationship with God before his passing, so I know we’ll be reunited someday. I look forward to our reunion knowing that all those painful memories of my early childhood will be long-forgotten and we can spend our eternity enjoying our heavenly relationship.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.   Psalm 27:10 (NLT)

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I hope you’re flying high!

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!

Kathy K. 

Get Past Your Triggers

I am most like Jesus when I am silent under attack. ~ Pastor Rick Warren

Her words cut deeper than a serrated hunting knife. Her verbal barbs and subtle innuendo disguised in false humility wounds more than physical blows. She’s someone from my past that knows my stories and manages to always push my buttons. Somehow a few unkind words from her and I instantly become that 14-year-old ugly duckling with a mouthful of braces and a face full of acne.

She’s a distant relative which makes it difficult to eliminate her from my circle of influence. Each time I talk with her (which is becoming less frequently these days) it takes everything within me to hold my tongue and not retaliate with snarky responses.

It’s likely that most of us have at least one toxic person in our past (or present) who has the ability to trigger painful childhood memories that effectively suck us into an abyss of unresolved emotions and/or juvenile insecurities. Oh wait … maybe that’s just me.

I recently saw a program featuring acclaimed Christian speaker and writer, Beth Moore. When asked how do we completely rid ourselves of poisonous roots of insecurity and fears stemming from childhood dysfunction that refuse to be vanquished, Ms. Moore quoted Matthew 15:13: “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted …”

God is not the author of fear, insecurity, low self-esteem or any other childhood hurts that haunt us. He didn’t plant those destructive roots in us. That was Satan’s doing. They can only be destroyed by using the proper tools. Practical tools such as prayer, reading the Word of God and then applying it to our lives is the best means to start with.

Refuse to isolate yourself or “eat your feelings,” (which I’ve been known to do in the past). Neither of those things will help; only compound the problem. Join a small group, talk with a trusted friend or pastor. Don’t let your hurts fester inside you. Let it out and talk it out.

There are any number of Christian books that can help you to work through any unresolved childhood issues you might have. I highly recommend Joyce Meyer’s number one bestselling book, Battlefield of the Mind. This book is as helpful and relevant today as it was when it was first published 20 years ago. Visiting with a trained counselor may be necessary for some of us who are unable to process our dysfunction any other way. The road to recovery will look different for every one of us.

Once you’ve successfully dug up all of those destructive roots from your life, you need to plant something more substantial in its place. If you don’t replace a negative influence with a positive one, you’ll continue to be vulnerable to the enemy who will easily swoop in and attack your mind and emotions all over again.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17 (NLT)

The only thing you want to have rooted and grounded in your soul, mind, will or emotions is the love of Christ, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

Don’t let painful triggers shoot you down … arm yourself with all the weapons of God’s arsenal and defend yourself like the warrior that God created you to be.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.

Suffer the Silent, No More

Many, many years ago, I lived just south of the San Francisco Bay area. Occasionally that meant that the heavy fog that San Francisco is so famous for, drifted down towards my neck of the woods. While San Franciscans easily navigate their way through the heavy marine layer, for a girl who hails from the Phoenix desert, I was anything but comfortable with the foggy conditions.

Battling depression, panic and anxiety attacks or other mental illnesses, oftentimes feel like a life lived shrouded under a heavy fog. At least, that’s the way depression frequently felt for me until I finally received treatment for my chronic battle.

As a young girl, I was regularly plagued with anxiety and an oppressive darkness that somehow always loomed over me. Back in those days, depression wasn’t really given a name, but those of us who silently suffered were labeled as moody, sullen or emotional. I attributed my darkness to my parents’ divorce and the rejection I felt when my dad remarried and started a new family. I never dreamed that depression was a genetic disease that many of my family members suffered with as well.

With age and an ever-changing kaleidoscope of life changes, my panic attacks steadily increased in severity and regularity. Depression descended like a giant joy-sucking black hole of despair and stayed with me much like an unwanted relative who didn’t know when they’d overstayed their welcome. I was frequently overwhelmed with thoughts so dark and deep, they terrified me.

One day not long ago, I was seized by the strongest, most powerful anxiety attack I’ve ever experienced. This attack caused intense heart palpitations and an inability to breathe. A woman my age can’t afford to be too careful and I mistook the symptoms for a heart attack that sent me to the ER. This incident literally scared me into finally – at long last – getting the help I truly needed for my depression and anxiety attacks.

More than 300 million people suffer from depression. I can’t speak for any of these other sufferers, but I was embarrassed and ashamed of the recurring depression and anxiety episodes. I foolishly believed that as a Christian I should be able to pray away the darkness or wish away the sadness. I honestly thought the depression I lived with was something that would eventually pass on its own – like a cold or a stomach bug. I naively resisted the urge to give my problem a name because there’s a certain stigma that comes with those two damning words regarding depression: mental illness.

Thankfully because of widespread media coverage on mental illness, it’s becoming more acceptable to talk openly about depression and anxiety. It’s becoming more commonplace to admit when we are struggling and to get the treatment we need rather than silently suffering.

It’s easy to tell someone to “just suck it up and get over it” when depression attacks us. But if you’ve never had to crawl your way out of a pit of despair, talk is cheap and really of no help to someone who can’t breathe their through a paralyzing anxiety attack.

If it were simply as easy as changing our thoughts or willing ourselves out of depression – then no one would ever need suffer. No one wants to depressed. Finding the right health care provider and right treatment – be it medication or therapy, is key to learning to combat this illness. That and for me, having faith in Jesus Christ. As a Christian, I believe that even in this, God can use my pain and suffering to help others.

I’m slowly finding my way out of the darkness; the light is making a comeback. As Christians, there is no shame in admitting we have a health problem. There is nothing wrong with believing that God can heal us instantly and supernaturally. But we shouldn’t feel guilty if God chooses to heal us with the help of a competent doctor or properly prescribed medication.

I don’t care how my breakthrough comes … just so long as it comes … and I KNOW it will.

Don’t suffer in silence. Get the help you need. And most importantly … don’t ever let the enemy convince you that you are all alone in your struggles. You are not alone … fix your eyes on God.

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (NLT) (Message Bible)

Blessings in Christ and as always … Happy Reading!

Kathy K.

DO-Over or Just DO

A six-month dental cleaning and x-rays; annual mammogram; well-woman check-up; pap smear, pelvic exam; blood work, urine test; endocrinologist check-up; blood pressure check, cholesterol monitoring, weight, heart check, thyroid, eyes, ears, nose and throat, reflexes … and … have I forgotten anything?

The beginning of the year always brings with it lots of challenges regarding physical health maintenance. It’s not easy, comfortable or cheap to stay on top of our health. As we get older though, the more we stay ahead of the problems, the easier they are to correct.

Statistically, women outlive men by five to six years; with a woman’s life expectancy, just over 81, compared to men at 76 years. This may be due in part to the fact that men are 24% less likely to see their doctor for regular checkups. Dare I say it? Men … not smart!

Good health isn’t something we magically fall into, but something we should be actively pursuing if we are at all interested in being committed Christ followers – that includes both women and men. Yes, good health and responsible Christianity go hand-in-hand.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So, you must honor God with your body.    1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

Each time I read this Scripture I’m consumed with guilt and condemnation. I spent a good number of years treating my body like anything but a holy temple. In my late teens, I abused my body with drugs and alcohol. (Hey, it was the 70s!) In my 20s through my late 40s and early 50s, I traded drugs and alcohol for my drug of choice … food. Food was my “go-to” mood enhancer or leveler to be used recreationally or emotionally whenever circumstances, both good and bad dictated. In order to counteract the effects of so many food binges, I abused exercise in equal measure in the hopes of balancing the scales of my obsessive-compulsive eating habits.

Now that I’m staring down the barrel of 60 (sorry, I think I threw up just a little even thinking that out loud), my body which God designed to be a temple for His Holy Spirit is worn out, broken down and suffering from my too-little-too-late efforts of trying to “get healthy.”

It’d be nice to hop into my time machine and journey back to 1972 (the year my abusive behavior started in earnest) and begin treating my body like the treasured temple God has always known it to be. Obviously, that’s not an option. We can beat ourselves up, live in regret or make excuses for not taking better care of our bodies. If, however, life has taught us anything – we rarely get do-overs.

If there is a bright side to the “back-side of 60” it would be Philippians 3:13-14: … but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

No do-overs, but there is always the promise of tomorrow and a brighter future:

And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.

Retired or RE-tired?

I have a number of friends who’ve recently retired from careers and jobs that they’ve held for a couple of decades. Along with the luxury of suddenly living life free from the shackles of a morning alarm clock, these friends are receiving financial compensation in the form of retirement pension funds. To which I say, “awesome!”

On the flip side of that excitement for my friends, I’m experiencing a fair amount of … dare I say it? Jealousy. I recently “retired” from my decades long career of full-time stay-at-home mother. From the time my oldest child was nearly eight, some 28 years ago, I was able to become a full-time stay-at-home mother. In that 28 years, I dedicated my life to staying at home full-time raising my three children. For 13 of the last 16 years, that has included regular after-school care, as well as, full time care during holiday breaks and summer breaks for my only grandchild.

Not only was I passionate about my “career,” it was the role I was created to fulfill.

During the past 28 years, I’ve cooked, cleaned, laundered, chauffeured and counseled my three children from birth until they each left for college. These weren’t the only tasks I completed on a regular basis. My job description included, but was not limited to, changing more diapers than I can count; I wiped up buckets of snot, spit and vomit; I walked the floor with crying, feverish, cranky, teething babies and toddlers and administered love, compassion and medicine as needed. I’ve spent immeasurable hours doing homework with kids who struggled with math, science, spelling and/or sentence structure. I’ve grilled those same kids who were studying for tests and spent countless hours working on diorama’s and science projects – so much so, that at this point in my life I feel as though I should, for all intents and purposes have a Master’s Degree in childhood education by now. Sadly, I do not.

I sat sentry over these four lives as they had surgeries, broken bones and unexplained illnesses. I’ve logged thousands of miles and so much time in the car carrying these children back and forth to sports practices and games, sleepovers, birthday parties and trips to the mall for the sole purpose of “just hangin’” that my car should have its own zip code. I’ve paced grooves in the floor waiting for these same children to return home from their first dates, boy/girl parties, junior and senior proms and trips back and forth to college – simply waiting to get the okay that they arrived safely and weren’t stranded in a ditch somewhere or taken hostage by a psychotic escaped convict. I’ve spent so much time on my knees in prayer for these children I should be nominated for sainthood.

I’ve cried gallons of tears watching as they broke up with the love of their life, had a fight with their best friend, grieved over the loss of a grandparent or favorite pet, crammed all night for finals, had a meltdown over teenage acne, flunked a test or a class, lost an athletic competition, got engaged, broke an engagement, got pregnant, had a baby of their own, left for college, left for grad school in another state, went on missions trips to a third-world country, planned weddings and got married.  Tears, tears and more tears – both theirs and mine shed in equal measure as I suffered right alongside them on so many occasions too numerous to count.

And this list is but the tip of the motherhood iceberg. Full-time stay-at-home mothering is an endless cycle of growth, challenge and unwavering commitment. My children are 26, 28 and nearly 36 years old; my grandson, 16 years old. The learning curve never stops as our children become fully-functioning independent adults who eventually leave home. We must adapt our parenting style to accommodate children who now battle many of the same adult problems that we ourselves deal with.

So, while my friends may be able to retire from their careers, my chosen career continues to evolve – my career will never allow me to completely “retire” from the rigors of full-time stay-at-home mothering. I will never retire, I’m just … tired, over and over again. So technically, I’m re-tired.

Would I like a nice fat monthly pension check for all of my years of faithful service? You bet your sweet *%! I would! In a perfect world, there would be financial compensation for mothers who unselfishly sacrifice themselves for the many years of devoted service behind the apron … behind the stove … behind the washing machine … behind the wheel. But alas, to date, the only compensation we receive is the satisfaction of knowing that IF we’ve done our job well, our children will leave the nest as strong, independent, caring, compassionate hard-working individuals who are able to take what they’ve been taught and pay it forward so that they too will become responsible, loving and committed husbands and wives and mothers and fathers of their own someday.

True, it may not be money in the bank, but it’s a satisfaction that can only come from a lifelong job done well. No regrets, I say, only amazing children that I have been blessed to care for and nurture and mentor. I feel fortunate that God hand-picked each of them for me and me for them. Perhaps someday instead of financial compensation, I will hear those much sought after words from my Heavenly Father … well done my good and faithful servant, well done!

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

Blessings in Christ and as alwayshappy reading!
Kathy K.

Happy New Year

The turning of the calendar to a new month and a new year, brings with it a myriad of emotions. Many face excitement or dread, depending on the kind of year we’ve just gone through.

For a lot of us, we simply existed this past year, living day-to-day, only recalling what the year was like when our memories are jogged by the latest highlight reel of 2016 happenings.

This election year was a harsh reminder of the wide divide throughout our country, separating even the closest of friends.  As we prepare to welcome our new President-elect, those divides are magnifying exponentially, causing tensions to mount as we look towards 2017 with much skepticism or wide-spread fear.

Those “In Memoriam” videos remind us of those lost we lost this past year, who, for the most part, we’ve quickly forgotten. Those recaps remind us that life is short and that death comes to us all — celebrity, VIP or average Joe.

This new year promises to hold much of the same: some heartache, some joys, births, weddings, elections and of course — death. That much is certain. Regardless of WHAT happens each year, we all end up going the way of our ancestors before us, no matter our religious beliefs.

The most profound thing I read this past week with regards to the most recent celebrity deaths was a statement by Franklin Graham. The world-renowned pastor stated: “From the unknown to the most well-known, we all have something in common — death. Our time on earth is brief — the Bible says like “a vapor.” And each of us will stand before Almighty God to give an account. The decision that will determine where we spend eternity is whether we have believed in His Son, Jesus Christ, trusting Him as our Savior and following Him as Lord. There are no VIP passes or exceptions. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).”

There are those who will simply shake their heads and tell us they don’t believe in life after death; heaven or hell, God or Satan – and if they are right, then no worries. But suppose they are wrong and there really is an afterlife and that God is real?  If that is the case … there are no celebrity entrances or back doors into Heaven.

Yes, the future can seem daunting, fearful or worrisome – but as for me, I prefer to look to the future the same way I look at the past. With eyes focused on Jesus, trusting Him one day at a time. I believe He will direct my paths and keep me on the straight and narrow. I trust the Lord to correct me when I screw up; to comfort me when I feel down or isolated; to love me whether I feel as though I deserve it or not; to give me peace when I’m surrounded by chaos and to walk beside me day after day … month after month … year after year.

The New Year will be what we make of it depending on our attitudes and our level of faith in our Heavenly Creator. My attitude for 2017?  May there be peace on earth as we trust the Lord Jesus to reign supreme and take control of the madness.

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

Wishing you a happy, joyful and prosperous New Year, and as always … HAPPY READING!

Blessings in Christ,
Kathy K.