Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller, Topics: Spiritual Growth * Family * Parenting*

Hello from Kathy Collard Miller in the desert of Southern California where we are enjoying the most perfect time of year, besides the beautiful Fall. Enjoy my latest story.

My husband, Larry, and I met because I was lost. Now we’ve been married 46 years.

It was my senior year of high school. The water polo team for my school, Downey High School in Downey, California, was going to be playing in the state championship. I’d never been to a water polo game but my friend and neighbor, Margie Tweedie, thought it would be fun to see one.

Margie and I rode the school bus to a distant school which had a huge indoor pool. Since it was a championship game, lots of people came from many schools, and after Margie and I exited the bus, we joined a mass of kids and adults trying to make our way into the pool arena area.

Before I knew it, I was lost. Well, only in the sense I suddenly looked around and couldn’t see Margie anywhere. Where has she gone? How did I become separated from her? I can’t see her anywhere.

As I looked around searching for her, I saw someone I knew. It was Frank Dawson from the Episcopal church I attended. Oh, good, someone I know. I’ll talk to him.

I went over to him and said hi when I realized the Cute Guy standing next to him was a friend of Frank’s. Frank introduced me to the Cute Guy as Larry. OK, Cute Guy has a name. Good. Larry and Frank explained to me they were both on the water polo team at Warren High school, the other high school in Downey. Warren High and my school were rivals.

After chatting a while, Margie still hadn’t appeared in the mass of humanity, so when everyone started migrating to sit down, it just felt natural for the three of us to climb up the bleachers together. I found myself sitting next to Larry and I quickly hatched my plan. Since I’d never been to a water polo game, I put 2 and 2 together:

2: keep Larry’s attention
+
2: ask him questions about water polo
——————————-
4: make Larry want to ask me for a date.

I’m a good question-asker. I’m a very good question-asker. And I proceeded to literally ask questions the whole game—about water polo and about his life. I knew I was being successful because he seemed to thoroughly enjoy my interest in him. I just knew we’d reach 4!

When the game ended (I can’t remember who won but Larry remembers), we climbed down from the bleachers and the magic moment arrived for 4! Larry turned to me and I knew the magic words would come out of his mouth: “I’d love to see you again. What’s your telephone number?”

Instead, he said, “Thanks for the nice time. See you.”

I weakly replied, “See you.” I felt the blood drain from my face.

Wait! Where was the 4? I was so dismayed and disappointed. Yes, that’s just like you, Kathy. You always get the fish on the hook, but he jumps off.

I didn’t know until later (yes, obviously, Larry did call and ask for a date later) that he was afraid to ask me for a date right then in front of Frank. He didn’t want to be embarrassed if I told him no. Hello! I had just paid rapt attention to him for several hours! And he thought I wasn’t interested?!

I had lots to learn about understanding a man–and 46 years of marriage later, I think I understand his motivation some of the time.

I’m so glad I got lost in that crowd. I’d like to tell Margie the result but I can’t find her. Wouldn’t that be fun to tell her?

I didn’t know it but God was arranging our meeting all along. Although I knew I was lost in that crowd at the water polo game, I didn’t know I was spiritually lost. I attended church and thought I was a Christian because I was trying to become perfect so that God could love me. I wasn’t assured of going to heaven–I thought I could only find out after I died if my good deeds had earned enough favor with God for Him to love me.

But because I was lost in that crowd, separated from Margie, I met Larry. I started dating him, attended his church, and I heard the clear message there that I didn’t need to earn my way into heaven. Jesus’ death on the cross and spilling His blood to cover my sin was sufficient for me to be accepted by God. But I did need to receive Him as my Savior and Lord. And I could be assured of going to heaven. Talk about the lost being found!

Psalm 119:176 describes me at that water polo game: “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (NIV). How fascinating that the Psalmist says, “God, seek me!” It’s God’s work.

Kathy’s most recent book.

Kathy’s recent book.
We met because I was lost. That applies to Larry in my life and that applies to God in my life. I hope you can look and recount multiple times when hindsight reveals God was working in you all along. If you haven’t recognized it lately, ask God to reveal how He has been seeking your attention. I guarantee He has.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

Kathy Collard Miller

 

Hello from Kathy Collard Miller in the Southern California desert near Palm Springs where our perfect weather has begun.

How do you envision spiritual growth? Most of us think of it visually like a linear time line. On the left side of the line we make a step of progress and the temptation seems to be behind us and we won’t address it again. We have moved along that line to the right and we’ll only encounter new challenges—not old ones.

But that’s not an accurate visual of change. Change is more like a spiral. Let’s call it a whirlpool. We’re going around and around in life and every time we reach a certain situation or person, there’s a rock, representing a sinful strategy that hits us, tempting us to behave badly. If we think there are no rocks (as if they are behind us in a time line), we’ll be surprised and unaware of their approach. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

Mary’s Monday Musings to Quilt Encouragement — Lily Pads

The lake teamed with life, both plant and animal life. The interesting view of varied grasses punctuated with groups of lily pads called for us to sit and enjoy the scene. We spotted a crane land and watched him fish for his breakfast. We heard his rasping call. Every morning the large white lily blooms opened to greet me when I slipped past sleeping family and out the door to enjoy the scene. Every evening they closed their petals into a ball resting upon its wide green leaf. The lilies on the pond flourished. A few of our party wove a kayak around the grasses and among the lilies for a close up view of the frogs that leaped from pad to pad. The water lilies were larger than any I’d seen before. The water lilies routine was implanted in their cells. They opened and closed with the sun.

We can take a lesson from the lily. Are we pushing ourselves too hard and missing the rhythm of rest that our cells need? With the invention of electric lights, the temptation is to go, go, go cheating ourselves of proper rest. God has a rhythm for us that replenishes and allows us to greet each morning with the bloom of refreshment. Regardless of deadlines, daily rest and refreshing helps our creative juices to thrive.

Mary Tatem is the author of eight books, including her most recent re-release, The Quilt of Life.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube
Romans 12-2

Where is my valentine?

Sunday Devotion, Where is my Valentine

by Angela Breidenbach

Valentine’s Day creates a lot of stress and pain in those who don’t have the expected “valentine”, no one to give a gift to or get a gift from can often become a polarizing situation in a culture that pushes the holiday commercially. It’s sometimes embarrassing to get asked what you’re doing for Valentine’s Day. Some people cringe or go to great lengths to avoid that topic from past hurts but secretly ask, where is  my valentine? 

We believe the myth that romantic, true love makes everyone happy.

Romantic love, then, becomes an idol in our culture. Love is good. Love is beautiful. But true love comes from God, not a human being. Lonely people can feel the knife of that idol as it gets driven by unreasonable expectations focused on one specific date. That date may not connect with our real life timelines, or God’s will, or God’s best plan for our future spouse. But still an overwhelming onslaught of commercials and chatter about fancy chocolates, red roses, poetic cards, giant teddy bears, and engagement diamonds teaches us that we have no value unless we have romantic love and are showered with presents physically expressing that love for all to see.

The emptiness of being the only one without a “valentine” spirals when it becomes the only topic of conversation for a few days each year. But the underlying questions that deepen the pain are: Doesn’t anyone love me? What’s wrong with me? Or the mortifying look of pity from someone who thinks they should feel sad that someone is unattached. The pressure of Valentine’s Day isn’t just for the unattached though. Married people feel pressured to express love on that day as if it isn’t important the rest of the year. It has to be over-the-top. Financially, adding the cost of presents might even add unnecessary budget pressures to a relationship teetering weekly to meet real needs. Relationally, a spouse may put so much importance on that day that they feel unloved if a present doesn’t show up or the physical union doesn’t happen…as expected. Year after year, the pressure to top the last Valentine’s becomes a powerful fear for many people afraid of disappointing the one they adore.

Nothing is wrong with someone who doesn’t have a specific romantic connection on a commercialized holiday. Nothing is wrong with someone who doesn’t want to “celebrate” that specific day in an expected way.
Nothing is wrong with a couple that chooses to express love every day and ignore the commercial holiday. 
And nothing is wrong with anyone who chooses to express love on that holiday either. We simply need to drop the expectation and judgement so that when we express love, it is authentic.

But if you were wondering where your valentine is and if you’re loved unconditionally—yes, you are loved deeply. Not just one day a year, but you are loved every day of your life. Unconditionally. The distraction of man-made expectations can set us up for loneliness and despair creating a false desire for what someone else deems as necessary. Breaking it down to the basics, what we want may not be what we need. It’s too easy to get distracted when our eyes are on something other than the purpose and goals God knit right into our very beings.

Think about a time you were very, very hungry. A broth tastes good, but wouldn’t satisfy and certainly wouldn’t last long. What a very hungry person wants and needs is a full meal. God is your full meal of love. But, we often don’t recognize how that works and so believe we have to tangibly feel it to “really” feel His love.

So how does it really work, that love thing?

If we set our eyes on the One Who Loves us every day of our lives, who has our best at heart, who inspires us to reach for the dreams and goals He designed for each individual, then we have a sense of fulfillment. An awe that draws us forward into the path of those who also have been called to a similar journey. Fellowship, friendship, and fulfillment blossom out of relationships built on that journey. Relationships that feel real because God put those people in our lives to be His hands and feet, His arms wrapped around us. Stepping off that path, distracted by wanting the “comfort” of a commercialized expectation, the desire to fit in opens up comparison. Comparison morphs into the sin of coveting. Coveting blinds us to the specialness that could happen…if we were on the path to that personalized purpose.

Does Love = Value?

Our value comes from the One Who Loves. God sees the value in you. He designed an amazing, unique, experiential purpose for your life and mine. Purpose that gives a deep sense of satisfaction. Where there is satiety, there’s no hunger. Satisfaction, joy, and an outward expression of love for others that build a life of ultimate happiness no human being can begin to replace. Building a satisfying, joyful life experience pushes out loneliness and the need to perform to others expectations.

But what about love and valentines? Yes, we all need love. God has given us community and fellowship to help fill that need. But it isn’t up to others to fill us up. No lover or spouse can do that. Expecting that person to be everything and fulfill all sets them up for dismal failure and sets you up for disappointment. Their expectations and opinions don’t make us empty or worthless either. It’s up to God to fill us up, and in that process of overflowing love into our souls, we lavish that deep, soul love onto others. We can pour that love out by becoming involved in the natural interests God designed specifically for us. While at work, at play, at church, traveling…do what interests you and you’ll meet interesting people.

One of the best ways to fill a hole in a lonely heart is to get involved in a volunteer program. Use skills you have or sign up to learn skills you’ve always wanted, and then use those opportunities to build authentic relationships. Loneliness disappears when we give of ourselves to enrich the lives of others.

Whether you’re single, married, widowed, it doesn’t matter. Fellowship, deep relationships, come because we first pour out love to someone else. That’s the model the Lord set. He first loved us and so we love Him. It’s a natural reaction. If loneliness, unmet expectations, or wanting “what everyone else has” put a scar on your heart, consider a personal prayer to realign to God’s loving will rather than the distraction of worldly ways. 

Romans 12:2

Dear Lord,
Forgive me for getting so easily distracted by expectations fueling my wants and defining my comfort. Help me to focus when I wake on the things you want me to do including eating properly, exercising daily, and pouring my energy into what you have prepared for me. None of those things are always easy and they can make me uncomfortable. I want to be available to You and the people You put in my life. I desire real relationships, not hollow ones. Help me to set my mind on what you desire for me so that it becomes what I desire. Help this Spirit-led life to flow love out of me into my words, actions, and relationships. Fill me with joy as I fill myself with You and direct it outward into my community and world. 

In Jesus name,
Amen

Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is–what is good and pleasing and mature.
Romans 12:2

Have you felt pressured or unloved on Valentine’s Day?

What kind of interests have you ignored that you might try now?

Have you considered volunteering for a cause or organization to pour out love and build relationships?

Have you considered gaining new skills through volunteerism?

Have you explored job opportunities or changes through volunteerism to help you get back on the path you feel God designed for you?

About the author: Angela Breidenbach is the Christian Authors Network president, radio show host, and author of over 15 books.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

Dianne Barker here, doing my favorite thing—spreading encouragement.

I’ve chosen my verse for 2017. “…Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:10b). Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube