Darcee and I met Kathleen at an event at my mom’s place (Lydia’s House) in Brenham. She was immediately likable and knowable–both trustworthy and trusting. She creates an environment of openness and point us to the Lord’s presence, likely without knowing she is doing it. I think it was her authenticity and willingness to share about her journey that first gave Darcee the idea for this series. I hope you’ll enjoy her words below.
My season of Arrival – you know that time when you finally get all your children grown up and mothering ends. Well, at least it ends as we have known it. I am a wife & a mother of one stepson (a term I hate – because I am one of those – a stepkid) and I have three sons of my own. Yes, I have been quite outnumbered for many years. My stepson grew up in his mother’s house and honestly I adore him as if he were my own; but, I have struggled in my role in his life and he has also in mine. Being his stepmom has been one of the most challenging roles in my life. Nothing to do with him but how do you do that? Exactly how do you meet the expectations of mom but you really aren’t the mom. How do you make them feel every bit a part and not leave them out and have some normalcy in your own home? My stepson is married with a little boy and our first little girl. He is quite the salesman and very charming.
Maybe you grew up with perfect moms but I did not. Remember, I am a step so I had two moms. I am sure both loved me but one was 17 years older and the next 13 years older than I. If you do the math, you will conclude that I was 13 when my 2nd mom was 26 and lost spiritually. I will allow you to think that through on your own. As I began mothering, I didn’t have much of a compass for motherhood and just for a better term decided I could “wing it.” I am a bit of a non-conformist (opposed to rebellious) so none of my children graduated from high school. One quit in his junior year after a football injury; my two younger sons were homeschooled. It all ended well and I give all credit to God and their willingness to learn. My oldest just bought into a dental practice and is expecting his second son. My middle is taking over our family business and purchased his first home. My youngest just graduated in May from TAMU in Construction Science & has a great start. The other man in my house – my husband, James, just received his Medicare card in the mail. He could retire – but why? This is the American Dream – work hard & retire. I conclude as John Piper – The American Tragedy – work hard & retire to spend your life seaside collecting seashells.
I am in my season of Arrival – made it, did it, complete! I thought that I would retire to be a grandma but I am a bit of a control freak so my daughter-in-laws have needed to set some good boundaries with me so I don’t move in and take over their homes. Needless to say I am adjusting to another role for which I have no experience – Mother-in-law. I don’t like that term of endearment either. The role adds another to my list of difficult roles especially when you have spent the last 31 surrounded by a testosterone filled environment. God is still teaching me and I am trying to agree – not my way but Your way, Lord.
Expectations – well, you can think about that one. Let me just say – my time of Arrival is not what I expected. I forgot about the years that would fly by and how differently I would be and he would be. When I married James he asked me a very important question – “Kathleen, what do you want out of life?” I answered, “I want to lay by the pool, go to the beauty shop, and go shopping.” Yes, he still married me.
Was that a true statement? Partially. I was driving, grocery shopping, and cooking by the time I was 12 years old. I was a kid with lots of responsibility. I put myself through college and graduated from the Business School at TAMU in 1984. Afraid of being alone, I rushed into marriage, had a baby, and was divorced before my 5th anniversary. I was a bit worn out and ready for rest when I met James, but my whole life was still in front of me. I had many regrets and carried a burden for the people that I had dragged through the ditches that I ventured through. Oh – and the good things – proms, graduations, weddings, success in business, births, children’s successes, bachelors degrees, masters degrees, doctorates, grandchildren, retirement, and so on – all of these things are to be celebrated but they are not our ARRIVAL. All our regrets and all our successes are nothing but rubbish as Paul would say and I am grateful that the Lord pursued me until I stopped and turned to Him. In this life there are many regrets and many celebrations; however, He is the only ARRIVAL and my exceedingly great reward. In my time of ARRIVAL – I have found that I haven’t arrived at all.
These days I find plenty of quiet opportunities. I can choose to have some solitude with the Lord, but I can clutter my time with busy things too. It is hard to get used to being alone when you have had a house full for a lifetime. I love it at times and I hate it at times. There are days when I can sit for hours and be totally swept away by Him. There are days when the quiet distracts me and I long for what I used to have. In every season, I have found distraction and have known that intentionality would be something that I would have to practice. I am a thinker with OCD and ADHD to boot; however, I have learned to block out life and rest in the Lord as a matter of necessity.
My motivation to stay connected to the vine is that I desire a fruitful life. I have nothing to give unless I open this vessel and allow Him to pour out Himself, the Word made flesh, through me. I, like most of us, have spent time striving to do the work of the Lord in my own strength. It has never worked and it never will. I am reminded of a time in my life when one of my BFF’s was diagnosed with Breast Cancer – very aggressive and nothing worked. She had boys the age of my boys. Her mom had already lost a son & had a daughter who had a brain injury that caused her to function minimally. This mom avoided the pain of losing her daughter and in the process avoided her own daughter. It was an assignment the Lord gave me in which He taught me in the laboratory of life – Jesus is all I have to give. She died two months before her 39th birthday. I am reminded that Jesus is all that is enough.
I became Women’s Ministry Director at my church at the end of last year. I have to believe that God orders my steps and that I didn’t find something to replace the silence of my empty nest. Ministry is great but it can be very distracting from my personal time with the Lord. I find myself being obsessed with creativity, ideas, and people. My Achilles heel is pleasing people and being accepted so this position has had its own challenges. I am thankful for the history and the preparation that I have had with the Lord. We have our own thing and I am happy to embrace some of the disciplines that once helped me learn to walk with Him. I intentionally get up early when I am struggling and go on my back porch and watch the sun come up. God says COME as the sun breaks through the sky and I am reminded that Jesus lives and I am His.
Journaling has always been a helpful discipline for me. I process out loud so it helps me to be honest with myself and with God. I try to take a regular spiritual inventory of my heart. I believe honesty is the best policy with God. He already knows anyway. He has died for all of those things that hold us captive. I must be intentional about prayer, time in the word, and my personal holiness. When I fall short, He is enough and He loves me just the same. This is not a relationship of works. It is knowledge of who He has been, is, and always will be to me. In that truth I am compelled to know more of Him so I am drawn to the Word by His love for me.
Please pray that as I continue to walk this sod, I will be surrendered to the continual transformation of my heart. Pray that God will give me wisdom and understanding to walk the path that He has called me to walk. Last week my 3 year old grandson said to me, “Grandma, when I grow up, I am going to pick you up and take you to the donut shop and I am going to buy you a donut!” On July 14, 2030, Cullen will turn 16 and I will be almost 69 – I am going to hold him to that date. I pray I can look across at him on his 16th birthday and that the most important thing will be true – that Cullen will know Jesus, we will say a prayer and thank Him for our donut, and then we will laugh together while we eat our donut. When Cullen drives me home, I would love it if some little sister is waiting at my kitchen table to learn more about Him. My days of caring about the pool, the beauty shop, and shopping pale in comparison to seeing the Good News come alive in someone’s life. We have been entrusted with the gospel – I am resolved to do my part to pass it to the next generation.
In summation, upon my Arrival may He say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”