I'm Not Crazy; I'm a Christian

I Want To Be Merry Again

My last name is Merrigan. Legend has it that when our ancestors lived in Ireland people referred to them as a merry gang. Over time it evolved into Merrigan. Not sure if any of that is true, but it does make for a good story. One of my dear friends, since hearing this tale, says she wants to be merry again whenever she wants to see me.

As the holiday season is upon us, I desire to be merry again. I remember how much I loved this time of year as a child. All the twinkling lights brightening up chilly winter evenings, every store having fun displays and decorations, the terrific holiday movies, and let’s not forget about the toys. I don’t know about you, but I always had one special item. Each year I was certain if I didn’t get it I might literally die. I was a bit dramatic. The point is there was always a sense of hope, wonder, excitement and anticipation.

But then I grew up. The holidays became more about making lists and checking them twice or thrice, budgeting for extra gifts I now was obliged to purchase because someone decided at the last minute we were going to exchange. But we agreed not do to so at Thanksgiving! Ho. Ho. Ho. Have a holly, jolly.

My birthday is in early November. I find it odd whenever I see someone’s house fully decorated on or before that day. Truth is I think I might secretly envy them. Try though I may, I’m always late. I can’t seem to bring myself to start on Thanksgiving weekend, so before you know it, it’s December 21 and all I’ve got is a wreath on the door.

My place often has boxes scattered about filled with all the ornaments I am definitely putting up today. Yet these same boxes are there to greet (mock and torment) me the next morning. The funny thing is I love when my home is decorated. I’d have lights and a tree up all year long. And there have been a few times when I didn’t quite finish taking everything down until February or March. Haven’t you ever heard of a Valentine’s Day tree or a St. Patrick’s Day stocking? What’s the problem?

The reason my decorations may linger is because I can’t simply box them up and store them. I have very specific placements for each item. To the casual observer, it may seem a little obsessive. But come next year there is no greater feeling than knowing exactly where everything is. The old saying goes there’s a place for everything and everything in its place. I agree, yet the place where most of my things end up is in their neatly organized boxes, stacked along a wall in my living room.

The struggle is real. Between shopping, beautifying, visiting, cooking, and baking, it can be a bit much. We get so busy doing we forget to be in the moment and enjoy the season. This brings me back to the beginning of this article. I want to be merry again. How about you? What if we disconnected from some of the obligations and stresses? What if we chose instead to enjoy time with friends and loved ones? What if we focused more on family traditions and less on commercial extravaganzas? What if this season we didn’t schedule our lives right down to the last minute from November 23 through January 1? What if we baked some cookies, made some hot chocolate, got in the car and drove around looking at all the decorated homes? Sure there’s a very good chance there’ll be crumbs, and I’m almost certain to scald myself when I inevitably spill my cup, but still. And, yes, I realize if we’re getting in the car to drive around our neighborhood it demands at least some neighbors have their acts together and have their homes fully adorned. I never said it was a flawless plan, but it’s a start.

I guess what I’m suggesting is spending more time creating little memories. There’s such a build-up to the holidays, followed by a letdown when it’s all over. As you survey the wreckage of paper and boxes or perhaps after you’ve served the coffee and desserts, there’s a twinge of sadness that begins to creep into your heart. It’s almost over. It flew by again. Next year it’ll be different. Next year we’ll start earlier. Next year we’ll make more time. Next year…

Guess what. This is last year’s next year.

What are you doing differently? As for me, I’m choosing to be merry again. I’m focusing more on the people I love and making memories over anything else. If I play my cards right, I just might be able to parlay quality time into a home decorating party. Kill two birds with one stone. But not two turtle doves because that would be wrong.

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

 

 

Tis The Season To Overindulge

It’s that time of year when we all eat, drink and spend more than usual. It’s this weird kind of sanctioned excess we’ve all agreed upon in society. Think about it. At no other time of year can you say, “I just spent $700 at xyz store” and the person you’re speaking with won’t bat an eye. In fact, they might even be impressed at the bargains you got.

The same rule can apply with regards to food consumption. Few (if any) people are noticing how that’s your third heaping helping of everything and you’ve already got your eye on dessert.

We also tend to overschedule during the holidays. The month of December gets booked up quickly with family and friend gatherings, work parties, and other festive occasions. Before we know it, it’s January 1st and the only thing lean and trim is our wallet.

Stop the sleigh. I want to get off!

After the holidays, we spend the next several months (or perhaps the whole new year) trying to get ourselves back on track. We start saving money again, hoping to pay down those large credit card bills. We vow to eat healthier and exercise more. We may scale back on going out, etc.

Truth is we can spend 11 months paying for just 1 month of excess.

Why do we do that to ourselves each and every year? Are there ways to enjoy the holidays and have fun without becoming completely undone?

It’s much harder to stay on a budget and keep balanced when you have small children. I remember when my niece was little she couldn’t wait for the Toys-R-Us catalog to arrive. (This was pre-online shopping, or as I like to call it the good old days.) She would devour it whole, circling all the items she wanted. I often thought it’d be easier for her to just highlight what she didn’t want. It would have taken less time. She’d return the book (now covered in circles and stars and must have notations) and then we’d all use it as a reference guide for shopping. The beautiful part about my niece was she was always grateful. Whatever present she got, she appreciated. She was also eternally optimistic. She firmly believed one day she’d wake up and find the entire contents of the store under her tree. She’s a grown woman now with a great husband and two lovely daughters, but she’s still waiting. God bless her.

For those of us without young children, we should be able to be a bit more disciplined. But we’re not. As I mentioned earlier, it’s this sanctioned excess or collective conscious, hive-like mentality. Must. Buy. Lots. Of. Presents. Must. Go. To. Every. Party. Must. Eat. All. The. Food.

There are certain items I only bake for the holidays because if I made them more than once per year, we might all end up in diabetic comas. My nephew nicknamed one dessert crack candy. It’s actually cracker candy, but I get why he started calling it that. You can’t eat just one piece. Ugh.

I suppose I could stop baking some of the goodies, but they’ve become part of our family traditions. And perhaps therein lies part of the problem. So much of what we’re doing is geared toward traditions and building memories. What would the holidays look like or be without (insert your example of excess here)?

OK, so maybe we can’t eliminate, but can we moderate?

My mother loved the phrase “everything in moderation”. I would tweak it slightly because everything is far too broad a category and leaves room for trouble. But I agree with the general sentiment.

A little planning and preparation may spare you some pain and frustration.

“Honey, I love celebrating Christmas! I love all the food, the sweets, the Christmas tree and the presents, but our bank account hates Christmas!”

If you’re like me, you’ve had weight issues for as long as you can remember. Regardless of whatever diet plan or program I was on, they all shared a common theme: plan and prepare. My Dad used to laugh at my sister-in-law and me as we’d sit around the table doing complicated math equations to determine how we could have one (or two) cocktails without going over our allotted intake for the day while ensuring those drinks weren’t the only things we ingested.

Having a plan or a strategy didn’t always work out. Sometimes we threw the playbook out the window and just indulged. But more often than not, we were able to have fun without completely ruining our progress. We felt so much better on those days.

Mindfulness may help reduce recklessness.

Simply taking time to acknowledge the potential for overindulgence in any situation is half the battle. Before you start shopping or go to the party or have that meal, think about it. What do I mean? For me, it’s imagining if I just eat whatever I want. I might feel fine (probably not). But I will definitely wake up the next day and not feel great. In the harsh light of morning, my decision to eat 17 Swedish meatballs the night before might not look the same. (Fun fact: I actually did this when I was a kid at my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary party. What can I say? Mom’s meatballs were amazing! But I digress.) My point is taking a few minutes in advance to consider if it’s worth it or not can be beneficial.

A classic example is food shopping when you’re hungry. This is something we should not do. Why? Maybe it’s because our cart fills up much more quickly when our stomach is leading the way. Next thing you know, you’ve spent $60 more than you wanted to spend. You were mindlessly shopping, driven by your hunger pangs.

My parents were big believers in making shopping lists whether for food stores, the mall, wherever. I often wish I emulated their structure more. It was never too rigid, but it did give boundaries and kept you focused. I have a tendency to wander up and down aisles. This is not an efficient strategy and often causes me to spend more than I intended. The worst part is I frequently leave the store without getting an essential item but with a dozen impulse buys in its place. Double ugh.

Think but don’t overthink.

Is this as much of a challenge for you as it is for me? I tend to overindulge in the thinking department, regardless of the reason or season. The struggle is real. I’m not suggesting going overboard and obsessing about all the possible what ifs. I’m merely suggesting a little advanced thought and preparation can help. Set a budget and do your best to stay within it. Set a limit of how much or how many of whatever.

Give yourself some grace and mercy if you still overindulge.

If you overdo it in an area, forgive yourself. Try not to repeat it again the next day, but don’t waste time beating yourself up over it. It happened. Forgive and move on. Learn from it and try not to duplicate the mistake. Let it be a one-time slip-up rather than a complete throwing in the towel moment.

You can do this! And because I can never leave you without receipts, check out the verse below. (Unless otherwise indicated, all verses are from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.)

May he (the Lord) give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4)

Perhaps this year Santa won’t be the only one with a list and we’ll all be on the Nice side. Well, at least you guys still have a chance.

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

When we’re kids the holidays can be a magical time. We’re excited for presents and all the festivities. Everywhere we go we see decorations and lights. We may be in Christmas plays or other holiday-themed concerts and such.

I looked forward to and was so thrilled to watch all the specials on television. I loved helping my Mom bake holiday treats. Our house smelled of a glorious mix of pine, sugar cookies, and Vick’s VapoRub. (One or more of us invariably had a cold almost every Christmas.)

I remember coming down the stairs Christmas morning and being greeted by the Star of Bethlehem itself (my Dad’s 8 mm movie camera light). God bless Pops. He tried so hard to not blind his precious wife and kids. He’d aim the light toward the ceiling, but the ceiling was white so it just bounced back and amplified the brightness. I was recently looking over some of those old home movies. They’re bittersweet now since both my parents have passed. But it’s fun to go back and visit those days of innocence and sheer fun.

Things can change a great deal when we get older. The holidays can go from being a time we look forward to all year to a time we dread. Visions of sugar plums no longer dance in our head. We’re stressed out, anxious, sad and depressed.

What happened? When did we go from being holly jolly to melancholy?

In my case, one year not that long ago, I just got tired of it all. Don’t get me wrong. As a Christian, I’m beyond grateful for the greatest Gift ever given. I want to celebrate Jesus’s birthday. I’d just prefer to celebrate it in a quiet way.

Having young children around does help get you into the spirit. Seeing their big eyes sparkle and their laughter fill the air can definitely perk you up. But it’s only temporary. Eventually, you may find yourself feeling low or disinterested in partaking in all the hoopla. And don’t get me started on the day after Christmas.

There’s such a build-up to Christmas day and it’s over so quickly. As an adult I would always get a bit sad on December 26. This lull would typically last until…well…spring. But for the past few years I’ve not been able to really connect with the merriment of the holiday season at all.

I could blame it on how commercialized it all has become. I could say how it went from being about a baby lying in a manger to a 50% sale on the latest electronics. I could ask Linus to explain for everyone what Christmas is all about. (If you know you know.) But it’s more than that.

The holidays can be a very difficult time. We’re facing a lot of pressure to have fun and be of good cheer. We can start to feel as if there must be something wrong with us if we’re not having fun or feeling happy. We can feel isolated, like we’re the only one who isn’t enjoying the season. We can feel ashamed because of how terrible we feel.

Loneliness can definitely increase during the holidays. Folks are focused on their own families. They may forget about the neighbor who is alone or the single friend who has nowhere to go. Everyone sort of assumes the people they know have somewhere to be and are doing OK. I’ve been guilty of this unintentional neglect myself. I’m caught up in my own business; I don’t take time to consider those who may not have anyone around for them. By the same token, you can have somewhere to be and still feel ill at ease.

You can be with wonderful people and still feel lonely.

I know this is true because I’ve experienced it firsthand. I’ve been with friends or family and I feel awful. It’s not necessarily due to someone saying or doing anything wrong or hurtful. I’m just sad. Sometimes I can’t even pinpoint what’s causing my mood.

Some of my best acting performances were never on the stage or screen.

In the past I would suck it up and forge ahead. Later that night when I was alone I would cry. I don’t want to do that anymore. And you shouldn’t want to or have to either.

Recognize your feelings. Don’t be ashamed or try to hide them from yourself.

I’ve learned my emotions are like zombies. Just when you think you’ve got them good and buried six feet underground, bam! Out comes the hand from the grave to grab you. (If you’ve ever seen the movie Carrie, or a lot of horror movies come to think of it, you get the reference.) My point is we do ourselves no good by denying and suppressing our feelings.

I’m not suggesting we express every feeling at any given moment we’re experiencing them. But in quiet moments, we need to be honest with ourselves. If we’re supposed to go to someone’s house for a holiday party and we’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, we need to pause and try to find out why. We shouldn’t just ignore it and go out of obligation.

I can’t count how many times I went somewhere because I felt I had to and then regretted it. Suffice it to say it was many more times than when I went begrudgingly and had a marvelous time.

You need to take care of yourself. You’re the only relationship you’re guaranteed to have for your lifetime.

As I’ve written before, I understand there is a lot of guilt and pressure this time of year. But once we are adults we do have some control over how we invest our time and energy. When my parents were alive, I would defer to them. I tried my best to honor them. I spent many an afternoon or evening feeling uncomfortable, but I was there for them not me.

I don’t have to do that anymore. I can choose what’s best for me now. How about you? I’m not suggesting becoming a selfish, self-centered jerk. You should always consider others, of course. But don’t forget to factor you into the equation.

You matter as much as anybody else.

You know how I can write that with absolute confidence? Check this out. (Unless otherwise indicated, all bible verses are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

You knew I wasn’t coming without bringing receipts. God loved you so much He sent His Son Jesus so you might spend eternity with Him in paradise. I’m fairly certain there isn’t any deal on any website or store that can beat a Gift like this one. If God loves you that much, maybe you should show yourself a bit of love this season too.

I’ve decided to do my best to acknowledge and, if possible, identify the cause of my feelings. I’m also giving myself permission to participate (or not) in any holiday festivities as I choose. I will not dwell and wallow and completely shut myself off from the people I love. But if I need to take a day or two (or maybe more) to recharge and process, I’m going to do that. In the end it’s best for me and my relationships with them. And if I find I still can’t handle it or it’s just still too much, I won’t feel ashamed. I’ll ask for help either from my loved ones or a professional, if necessary.

In any case, the best gift I’m giving me this year is: honesty and authenticity. How about you?

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

Thank Full

What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?

Erma Bombeck

In my humble opinion, Erma Bombeck is a literary icon. She (along with James Thurber, C.S. Lewis and others) was instrumental in developing my love and passion for the written word. I chose a quote from her to start this piece as a humble tribute and to set the tone.

Thanksgiving is here. When I was a child, Christmas was my favorite holiday. But as an adult, I prefer Thanksgiving. (Sidebar: Clearly, the reason for the season is honoring the birth of Jesus. Christmas will always take the gold medal because of that, but all the commercialization and junk that’s been tied to the day is what I can do without.) The main reason I enjoy Thanksgiving more is because it offers an opportunity to be with the ones we love without all the stress and pressure of buying and exchanging presents and all the other hectic holiday hoopla. This is not to say Thanksgiving can’t come with its own brand of drama. You’re just not spending as much money for it and there’s no gift wrapping involved.

The best part about Thanksgiving: being around the people you know and love. The worst part about Thanksgiving: being around the people you know and love.

I was always surprised each year as we’d gather how everything would be going well, until… There was never one specific person who would start the disagreement or loud debate, but there was almost always a disagreement or loud debate. On those rare occasions that were incident free, we’d all sit around after dessert, nursing our stuffed bellies, and savor the silence.

When you’re with people you’ve grown up with or have known for a long time, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s also potentially a hotbed of conflict. These are the people who know you (or at least think they do) very well. They’ve probably seen you at your best and at your worst. You would expect this would be the setting where you could feel most at ease and comfortable.

Sometimes we feel most uncomfortable where we should feel most at home.

It can be a mix of emotions. You’re excited to be together. You love everyone. But there can also be this underlying tension. Will so-and-so grab you-know-who and go off somewhere without you? Will what’s-his-face make you the target for all his jokes which are just thinly veiled insults and criticisms? Will what’s-her-name drink too much again and start telling everyone off one by one? Happy Thanksgiving!

When we gather around the table, how can we make sure no knives are drawn other than to carve the turkey?

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I am Kat Controversy. If there is a proven track record of drama at certain tables, then don’t take a seat. I know it’s not easy. There is a lot of guilt and obligation this time of year. But if you believe there is a greater than 50% chance the dinner will go sideways, don’t go!

As adults we have the right to decide where and how we spend our time.

You may be saying, “But I host every year, I don’t have a choice” or “If I don’t go, I’ll never hear the end of it.” This may all be true. But what is truer still is that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. I’m not suggesting blowing people off for no reason. But you have to assess how it’ll be for your mental health first. Sure, you can go and do the right thing but if you leave feeling angry, disgusted, disappointed or sad, was it worth it?

Healthy boundaries are necessary, but not everyone is going to respect them.

I’m sure I’ve written about this subject before. The past couple of years have really been a time of learning and growing for me in this area. My days of people-pleasing are slowly fading away. And I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never felt better. Do I still get pangs of guilt or anxiety from time to time? Of course, I do. But they disappear far more quickly than the regret and hurt I’d take home with me after spending time in a situation I never wanted to be in in the first place.

I’ve come to terms with knowing certain people have an issue with me or think of me in a negative way. That’s their business. I’m accountable to God at the end of each day. If I feel convicted not guilted to be somewhere, then I’ll probably go. If I don’t feel the conviction of the Lord, you won’t see my face at that table.

If you’re in a situation where you can’t get out of going, you still have options. You can set a specific time to get there and a specific time to leave. Nothing says you have to be there all day. If the day is going well, feel free to stay and enjoy yourself. But if you feel the tide shifting or Aunt Bea is opening up that third bottle of wine and it’s only 2 p.m., get out! Get out and don’t look back!

My prayer is you’ll be, as the title says, thank full. May the day remind you to be full of thanks no matter what. I understand there will be days and times when it’ll be hard to give thanks. On those days, in those moments, give thanks for a God who loves you and is able to carry you through any difficult situation.

I’ve had many days over the last couple of years where my thank full was very thank less. But I am always comforted as I talk to God (which is all prayer is: conversation) about how I’m feeling and what I’m facing. I read the Bible and rediscover my hope in His love letter to us all.

Never take my word for it. You know I brought receipts. (Unless otherwise indicated, all bible verses are from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)

Dear reader, I truly hope you’ll be able to enjoy the holiday with peace, joy, love and stuffing, lots of stuffing.

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

Timing Is Everything, So What Time Is It?

I was in the right place at the right time.

We’ve probably all heard or used that expression at least once. We use it to describe when everything seems to align and work out in our favor in a given situation. We can’t explain how it all came together, but we’re sure grateful it did.

But how often are we in the right place at the right time?

I’m much more likely to feel as if I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time. You miss out on the last of something at a store or restaurant. You get stuck in traffic even though you left early. The list can be endless.

It’s frustrating when we feel ready for something: a new job, home, etc. and it’s just not happening. We’re not being idle, sitting around doing nothing. We’re being active. We’re submitting resumes or filling out applications, for example. We’re qualified; we’re prepared. But still nothing’s moving forward.

My favorite time is now o’clock.

Patience is not my strongest quality. When I’m ready to make a move (which doesn’t usually happen quickly or often), I want to make that move right away. I figure if I’m ready then it must be time. Wrong.

Just because we may be ready, doesn’t mean our situation is.

I’ve been trying to relocate for over a year. True story. I had several personal and professional situations that put a temporary hold on this move. I was recently released from the last of these obligations. I, naturally, believed my new home would show up in my search the next day and I’d be moved in before Thanksgiving. (Spoiler alert: as of this writing, this seems highly unlikely, but I do believe in miracles, so…)

Gratefully, I have some wonderful friends who help ground me. One of these lovely ladies pointed out the very real possibility that just because I believe I’m ready, doesn’t mean the location is. There are always a lot of components, variables and moving parts involved that should be considered. This is where faith and trust in God needs to arise.

If I believe in a God in heaven who loves me and desires to bless me, then I need to trust Him. In my case it shouldn’t be a challenge. I have a lifetime of personal evidence of how He helped me find my homes and my jobs. I would do my part and then believe He had the matter well in hand. Sure I’d get a bit nervous the longer I had to wait, but He did and has always come through.

Why do I still engage in this game of feeling I know the right time for anything?

It does seem rather silly if you think about it. We only see what we can see, our small microcosm of any situation. We can’t see all sides and all factors. It’s rather presumptuous of us to think we can dictate the timing of things.

Sometimes we’re in such a hurry we may risk getting the right thing at the wrong time. Has this ever happened to you? Let’s use the example of a new car. We’ve wanted one and now we feel ready. We’ve even budgeted for it. We’re good (we think), so we buy the car. Three months later we’re let go from our job and are now having difficulty making our monthly payment. Right thing. Wrong time. We can’t beat ourselves up. We thought the timing was right. But we may have gotten ahead of ourselves and the timing of God.

Does God have a time?

The Creator of the entire universe doesn’t exist within our mortal constraints of time. He did, however, invent it. He is not governed by its limitations as we are. He operates with us in it, but He is always transcendent and above it. (That’s a heavy metaphysical knowledge drop right there.)

You know I always bring my receipts. (Unless otherwise specified, all Bible verses are from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

You may have heard this verse before. God is a God of order. There is a specific time for everything.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)

Oh this verse! It gets to me always. But we need this gentle reminder. He’s not like us. We’re to grow in His love and become more like Him, not the other way around. When I’m checking my watch and wondering, “When God? When?” I need to sit back and remember He knows more than me about every situation.

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Does God have a time? Yes. Sometimes it’s now. Other times it’s later. I’m embracing the now time of His favor. How about you? See, if we believe His favor is upon us, then we can perhaps rest a bit more during the waiting.

So, how do we start to align our perspective with His? Check this out:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

There it is once again: humility. How much better could life be if we would submit more to God’s authority in our lives? But how do we begin? Check this out:

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5)

As difficult as it may be, and though I keep reminding God of how ready I am, I must wait on Him. I know the difference between went and sent. When you’re sent it means God prepared the way for you. It was the right thing in His perfect timing. But if you went, you didn’t go at His direction. You went out of your own reasoning and rationale. It’s not as secure a footing. You are subject to greater trials and struggles because you’re not the Creator and couldn’t possibly foresee the obstacles that might lie ahead. Staying in His Word keeps you in the proper mindset.

I suppose it always comes back to these two things: trust and believe. We must trust He loves us and is genuinely working all things together for our good. We must believe He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we could ask or even hope for.

What time is it?

It’s time to trust and believe in the Lord above. He’s got it all worked out. Stay diligent. Stay prepared. Stay in a posture of faith and hope.

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

When Cutting Ties Cuts Deep

Until recently, I never gave much thought to how we use the terms cutting someone off or severing ties with a person. But as I was deciding this week’s blog topic, it struck me. Perhaps we use those terms because they help describe the emotional pain getting someone out of your life can generate.

When I hear the word sever I immediately envision some hellacious scene in a slasher film when random teenager #27 is strapped to a gurney as the killer sharpens his blade on a whetstone in preparation to slice off each and every limb of said teenager. (I realize that was a rather graphic description. I’m as troubled by how quickly I came up with it as you are. Trust me. But I digress.)

Deciding you need to end a relationship, connection or situationship with a person is hard. Something brought you two together. You may have had good times, made some great memories. But you’ve measured the relationship and its good is grossly outweighed by the bad. There are more tears of sadness than of laughter. Butterflies of anticipation have been replaced with pangs of anxiety. Drifting off to sleep reflecting on a great night has now become lying awake in bed, tossing and turning, as you dissect the latest argument. It’s time to walk away and not look back.

In my younger years it was easier to end things. Social media didn’t exist. (Yes, I am that old.) As long as you weren’t involved with someone who went to your same school or had the same friends, you could make a relatively clean break of it. (There we go again with the quasi-violent imagery. What is the deal?)

If you were involved with a co-worker, that was a bit trickier. I usually tried my best to avoid such entanglements. (And by usually, I mean I only did it 3-5 times over the course of my working life, so that’s something?)

But these are different times. Social media is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you can see what someone is up to on a daily basis. On the other hand, you can see what someone is up to on a daily basis.

In my youth, I’d have to get in a car and drive somewhere to check out what my ex was doing. Nowadays, depending on his level of engagement on the platform, I can know with just a click or a swipe. This seems like a potentially harmful and certainly emotionally draining proposition. My inner stalker can have free, unfettered access into the life of someone who’s no longer a part of my story. I can see how happy he is (because only the best moments make it to their page). If he posts a lot, I can feel as if we’re still friends or something. It becomes harder to let go when you’re still tied to them through an app on your phone. The question then becomes:

Do you block or mute someone when you two have parted ways?

I don’t know about you, but I think blocking someone is only warranted if the person is being hurtful or if the breakup was particularly ugly. The mute option is more my speed. You have the ability to view their content, but rather than having it pop up and assault your emotions at any given moment, you must actively go to their page to see it. It requires my inner stalker to do a bit more cyber legwork. And, quite frankly, she’s not usually that motivated.

If I’ve grown accustomed to texting them or viewing their content daily, it’s a bit challenging in the beginning. I have to wean myself from the dopamine hit I’m used to getting. It takes a while and there is an element of withdrawal in the process, but with a lot of prayer and time, it gets easier.

What happens when someone blocks you in real life?

It’s one thing to limit exposure or attention through screens and apps. What happens when you still have to physically be around the person and they’ve chosen to ignore you? You’re in a room together and they can’t even look at you. You’ve become invisible to them.

How do you handle when someone deliberately ignores you?

There’s one kind of hurt when someone doesn’t answer a text or stops commenting and liking your posts. But it’s a whole different kind of pain to be around someone who once meant the world to you and now treats you as if you’re not even there.

Which is worse: arguing with someone or being ignored by them?

Let me start by stating both are pretty awful. Both can be hurtful and upsetting. The potential upside to an argument, however, is you two may be able to come to a consensus at some point. There is the possibility for reconciliation or at least a meeting of the minds: agree to disagree.

But when someone decides to ignore you…

At least when I’m arguing with someone, I feel both of us still care or are invested to some degree. But when someone walks past you without acknowledging you, when you smile at them and they look away, that hurts. It can hurt so much.

You can feel so small, so insignificant. On some level you realize it’s a choice the other person is making and probably has little or nothing to do with you. It may just be their way of avoiding a difficult conversation or some kind of self-preservation technique. But that is little comfort, isn’t it?

This is the person you let in to your inner courts, if you will. This is the one you let your guard down for, felt safe enough to be vulnerable with, shared intimate details of your past with, and now they’re acting as if you’re a leper.

If you’re anything like me, in addition to feeling so sad, you also feel humiliated. Most people aren’t aware of what’s going on between you two because, contrary to popular belief, many are too busy with their own stuff to notice you at all. But in your mind, you feel like an absolute fool. You want to confront, say something, end this awkward, silent prison term you’re serving, but you can’t. You’re too afraid of how much worse it might get if you do speak up. Will they turn around and gaslight you? Portray you as the crazy ex? Will everyone look at you like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction cooking up a pot of fresh rabbit stew? “I won’t be ignored, Dan!”

You’ve been convicted and sentenced but you don’t even know what crime you committed.

As I mentioned earlier, when someone chooses the ignoring path, it usually has little to do with you. This may be their only coping mechanism or a strategy they’ve employed for years. You may not be the first (or last) person to experience this behavior. But your rational mind isn’t running the show in that moment. It is all raw emotions. There’s anger, hurt, disgust, regret and many more.

To be set free, you’ll need to forgive.

Believe me, I’m not thrilled about this either. But I know that it’s only through forgiving the other person, whether they ask for it or not, that we get set free. If we hold on to that pain, if we keep being angry for how they treated us, how they disrespected us; we can’t carry on. We’ll get stuck. We can’t sever the connection and move forward. We’ve given them a kind of power they don’t deserve to affect us. We’ve also blocked our own forgiveness.

But don’t take my word for it. You know I brought receipts. (Unless otherwise specified, all bible verses are from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added)

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

 

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. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Forgive as you are forgiven. I will not say this is an easy thing to do. It isn’t. The pain you feel is real and legitimate. It’s incredibly unkind to ignore another human being, particularly someone who was once important to you. As the recipient of such treatment, it fills your mind with doubt about the validity of the entire relationship. It can break you down.

Don’t let it.

God loves you. Just because that person doesn’t see your worth does not mean you’re worthless. Honor yourself by forgiving the one who ignored you. Recognize their behavior as an immature, selfish act. Thank the Lord He showed you the character of that person.

Cut ties. It may not be pretty, but there’s more to life than this moment. And take comfort in knowing you are not random teenager #27.

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I had a really difficult time writing this article, mostly because The Clash’s song was swirling around in my head. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, look up the band’s song catalog. And how dare you. Just kidding.

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Have you ever stopped to consider how many decisions you make on any given day? Most may seem relatively inconsequential or mundane. But there are those that can have significant impact on your present and your future: a new job, a new home, a new relationship are just a few examples.

But what do you do when you can’t decide?

Am I the only one who spends way too much time in the valley of indecision? Caught between a rock and a hard place (or any cliché you may like), you honestly don’t know what to do. Some choices are clear. Others are not.

The most difficult ones I encounter are when neither option holds enough appeal to me. What do I mean? If I stay in a current situation, whatever it may be, I have a certain level of comfort. Whether or not I like it, I basically know what to expect. Don’t get me wrong. I might not like it, but at least it’s familiar. If I decide to go or change or do something else, now it’s a whole new ball game (or any cliché you may like). I can only guess or speculate what’s coming. There’s no predictability or certainty.

Some people find the thrill of the unknown exhilarating or exciting. I find it nauseating and anxiety inducing. Perhaps it’s a curse of being a writer. I tell stories. I have to fill the void with something, so I create several different narratives of how things could go. Let me put a finer point on it. I don’t know how things will go, but I’ll spend the next few hours, days, weeks contemplating and scripting in my brain how it could go.

This exercise in futility can, and often has, left me numb. The process is sometimes described as the paralysis of analysis. I can’t move forward with any decision because I’ve scared myself into inaction.

I like stability, predictability, constants. I also like trying new things and having new experiences. I guess you could say I don’t mind trying something new or doing something different if I know upfront that I’ll enjoy it and it’ll work out well. But you can’t always know that ahead of time. Let’s face it, you typically don’t know that at all.

Now let’s take a look at relationships. Entering into a new one, knowing when it may be time to let go of an existing one, all of it makes my head spin! And I haven’t even mentioned how my heart handles any of this. (Spoiler alert: not well, not well at all.)

Do you ask for advice or do you go it alone?

I usually will seek counsel when faced with a difficult decision. These days it’s a bit more challenging. My Dad was the wisest man I may ever know. I could always go to him for rational discussion on any issue. Well, let me correct that. He’d be rational; I’d be an emotional wreck. He was very reasoned, measured and beyond patient with me. He wouldn’t try to make my decision for me, but would have me go through the pros and cons of each option. Honestly, the only time he would tell me what he would do is if I specifically asked him, “Pops, what would you do?” Even then he was slow to answer, trying to not influence my decision. I have so much respect for him.

When I reach out to my girlfriends, especially if it concerns romance or friendships, I always enjoy the dialog. They’re great sounding boards, but rarely objective. God bless them. They’re biased toward me, so if a relationship is hurting me or causing pain, they want to protect me. I completely understand. I do the same for them. It’s hard to remain objective when emotions are involved.

Where can you go for a balanced approach to making your decision?

If you’ve read any of my work, you probably know the answer already:

The Bible.

I’ve said numerous times the Word of God is a guidebook for life. Though the details may change, life isn’t really very different from what it was in Biblical times. No, I may not be herding sheep or going to a well for water (yet), but the core issues of life are fairly timeless: family, faith, finances, health, etc. These subjects are universal. There is common ground to be found.

You know I’m bringing receipts as always. (Unless otherwise indicated, all verses are from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.)

Let’s start with some verses to encourage:

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

 

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)

We plan but the Lord establishes. This doesn’t mean our plans are for nothing, but it’s a healthy reminder to always be checking in with God. I can’t say enough how spending time in His presence daily makes all the difference. And if you sincerely dedicate your life, your plans to Him from the start (or even now), He’ll establish them.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

 A lamp to your feet and a light to your path. Have you ever tried walking down a road without any streetlights? I have and I’ve gotten the scraped knees to prove it! Without a lit path, it’s very easy to get injured or get lost. The Bible is the Light. Read it.

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. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Bring your requests to Him in prayer and petition and with thanksgiving. This means our approach can’t be whining or complaining (though sometimes I do start out that way when I’m stressed or frustrated). I have to remind myself how amazing it is that God is listening and actually cares about me. My pity party is over fairly soon after.

OK, now that we’ve been encouraged, it’s time to learn the lesson. Check out these verses:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

I needed this verse as I was writing this piece. It’s a great, gentle reminder to remember what you already know. For me it means reflecting not only on what I’ve learned but what I’ve experienced. I’ve seen God move in my life and the lives of others around me. I’ve experienced His grace, mercy and favor more times than I can count. Sometimes you have to remember how good He’s been to acknowledge how good He is.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:7-10)

This verse is bit heavy in tone which is why I saved it for last. It’s sobering to consider the concept of sowing and reaping. It’s also strangely comforting. When we see people being selfish and self-serving and succeeding, we may get jealous. But when we consider the implications and ramifications of this verse, we should rethink our position. I don’t know about you, but with whatever time I have left on this earth, I want to sow to please the Spirit (the Holy Spirit that is).

So am I giving you a 5-step plan to make the best decisions? Nope. Am I saying you’ll never spend time in the valley of indecision? Nope. What I am saying is when you are confused or unsure where to go or what to do; it’s the perfect time to get alone with God. Yes, you can certainly seek advice from good counsel. You can make your pros and cons list, if it applies to the situation. In the end, however, remember God loves you and it’s always a matter of trust. You may not know in the moment if the decision you made was the right one, but you know the One who can establish your plans. Rest in that today.

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost. I Live With One.

Am I the only one who as a child had a crush on Casper the friendly ghost? Not any live action version, I mean the original cartoon. Anyone? No one?!

Anywho, when my Dad would decorate our home for Halloween, we had a ghost made of some sparkly, Styrofoam-like substance probably incredibly hazardous to our health, but it was the 70s. Pops called this ghost Casper. I wish I had a picture of it, but you’ll have to take my word for it he did not look like my boyfriend Casper. But if my father called him Casper, he was Casper. (Sidebar: did anyone else grow up in a home where Halloween decorations were not put up until just before Halloween? My Dad was insistent. In a house filled with four costume-loving, candy-crazy kids, he was a man apart. In mid-October when we clamored to at least fix up the front door, we were quickly reminded, “It’s not Halloween yet.” And in case you were wondering, those same decorations didn’t make it through the first couple of days of November. I can recall some Halloween evenings where he’d be taking down the cardboard black cats and Frankenstein as we sorted through our candy haul at the kitchen table.)

I know I’ve shared many times how I love wearing costumes. If I could play dress-up every day, I definitely would. As a kid, my biggest gripe concerning Halloween was we had the best candy at my house. We always did! I just didn’t see the point of going door-to-door begging for treats when I’ve got the motherlode waiting for me in our brown, wicker basket at home. It just didn’t make sense, especially when the weather was cold or rainy. Ick! But I digress.

This article isn’t about all that stuff. It is about the Ghost I’ve been living with for over 25 years. Some of you may have guessed what I mean. Perhaps there are those of you who have Him living with you too.

What is the name of this friendly Ghost that most emphatically is not Casper?

The Holy Ghost.

You may know Him by other names such as the Holy Spirit or the Comforter. He’s the third member of the Trinity: Father (God), Son (Jesus) and Holy Ghost.

Who is the Holy Ghost?

I could offer up my poor attempt to describe Him, but you know I always bring receipts. (Unless otherwise indicated, all verses were taken from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.) Check this out:

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord… (Isaiah 11:2)

 

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)

This second verse was spoken by Jesus to His disciples. He wanted them to know they would not be left alone after He completed His work on earth and ascended back to God in heaven. The Holy Ghost brings wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, power, knowledge and so much more.

Because God is so amazing, He didn’t reserve access to the Spirit only to those living in Jesus’s time. It started with them, but His presence is available to you and me today.

I’m grateful to say since I invited Him into my life it’s been a game changer. What do I mean? Well, we live in a natural world but there is also a spiritual realm. (Shameless plug: A while back I did a post on the differences and intersections of the two. The article is titled The Spirit Of The Age, if you’d like to check it out.) The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to see beyond the barriers of our natural world and glimpse the spiritual.

The most unbelievable part is He chooses to live within us. No, it doesn’t mean I’m haunted or it’s some kind of possession-call-in-the-exorcist situation. It’s more a gentle voice within that leads, guides, corrects, warns and shows me what I may not be able to see with my eyes. My friend calls it the greatest super power; I agree.

There have been times where I just knew something and there was no explanation how I could know it. Other times I sensed a danger or threat and avoided it, even though in the natural everything appeared normal and fine. I realize if you don’t know Him or He hasn’t taken up residence in your life yet, this may be hard to understand. As Jesus said:

…The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:17)

I can only share my testimony of how the Holy Ghost keeps me. He prays for me. Don’t believe me? Good. Check this out:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)

This is so true in my life. When the world is kicking me around and I don’t have words (which as a writer doesn’t happen often, but still), He speaks on my behalf. How awesome is that?

As we allow the Spirit to operate freely within us, there are certain gifts we are promised. No, I’m not talking about a shopping spree or free meal. His gifts are so much greater. They’re often referred to as fruit. Check this out:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Did you read through that list? Read it again. I’ll wait.

Wow! You had me at love, joy and peace. In all honesty, I don’t exhibit all of the fruit (or any of it) sometimes. In those instances the fault lies not in the Spirit but in me. I’m simply choosing not to listen or follow His lead. Can you guess how those situations typically turn out? Sure, I may get what I think I want in the moment, but it always comes with some sort of regret or cost or penalty down the line. And I certainly am not in a place of love, joy or peace. The lesson is it’s always our choice.

The Spirit and I have a bond I am not willing to sacrifice. I may ignore Him, sometimes neglect Him, even defy Him, but I’m not getting rid of Him. There’s too much love there. We’ve been through too much together. I know what my life was like before He came. I don’t ever want to go back to it.

How important is the Holy Ghost? Is He really necessary?

The short answer is: ABSOFREAKINLUTELY!! I find the faith-based community doesn’t give Him enough time, attention or honor. He’s often treated like the forgotten member of the Trinity. He’s not the Creator of the Universe (God) or the Savior of the world (Jesus). Yet He’s the one we have living inside of us. He’s the one we call upon for daily guidance and strength. He’s the Comforter in our sadness. He’s the Knower of things we can’t possibly understand. He’s the Giver of such great gifts. He is a gift given to us by the Lord to sustain us on our journeys in this life. How important is He? Well, this verse says it better than I ever could:

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)

That passage scares me more than any horror movie. Just to be clear, the only unforgivable sin is to blaspheme the Holy Ghost. I’ll take that to mean He is essential and never to be despised. Can you live without Him? I suppose, but why would you do a crazy thing like that? Don’t you want the fullness: the love, joy, peace, and all the rest? I know I do. He’s just waiting for you to invite Him to come and dwell within you.

I’d be lost without Him. So as the world celebrates Halloween and embraces ideas of ghosts, spirits, the dead rising and all manner of dark spiritual topics, I’ll stick with my Holy Ghost. And I might watch some classic Casper cartoons while dressed as a princess and eating candy. Don’t judge.

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

Be The Court Jester And Nobody’s Fool

 Some people want to be kings. Others want to be queens. I’d rather be the court jester. To understand why I aspire to such a position, we need to first examine what the role of the court jester was throughout history.

The court jester was more than someone with a fabulous wardrobe.

When most of us think of a court jester, we picture someone in a colorful outfit with a silly hat with bells on it and elf-like shoes to match. I’m sure many of you may be thinking that’s why I want to be one. We all know I’m a fan of costumes. But, surprisingly, that’s not the main reason for its appeal to me. I consider the outfit more of a perk. What I actually admired about the court jester was he (or sometimes she) was able to speak truth to power and live (most of the time).

I did some research and discovered a court jester or similar role were common in many countries around the world. I always believed they originated in 19th century England, but I was wrong. These fools performed before czars, emperors, caliphs, dukes, sultans, kings, queens, and other royalty dating back many centuries earlier.(1) Their job was to entertain. They had to be funny. What they often did was use humorous songs, stories, and such to mock those in attendance. Only the queen and her ladies-in-waiting were exempt from their insults.(2) Sarcasm was the jester’s favorite dish.

How did court jesters get away with all the things they said?

I wondered why the powerful willingly invited this type of attention. Perhaps it was because given their stature, they were usually surrounded by people who didn’t question or challenge them. They lived in echo chambers where everything they did or said was praised or given blind devotion. At some point that must have grown tiresome.

We all want to be encouraged and edified. No one really looks forward to or enjoys being criticized. But if we’re smart, we realize being confronted with an opposing view, or being faced with a differing opinion, can help us grow. It can either aid us in seeing past our blind spots or affirm our chosen decision or path.

The jester was a type of mirror to show the royalty what was really going on around them. These individuals were sometimes close confidantes of their rulers. Many traveled with them and delivered messages on their behalf. (Sidebar: this is how the expression “don’t kill the messenger” originated.(3) True story. There were times where a message was not well-received by its recipient. The jester paid the price. Yes, that means what you think it means.)

My version of a court jester does not include torture or death due to poor message acceptance. My jester is nobody’s fool. They are the influence to the influencer. They use humor to discuss difficult topics and bring dark things into the light.

We need more of this in our lives and in our world. Too many of us are living in our own form of echo chambers, hearing only what reinforces and solidifies our thoughts or beliefs. We’re losing the ability to hear another side. We become so firmly entrenched we develop tunnel vision.

If you never have to defend your beliefs, you may lack true conviction.

Think about it. If you are never asked to explain why you believe what you believe, if no one ever offers any opposition, how passionate do you have to be? On the other hand, if you are challenged, then faith can arise. You have to be prepared to defend your values, morals, or beliefs. This requires you to be more invested in them. You can’t afford to be lukewarm as is evidenced in this verse:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16 NIV)

Ouch. The church God was speaking about was stuck in the middle. They hadn’t abandoned their love for Him, but they weren’t in pursuit and growing in it either. They were stagnant, perhaps not being confronted with opposing views, never needing to defend their love. They might have benefited from a court jester in their midst to provoke them. They did, however, have something far greater: the Word of God.

This particular scripture always hits me hard. I pray I am never stuck in the middle. May I always be hot and not cold. Most of all, may I never be lukewarm.

I realize this article is a little different from my usual fair. I think it’s important to mix things up from time to time. It helps prevent stagnation.

I want to be a modern day court jester (again, minus the whole possibility of torture or death thing). I want to be someone who doesn’t fear confronting people, regardless of their position or office. I desire to be one who will be bold and speak truth to power. I want to offer them humor, heart and hope so they may be more effective in their responsibilities. If that means I need to start wearing a hat with jingly bells on it, so be it. I look good in hats.

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

(1)   https://rabbitholemag.com/to-mock-the-mighty-a-history-of-court-jesters/ To Mock The Mighty: A History of Court Jesters, B. Alexandra Szerlip.

(2)   https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/historys-finest-court-jester-was-sentenced-to-death-35da64bb63d6 History’s Finest Court Jester Was Sentenced To Death, Sabana Grande.

(3)   https://www.thetravel.com/what-is-a-jester-in-medieval-times/ The Dark History Of The Court Jester, And What Life Was Really Like For This Medieval Joker, Lianna Tedesco.

 

Make Big Plans

I’d just finished my Chinese takeout with my family. As is my custom, I grabbed the fortune cookie facing toward me. Have you noticed the messages aren’t really fortunes these days? Sometimes they are odd statements or random thoughts, but very few are actual fortunes like I remember reading as a child.

I broke apart the crispy cookie and out tumbled the thin sliver of paper. I turned the slip over and this is what it said:

Make big plans.

I made a quick joke about how its tone seemed a tad aggressive and then didn’t think much more about it. But I did keep it and put it on my night table.

A few days later I found another fortune I had saved. It read:

Don’t panic.

I began to wonder if perhaps God was sending me a message through these crunchy cookies. Before you go thinking I’ve finally lost it completely, may I remind you that God has used various ways to speak to His people throughout the Bible. (A donkey and a fiery bush come to mind as examples.)

When I was a child, I would dream big. Anything was possible. The sky was the limit. One day I wanted to be a famous movie star, the next a pop singer, the next a famous author. The innocence of childhood is a delicate thing. All it takes is some disappointments, discouragements and a few dream squashers to sow a hearty crop of cynicism.

Do you have dream squashers stomping around in your life?

Let’s discuss the term dream squasher. The first time I heard that phrase it was used by one of my closest friends. A dream squasher is someone who rarely, if ever, has any hopes or aspirations of their own. They do, however, delight in raining showers of doubt all over someone else’s goals. Do you know someone who fits that description? My best advice is to run. Run like the wind. Take your hopes and dreams as far away from them as you can.

I realize it may not always be possible to escape the dream squasher. They may be someone close to you or even a family member. Where can you go when the call is coming from inside the house?! (Bonus points if you can name the movie reference.)

You may not be able to separate physically from them, but you can still do your best to protect your dreams from their negative influence. Don’t be fooled. Their negativity may often come disguised in a blanket of concern for you and not wanting to see you get hurt. They’re telling you all the downsides to whatever it is you want to do or be because you need to be prepared. My favorite is when they stand there telling you they believe you’re talented and they support you, but (insert absolute negation of whatever kindness they just said about you here). It’s a fine line between being realistic and being pessimistic.

It’s frustrating when people close to us don’t support us or won’t dream big with us. Some dreams are harder to achieve than others. Their level of difficulty becomes intensified when we are constantly fighting not only our own internal doubts and fears but those being imposed upon us by so-called friends and loved ones. The good news is there is One who will always support you and encourage your dreams.

God.

How can I say that? Well, you know I brought receipts. (All bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, were taken from biblegateway.com, NIV.)

Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: (Psalm 37:4-5)

Did you catch the key phrase in the verse? We are to delight in the Lord first. He must always be first love, top priority. What happens if we don’t do that? Check this out:

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. (Psalm 127:1)

You want to create and build your dream into reality? You need Him in it from the start. In my life, when I go full steam ahead without seeking God’s wisdom early and often, it doesn’t go well at all. This doesn’t mean I don’t still feel frustrated sometimes when I have included Him. I still do, but that’s typically because His time table doesn’t match mine. I get impatient and fail to recognize that His timing is always perfect. If I’m being made to wait, it’s for a reason and I just need to suck it up, buttercup. As I often say, I’m still a work-in-progress.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

Isn’t that the truth? (Well, of course it’s the truth; it’s the Word of God. But you get what I mean.)

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)

Here’s another key point. We are to not only include God in our dream making, but whatever we create or build should be for His glory. Our dreams are not just for us to enjoy. Our talents and abilities are all gifts from Him. We should, therefore, use them for His purposes. If you’re a singer, use your music to touch people and help them to learn about God and His great love for them. I’m not saying you have to be a gospel or Christian artist, necessarily. Just be sure that your dreams are being used in a way that brings Him honor.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. (Jeremiah 17:7)

Here’s another key piece to keep in mind. We know that we should seek Him early, make sure our plans honor Him, and now we see we must trust Him. I can tell you honestly I rarely have much confidence in me and what I can do. I’ve seen how quickly my confidence can be shaken or broken if things don’t go according to my plan. I have to remind myself that my confidence is not in me but in the God of all Creation, then I can stand a little taller and breathe a little easier. He promises us this:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Wow. No matter how many times I’ve read that verse, it still brings my heart joy and my spirit peace. He has big plans for each one of us.

Remember earlier in this piece I mentioned a few of my childhood dreams? Well, I’m currently living out some of them now. I’m making my feature film debut as an actress and I’m a published author. That’s two out of three. Who knows what else God has in store?

Be excited. Be encouraged. Be patient. If He did it for me, He can do it for you. Dare to dream big and make big plans. I’ll leave you with this verse. My prayer to you:

May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4)

Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.

Look forward to hearing from you,

-Kat

 

 

 

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