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Entries in Kathy Carlton Willis (19)

Thursday
Oct122017

A New Kind of Survival

I’ve followed survivor Kathy Carlton Willis in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In this special UPLIFT, she shares some insights inspired by Harvey.

Kathy is always finding a way to grin through stinky days. One of her Facebook posts said, “Harvey Schmarvey! Harvey is like the unwanted house guest who doesn’t know when to leave.”

Kathy's example encouraged me (Dawn) in my own recent "storm," and I pray her words will help you too.

Kathy continues . . .

One thing that popped up during Harvey was the use of unintentional puns. It’s as if God wanted to help me keep generating grins despite the devastation surrounding me.

Here are a few of them:

  • I forgot to get vaccinated for cabin fever.
  • This whole area feels a bit like cornflakes sitting in milk too long—soggy.
  • I’m flooded by emails and calls from concerned friends.
  • I’m blown away by how people are helping people.
  • The water to all of Beaumont has been shut off. (Sure, we didn’t want more water, but we meant rain!)
  • I can’t believe the Internet router went out just four hours after our electricity came back on. What? Wasn’t ten days enough time without technology? When it rains, it pours!
  • Russ saw a 4-foot alligator on the road. I wonder if Russ said, “See you later, alligator!”
  • We’ll be playing catch up once the power is back on. We’ll keep calm and power on!

And a serious one:

  • “The sun is coming tomorrow. The Son is here today.”

No Light in Sight

The electricity failed for ten days. Having no air conditioning or fan during the hottest part of Texas summer was most miserable.

It was pitch black without the light. I kept flipping the light switch on, even though I knew the power was out. Darkness is never so dark as when there’s not a spot of light. As I pondered about God in the darkness, I centered my mind’s eye on His light, and a sense of His presence gave me great peace.

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. (Luke 1:78-79 NLT)

Grateful for Simple Luxuries

It looked like a war zone all around us, with the army tanks and helicopters. Lines at what few stores opened had a two- to three-hour wait time, with guards at the entrance.

We found a battery-powered fan housed in a dented box at the store. It was the only fan on the shelf. Others assumed it was defective. We inspected it, and decided it was functional. Did God crunch the box so I could have some air movement in my steamy home?

My first hot meal was a McDonald’s breakfast biscuit. I never thought I’d be happy for McD’s, but I prayed the most appreciative meal blessing I’d prayed in a while!

Washing my hands with soap and warm water felt like such a luxury.

Finding a loaf of bread seemed like a small miracle.

Weather the Storm

The only way to weather a storm is to plan ahead for it, do all you can, and then rest in God’s presence as you wait out the worst of it.

And then, as soon as relief is in sight, ask God to show you how He wants to use the trial* for:

  1. His glory
  2. The good of others
  3. Your own personal and spiritual growth

What do you need to do today to be ready for the storm that might hit tomorrow?

* NOTE: Kathy wrote Four Ways to Get through the Storm earlier this year. She practiced her own tips during Hurricane Harvey. Kathy is coordinating an encouragement project to deliver donated gift cards and homemade baked goods to a neighborhood hardest hit by Harvey.

The rest of the story? She was supposed to close on a home in that very neighborhood on September 19th. The home was flooded with 5-7 feet of water and the contract was voided. She says she discovered home isn’t a WHERE, it’s a WHO.

Please continue to pray for Kathy and others you know who have "weathered" a tough storm in recent days. Pray they will not only "survive," but thrive in the Father's care.

Kathy Carlton Willis, God's Grin Gal, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceShe’s a bi-monthly columnist with CBN and a devotional writer for Todd Starnes. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

The photo in the graphic, above, was Kathy's photo of the first sunshine that broke through after Harvey.

Thursday
Jul272017

Organize Your Life - Part 2

In Part One of “Organize Your Life,” Kathy Carlton Willis covered several helpful organization tips along with spiritual applications. She explained how we can have less stress in our homes and our hearts as we get organized. In this article, she continues the topic with 4 more tips.

I (Dawn) think one of the biggest consequences of disorganization—whether in our homes, our workspace or our heart—is stress. I'm glad to see Kathy addresses this.

Kathy continues . . .

There are several ways we can take life hacks and use the same principles to straighten up our spiritual lives, too.

Here are a few more tips as we continue the article started here.

5. Loaded is Bloated.

What slows down an electronic device? When there are too many programs or documents loaded to it, or too many apps open.

The only way to make it faster is to lighten its load or to add more hard drive or memory.

Spiritual Life: What slows me down? When I have too many burdens I’m trying to carry around. I have so many tasks going at once I’m not multi-tasking, I’m maxi-tasking. I have to let some of it go in order to have enough white space in the margins to think straight. Then I give God room to work in my life—His strength is my hard drive and His Spirit is more memory.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT).

6. Do It When You Think of It.

The older I get, the more I realize I have to do things when I think of them, otherwise, out of mind is, well—out of sight!

Spiritual Life: What do I do when I’m reminded of my sin? The best time to deal with it is as soon as it comes to mind.

7. Handle It Once.

Don’t handle the same piece of paper twice.

  • If it’s trash, throw it out.
  • If it’s a bill, pay it.
  • If it needs to be filed, file it.

Spiritual Life: Am I holding on to chronic guilt? Once I’ve asked God to forgive me, it's time to receive that forgiveness and move on.

The longer I hang on to the guilt, the harder it is to get rid of.

8. Take Five!

It doesn’t take an hour or half-day to organize.

  • Use the five minutes it takes to make a cup of coffee to pick up clutter or empty the dishwasher.
  • When commercials come on the television, deal with a pile of papers.
  • Five-minute work-bursts add up fast, and keep you from being overwhelmed.
  • Take five minutes before leaving the house to straighten up.
  • Before bed take another five minutes to pick up items that didn’t get put away. Prepare ahead for the next day.

Treat five-minute work-bursts as a race, and you’ll be surprised what you get done!

The bonus? Once you get going, you’ll extend that five-minute challenge to longer work sessions, because once you get started you feel up to tackling more.

Spiritual Life: Am I putting off having some quiet time with God until I find an extra hour in my day? I need to grab five minutes when I can get it to talk to God or read His Word or listen to His Spirit. And the more I spend time with Him, the more I want to.

How will you get organized to have less stress in your home and heart?

Kathy Carlton Willis—God's Grin Gal—shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceShe’s a bi-monthly columnist with CBN and a devotional writer for Todd Starnes. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of geralt at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jul252017

Organize Your Life - Part 1

Kathy Carlton Willis would love to see women escape the chaos of their lives. In this Organization UPGRADE, she explains how we can have less stress in our homes and our hearts as we get organized.

"Lately, a phrase has been stuck like a song in my head—'Don’t put it down, put it up!'" Kathy says.

"Every time I think about putting something in the wrong place, that advice nags me and I'm reminded it doesn’t take any longer to put something in its designated spot."

I (Dawn) am a firm believer in "a place for everything and everything in its place," but Kathy takes this one step further and I agree: Conquering the chaos in our lives begins with a more ordered perspective and a change of heart.

Kathy continues . . .  

Realizing this simple organizational tip might be a good reminder to others as well, I started collecting other helpful tips to share. Each one ended up also triggering a spiritual reminder to me.

Isn’t it interesting that the same things that help us get our acts together help us get our lives straightened out?

Let’s look at some.

1. File It, Don’t Pile It!

I admit it. I’m a piler. It’s a good thing Russ and I are minimalists because it minimizes the number of piles I can create!

But every so often I get into a sorting mood and I force myself to either file it away, scan it in, or pitch it.

Spiritual Life: What do I allow to pile up before I deal with it? Hurt feelings? Disappointment? Anger? Sadness? Time won’t shoo away what I’ve stockpiled. It’s time to address the mess going on in my life.

“But be sure that everything is done properly and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40 NLT).

2. Clutter Clatters.

I’m a messy cook. I tend to dirty every dish I own. And then I’m too exhausted to clean up.

But it doesn’t take long before I’m back in the kitchen washing, organizing, putting everything away. Why? Because the clutter is so noisy, it clatters. Such a distraction!

When everything is straightened up I sense a quietness—peace.

Spiritual Life: Is my day cluttered with so much busyness that I have neglected my quiet time with God? Does the clutter clatter so loudly I can’t hear God’s still small voice? It’s time to roll up my sleeves, put away the clutter and let the cleared space make room for God’s peace.

3. Less is Best.

I used to own a 4,000-square-foot fixer-upper and set out to fill it with stuff. Then a life reversal forced us to have a living estate sale before moving into an 800-square-foot rent house.

I learned to hold on to my stuff with a loose grip.

Now I love a more minimalistic approach to my belongings.

When I don’t pack my space full, I have enough white space to give my chaos a break. Peace.

Spiritual Life: I need as much white space as my house. When I cram every hour with to-do lists, obligations, chores, and busyness, there’s no margin for relaxation. By allowing space in my day for contemplation and meditation, I can handle the rest of the day with more resolve and clarity.

4. Don’t Give in to the Pig Pen.

It’s tempting once things are a mess, to not even try. Why bother? Why put this away when it won’t make the rest of the mess look any better?

It’s a downward spiral toward the pig pen.

Spiritual Life: It was in the pig pen, where the prodigal son realized the enormity of his messed-up life and desired to go back to the father, thinking even his father’s servants were treated better than what his life had become.

In the middle of my mess, when it’s tempting to keep making poor choices because I’m already stained with sin, the Father wants me to leave the mess and come to Him for rest. He will repair the damage and make all things new.

What needs sorted out in your house and in your heart?

(PART TWO of “Organize Your Life." is published here.)

Kathy Carlton Willis—God's Grin Gal—shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceShe’s a bi-monthly columnist with CBN and a devotional writer for Todd Starnes. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of geralt at Pixabay.

Tuesday
May162017

Four Ways to Get through the Storm

In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, Kathy Carlton Willis refers to a tremendous "storm" she's going through. I’m on the prayer team for Kathy and have been privy to her prayer needs. She doesn’t just share requests, but also how they affect her.

Kathy told me:

“I’m starting to look at the storms of life differently.”

That piqued my (Dawn's) interest. She’s been through plenty of storms—enough to provide a full education on how to be a storm dweller!

Kathy continues . . .

I had just been to see a surgeon and infectious disease doctor about an ongoing medical situation. While in the medical center, a tornado warning was issued. A twister had been spotted in the vicinity.

But I stayed putI needed to hear what the doctors would say regarding my health.

Their words still rang in my ears as we stepped into our car. Thankfully, my husband Russ was there to drive us the one hundred miles home.

The worst storm imaginable buffeted us from every angle. We’d driven through hurricanes and tropical storms and hail, but this was worse.

Every time I prayed for God to remove the storm, the storm worsened.

The sky grew darker, the rain pounded worse, no visibility, hydroplaning, wind, and more.

It wasn’t until I quit praying for God to remove the storm, and simply asked Him to be with us in it and to get us through it, that the rain lightened up a bit and we could see our way. Eventually we could resume our normal speed and found our way home.

Once I realized it was God’s presence that gave me such powerful peace through the storm, I thought of this verse in Joshua:

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NLT).

Brother Lawrence wrote a book titled The Practice of the Presence of God. This monk expressed the importance of not reserving awareness of God’s presence for church services. He taught how it took practice to focus on God and bring Him into everyday living.

Of course, God is always there, but this practice is a discipline to be mindful of His presence by your side (and in you). Brother Lawrence learned to do life with God, whether he was involved in a household chore, taking a walk, or something else. He turned mundane activities into opportunities to talk to God (and listen).

When we go through storms, it’s an important time to practice the presence of God.

When you let go of your expectation that God is the Great Fixer, and instead be content that He is the Great Friend, you can get through any difficult time.

Here are four ways to do that:

1. Be mindful of God with you.

He’s always there, but it’s up to you to sense His presence. Be on the lookout!

2. Swap prayers for praise.

When we swap our focus from our needs to His deeds, we realize His presence is enough to get through this storm.

3. Surrender your agenda.

He’s a big enough God to take care of us, no matter what the storm is.

(I think of how calm Jesus was when the storm hit the disciples’ boat. I want that calmness!)

4. Daydream about God.

Use your everyday, routine, mindless tasks as an opportunity to fix your thoughts on Jesus.

How much BETTER this is than to fill in the blank spaces with regrets about what is past or worries about what is yet to come.

And then when the storms do come, you’re ready to face them.

How will you invite Jesus to hang out with you in the midst of your current storm?

God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceShe’s a bi-monthly columnist with CBN and a devotional writer for Todd Starnes. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of skeeze at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Mar282017

Trials Polish the Shine

I’ve watched Kathy Carlton Willis deal with trial after trial and somehow continue to shine. I often wonder how she manages to grin despite the challenges. In this deeply personal Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she helps us consider the blessing in our trials.

“Trials are going to happen to everyone. We don’t get a choice," Kathy says, "but we do get to choose how we respond. Will I grin or will I groan? I’ve found if I can stay focused on God and others, I can endure the negative circumstances in my life.”

Kathy’s not merely saying words. She’s my (Dawn's) personal Barnabas of encouragement even when she’s in the middle of her own painful situations.

Kathy continues . . .

A few months ago I had a simple surgery that resulted in serious complications. Others ask how I keep smiling during personal turmoil.  

Even though my time in the hospital was miserable, the God-appointments were amazing! When people entered my room to do their jobs, God prompted me to say the right thing so they felt comfortable opening up about a burden. I got to deliver a dose of Jesus’ grace before they left.

Only God could bring the hurting to me when I was hurting and couldn’t go to them!

How rewarding to be used for God’s good and glory despite physical limitations.

If you are going through a terrible circumstance, I’m here to share this fact: trials polish the shine more!

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold" (1 Peter 1:6-7a, NLT).

I rejoice that God planted me at the right place at the right time. Oh—the stories I heard!

People came in with family problems. One admitted she was shamed by a hospital worker for being “just an aide.” My tenderhearted night nurse was worried about her own upcoming medical test. The next week she returned to thank me for my prayers because her test came back normal!

A mom visiting her son across the hall talked to me about his serious injuries. We discussed how God answers prayer. Many more God-stories occurred.

As I walked the halls, every door had the name of that room's patient and their doctor. I prayed for each. For the patients, to have grace to endure, and for the doctors to have both wisdom and compassion.

It was like my own personal missionary assignment!

Praying for others got my mind off my own problems and kept them in perspective considering what others faced.

TIPS for ENDURANCE

1. Be alert to others.

Be alert to what's going on around you more than you're tuned in to your own problems.

God can use us anywhere as long as we pay attention to the pain—and joy—of others rather than being singularly focused on our own dilemmas.

2. Sense the prayers of others.

Allow them to lift you up, uP, UP—just like a hot air balloon.

3. Don't apologize for being weak.

One of God's graces is that when we are weak, God shows up strong. (Well... He's always strong, but I sure notice it more when I'm weak!)

4. Tap into God's strength.

The strength you need or others need in you will show up as He surges through you with His power. It's the Christian's super power!

For whatever reason, God seems to like to use me in the MESS rather than in the BEST. If that’s the way He gets the most glory, I’m okay with that. My story is about how BIG He is despite my big problems.

Whether in the BEST, or the MESS—I am BLESSED.

How might God use you during your current messy life situation?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker   at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author   - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. She wrote Grin with Grace with AMG Publishers and has several books releasing over the next few years. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.