A Shop-NOT-Aholic

Last week I began the process of shopping for a dress for my daughter’s upcoming Fall wedding. And when I say “process” I really mean hellish-ordeal. Clothes shopping for me is an experience that requires much prayer, much patience and sometimes some sort of medication, because when you have a less-than perfect body type, shopping can be the cause of many headaches and stomachaches.

I’ve been putting off the mother-of-the-bride dress shopping as long as possible, because, well, I hate shopping. I have an entire list of things I’d rather do other than shop. I’d rather have my teeth cleaned, I’d rather have a colonoscopy, I’d rather have a mammogram; I’d rather … well, I’d rather do about a million other unpleasant things if it would delay shopping for clothes.

I came up short (both figuratively and literally) in the body lottery. I have an hourglass figure that now at my age, has entirely too much sand in the bottom half. Clearly I must have swum in the wrong end of the gene pool or perhaps not-so-much, the wrong end but perhaps the average end of the gene pool would be more accurate. I come from very hearty, but very average stock. Both my parents were completely average in the looks and body department as were their parents before them and probably their parents before them. Average people begetting average people, begetting average people which equals a whole lot of less-than-perfect, perfectly average shaped, average looking people.

A daily perusal of Facebook which is filled with dozens of pictures of gorgeous people like Melania and Ivanka Trump, Jennifer Anniston, the Duchess of Cambridge or any number of the Kardashian/Jenner women … well, someone of average stock like myself could find themselves on the losing end of the beauty barometer.

There have been many times that I’ve given in to that unhealthy habit of comparison – which sadly only leads to more prayer, patience and yes, sometimes … medication. Comparisons are never wise and history has shown that when an average person pits themselves against a princess or a Hollywood actress, average rarely wins.

Staring back at my very average self in twin dressing room mirrors last week, I couldn’t get past the main reason I hate shopping for clothes. I’ve unfortunately inherited some rather large thighs from my father. My thigh circumference is one of the few body parts that I’m actually considered to be “above-average” in, unless of course you’re discussing my above-average sized breasts which I inherited from my paternal grandmother. My mother on the other hand, left me with a unique legacy as well – a small waist and a big bottom, which by the way is a terrible combination when trying to buy pants, jeans, skirts or dresses. Finding “normal” clothes to fit my abnormal proportions is … daunting, to say the least.

If I were a drinking a woman (thank goodness, I am not), last week’s shopping excursion could have sent me on a bender of epic proportions. Nothing fit, everything looked and felt terrible on me. Maybe Hillary Clinton can get away with wearing a $12,000 Armani Potato sack – but my budget isn’t that big.

In order to find a dress, I realize I need to trust the formula: much prayer, much patience and perhaps a bit of medication. Ohhh, if only there were a pill one could take that would help them to look in the mirror and love their reflection! Since that doesn’t exist, what’s really in order is a new mindset and a new attitude that reminds me that I am in fact, the daughter of a King — the Lord of Lords, the Most-High God, to be exact and He doesn’t judge me according to my outward appearance. (1 Samuel 16:7)

My Lord knit me together in my mother’s womb, my frame was not hidden from him. His eyes saw my unformed body as I was made in the secret place. (Psalm 139:13, 15-16) My frame — that consists of equal parts mom, equal parts dad, with little bits of grandma and grandpa sprinkled in to complete the package – this is me and I am EXACTLY the way I’m supposed to be.  God created each of us according to His exact specifications, so for us to complain about the way we look, is to tell the Creator of the Universe that He did a bad job.

Yes, I’m not perfect and I pale in comparison to a Kardashian – but then I don’t have to compare myself to anyone. I just have to find a nice dress for my daughter’s wedding and enjoy the blessed, joyous day. And when this is done … I get to do it all over again for my son’s wedding next spring. Oh joy of joys … another opportunity to shop!

I am the mother of the bride … I am the daughter of a King.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. Psalm 139:1 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ  and as always … Happy Reading!

Kathy K. 

 

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.

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.

Laugh Till You Cry!

It all started with her laugh – and not just any laugh, but a great-big-laugh-till-you-cry belly kind of laughter. By now many of you have probably seen the video of the Texas mom, Candace Payne, who bought a Star Wars Chewbacca mask and took a video of herself in her car trying on the mask and then laughing hysterically because she thought it was so funny.

They say her video “blew up the internet” with the millions of views and shares it received. This young mom is now enjoying her “15 minutes of fame” and has appeared on numerous television shows, including late night and early morning national programs. Ms. Payne was introduced to J.J. Abrams who is a famous Hollywood director, writer, producer and coincidentally, one of the co-writers of the latest Star Wars films. Ms. Payne was also gifted with several thousand dollars worth of fabulous gift cards and merchandise from Kohl’s, the department store where she purchased the mask.

Within 48 hours of her video fame she was asked to speak to art students at an Arts Conference in Texas. During her talk she shared that “at the age of 16 she had a vision and a dream from the Lord about her future and being used by God for His glory.” She confessed that she didn’t completely understand the interpretation of the vision and throughout her life (she is currently 37) she struggled with how exactly that would look since she felt God had gifted her in many areas but yet she didn’t really feel as though she’d mastered anything. She says she never forgot that vision and dream though and it affected her walk with Jesus throughout her life.

When Ms. Payne spoke at the Texas conference, one of the takeaway points for the students was so profound that it must be shared. She said: “It doesn’t matter how talented, how anointed, how gifted, how passionate, or how willing you are if you’re not fit to do the things that God has called you to do … And that is spiritually fit. The thing that will take you further and farther in the Kingdom of God is three things: diligence, patience, and obedience … Do not try to make a name for yourself. His name will always out shadow yours.” ~ Candace Payne

It took 21 years for Ms. Payne to see her dream come to fruition, proving that she was indeed obedient and patient as she waited on God. In this day and age, we read stories of people wanting to make a name for themselves in the music industry or in movies or in the sports arena and they’re willing to take dangerous shortcuts in order to achieve success. So many of those pursing fame have been sold a bill of goods that make it seem as though fame and wealth equal happiness and success.

Those of us who’ve been around for any length of time know for a fact that fame and wealth are not a guarantee of happiness — and success doesn’t necessarily mean financial freedom. There are countless stories of those who’ve achieved fame and stardom only to discover that fame, notoriety and success come at a very high price and can actually make life lonelier, yet many are willing to compromise their beliefs and their integrity in order to achieve fame.

God waited 21 years to bring about the fulfillment of the vision and dream this young woman received at the age of 16. Rather than chasing her dream trying to make something happen under her own steam or just sitting around doing nothing as she waited for some big platform to magically appear, Candace was doing what she knew to do. She got up every day and went about doing good; being a good wife and mom, loving Jesus and finding joy in the little things while she cherished that vision and dream hidden in her heart and mind. And suddenly what started as a little thing … laughter, God stepped in and turned her laughter into a big, giant platform for sharing the gospel of Christ – and that is nothing to laugh about!

A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (AMP)

Are you harboring a dream or vision from God that feels like it’s never going to happen? Candace Payne’s story is a reminder to us all to never give up – as when you least expect it … suddenly God moves!

LORD, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power. Jeremiah 10:6 (NLT)

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

A Pound of Knowledge

With summer nearly upon us, TV ads and internet articles are suddenly filled with schemes, scams, pills and too-good-to-be-true diet plans all designed to help us be “bikini-body-ready” in time for swimsuit season.

For me personally, it’s not even about swimsuit season, but more about wedding season. Two of my three children are engaged to be married within the next 10 months. The first of the two weddings is in six months. All I can think about is how I want to look in wedding photos. The harsh reality is thanks to my not-so-secretive affair with Mr. Menopause, I’m more than a few pounds past my ideal “wedding” weight. I’ve found myself resorting to old mindsets and bad habits when it comes to losing weight.

Most of us know that weight quickly lost is usually quickly regained (and then some) and the promise of an instant weight-loss fix really is too good to be true. It’s the tried and true methods that are necessary to shed unwanted pounds. The old standard of burning more and consuming less calories is really the only thing that works when it comes to losing weight.

The most important aspect of weight loss other than what’s going into your mouth, is what’s coming out of your mouth. Besides limiting our caloric intake — it’s how we think about our bodies, weight loss and exercise that can sometimes have the most effect on our weight loss journey.

If we continually speak negatively about our weight … “I look like a beached whale in this swimsuit,” or “I’m going to be the fattest person in every wedding photo,” how can we expect to successfully lose weight? We’re killing our success with the very words of our mouth. That’s why it’s so important to rely on the Word of God when it comes to something as important as making lifestyle changes with regards to our weight loss.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Even though most of the last decade of my life has been about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I’ve noticed that I’ve slacked off a little. I’ve gotten somewhat lazy. As the weddings approach, I’ve dusted off my food scale and measuring cups and I’m making a more concerted effort to accurately track what I’m eating.

Thanks to some wonderful new modern technology, I now track my activity and my food intake with the My Fitness Pal app on my smart phone. This app is so wonderfully easy allowing you to simply scan the bar code on your food packages, making it easier than ever to keep track of your food intake. I also use an app for tracking all of my exercise and activities called Map My Ride. Both are available for iPhone and Android and are free apps.

In addition to tracking and recording my food and exercise I’m filling my mind with positive reinforcement from my daily devotional book that I wrote several years ago entitled, Diet Nuggets and Wisdom Appetizers, 365 Days of Encouragement for Dieters. This is a great resource for getting Scripture and prayer into your daily weight loss trials as well as encouraging you with snippets of life’s struggles from someone who has been battling weight loss and low self-esteem issues for a good portion of her life.

DN and WA for blog post

I recently was introduced to a new author, Janet K. Brown, who has written a similar daily devotional for dieters entitled, Divine Dining, 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight & Abundant Wellness. Ms. Brown’s book is filled with Scripture and encouragement and provides a very transparent snapshot into the personal struggles she faced as she successfully lost 95-pounds many years ago. Ms. Brown has effectively maintained her weight loss for nearly two decades using the methods outlined in her book.

kk blog

Both of these daily devotions are great tools for helping you to take control of your health and weight struggles as they point the reader to the source of health and hope: The Lord Jesus Christ. Both books are available on Amazon.com.

If you’re tired of the enemy stealing your life one lie at a time, one pound at a time through one cookie at a time, today is the day to stop and take the control back. Turn your weight loss struggles over to the King of Kings and remember that the scale does not define you! You are more than just a number on the scale. You are a child of the most-High King, not a slave to the Burger King!

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. ~ Author Unknown.

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

 

Nestled in God

The design was flawless. The architect and builder had done an incredible job of creating the perfect home; it was designed to withstand the harshest elements. Nestled high above the ground it was safe from predators, save for one: an overzealous tree trimmer who accidentally dislodged the little nest hidden in the shade of palm fronds 30 feet above the ground. The bird’s nest crashed to the sidewalk, the eggs quickly snatched up by a waiting pillager whose good fortune it was to be in the right place at the right time.

I stopped to inspect the now empty bird’s nest and marveled at the intricate design of a home created entirely of twigs and grass. How does a bird instinctively know to expertly fashion such a spectacular dwelling without blueprints and schematics?

The operative word here is “instinctively.” God, the master architect of our Universe designed birds and animals with the knowledge necessary to survive in the wilds. Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Matthew 6:26 (NLT)

As believers in Christ we must believe that our Heavenly Father designed us with every bit as much care as he did the birds of the air. We are all instinctively born with certain gifts, talents or “intuition,” if you will, that guide us and direct us on our life’s paths. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. (Romans 12:6a NLT)

As we walk through this life, the experiences and trials we encounter serve to point us in a direction that will unearth and hone our natural, “instinctive” and God-given strengths and talents. We are to use those strengths and talents for God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Recently I was watching the movie Forrest Gump. When Forrest is called home to be with his dying mother, he asks her why she is dying and she tells him it’s all part of destiny. She explains to Forrest that she was destined to be his Mama and that we all have to make our own destiny by “doing the best with what God gave you.” Forrest asks Mama what his destiny is, to which she replies, “you’ve got to figure that out for yourself.” What follows is the movie’s iconic line, “Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

As with a box of chocolates, we may not know exactly what we’re going to end up with, but some things are certain; you are more valuable to God than the birds of the air and even though in this life we may have trials (John 16:33) we can take heart because God has overcome the world and He has a plan for us: they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).

If you’ve ever struggled with your purpose in life, the answer lies within you. What are your God-given talents; the things you do that just come naturally easy for you? Whether you’re blessed with the ability to build fine structures, sell cars, raise children, clean toilets, teach, research medicine or whatever … God did not create us to hoard our gifts and to live only to please ourselves. Make your own destiny today and Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Colossians 3:23 NLT)

Build the best nest that you can and be who God created YOU to be.

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

A Shoulder to Lean on

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message Bible)

The Facebook post was heartbreaking: “Please pray for my teenage grandson who was recently diagnosed with bone cancer in his leg.”

As a grandmother with a grandson the exact same age as my friend’s grandson, my heart was breaking. How does a grandmother or a parent endure such painful circumstances? How does a 15-year-old deal with fighting a cancer battle where the struggle to keep his leg is a very real possibility? What is even more tragic, over the course of many years that I have known this family, they have experienced one crisis after another. Things such as premature infant deaths, fatal car accidents, debilitating illnesses, unemployment, many other cancers – the list is endless.

I ask myself why does my friend and her family continue to struggle with one potential life-changing crisis after another when others in the body of Christ seem to have a significantly easier path to walk? My friend is the most faithful, committed Christian that I know. She has been known to spend hours in her “prayer chair” seeking God’s guidance, direction and peace for her family – yet her family is the most persecuted family I know. Somehow this seems unfair as if the universe is terribly out of balance.

As I was praying and seeking God recently, one of my daily devotionals from the Our Daily Bread series spoke to me about why some people are asked to carry bigger burdens than others. The writer, Marion Stroud, referenced the book of Numbers 7:1-9.

In these verses Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and he had anointed and consecrated all of the furnishings and utensils. The leaders of Israel, the heads of the families brought their gifts to present them to the Lord. They carried them in on six carts pulled by oxen. The Lord instructed Moses to distribute the gifts to the clans accordingly. The passage is as follows:

So Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites. 7 He gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites, as their work required,8 and he gave four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites, as their work required. They were all under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest. 9 But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible. (Emphasis mine)

For whatever reason, the Lord decided the Kohath tribe would be required to carry ‘the holy things for which they were responsible on their shoulders.’ Why were they required to perform such a hard physical task, while the others were allowed to use a wagon pulled by oxen to carry their items? That didn’t seem fair!

The writer of the devotional suggests that “God knows that some things are too precious to be carried on ox-carts and then asks some to carry them on our shoulders.”

Only God knows what each of us is able to endure physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. For my friend I think of how strong her relationship with Christ is. I think of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people she has helped with her Grief Share ministry. If she’d never known such deep personal grief, how would she ever be able to help and empathize with those struggling with grief? My friend has carried this heavy burden of continued family tragedy on her shoulders and through it all she remains ever-faithful and committed to Christ and continues to share the gospel and the goodness of mercy and God’s grace. Perhaps there are those that would never have received this message and come to know Christ were it not for my friend who was willing to go the extra mile and carry this “precious” message in such a difficult fashion.

If you are carrying difficult burdens — you must trust that Christ knows your breaking point. Regardless of what each of us has endured I pray we can come through stronger than ever and even if we don’t feel like it … Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 (NLT)

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