Predictably Unpredictable

Call me crazy, but I’m in the category of individuals who actually like Hallmark movies. I know they’re sappy, corny and totally unsurprising and predictable – but that’s what I appreciate most about them.

Life these days can be scary – the future uncertain, which is why a nice, uncomplicated predictable movie works for me. We never know from day-to-day if our 401k is going to tank or if the interest rates are going to plummet. We never know if our health is going to last or if that tiny little bump on our skin is something serious or not.

We never know when we say good-bye to a loved one if we’ll see them again or if we ourselves will be granted a tomorrow. We just never know … hence the need for an escapist, happily-ever-after movie that I can predict will turn out exactly as I envision.

I really wish life were as predictable as a Hallmark movie. Even though we can make our plans for tomorrow, we never know if our plans will go according to our wishes. Proverbs 16:9 confirms this fact: We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.

I have a young friend who is finishing her Master’s Degree and is dealing firsthand with planning her steps. She’s cried on my shoulder numerous times regarding her future and her fears about not being able to find a job in her degree field. She is a very faithful follower of Christ, yet she can’t seem to stop the overwhelming anxiety and fear that are robbing her of a peaceful night’s rest. She’s a bundle of worry trying to plan for every eventual outcome.

No matter how many Scriptures I quote her; no matter how many prayers I pray for her or she prays for herself, she simply is terrified to completely trust God with her future. She tells me I don’t understand – and while I’ve never been in her exact situation, I have been in scary situations that have left me fearful regarding the unknown future.

This life is going to have numerous trials and tribulations (John 16:23); that’s pretty much a guarantee. Since we’re promised trials throughout our life and there is no way around them, it’s probably in our best interest if we learn how to handle those difficulties without having a complete breakdown each and every time.

When I’m faced with a difficult trial, my initial reaction may be that gut-wrenching, all-consuming fear, but I’ve learned to quickly call on the name of the Lord. I pray Scriptures, I read the Word and after all of those things, if I’m still emotionally out of sorts with worry – I retreat to my happy place – the Hallmark Channel. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s an emotional salve for my frazzled nerves when fear wants to consume me.

We all need a happy place when worry or fear consume us.  Find your happy place in Jesus. He is … and was … and is to come … the most predictably predictable Savior of all time.

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:27, 34)

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

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What’s Your Number?

Late last year I bought a fitness tracker to help me on my quest to get a little healthier in 2016. My main type of daily exercise is bike riding; either outdoors on a cruiser bicycle or inside on a stationary bike.  It’s become my practice to secure my tracker to my ankle whenever I ride either bike because there doesn’t seem to be a really good tracker that will accurately record your activity while bicycling. I feel a little weird while wearing my tracker on my ankle because it looks pretty strange; kind of like someone on house arrest who’s forced to wear an ankle monitor. But that’s okay, it gets the job done.

The job being, if I’m going to exert an hour’s worth of energy on any activity, I want to get credit for calories burned and for my total overall daily steps. An average 10-mile bike ride usually translates to around 6,000 steps on my tracker. (Many health experts agree that to maintain optimum health, the average adult should try to walk around 10,000 steps per day.)

One-day last week I didn’t realize until after I’d completed my 17-mile stationary bike ride that I’d completely forgotten to put my fitness tracker on my ankle. Obviously it was an oversight on my part and a little disheartening since I’d just spent 75 minutes sweating for all I was worth and now I wouldn’t even get credit for it!

I started wondering – if you engage in a strenuous activity for 75-minutes without the benefit of your fitness tracker – does the activity even count for anything? (If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around … You get the idea.)

Because I was so upset about forgetting to move my tracker to my ankle and basically “wasting” that time on the bike, I tried thinking up ways I could “make up” those steps in order to get credit for them. I considered strapping my tracker to the wheel of my stationary bike and then sitting on the floor and hand-turning the pedals for the amount of time necessary to equal those missed steps. Then I thought perhaps I could tape the tracker on a stick and just sit in my recliner and wave the stick around for a good long while until I’d logged a few thousand steps. Hmm, or maybe I could strap the tracker on one of the dog’s collars and play fetch with them (while sitting in my recliner).

That’s when it hit me … I had become more than a little obsessed with tracking my daily steps. Hitting that daily 10,000 step mark had become top priority. Every day became another opportunity to amass more and more steps and to break new records. Every day was an opportunity to brag to my friends that I had achieved my 10,000 steps before 9:00 AM! I was a numbers champion!

And then … I read a story in the Old Testament about King David conducting a census which entailed him counting all of the people in Israel. For years I never truly understood this story or why it was so wrong for David to conduct the census. From what I understand, in those times a man only had the right to count or number what belonged to him. Israel did not belong to David; Israel belonged to God. It was up to God to order a census, not David.

David became a little too puffed up about the numbers. So God had to knock him down a few pegs and ordered him to pick one of three punishments — all of which were severe and catastrophic.

Because I’ve had a long history of obsessing over numbers in the past (i.e., my weight, the number on the scale and the number of daily calories consumed to name a few) – I felt God speaking to me about my daily step count and my numbers obsession.

Life should not be a constant competition. Who cares if I walked 6,000 more step than my spouse, my sister or my friend? Yes, it’s still important for me to do what I can daily to walk in good health, but there must be balance in all things.

If I get out of bed at 10:30 at night to walk around my kitchen island so I can cross the 15,000 step mark for the day – I’d say that is slightly imbalanced. (I’ve done this on several occasions!)

Like King David, I am too focused on the numbers – so for the time being, the only numbers I think I’ll be focusing on are 1 John 5:21: Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.  

Lord, help me to put my fitness tracker in its place and not let it take YOUR place!

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

Seeds of Hope

Near the end of last year my husband and I moved into a neighborhood that’s surrounded by a lot of open desert. We discovered shortly after our move that our yard is visited by many different types of birds.

In an attempt to attract a wider variety of wild birds, we bought a bird feeder and filled it with wild bird seed. Our minor investment paid off, but not immediately. It took about a week or so for the news to spread through the aviary grapevine that there was free, easily accessible food to be had at our house.

Once the word spread, though, every morning there is a line of birds perched on our back fence wall waiting for my husband to fill the bird feeder. The line of hungry birds is fairly constant until the food is finally gone. Even though the feeder is empty for most of the day, there are a number of birds who still insist on visiting the feeder throughout the day in the hopes that perhaps it’s been replenished.

Sitting on the patio watching the melee that ensues between quail, dove, robins and blackbirds is somewhat entertaining. They all want to get in there and get their share. No one wants to be left out so there’s usually a number of spats and squabbles.

I started imagining what the world would be like if we could get unbelievers to flock to the Body of Christ as enthusiastically as birds to a bird feeder. How lovely the world would be if once that seed of salvation, forgiveness and hope was shared that people would tell their friends so more and more people were flocking to Jesus Christ.

We live in an angry, fallen world with people who are hurting and hungry to be loved. What if all we had to do to eliminate that hunger was simply share a few seeds? Seeds of faith. Seeds of hope. Seeds of love.

The thing is — we can’t give away what we don’t possess. If you want to share salvation … you must live as though you are saved.  If you want to share your faith … you must be faithful. If you want to offer hope … you must be hopeful. If you want to display love … you must be loving.

Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels. Matthew 13:37-39 (NLT)

These are my seeds … Jesus died for you. Jesus wants to adopt you as his very own.  Jesus loves you. 

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

STOP – Pray – Breathe – Repeat

There are days in life when my most fervent prayer is, “hasten your return, Lord Jesus and soon please!”  The reason being is that we live in an evil, fallen world filled with mean-spirited, narcissistic, hateful people that live only for themselves. People who for all intents and purposes, appear to be incapable of a simple act of kindness.

Yesterday I happened upon such an individual who was likely working on a full-blown nasty by the time our paths crossed. The encounter was quite brief and never involved an actual word exchange, but rather, vulgar hand gestures that took me completely by surprise.

My crime, in this “gentleman’s” opinion, was changing lanes and slowing his commute by a few seconds when I blocked his attempts to make a right-hand turn on a red light. There was no right-hand turn lane, so he was forced to wait behind me for the red light to change before he could proceed with his afternoon commute.

My lane change was properly timed, signaled well in advance of my intention and in no way aggressive, illegal or dangerous in any way whatsoever. My only fault was this individual was halted from turning when he wanted to turn.

As I looked in my rear  view mirror and saw him flip me a bird, I was shocked. How is it possible for someone to have such a fierce reaction to someone who merely arrived at a stoplight a few seconds before they did? I was driving on a public street – not HIS street. I broke no laws and was just … driving.

When the light changed and I advanced through the intersection, he again flipped me another middle finger to which I responded by flashing him a peace sign. Even though it was on the tip of my tongue to pray a pox on this man – or at the very least a sudden minor fender bender, I did the exact opposite and prayed a blessing over him. Clearly he must have some very prominent anger management issues and is in desperate need of a Savior. He needs my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

I was so troubled by this stranger’s inherent evil nature that I found myself working on a minor anxiety attack regarding the state of the world and the rampant evil nature of mankind. I continued to pray for the next 20 minutes during my ride home for all of those who are lost and without hope in our society.

I couldn’t help but wonder how our loving merciful God must shake His head at the fall of mankind. I wonder if He’s ever tempted to merely smite us all! As I was pondering this, my Lord reminded me that this angry commuter was the exact kind of person that He died for. Yes, Jesus died for us born-again, spirit-filled, regular church-going “Saints,” but He also died for the angry drivers, the homeless Vet on the street corner, the agitated protesters at a political rally and yes – even the liberal abortionists.

Driving along, praying for all I was worth, my prayers were suddenly interrupted by a song on the Christian radio station, K-love called, Breathe, performed by Jonny Diaz. The words reached right through the radio console and pierced my frazzled heart:

Breathe … just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in fill your lungs
The peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe
So let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe

Just breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe
Just breathe

Co-written by Jonny Diaz, Jonathan Smith and Tony Wood  2015

Talk about a well-timed answer to prayer!

When you encounter difficult people, when you’re flipped off by an angry driver or when the evil of this world simply becomes almost more than you can bear, remember to:  pray! Pray for the lost and angry. Pray for peace for them and for yourself and most importantly, remember to … breathe. Just breathe!

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 2 Timothy 3:1-3 (NLT)

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

Birds of a Feather Rest Together

Several times a week I ride 10 miles on my cruiser bicycle. The trail that I ride takes me through a popular park, through a neighborhood and through the desert and a dried river bottom. I’ve been lucky enough to spot a variety of wildlife on my daily ride. I’ve seen javelinas, roadrunners, jack rabbits, cotton tail bunnies, quail, coyotes and snakes to name just a few.

Towards the end of my ride as I’m nearing the river bottom, I pass a big ocotillo cactus and for the last six or seven rides I’ve seen a hummingbird perched on the end of one of the branches. Obviously I can’t know for certain that it’s the same hummingbird every time, but the fact that it looks like the same bird and the fact that it’s in the same spot every time I ride past, leads me to believe that it must be the same little bird.

Hummingbirds average around 80 beats per second in normal flight of their tiny little wings. For its size, the hummingbird is one of the fastest creatures around. They are truly an amazing bird designed by the creator of the Universe – a true imaginative artist, if ever there was one.

Each day when I pass this little fast-moving winged marvel poised in rest, I can’t help but identify with his need to simply sit and be still. In our fast-paced world filled with deadlines, demands and over-packed schedules we all could take a lesson from the hummingbird.

If God designed even this tiny powerhouse to sit a spell and soak in the beauty all around it, perhaps we humans should consider doing the same?

Today with the internet and our cell phones stealing so much of our attention, maybe it’s time we stopped flapping around with so many misguided priorities and “rest our wings.” Perhaps today, it’s time for a planned “time-out.”

Stop and smell the roses; take a load off; kick your shoes off; stick your toes in the sand; go fly a kite or whatever kichy cliché might apply in your situation … seize the day and ask yourself … what’s the hurry?

“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it.” Jeremiah 2:25a (The Message Bible)

Now that summer is upon us, we should take a lesson from the fastest moving little bird on the planet and stop … slow down and take a minute to refresh and breathe in the goodness of all that God has created. Taste and see that the Lord is good!  (Psalm 34:8)

Blessings in Christ and as always … Happy Reading! 

Kathy K.