Summertime And The Living Is Easy—Part 2

Welcome July!! I am continuing my Intentional Summer Slowdown (ISSD). I’m excited to share part two of what it looks like in my life as I slowdown from my role as a caregiver, a ministry leader, and spiritual mentor.

Last month I talked to you about what it means when I intentionally focus on being refreshed and resetting my priorities. You can read that here. Summer Slowdown Pt 1

Today, I want to shift my focus to–removing and reclaiming. What does that look like?

Remove–I struggle at times with removing myself from situations that cause drama, chaos and confusion mainly because that’s what I do for 9 months out of the year. I live in the thick of these things because of the call on my life. I find that I need to be intentional about removing that hat during my ISSD. Its hard though, because I love to enter the tunnel of chaos to find peace on the other side. It gives me life. You see, I consider myself a conversational bridge-builder, if you will. That means–my heart is drawn to tearing downs walls of division by having tough and truthful conversations about hard issues. It’s not always pretty and not always easy but it’s what I’m called to. It’s rewarding but as you can imagine, those conversations can bring a boat load of drama with them. I have to know when enough is enough and remove myself from being entangled–For the time being.

My ISSD is a great time for me to also remove myself from at least half of my social media interactions/distractions. I want to interact with those who are physically in my presence much more–my husband, children and grandchildren, for example. How many of you know that takes some intentionality? It’s so easy to get caught up on social media so much so that hours have passed without me even realizing it. Can you relate? Even though my calling expresses itself somewhat through the social media platform–I need to keep that in perspective, too. I need to control it and not allow it to control me. I intentionally focus on this during my summer slowdown.

There are surely other distractions and toxicity that I need to remove from my life for a slowdown season, if not permanently. I let God speak to me about it.

Reclaim–once I’ve made a conscious choice to be intentional about removing myself from situations that I know have a potential of elevating my stress level, I reclaim my time, peace, serenity, etc. How? I play my favorite worship songs, I reconnect with and pray for others, I rest my eyes in a quiet room, I retreat to my front porch with an ice cold tea (with 🍋) and my favorite magazine or a book. One of my favorite things is to watch good natured tv shows. Yes, they do exist!

How about you, dear one? Could God be speaking to you about removing and reclaiming this summer? What would that look like in your life? Listen and obey.

Stay tuned for my final post of this topic.

Kathy

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Summertime And The Living Is Easy

Today is the first day of summer and Day 5 of my Intentional Summer Slowdown (ISSD). I look forward to this time of year for several reasons that I’m sharing over the next few weeks. [So you don’t miss it, subscribe to my blog, if you haven’t already.]

Here’s why I’m so intentional about slowing down during the summer. They are in no specific order:

1. Refresh–at the end of every ministry season, my soul needs to rest, relax and refresh. Sometimes my sharpness has become dull and distractions cause me to be parched. There are times when I give myself away (as a ministry leader) so much to others that I become depleted. While I’m usually on top of this, there’s still a need for a soul and spirit refreshing. Some summers I need it more than others. My ISSD affords the opportunity to makerefreshment a priority. As I bathe in the cool waters of worship, reflection, spending time in God’s Word, in silence and solitude or reconnecting with His people I begin to feel, relaxed, rested and refreshed again. Being intentional about this moves refreshing my soul from happenstance to priority. It’s intentional. Be intentional.

2. Reset–my ISSD creates space to reset. Reset my priorities. Reset my core values. Reset my vision. I am able to look back at my ministry year and reassess what (if anything) needs to change or get reshuffled. My formal ministry season begins in August and ends the following June. I usually begin to slowdown around early June and fully enter in–in mid June. As I reset, I ask myself questions like:

  • Did I reach the goals I set for myself?
  • If yes, then Praise God. If no, then what was the hindrance? How might I correct that?
  • Did I reflect Christ in the ways I related to and interacted with others? If not, I ask God to reorder my steps. My heart’s desire is to always reflect Christ. I must be intentional.

This is how I begin my ISSD. Do you slow down during the summer (or year?). If so, what does it look like? I’d love you to share.

Stay tuned for my next post coming soon.

Kathyb

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Happily Ever After…

When I was a little girl my mom used to tell me–“Kathy, you’re in love with love.” She was right. It’s still true. I’m a hopeless romantic. I love-love, romance and weddings so much so that I was a wedding planner in my younger years. I love a–And They Lived Happily Ever After— fairytale. A Cinderella story, if you will. An ideal.

Last weekend I was so excited to witness (and enter in fully to) a real life fairytale–the marriage of HRH Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle. Their love and union is a fairytale to me for so many reasons. Harry and Meghan come from very different worlds. Because of that, they were an unlikely pair. How their paths crossed was–well–meant to be. Destined. At the right time their destinies would collide. They did so in a huge way. A fairytale sort of way. A Prince and a ‘commoner’. A ‘commoner’ has no ‘Royal Bloodline’. But they fell in love as they were living out the call on their lives. They are Humanitarians-Philanthropists-loving and serving the least of these. I love that the castle doesn’t define them, their service to others does. They are helping to build the Kingdom of God by serving the forgotten. The least. The underserved.

Author, Bob Goff makes this distinction in his book–Everybody Always–between castles and kingdoms:

-castles have moats to keep people out, but Kingdoms have bridges to let everyone in. Castles have dungeons for people who have messed up, but Kingdoms have grace. This is the stuff fairytales are made of. Kingdom building requires bridge building, grace and a heart for others.

There’s another “fairytale” story that I’m enthralled by. It’s THE Royal Wedding and–guess what??–we’re invited!! This one is about The King of Kings who took a bride. He sacrificed His life for her. He redeemed her. Take a look:

Revelation 19:6-9 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself

with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said[a] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

This is a HUGE celebration! There’s never been a bride as beautiful at this bride! She is adorned with priceless jewels and grace.

I’m invited and so are you!! The Word of God says you’re blessed if you are. Dear one, this is a true love story. King Jesus wants you to be His Bride. He’s proposed to you in the most beautiful way. Will you take His hand and say-YES?

Now this is a fairytale that places me in the story. I love a happy ending.

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Loving Arms

I had an experience today that literally had my heart racing. I was overcome with fear. It was a different feeling than I’d ever felt before in this context.

It was a rainy Monday morning and I wanted to get breakfast. I decided to pull into a place that sold breakfast. I got out of the car. As I tried to avoid stepping in a huge puddle of water, I covered my head from the downpour. I purposely wore my sweatshirt with a hood so I could forgo needing an umbrella. I stepped over the puddle and reached the door. I opened the door to the establishment and as I did, I felt my heart starting to race. My mind was filled with horrible images I’d seen happen to others with my own eyes. Yet, I was now the one in those images. I pictured being shot and killed. I pictured being led away in handcuffs while asking what I did wrong. I pictured being placed in a choke hold on the ground unable to breathe. I pictured holding my hands up and not moving because I was commanded to do so. With those images, I started to return to my car but I went ahead and stepped inside the store. It was just me and the employee. I wondered if I was being videoed by someone who was monitoring the store. Were they dialing 911 because I was wearing a hoodie? Should I pull the hood back to appear friendly. Should I…then I became angry that this was what I felt I needed to consider. “Why should I have to be burdened with this?”, I asked myself as I stared at the menu with my heart still racing. “Hurry up and order”, I said to myself. Reality certainly slapped me in the face. My order was wrong, so I began to explain this to the employee. “Should i just let it go?”, I asked myself. “Will he think I’m being combative?” I told him I wasn’t paying extra for the redo. As I left the store, I was a wreck. I sat in my car and held the wheel. It dawned on me that I wasn’t necessarily safe there. I started my car and pulled off.

I shared my experience this morning on FB and the issue of the two black men being arrested in Starbucks came up. Then, a sweet friend sent me this in response:

How can we help? I mean, I live my daily life and feel like I would be any of those white customers in that SB defending those black men. It crushes me when I read you say “you don’t belong” bc the world I live in (as in my little bubble here in ******* and this small bubble of the world) you DO belong. I know what you mean though based on the insanity that happens to the people that look like you…but you are my people as much as my white people are my people and I don’t know what I can actually do on a very VERY practical note on a daily basis other than pray (which I do) accept (which I do) and not see color (which I don’t). I’m reaching out to you bc I really wanna hear you. My heart breaks. It really does. I was close to living my life as the wife of a black man but that didn’t pan out (that was back in my high school days) and I often do think of how different my life would feel if my hubby and children were POC. It’s on my heart. I’m so glad you share what you’re experiencing. I wanna hear what you would say to me as a white friend. What would YOU want ME to be doing so that I can love you and those you love more devotedly..?

For a few years now, I’ve tried to live out my calling to be a bridge and be a bridge-builder. I want to be a justice seeker and a justice speaker. I cannot and will not be silent about the atrocities that plaque people of color. I desire to have conversations that enlighten and challenge others to think a little differently about issues that affect people of color. If the don’t want to hear I must accept that. It’s not easy but by the grace of God I must be a voice in my own little corner of the world. So blessed to have loving arms comforting me.

The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.” Micah 6:8 CEV

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8 THINGS TO GIVE UP THIS YEAR

I know, I know. Why should we focus on things we shouldn’t do in 2019? Shouldn’t we focus instead on what we want to do? I personally believe that if you commit to NOT doing these next 8 things in 2019, you’ll reap a rich reward. Here we go:

1. Self rejection. Why do you spend so much time rejecting the one who God has made in His image? Dear one, God loved you so much that He sent His One And Only Son to die for you. Find your worth in what He has done, not how you feel about yourself or who the Enemy tells you you are. Because you are an image bearer, stop rejecting yourself. John 3:16 1 John 3:19-20 NIV

2. Negative self talk. Did you know that speaking negatively about yourself causes you to live up to what you’re saying about yourself? You’re basically speaking things into existence. Beloved, God does not condemn you and neither should you. Speak life to yourself. No more negative self talk. Proverbs 18:21 NIV

3. Criticizing others. Consider that criticizing others comes from an insecure place in your own heart. Criticizing others says more about you than the person you’re criticizing. It’s bullying at its finest. Lift others up. No need to blow someone’s candle out to make your own burn brighter. Stop criticizing others and shine. Romans 12:10

4. Being a people pleaser. Are you a servant of Christ? Then, ask yourself why you care so much about what others think about you? Why do they command such allegiance from you? What do you think will happen if they’re not pleased with you? Consider that God is the only One who deserves such allegiance. Strive to please Him first. Stop trying to please men and strive to please God. Galatians 1:10

5. Fear of failure. Did you know that some of the most successful people “fail” at many things? We are not promised that we will never fail. Failure is not fatal. We are however, promised that God will NEVER fail. With that said, take some risks realizing that no experience is ever wasted. “Failure” is a part of every God story. Its what you learn from your failures that’s redemptive. Stop holding back due to fear of failure. I Corinthians 13:8 Mark 10:27 NIV

6. Procrastination. I’ve always struggled with procrastination, yet I’ve made tremendous strides to tackle my to-do list by setting mini goals to work on along the way. Consider doing that. Procrastination unloads mountains of overwhelmedness at your feet. So much so that you can’t lift your feet to walk through your tasks, right? You get anxious and paralyzed. Procrastination takes up valuable time that you could spend being in the moment. Don’t let tasks be left undone. Handle them quickly and efficiently. Stop procrastinating and conquer that to-do list. Colossians 3:17 NIV

7. Holding on to grudges. Why hold on to grudges? How does it serve you? When we forgive, we release God’s grace in the spiritual realm. That same grace covers you and the one with whom you’re holding the grudge. If you are a recipient of God’s grace then freely give to others that same grace. Unburden your heart. Let go and let God and stop holding on to grudges. 1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV

8. Expecting perfection. Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? Do you demand perfection from yourself and others? If so. perhaps you’ve created a standard for yourself and others that God has not. Dear one, you are not the standard. God is. If human perfection exists then Jesus would not have died for our sins, right? Why would He die for perfect people? Here’s some news for you, He didn’t. So, in light of that give up the idea that you and others should be/must be perfect. So thankful that we serve a perfect God. So stop expecting perfection. Aim for excellence. Romans 3:23 NIV 

This year, vow to not drag the old ways of thinking and behaving into a brand new year. Okay? 2 Corinthians 5:17 

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