An Honest Account of Love, Grief and Walking With God
Finding God's Goodness in Life's Disappointments

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Grace-You Have It and You Need It


Two Sides of the Coin of Grace
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie 2015

God’s grace is something that has helped me through many hard days in my life. His grace is never rationed, in short supply or earned. It is always hanging around but sometimes it is hidden in plain sight because we do not understand it. So what is grace?

I think of grace like a coin. There are two sides to grace. It is a word that is often thrown around casually in many Christian circles but I have to wonder how many people that are Christians really understand it or access it. John 1:17 says, “ But the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth were given by Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

One side of the coin is defined as the free and unmerited favor of God on the undeserving or unmerited blessings. Grace is free and it is a gift from God. The truth is none of us deserve anything good, therefore, every good thing in our lives is simply a gift of grace. James 1:7 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father...” All that we have in our lives that is good is from God. That is really pretty humbling. As talented as some people are, at the end of the day, the talent comes from God’s favor in their lives. 

The other side of the coin can also be described as the desire and power to do what is right or what God tells us to do. It is the power to do something in and of ourselves we cannot do. God’s grace helps us.

Recently, I was reading in the book of Jonah and a scripture stood out to me. It says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (NIV) When I read it, I had to reread it again and again. What a powerful and pointed scripture!  I had to ask myself, “What am I clinging to that is worthless? Am I forfeiting God’s grace in my life in anyway?” Then I had to ask myself, “do I have any worthless things I am hanging on to that I need to let go of?” My answer to these questions is unfortunately yes.

 An idol something that we put before our love for God. It can be a person, relationship or even a spouse or child. Another idol can be a job or hobby. It can be an addiction, money or even a house or car. All of these things are good, but become an idol when we put them before our love and worship of God. An idol is anything that occupies our focus. Often times idols are deceptive. We do not realize something has become an idol until God reveals it to us. Jesus came to give us grace and truth. Ask him to reveal truth to you and show you any idols you may have. 

 “I just do not have grace for that,”  was a frequent comment I could be heard saying when I did not want to do something. The truth was, I did not access the grace I needed because I either did not have the faith or wanted my way instead of God’s way. 

I recently talked to a young man that was recovering from an  alcohol addiction. As he shared his story with me, I told him about the scripture in Jonah. He wholeheartedly agreed that alcohol and drugs were his idol and that he spent too much time forfeiting God’s grace to quit his addiction. 

When I think of the word forfeit, I think of not even showing up to play the game. Forfeit means we do not even try. Are you resisting the grace that could be yours? Are you not even showing up and asking God for his grace?

 II Corinthians 12:9. It says, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.”  It constantly reminds me that no matter what I face, His grace (power) is all I need. His grace walks with me and is like a shadow, it is always beside me. His grace grows in my weakness, therefore, my weakness is a good thing when I draw on Him.

I Peter 5:5 says, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This indicates that we need to humble ourselves instead of trying to do everything in our own strength. The next time you are challenged by a circumstance, do not forfeit the grace of God. Show up on his door step and ask for his help to lay down your idol. Do not let pride be your idol. I find that people that are not transparent with their lives and cannot admit when they are wrong have pride as an idol. Sometimes the most freeing words spoken are, “ I was wrong.” Too many times people are held captive by the thought that they are a mistake, instead of the fact that they are simply human and made a mistake. Do you need to say the freeing words, “I was wrong?” It does not indicate weakness but strength under control.


God’s grace is waiting for you and me. His power to do what we cannot do ourselves is a tremendous gift. Do not waste the grace of God or forfeit His grace. Look at both sides of the coin of grace and spend it daily. Will you join me on the treasure hunt of discovering his incredible grace? Let me know what you find! I’d love to hear about your discovery.



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Living Above the Clouds of Life

Living Above the Clouds of Life
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
Copyright
July 2015 

Above the clouds
You and I are called and equipped to live a  supernatural lifestyle. I have discovered the supernatural life I am to lead as I have faced difficult circumstances, trials, conflict, misunderstanding, disappointments and being determined to discover what God is up to in those situations. How about you? Have you encountered any of the above mentioned things lately? How did you handle them? Did you waste the opportunity to grow?
The word supernatural is defined as above our circumstances, above natural or to exist above and beyond nature. We have a God given right to rise above our circumstances and paint a picture above the clouds or storms of life. Jesus rose above the storm in Matthew 14 and called Peter, an average guy, to do something that seamed impossible, to walk on water. What are you facing right now that seems impossible? Perhaps it is staying with in a difficult marriage. Maybe it is dealing with a difficult coworker. It could be letting go of a love one. I know at times I have said to myself or someone else, “I just can’t do this.” The truth is, I can not but when there is a greater dependency on God, I can. The key to a supernatural life is dependency on God.
Riding on a friend's plane
I was talking to someone the other day, and the woman made the comment that she was so stressed out. I have had my share of stressful situations and life will be stressful if we live in our circumstances, instead of the provisions God has for us.  God sent Jesus so we can find joy in life no matter what is thrown at us. We cannot control our circumstances. They come at us how they will.  We do not get any say  in most of life’s trials. However, we do have a choice in how we will respond. We can either react or respond.


Truett- Our grand boy
The Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:10 says, “On earth as it is in heaven.” (NIV) There is no stress in heaven, therefore, when we walk to the rhythm of thanking him, praying and then casting our cares on him, we learn to live life above the cloud of our negative circumstances. We live a supernatural life. 
I John 4:17 says, “ ...as he is, so are we in this world.” (NIV) Jesus is full of life and peace. There are plenty of people that lead stressed out lives., you an I do not have to be one of them. I want to be someone that is known for living a life of joy and peace. Jesus paid a great price for me to do that. I owe it to him to be responsible for my own development in not letting negative circumstances steal my joy and peace. This means I have to discipline myself to step back and live from the inside out, live from Christ in me. What about you? Do you need to discipline yourself a little more? Do you live in your circumstances preoccupied with the problem or step back into Christ in you and walk in peace?
You and I are called to reveal to those around us who God really is. We are are not called to lead normal lives but supernatural lives. Responding out of Christ in us is so much better than reacting to negative circumstances. God’s promises found in the Bible, and our confidence in who God will  lift us above the clouds of life. 
Princess Collins- Our grand girl
Will you join me in painting a beautiful picture above the clouds of your life and living the supernatural life available to you? 

Kathleen is a native of the Hill Country and is a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping people discover their value and worth. Contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com or visit her blog on www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com




Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Price of Freedom is Often Forgiveness

The Price of Freedom is Often Forgiveness
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
Copyright July 2015


It is 4th of July season and as a proud American, I cannot help but think of the sacrifices our forefathers paid for the freedom so many of us now enjoy. I am also grateful for those in our military that keep us free. It is one battle to get free and another battle to stay free. Freedom  often comes at a great cost. 

Freedom in our personal lives has cost also. Life happens and we often encounter those that betray us, are unkind, self centered, take advantage of us or those we love, just to name a few. This can open the door of hurt, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Unless that door is shut, we can lose freedom in our hearts unless we 
forgive. 

Forgive means to cancel or pardon a debt, to stop feeing angry or resentful of someone for an offense. Over 20 years ago, there were several people that betrayed me. The hurt was real and the pain was deep and cut to the core of my being. I had read the Bible and knew I needed to forgive but really did not feel like it. I was mad. It did not seem to matter where I went in my hometown, I ran into my offenders. It did not matter if I went to the grocery store, church, a party or the soccer field, they were there. I remember sitting in my vehicle in tears at the soccer field
because I once again ran into them  and it pricked the pain that was in my heart. I sat there and asked God, “Why on earth do I keep running into them?” God’s simple answer to me was, “Kathleen, I am giving you the opportunity to forgive.” I sobbed a little more and then realized God loved me and wanted me free from the pain. I could keep pulling the victim card or I could choose to forgive.

Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Luke 6:37 states, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” 

We forgive because we need forgiveness for our sins. I knew I was not perfect and needed forgiveness from God, however, I was struggling with my feelings. I did not feel like forgiving and kept putting it off until I felt like it. I finally realized that forgiveness is a choice and God in his mercy kept giving me the opportunity and reminder I needed to chose his way, not mine.

I was honest with God and simply prayed, “God, I don’t feel like forgiving but I choose it as an act of my will to forgive  because you said to do it.” That was the beginning of the process of forgiving.

Forgiveness is not a one time event. Often times, it is a process. The greater the hurt or betrayal, the longer the process can take because we have more pain to work through. The key is committing to the process and the good news is God will help us. 

From the day at the soccer field and my surrender to God, each time I would encounter those that caused the hurt or replay the video in my mind, I would chose to forgive again, and eject the video. It took months for me to be fully free, but I can honestly say, the forgiveness was worth it and God healed the hurt. I am free. Since that time 20 years ago, I have had numerous opportunities to forgive many others in order to maintain freedom in my heart.


Forgiveness aligns us with trust in God. We do it because his word says to do it if we want forgiveness. We forgive for own sake, benefit and freedom. Who do you need to forgive so you can be free? Choose to do something good for yourself and forgive. 



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What if You Believed the Truth?


What If You Believed the Truth?
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
June 2015

What if we really believed all that God said about us? What if we traded all the negative things people say or the lies we believe about ourselves and traded then for the truth? What if we really believed God was our father? What things would we attempt if we really believed God was with us all the time?

These are questions I pondered but I am not the only one that has thought about them. Years ago, Psalms recorded David’s thoughts about what God said about him. Psalms 139:13 -14 states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb, I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know them full well.” (NIV) Do you believe those words about you? They are truth, but I have to admit, I have not always believed them. I had to exchange the lies I believed about myself for what God’s word said about me. I did not see myself as someone carefully made for special purposes and I sure did not feel wonderful. I have ministered to many people share with me that they felt the same way about themselves. 

Deuteronomy 14:2 says, “ for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” (NIV) Often times
 life experiences lead us to believe that we are not special, no one treasures us or that the God that created us has chosen us. I remember being the last one chosen on the school kickball team in 4th grade. That event of getting picked  last, impacted a little girl 45 years ago. It took me over 20 years to see myself as special and chosen by God, as well as others.

Romans 9:20 states things plainly. It says, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “why  did you make me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” (NIV) These are strong statements about us not questioning God in how he made us and the purpose we are called to. Each of us has a very unique purpose here on earth. I will never be president of our country but that does not mean I am not important or special or that the purposes I was created for are not valuable. 
Fun with Collins and Austin
For years, I knew about God, went to church, studied the Bible, but I did not see God as my father. A series of challenging events occurred and I was in a place of only having God to really depend on to press on. It was in that dark time, I began to see God’s kindness, faithfulness, love and that I was really his daughter, made in his image. Deuteronomy 32:6 asks the question and declares who God is, “…Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” (NIV) In the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus included you and me when he said, “Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be your name…”(NIV) God is our daddy and we are his kids.

Collins and Pops
Perhaps your earthly father is not here for Father’s Day or you do not have a good relationship with your dad. I challenge you to rest in the truth that you have the best and most loving father in God. Get your identity in Him, believe the truth that you are special, loved, treasured, made in His image for unique purposes and ask Him to open your heart to believe all he says about you. Trade any lies you have believed about yourself for his truth and step into the wonderful things He has ordained for your life. I ask God to bless you abundantly as you step into the incredible life your father has for you.


73,939

Kathleen is a native of the Hill Country and is a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping people discover their value and worth. Contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com or visit her blog on www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com





Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Exchanging the Broken Pieces of Our Lives

Exchanging the Broken Pieces of Life -Redemption 
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
June 2015
Copyright

Bridge between broken pieces of our lives and redemption
     One of the things I have discovered that God loves to do is redeem things in our lives. No matter what mess you have made, how bad things look, or how much you have lost, God is standing right beside you orchestrating redemption just for you.
     What is redemption or what does it mean to redeem something? The dictionary definition states, “to compensate for the faults or bad aspects of something, to save from evil or error, to gain or regain possession of something, to exchange something.” Our society does not use the word redeem much unless we are talking about coupons, but uses “exchange” instead. 
     What is it that you need for God to exchange for you? Think about it for a moment. What matters to you, matters to God. We live in a fallen world where life interrupts; sometimes suddenly, occasionally tragically, often times unexpectedly. I think that is why God is in the business of redeeming things, just for us. Redemption is what he specializes in.
      What do we do when our plans and dreams are interrupted? I have found by experience that we simply hang on to God to take the next step. We wait for Him to work in our lives to redeem the situation. This often times rubs the impatient the wrong way. As Americans, we are not good at waiting in the line at the grocery store. But in those times of waiting, we get to experience the joy of holding His hand. Isaiah 41:13 states, “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” (NIV)
     One of my personal stories of redemption began five years ago, I sat on our beautiful  deck with my late husband, The conversation began with, “Kathleen, sit down, we need to talk.” I knew we needed to discuss some things neither one of us wanted to talk about but we had to. I sat at the end of the table, where he usually sat and took a deep breath.  Even in his physical weakness, due to a rare cancer, Joe was leading his family. “Things are not going the way we want them to. My life insurance policy is in the front desk in the file. When I am gone, call USAA and they will walk you thru the whole process,” he said. “They will help you,” he continued. My mind and body exhausted from caregiving and fighting for his life, was swimming with questions. I suddenly felt like I was in very deep water and the waves were way over my head. I found it hard to even breathe as my eyes filled with tears.
  Then he continued, “You are not made to live alone.” His eyes filled with tears and his voice began to crack. “I love you but want you to know, you have my permission to go on with your life and find someone else,” he struggled to say. I had to turn my face away. I did not want to hear those words anymore than he wanted to say them. We had  been friends, lovers, parents, and partners for 30 years. I could not imagine life with out him. I knew out of his great love for me, he was saying the words he never thought he would have to say but he wanted what was best for me. Joe took his last breath a few days later.
New life on the deck
     Three very long and lonely years rolled by as I struggled to discover life without him. “How do you live when half of you is gone and your heart is broken,” I often thought. I have discovered, you live one day at a time holding God’s hand in the journey. Sometimes holding his hand for comfort, other times when fear knocks on the door and many times holding tight trying to find the joy in living again.
     So what does this have to do with redemption? Several years later, I sat on the very same deck again, except with another man. We were laughing and enjoying the beautiful weather and both working on our wedding vows. As we finished writing we shared with each other the promises we were going to make to each other. All of a sudden, I remembered the day years ago I sat in the very same spot in tears feeling like my life was over. The very place that had been so painful, was now a place of redemption. I thought how kind God was to redeem the place that had been so painful was now my place of new beginnings. 
     The journey has been a long and difficult one but my heart has expanded, gotten stronger and actually thrived holding His hand. God gave me a chance to experience His redemption. He has exchanged the thing I feared most as I have let go of my past life, for something new, good and full of fun and adventure.

A picture of redemption
      Psalms 107:1 states, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” Psalms 107:6-8 says, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.” I am not quoting this scripture. I have lived and experienced it and the experience has made me rich.

     Where are you right now in your life? Are you hanging on by a thread? Are you mad at God because of where this world has tossed you and you are blaming Him? Perhaps you just need your knees strengthened to stand and wait for Him to redeem. He will. He is faithful and good. Psalms 130 tells us to wait for him to exchange things for us and verse 7 states, “hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is FULL redemption.” (NIV)
     
      What do you need to ask God to redeem in your life? Ask Him now. Who do you need to encourage that God will redeem their tragedy? As Jesus said in Luke 21:28, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (NIV)
     


Kathleen is a native of the Hill Country and is a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping people discover their value and worth. Contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com or visit her blog on www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com