Sign-up to receive Kathy's FREE E-Newsletter or Weekly Blog Posts

Archive | Family musings

Where is God when Marriage is Hard?

Marriage is hardMy guest today is Laura Taggart, author of the newly released book “Making Love Last.”

Marriage is hard. Think about it. You and your mate come from different family histories. Different genders mean you think, process, and operate differently. Different personalities create challenges as you try to merge two lives with different ways of thinking and reacting.

Sound like a recipe for disaster? Amazingly God designed it that way. What was He thinking?

Year thirteen of my marriage was excruciatingly painful. My husband was doubting his love for me and not inclined to stay the course. I was disappointed with God for what I perceived as His lack of faithfulness. After all, I had tried the best I knew how to be faithful to Him, to love my husband and raise our children to know Him.

In the midst of my frustration and self-pity, I had a reckoning. What if, in the turmoil, God was doing something in me! What if God was being His good self in the middle of this mess? In that moment, I realized I didn’t want to miss what God had for me. Even in struggle.

I determined to hold onto God no matter what. I began to let go of my own perceptions. My hurt and disappointment began to dissipate. In time, I realized my expectations of my husband stifled his ability to be himself. I wanted my husband to love me my way and he wasn’t cooperating. I had relied on him for the unconditional love that only God can provide.

I began to lean into God more for my needs and trust His love to be enough. As I began to experience the security of God’s love, the fears that fostered high expectations from my husband began to lessen. I relied on God’s strength. My trust in Him grew. I gained confidence in his presence and provision.

“My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield . . . my stronghold.” Psalm 18:12

As my anxiety diminished, I began to live with an open heart, enjoying the present. Rather than concentrating on my needs and my husband’s failures, I began to see the difficulties of our life together as an opportunity for my growth. This was life-altering. Paying more attention to my own unloving ways brought new life into our relationship.

Feeling totally accepted by God – just the way I am – helped me show my husband the same acceptance. When he began to realize my love for him was secure, that my previous high level of expectations were gone, his self-defenses dropped. Then amazing things began to happen. He began to change.

Intimate relationship is powerful. Marriage, our most exposing of all relationships, provides the most transformational opportunity of our lives. I can choose to be my mate’s harshest critic or biggest fan. If I can accept him in his humanness and trust God for what I need, I am more able to be thankful for the gift of my husband and less disappointed by what he isn’t. And I can begin to see God’s goodness in the mess.

Marriage is hard. Back in year thirteen, I couldn’t even imagine the sweet relationship my husband and I enjoy today. If your marriage is hard today, don’t give up! God is working through the hardness to carve out something beautiful!

Laura TaggartLaura Taggart is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of “Making Love Last: Divorce-Proofing Your Young Marriage” (released July 4, 2017). She has been an Adjunct Professor of Counseling for Fuller Theological Seminary, Northern California Campus. Laura is an international speaker on topics of marriage, parenting, and Christian spirituality.

With one-third of all married couples divorce before their ten-year Making Love Lastanniversary, in “Making Love Last” Taggart offers the wisdom she would share as a counselor with a couple in the early years of marriage. She helps couples examine their true expectations for marriage, provides six action steps for improving the way they relate, and gives them a new picture of what it means to enjoy marriage for a lifetime. Each chapter includes discussion questions for couples or small groups as well as additional questions for personal reflection.

 

 

Read More »

Fireflies, Family Fun, and Intelligent Design

Not long after we moved into our new home, we discovered fireflies like to hang out in our backyard at twilight. The sight brought back such good memories of our childhood we wanted to share the experience with our 5-year-old grandson Micah. So last weekend, we invited him to sleepover at Boss and Nana’s house. (Now that we live close, we can do that!)

First, we “had” to let him stay up way past his bedtime. Then we got to sit out back, watch the sunset, and wait for the lightning bugs to make their appearance.

fireflies

Micah wore his pajamas and his rain boots for the firefly escapade. (When he arrived at our house that morning with the thick red rubber boots on his feet I didn’t give it a second thought. After all, it was raining at the time. Later, when we were getting ready to go out to dinner, we found out he didn’t have any other shoes with him. His mom let him pack all by himself.)

Rain boots may not be the best foot wear for the Ponder Steak House, but they happened to be perfect for running around a muddy backyard snagging glowing beetles between your two cupped hands. By the time the “catching” was finished, Micah had collected about a dozen fireflies in his bug house.

Micah wanted to take good care of them and knew they needed food and water to survive. After some quick research we learned more than we thought we needed to know about fireflies. Here’s the top things we found interesting:

  • Fireflies are NOT flies, they are beetles.
  • There are about 2,000 different varieties of fireflies.
  • Fireflies eat bugs, like mosquitos, and nectar.
  • The primary purpose of the fireflies’ light is to attract a mate.
  • The firefly’s glow is a chemical reaction between two substances in the bug’s abdomen. The firefly itself triggers the reaction by regulating the flow of oxygen into it’s abdomen.

Our research triggered two actions. First, we filled a bottle cap with hummingbird food and placed it in the bug house so the fireflies wouldn’t starve before Micah released them at home the next day. (They actually drank it!)

Second, the firefly’s incredible design pointed us straight to the Designer. What a “glowing” example of God’s creativity and power. And He didn’t just create one kind of glowing beetle. He created 2,000! Isn’t our God amazing?!

What have you seen in the world lately that reminded you of the One who made it?!

 

Read More »

Let the Church Search Begin

churchFinally! No more boxes! (In the house anyway. The garage does not count.) Pictures even adorn the walls.

Our moving adventure hit full swing three weeks ago today. Now that we are able to function in the house it’s time to begin finding our place in our new community.

In 34 years of marriage, our family has moved 7 times. After unpacking boxes, our first priority has always been to find a new church home. Now it’s that time again. It’s time to find the church God has chosen for us.

Our family does not “church shop.” In fact, I really dislike that term. It implies that believers should look for a church like we look for a new car. That we find the one with all the desirable features. That we chose the one that will serve and suit us best. After all, we want to get the most “bang for our buck.”

But that’s not what the Bible teaches about a believer’s relationship to a local church. Sadly, many of us today have unknowingly allowed our consumer culture to shape our thinking about the church. We look for the church that will meet all our “needs.” Then when it doesn’t we move on down the road to the one with the more dynamic preacher or better youth program or better entertainment value. (For more on church shopping and church “hopping” check out this post and this one.)

I admit, this attitude affects me too. That’s one reason I want to share my “church search” experience with you here.  I pray that the transparency will keep me from falling into that trap.

I want to seek and find the church God has already chosen for us. The church where He already has a place for us to serve. The church where the body needs us and the gifts God has given us.

3 key truths the Bible teaches about a believer’s relationship with God’s church

If this way of thinking about church is “new” to you, maybe these points will help.

  1. God wants me to use the gifts He has given me to serve a local church (1 Corinthians 12:4 and following) – My God-given gifts and talents are not for me. He intends me to use them for the good of other believers – particularly in committed relationship with a local church.
  2. God has a particular spot for me in a particular body (1 Corinthians 12:21-27) – Which church and which place of service is NOT my decision. God has already chosen it. It’s my task to discover His will and obey it.
  3. God works through the local church to grow me up spiritually (Ephesians 4:11-16) – I cannot be everything God intends for me to be without being vitally connected to a local church. God matures me and strengthens my faith within that context. He has designed faith to be a corporate experience. We cannot adequately follow Christ on our own.

I miss our church in Houston. But I am also excited about what God has planned for us here. Over the next few weeks, I plan to share that journey with you and talk more about the church. I’d love for you to share your thoughts with me too!

Are you actively connected to a local church? If not, why not? If so, what led you to that specific church?

Read More »

Friends Don’t Divide, They Multiply!

We are moving this week. In fact, the movers are scheduled to arrive this morning. If things go according to plan, there will be two days of packing and loading here in Houston, then we will unload at our new home just north of the Dallas/Ft Worth area on Wednesday.

If you’ve ever moved, you know that carries a lot of implications. New utilities. New doctors. New church. And even some new friends.

What’s wonderful about the friendship thing is that even while you get new local friends, you can keep the ones you move away from. Physical distance does not have to divide friends. Instead a new place means additional friends. Friends don’t divide, they multiply!

 

friends

We have moved seven times during 34 years of marriage. We have made new friends each time. Although we don’t regularly stay in touch with all of them, we still count them as friends. We can easily reconnect. In fact, this has happened multiple times. We may go years without speaking to an old friend, then life brings us together again and we discover the bonds of friendship remain.

friends

And then there are others. Friends we have “carried” with us from one place to the next. Both of us have made the effort needed to stay in regular communication. To work out face-to-face visits. These relationships have actually grown, deepened, over time.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9, NLT

friends

All these friendships reveal God’s great grace and sweet love to us. He knows we need connections to others. He knows we need others in our lives to encourage, strengthen, exhort, and comfort us. And He knows they in turn need us. He designed us that way. As relational beings. And He created friendship to meet those needs.

friends

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friendProverbs 27:17, NLT

Although it is bittersweet to move away from local friends, I can anticipate the new relationships God has in store for us in our new town. And I pray I may be the friend they need.

How you experienced friendship that survives time and distance? In what ways do you foster these relationships?

 

 

 

Read More »

In the Midst of Change, the Best Remains the Same

I feel as though my life is all boxed up, but change is coming…

Literally, our life is in boxes. My husband’s retirement in December started it all. He had planned to work another two years, but when his company offered an early retirement opportunity, we knew it was time. We decided to move our plan forward – to sell our home in Houston and move to the Dallas area where our daughters and their families live.

After the holidays we began working to get the house in top shape. Power wash the driveway. Weed the flower beds. Paint some walls. Then came all the staging work – pack away the family photos, take the animal heads off the walls, and pack up the “extra” decor.

The house officially hit the market April 20th. We really expected it to take a few weeks at least. But we received three offers in the first three days. The biggest problem was we had no where to go. So, we took a quick trip north to find a new home.

We closed on the new place last Wednesday and minor renovations began the next day! The movers come to help us make the actual move next week! All our stuff should be inside the new place by mid-June!

In the meantime, I’m packing. And packing. Selling a few extra things and donating some others. Everything else has been put on the back burner. That includes blogging! But I wanted to work this one in to give you all an update.

Oh, and in the middle of it all, I received a contract from my publisher for a new book! That project is at the top of my list – right under “unpack boxes!” (Watch for more about this later!)

I’m in the midst of a lot of change right now – husband’s retirement, moving away from a church family that I love, selling one home and buying another, changing cities, and moving my elderly parents from Louisiana to Tennessee to be near my brother (that’s a whole other story!) But the best of it all remains the same. My husband has been consistently at my side for almost 34 years. Our family still loves and supports one another.

And, most importantly, my God is the same faithful, all-powerful, gracious Father I’ve always known. He is the same God in Dallas that He is in Houston. Or New York. Or Mozambique. We will find a place among His people in our new home. And He will have work for us to do there. I can’t wait!

 

Read More »

A New Chapter Begins

Yesterday my parents said goodbye to friends and paid a final visit to the house they called home for almost 50 years. Today, we begin a two-journey to their new home 700 miles away.

Dad’s health took a nose-dive last summer. Three hospital stays back to back sapped his strength and he ended up in a nursing facility for extended rehab. Since mom cannot stay home alone, she joined him. This arrangement was intended to be very temporary.

Many of you know how difficult it is to watch over someone from a distance. My parents have lived in Shreveport, Louisiana their entire lives. I live in Houston (for another month anyway, but that’s another story.) My brother lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. Our goal – my brother’s and mine – was to move them to Knoxville.

Finally, after months of getting their affairs in order, the journey to Knoxville begins! The bulk of their belongings are already waiting for them in their new home, which is one mile from my brother’s home. My husband Wayne and I, Mom and Dad, two little dogs, and the last of their belongings will caravan in two cars over two days.

Knoxville or bust!


Yesterday was bittersweet. We took mom and dad back to their house for a final visit. The rooms were empty and the walls bare, but the memories were still there. Dad sat in the middle of the den and pointed out features he loved about the den they added four decades ago. Neighbors popped by to say goodbye.

It’s hard to begin again at any age. But Shreveport is the only home my parents have ever known. But they are looking forward and ready for what God has in store.

Read More »

Saying Goodbye to My Childhood Home

HomeI watched as the last of my parents’ belongings were loaded on the moving truck and began the long journey from Louisiana to Tennessee. Except for a stray roll of packing tape and a few water bottles all the rooms are empty. Well, not really empty. Each space holds memories. Every corner echoes with days gone by.

I know. I sound pretty melodramatic. But I’m feeling really sentimental, so maybe you can humor me for just a few minutes?

My parents lived in that home for almost 50 years. They raised two children. Hosted countless youth and church events. Endured dozens of slumber parties and probably hundreds of sleepovers. Our home was truly open to everyone. My mother was always the life of every party. I think my friends came to see her more than they did me. My dad was the most patient and giving man I’ve known.

Some memories stand out from the others. Like the 4th of July when a firecracker ignited a gas leak by the sidewalk and the fire department closed off our entire block. And when I backed over the mailbox and wedged it under the car. And when my heart was broken and my mom hurt with me.

All these and more are part of me. The house on Dianne Street was center stage. It was home base for our family and a training ground for faith. Our parents purposefully and consistently shared Jesus and the things of God with me and my younger brother, both verbally and by example. They lived a life of faith that made me want it too.

They have also loved well. We never had to doubt their love for each other or for us. And although circumstances are very different today, they still love each other well and their affection is still obvious.

Life is difficult for my folks right now. Leaving their home was a necessity, not a choice. That makes the empty house even more bittersweet. But we will do our best to love them well. We have had fine examples.

Read More »

3 Reasons I Plan to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's DayI have a fresh interest in St. Patrick’s Day this year. Since last March 17th I discovered that I’m sort of Irish!

For Christmas, Wayne gave me a DNA kit from Ancestry.com. It was something I’d been wanting to do. Basically, the test confirmed what I suspected – I’m basically a mutt, a pound puppy. But I was surprised by the top percentage. Thirty-one percent of me is Irish!

Perhaps, like me, you’ve considered St Patrick’s Day a fun, but frivolous observance – a day to wear green clothes, eat green food, and listen to Celtic music. However, there’s actually good reason to stop and consider St. Patrick.

A Really Brief History of St. Patrick

Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was born about 387 AD in Scotland. Although his grandfather was a priest and his father was a deacon, young Patrick did not embrace the family faith. Then at the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland and forced into servitude.

During his years as a slave, Patrick spent large amounts of time alone caring for the herds of his master. This life of slavery and solitude fostered a deep prayer life and Patrick came to true faith in Christ. In “The Confession of St. Patrick,” Patrick acknowledges that God used his time of trial to turn heart toward Him.

After six years of slavery in Ireland, Patrick escaped and returned to Britain where he continued his religious study. But it wasn’t long before a vision of a lost Ireland burdened him with the need to return with the Gospel. God was sending Patrick to a people that the church had decided was too lost to be reached – the pagans of Ireland were just too different.

In his mid-40’s – after becoming a bishop of the church – Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary. He spent 30 years converting thousands of Irish “pagans” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Patrick died on March 17th, 461 AD at the first church he built in Ireland.

Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and although never officially canonized, early Christians consider him a “saint in heaven.”

3 Reasons I Care About St Patrick’s Day

  1. I’m Irish – Well, at least I’m more Irish than anything else and it’s the closest I will ever get to an ethnic holiday. So humor me.
  2. Patrick faithfully followed Christ no matter the cost – Loyalty to Christ and concern for the eternal state of his enemies led Patrick back to Ireland. He willingly and obediently faced danger to take the Gospel to Ireland. He constantly fought the temptation to leave the mission field and return home. Patrick even shared the Gospel with his old master. That’s bold faith!
  3. Patrick sets the example for evangelism – Patrick wisely separated the Gospel from the Roman culture, something the Catholic Church could not or would not do. Just as many Jewish Christians in the first century wrongly believed Gentiles had to first become Jews before they could become Christians, the church of the 5th century thought the “pagans” had to first become “civilized” before they could come to Jesus. But, Patrick shared the Gospel within the Celtic culture. He did not try to change their culture before he offered the Gospel. His method of evangelism freed him to embrace the areas of their culture that did not break God’s laws of righteousness. Like the apostle Paul, Patrick became “all things to all people so that by all possible means” he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). In this way, Patrick showed respect for the Irish and was able to build bridges and relationships that fostered opportunities to share the Gospel. By the way, Patrick used the 3-leaved shamrock to help explain the concept of the Trinity!

St. Patrick’s Day is not just a fun day of all things Irish. For those “in the know,” remembering St. Patrick encourages us to faithfully follow Christ no matter where He leads and to boldly share the Gospel of life with those in our path, no matter how different from us they may be.

How do you plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Some helpful articles for more information on St. Patrick:

Read More »

A Century Old Bible and a Legacy of Faith

BibleFor the last few months, my brother and I have been working to move my parents from Louisiana to Tennessee. Mom and Dad’s health took a nosedive last summer and they need to be closer to one of their children. I’ve been making regular trips from Houston to Shreveport to check on them on begin to go through the family home in preparation for the move.

Since our parents have been in the same house for almost 50 years, there is quite a bit of “accumulation.” Though much of it is regular household stuff like gift-wrapping supplies, long-lost Tupperware lids, and manuals for appliances they no longer have, we have also discovered a few treasures that reveal a family legacy of faith.

For instance, back in September, I shared a letter I found from my great-great grandmother to my great-grandfather. She wrote how she prayed daily for him and his family.

BibleI discovered another treasure this past weekend – a crumbling Bible given to that same great-grandfather, Howell Adam Shouse from that same great-great-grandmother Mary Dozier Cash. The inscription is dated March 7, 1910, more than 100 years ago.

Over the last few months, I have discovered several letters, Bibles, and other items that reveal the consistent and persistent faith of Mary Dozier. I’m not sure what Howell Adam did with her legacy, but I know that her name sake and my maternal grandmother, Mary Dozier Shouse Addington, shared her love for Christ.

My grandmother, Mary Addington, shared her grandmother’s name and her faith. And like her grandmother, she constantly talked about Jesus with her grandchildren. That legacy of faith continues with me – Mary Kathryn. I share my grandmother’s name and her faith. I pray I will continue that legacy of faith with my grandchildren.

How can we be purposeful in passing our faith to the generations that follow?

Read More »

The Case of Mistaken Location

FamilyI’ve basically been living out of a suitcase for the last year. If I added up the days at home and the days away, the days away would probably win. A death in the family, the arrival of two grand babies, our son’s wedding, and severe health struggles for my parents have kept me on the road.

This last week was no different. I left home last Wednesday and drove to my parents’ home in Shreveport to meet my sister-in-law. We spent several days packing and preparing for my parents upcoming move from Louisiana to Tennessee.

Then Saturday afternoon I made the 4-hour drive from Shreveport to our second daughter’s new home in Denton, Texas. Sarah and her husband moved from a rental to their first home that morning and I went to help with the baby for a few days so she could unpack and settle in.

I had seen the new house once before they moved in, but still needed to use Google Maps to find it again. I drove into the neighborhood and spotted what looked like their home on the next corner. As I turned onto the street in front of the house, Google announced “You have arrived at your destination!” Great!

As I parked on the street in front of the house I took note of the cars in the driveway. I didn’t recognize either of them, but since friends and family had been helping them move earlier in the day, I surmised they belonged to them.

Since I didn’t want to cause more work for them, I got all my stuff out of the car and up to the front porch. Now, you need to understand that when I travel by car, I don’t travel lightly. I had a suitcase, a shoe bag, a snack bag, my rolling briefcase, and two king-sized pillows.

As I got the last of it on the porch, I knocked on the door and looked around. Although it looked just like the house I’d visited before, there were a few things that gave me pause – the potted plants, the door mat, and the multiple dogs that began barking at my knock.

Hmm. Could I possibly be at the wrong house? I texted Sarah. “Am I at the right house?”

I heard a woman’s voice inside talking to the dogs, just inside the door. “Who’s out there guys?” It was not my daughter’s voice.

I envisioned the home owner looking through the peep hole. What did she see? Unknown middle-aged woman with baggage.

What should I do? What would she do?

About that time Sarah texted back. “No.”

My fear was confirmed. I was at the wrong house.

Okay. Well, I decided that when the woman opened the door, I would explain my mistake with a laugh and apologize.

But the woman didn’t open the door. She must have thought I looked too dangerous. Or crazy.

Either way, it was time for me to go. I wanted to run and not look back. But I needed all my baggage. And it took two trips to get it all back to the car. I wondered if the woman watched out the peep hole the whole time.

Sarah’s house was exactly one block to the south. Same corner. Same layout. But the residents were much more friendly. They even helped me haul in my bags.

I love how God works. In the midst of a chaotic time in my life, he used a case of mistaken location to give me a laugh and to remind me not to take myself too seriously.

I just wanted to share a little bit of what my life has been like recently. God has me in a unique season. But He is growing me and I’m leaning on Him. What has YOUR life been like lately?

 

Read More »