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

Archive | Women’s issues

5 Things to Do When You Feel Discouraged

When was the last time you felt discouraged? Maybe it’s today. Perhaps you face difficult circumstances or everything just seems to be going wrong. You don’t have to give in to discouragement.

The Apostle Paul had plenty of reason to be discouraged. Daily, he endured hardship, danger, pain, suffering, and uncertainty. More than once he looked death in the face. Yet he claimed to not only be content and at peace in any and every circumstance, Paul even rejoiced!

No matter the concern or difficult situation, Paul was at peace. Whether fed or hungry, he was content. Whether in need or in plenty, he was satisfied. In every event and every season, Paul chose to rejoice. Seems impossible, doesn’t it? What was Paul’s secret?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:4-13

Paul purposefully developed an active trust and confident dependence on Christ’s provision and power. Paul took every small need, big need, and in-between need to God in prayer. Peace filled Paul because he chose to trust that God would provide. He did not allow his mind to dwell on the “what ifs.”

Paul experienced contentment in every difficult circumstance or physical need by relying on the strengthening power of Christ working within him. He found total sufficiency in trusting Jesus. And Paul could rejoice because he depended on God’s gracious provision.

We can also experience peace, contentment, and joy when we follow Paul’s example. Here are a few practical tips to get us started:

  1. Take every concern and need to God in prayer.
  2. Choose to trust Him with the answer.
  3. Discipline our thoughts. Focus on God’s provision and not the “what ifs.”
  4. Ask Jesus to strengthen us in times of discontentment. Then rely on His strength.
  5. Choose joy over discouragement.

Bury these marvelous truths in your heart, then share them with others. Jesus is far greater than our need. His power mightily overshadows our discouragement.

What one thing discourages you the most today? What truth from God’s Word today speaks encouragement to you?

 

 

Read More »

11 Biblical Principles for Meaningful Friendships

friendshipGod created friendship. And He works through true, meaningful relationships to help us be all He intends. As we learned in Monday’s post, we need to first clear the hindrances to friendship. But what’s next?

The following principles for making and keeping real friends come straight from Scripture. Use them as a guideline as you purposefully work to make good friends and be a good friend.

11 Biblical Principles for Making and Keeping Friendships

  1. Take the initiative (Acts 18:1-4) – One of my closest, life-long friends picked me to be her friend before I was really even aware of her. Janet and her family were new to our city, so when they joined our church she wanted to make friends. She introduced herself to me and immediately began to pursue a friendship. Janet taught me to take the initiative. Yes, it can be risky, but the rewards can be great!
  2. Practice forgiveness (Colossians 3:13) – True friends don’t hold grudges or remember offenses. Instead they are flexible and quick to forgive. Contemplating God’s forgiveness can help us when we struggle to forgive others.
  3. Guard your tongue (Proverbs 16:28, Ephesians 4:29) – Loose lips ruin many friendships. Careless words hurt feelings. Gossip fosters division. Confidences broken destroy trust. Before we speak, let’s pause to consider whether our words will tear down or build up.
  4. Be a “good” friend (Ephesians 4:2-3) – Christ-like character fosters deep, long-lasting friendships. Qualities like humility, gentleness, patience, and endurance create a solid foundation on which to build life-long friendships.
  5. Extend hospitality (1 Peter 4:9, Proverbs 25:17) – Sometimes we are quick to accept hospitality, but a little slower to give it. Let’s make time to not only invite our friends to our homes, but to also make them feel welcome. On the flip side, Proverbs 25:17 warns us against taking advantage of our friend’s hospitality.
  6. Stay close in hard times (Proverbs 17:17, Proverbs 27:10, Romans 12:10) – A true friend remains loyal when trouble comes. Even if other “friends” fall away they stay devoted and help in any way possible.
  7. Nurture them (Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:3-4, Romans 12:10) – Friendships will wither without a continual outpouring of time, attention, and resources. Let’s show our friends we care about their needs and their interests with purposeful acts of kindness and generosity. Our friendships will flourish.
  8. Listen to them (James 1:19) – It takes lots of practice to keep our mouths closed and really hear what others are saying. But this habit is well worth developing. When others feel “heard” they feel valued.
  9. Sharpen them (Proverbs 27:6, Proverbs 27:17, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24) – The best kind of friend is not merely a “yes man.” Godly friends nudge others closer to Jesus.
  10. Pray for them (Job 16:20-21) – Our friends need our purposeful prayer support. Not just casual, occasional prayers, but fervent intercession with God on their behalf.
  11. Love them (John 13:34, John 15:3, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 1 John 4:7) – This is actually harder than we might think. God calls us to love our friends like Jesus loves us – not in mere words, but with intentional actions of love that may often cost us something.

Have you seen any principles in Scripture to add to this list? Feel free to comment! 

Read More »

3 Hindrances to Meaningful Friendships

friendshipsWe moved in June and I am in the process of building new friendships. I’ve had lots of practice making friends over the years. Over the last 33 years, our family has moved seven times for my husband’s job. Each time I left friends behind. Each time we settled into a new neighborhood with new neighbors. Each time we joined a new church with a new church family.

It didn’t take long to learn that if I wanted to enjoy meaningful, solid friendships I could not waste any time. I had to be intentional about making make friends and I had to be a friend worth having.

Sadly, today’s fast-paced, shallow culture hinders the kind of friendships God desires us to have. In Thursday’s post, we will look at biblical principles for building and keeping friendships, but today, let’s touch on a few things we’ll want to avoid.

Three Hindrances to Meaningful Friendships:

  1. Busyness – Does it seem you never have time to enjoy long conversations with the friends you have now? Do weeks go by without seeing your local friends face-to-face? Honestly, most of us make time to do what we really want to do. If you think you are just too busy to foster deep friendships, try keeping a time log for a week to see just where your time goes. Perhaps you’re serving in some areas where God has not called you. Or maybe you’re allowing too many activities for your children to dictate your life. Purposefully build some margin into your life. Your friendships are vital to your emotional and spiritual well-being.
  2. Fear of transparency – Although we cannot “go deep” with all our friends, we do need a few with whom we can share anything. We need people who can hear our hearts and understand. And we need friends who will hold us accountable when we are out of line. Yet, too often we are afraid to allow other people to know our flaws. We want them to think we have it all together. But we desperately need friends who will challenge us to be all God wants us to be. Yes, it can be scary, but test the waters. Choose one personal thing to share with a select friend and see how it goes!
  3. Breadth of acquaintances – In our social media world it’s easy to confuse quantity with depth. Thousands of shallow “friends” mask the lack of real, deep friendships. Let’s limit our time with our online friends and get out in the real world.

God created women to need other women. Meaningful friendships help us be all God intends for us to be. Let’s make friendship a priority! Come back Thursday to discover 11 biblical principles for solid friendships.

Do you feel you have enough true friends? If not, what do you feel is getting in the way?

Read More »

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 »

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 »

Family Devotional Guide for Your Summer Vacation

family devotional guideWhen our kids were young we did a lot of cross-country driving. Combine little money for airfare with living far away from grandparents and you’ve got at least two long days in the car – one way.

It’s not easy to keep 3 kids under 10 restrained in the back seat for hours on end. I did everything I could think of to keep the kiddos occupied. Lots of snacks – healthy and not so healthy. Games like I Spy and 20 Questions. Books and toys.

While vacations offer adventure, rest, and relationship, they can also be opportunities to teach our children more about God. Travel time, whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile, provides a captive audience! But we must be prepared.

While you’re packing the swimsuits, sunscreen, and car snacks, grab this 7-day family devotional guide to use during your family vacation. You can use it in the car, on the beach, or around the campfire.

Each Scripture reading is about a biblical journey. Questions are provided each day to get your family talking together about the truth presented in each story. Family Vacation Devotional Guide Print it off and pack it. It won’t take up much space!

Would love to hear from you! What do you do to keep your kids occupied during long car trips?

Read More »

Cupcakes, Perfection, and Connection

This guest post by Christen Price includes excerpts from her new book “Invited: Live a Life of Connection, not Perfection.” Used with permission.  

I am in a cupcake war. A battle for perfection.

Standing in the kitchen, covered in confectioner’s sugar, I had been attacked by my strawberry cupcakes. I’d volunteered to bring cupcakes to a baby shower the next day, but my recipe had turned into one big blob of pink mess.  These cupcakes just would not do.

Insecure, I allowed the frustration of failure to mess with my head, causing me to spiral into doubt. All confidence vanished. I heard a soft whisper that I am like these cupcakes…not good enough.

Instead of letting good be good enough, I want to be, have, and give the best of myself to every aspect of my life. That’s why I thought I could make these cupcakes, and that’s why I’m ended up being overly critical of myself.

Do you ever allow the pressure of perfection to cause you to melt down, especially before a celebration?

Just like me, many women desperately chase perfection. Then when we don’t capture it, our emotions take over. The passion of pursuing perfection sometimes causes us to act in ways that make us later feel shame and unworthiness, like we will never quite measure up.

Is there a better way than “perfection?”

God calls us to celebrate, be in community, and believe that connection is far better than perfection. We can spend our whole lives trying to practice hospitality perfectly, but God simply wants us to accept His invitation and extend His love to the people we cherish most. God invites us to release our perfection-induced anxieties, receive others in love, and rejoice in the moment.

Invited by Christen Price

I won the cupcake war.

The next day, I woke up and called a local bakery to order two dozen strawberry cupcakes. Arriving at the baby shower with boxed cupcakes in hand, I arranged the cupcakes on a white tiered cake stand on the dining room buffet. They were delicious, beautiful, and store-bought, but it didn’t make my contribution to the party any less.

That night, instead of feeling not good enough because I couldn’t bake cupcakes as beautiful as these store-bought cupcakes, I was able to connect with friends and watch the mother-to-be open her presents without the pressure of perfection.

Let’s stop letting perfection make us feel not good enough, especially on insignificant matters like store-bought or homemade cupcakes. God is perfect so we don’t have to be. He invites us to live free from the stress of planning, preparing, and performing perfectly and to just be in Him.  Hospitality isn’t about perfection; it’s about connection.

Now, go eat a cupcake!

InvitedIn her new book, Invited: Live a Life of Connection, Not Perfection, Bible teacher Christen Price tackles a problem that plagues many women – the unrealistic striving for perfection. She shares personal stories of her own perfection battle and gives practical advice and helps for finding a beautiful balance that embraces both hospitality and community.

Christen Price is a writer for The M.O.M. Initiative and founder of Undivided Women, an online Bible study community. With the heart of a hostess, she writes devotionals, designs party printables, and creates inspirational art in her Studio that invites women to celebrate their people, place, and purpose. Christen is married to her best friend, Raleigh, and their crew of three little ones, two dogs, and four chickens call the countryside of lower Alabama home. Connect with her at christenprice.com.

 

 

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 »

4 Parenting Don’ts from the Life of Herodias

Herodias parentingA couple of years ago I was part of a team of writers for a Bible study parenting blog series on biblical mothers. I got Herodias. Seriously?! Scripture doesn’t show us anything positive about Herodias – especially her parenting! (See below for a synopsis of Herodias’ story.)

Then I realized God had something to teach me in this story of a self-absorbed mother who used her child as a means to an end. While none of us likely come close to rivaling this totally self-centered user, we can study Herodias as an example of what NOT to do.

Herodias probably used all the people in her life to get what she wanted. She used men to get power. And she used her daughter to get revenge on her enemy. Unfortunately, even the best and most godly mothers can fall into the role of “self-centered user” from time to time.

4 Parenting Don’ts

Herodias’ parenting certainly did more harm than good. But at least she can serve as a warning for all of us. Things like fleshly desires, ambition, and even old hurts rise up and before we know it, we find ourselves selfishly using our children. Here are four possible scenarios we must guard ourselves against:

  1. Using our kids as a trophy – We encourage, push, and maybe even scold our children in hopes they’ll be the star football player or class valedictorian. And why? Is it for their good? Maybe partly. But often it’s to feed our own egos. So we can say, “Well, my son did this… or my daughter succeeded at that…”
  2. Using our kids as a substitute – We all have unfulfilled ambitions from our childhood. That’s not a failing, that’s just life. However, sometimes we parents think we can live out that dream through our children. So we push them to achieve what we didn’t.
  3. Using our kids as a tool – Sometimes parents use their kids to do their “dirty work.” For instance, if I don’t want to talk to the person on the phone I may get my son to tell them I’m not home. Whether out of laziness, guilt, or avoidance, we’ve all been guilty of using our kids to do something we don’t want to do – or even shouldn’t do – ourselves.
  4. Using our kids as a weapon – Have you ever used your child as a “go between” when you were angry at your spouse? Some divorces get so difficult that one spouse will even withhold the children from the other as a way to cause pain. From little hurts to big, any of us could fall to the temptation to use our children as a weapon.

Today’s matriarch, Herodias, was the ultimate self-centered user. She used her daughter as both a tool and a weapon to further her own agenda. Herodias’ story in the Bible is brief, but it packs a killer punch.

Herodias’ Story

Although pieces of Herodias’ story is found in several Gospel accounts Mark 6:14-29, Matthew 14:1-12, Luke 9:7-9), here’s the synopsis:

The trouble began when John the Baptist rebuked Herod Antipas, the Roman-appointed rule of Galilee, for stealing away and marrying his brother’s wife Herodias. John boldly and repeatedly pointed out Herod’s sin with Herodias. Herodias wanted John silenced – permanently. Herod imprisoned John trying to pacify her, but knowing John was a righteous man of God, Herod refused to have him executed.

So Herodias watched and waited. She knew her opportunity would come and when it did she would get what she wanted. Herodias was a master manipulator and she would use whatever means necessary. Including her daughter.

Soon the “opportune time” arrived. Herod threw himself a big birthday party. This shindig was guys only, more like a rowdy stag party than a simple birthday dinner. Young Salome, Herodias’ daughter by Herod’s brother, danced for Herod and his party guests. When Salome’s dancing pleased Herod, he boastfully promised something he didn’t even have the power to give – “up to half my kingdom!”

This was the moment Herodias had been waiting for and she pounced on it. She used her daughter and even her husband Herod to accomplish what Herod had prevented – the death of John the Baptist.

Salome knew to take Herod’s offer straight to her mother. With her desire finally realized, she sent Salome back, prompted by her mother’s selfish wishes. “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

Sadly, Herod saw no way of escape. He had made a reckless promise in front of important people. To withdraw his offer would mean personal humiliation. And Herodias knew that too. That was part of her plan. The self-centered user got exactly what she wanted.

What can we learn from Herodias?

 I’m sure none of us have used our child as a murder weapon. But we have all used our children to one degree or another. Maybe we pushed them in the direction we wanted them to go. Maybe we asked them to stretch the truth for our convenience. But we all sometimes act selfishly and our children get caught up in the consequences. Our actions, attitudes, and motives will affect our kids. Our character and behavior will at least partly shape their character and behavior. The results of what we do will also land on them.

3 Proactive Parenting Steps

  1. Remember that your child is individually valued by God. God has specific plans and purposes for your child that are different from the ones He has for you. Help your child discover his unique purpose!
  2. Ask God to make you sensitive to any behavior that is selfishly motivated. Then repent immediately!
  3. Purposefully model Christ-like character and godly behavior for your children.

What actions, words, or attitudes in your life negatively affects your children? What can you do now to help shape your children to be more like Jesus?

Note: This post originally appeared on TheMomInitiative.com

Read More »