Proverbs 31 for January 31, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve been following me for the past year, you probably know that I was extremely blessed to write a lot in 2016…like 4 books! That’s a lot. I dare say I probably couldn’t have written one more word. But this year—2017—I’m staring at my email awaiting more contracts, awaiting someone to say: “hey you, write for us, edit this.” And it’s slow. Very slow.

So what does a writer do during the “in between” times of projects? Read the work you’ve already written! I don’t always read one of my 4 books, but today, I reread the last chapter in my first book (Successful Moms of the Bible) because it was on Proverbs 31 and I started reading proverbs each day this month (and voila, we’re on January 31…it’s a neat study I do some months when I don’t have a devotional to guide my reading time; simply read the Proverbs that matches the date of the month…only in February will you need to read several in one day at the end to catch up; but no worries, I’ve learned to take the pressure off myself…I might miss one or two during my selected month, but since I do this several times a year, I’ll get back to that chapter I’m sure.)

So today, knowing it was January 31 and that I used the Proverbs 31 phenomenal woman as the subject of Chapter 10 in Moms, I read my own work as a part of my devotion. And, once again, the words I wrote spoke to me and my situation right now. Words have the amazing power of touching people right where they need it and when they need it. It reminds me why I’m grateful and thankful to be called a writer and to write to share God’s love and expound on God’s Word for people—it’s a special task and I don’t take it lightly—even when I’m frustrated and stalled and waiting…

What stood out to me today comes from Proverbs 31:30-31 (Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.) To describe these verses, I wrote: When we as moms rely on God for wisdom and help, even when we might feel like sleeping in or quitting or escaping, we can be renewed. We can run like eagles and we can find renewed strength to keep on going one more day. We can personify Isaiah 40:31: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Where is your strength coming from today?

 

Weeping may endure in the night, but joy comes in the morning....this picture gives me hope!

Weeping may endure in the night, but joy comes in the morning….this picture gives me hope in busy times and troubling times.

Now we can’t spend hours and hours and hours sitting and reading the Bible each day, but we can spend hours and hours and hours talking to God throughout our day—even when it is wails and cries about the injustice in this world.

 

This has been one of my busiest seasons in life. It seems everything happens at the same time.

Within the past month I have:

Written the manuscript for my third book (Successful Leaders of the Bible, Hachette/FaithWords); I’ve had four months since turning in the second book in the series (Successful Women of the Bible—out August 23, 2016!), but I really am a deadline oriented person—so four months seems like forever. I did start on this book earlier than I did the second one because I am learning, but…

I Moved—well, let’s back up. On May 1, 2016, my husband and I walked into the home we thought would be perfect for us, made a bid (even though we were told there was one on the table), waited two days for it to be approved, and then started a pretty quick trek toward closing on June 10. In between that time, we had to pack up the condo we had lived in together for 8 years and still keep the condo looking presentable since it was on the market and needed to be ready to show in a 24-hour period. I hadn’t moved in a long time—and my last move was in the same building so I took stuff downstairs each day, making the move relatively easy. Well, this time things were different. I didn’t move as a single woman. I moved as a married woman with a 6-year-old child. Who knew a kid and a husband could pack on so much stuff. Nothing has been thrown out since Derrick moved in or since Kayla was born… Nothing! Not to mention, I had the luxury of keeping everything I wanted since my last move was just down stairs. Moving is no joke! Moving a family is really no joke. But we did it and we are thankful.

I Vacationed—because we didn’t plan when our dear cousins announced their wedding date that we’d be in the middle of a move and I’d be writing my third book. Life can surprise you like that. But, we wouldn’t have wanted to miss such a momentous occasion to share with our family—so we packed up and enjoyed the heat in Dominican Republic for five days—even as our boxes in our condo glared at us, wondering what we were thinking (oh, and they had to be neatly stacked boxes, because we just never know when the perfect buyer will walk through the door with our realtor, whether we are soaking up rays or not!).

Life—I’m not even going to list all of the other things going on: book signings (for Successful Moms of the Bible), end-of-school stuff for Kayla, new summer camp at a new school to adjust to, my business work (and I’m working on some fantastic stuff from amazing authors), Vacation Bible School (because I wanted Kayla to experience what is near and dear to my heart (Christian education!) and I’m working on curriculum and it helps to see it in action), etc.

But in the midst of this month (June and July), I’ve felt total peace. One second before I wanted to get upset with my husband (over some random move stuff), I stopped and realized I should look at this differently; I should consider his side, I should take into account all that he was doing and all of the work he had put into our move while getting used to his new job. Whoa, what was that? I was listening when I wanted to be upset. It had to be nothing but God’s spirit, guiding me and correcting me before I even opened my mouth. Imagine that! I wondered what had happened… And then I thought back to the hours and hours I had poured over scripture to finish that manuscript. Is that really what happens when you spend hours and hours in God’s Word, reflecting on the faith story of Bible characters as well as your own?

Oh yeah, that’s exactly what happens. Now we can’t spend hours and hours and hours sitting and reading the Bible each day (even I can’t—publishing is so much more than just sitting and writing), but we can spend hours and hours and hours talking to God throughout our day—even when it is wails and cries about the injustice in this world. It’s called prayer: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  (Philippians 4:6, NLT)

 

It’s what can keep you in perfect peace… I promise. I’m a witness.

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3, NLT)

leaders cover

Successful Leaders of the Bible comes out January 3, 2017. It is the third book in a series. Successful Moms of the Bible (available now) and Successful Women of the Bible (preorder now; available August 23, 2016) are also a part of the series.

katarabio pic 1

Katara Washington Patton is author of the Successful Bible Series (Hatchette/Faithwords, 2016). She also helps others publish their work through her company, Esteem Publishing and Consulting.

 

How’s your prayer life?

katara_and_mother-image2

Mom and I celebrating my graduation from Dillard University in the glorious month of May…some 24 years ago

This time last year—as I struggled to get work done as I entered my 1-year-anniversary as a full-time freelancer/entrepreneur—I visited my therapist for a tune up. I’ve been a long-time supporter of sitting down and talking to a paid professional—whether you’re feeling blue or depressed, planning your next career move or marriage, or you just need some perspective. Therapy has helped me with grief, loss, transition, good changes and more.

Continue reading

Getting a few moments away with friends can be refreshing and renewing...and it makes me a better mom!

Getting a few moments away with friends can be refreshing and renewing…and it makes me a better mom!

 

This past weekend was jam-packed for me…and I loved every minute of it.

You see, it was a different type of “full” for me. I didn’t take Kayla, my 6 year old, to swim lessons (yep, she missed a class and she will still be a great swimmer!) I didn’t take Kayla to dance or a play group or a birthday party.

Nope, I had a one day retreat at my church’s women’s conference…and it was glorious and wonderful and I feel much better because of it.

Continue reading

 

balloonsFor the past 31 days, I’ve been counting down the days to my birthday by reflecting on what I’ve learned this year and throughout my 43 years of life. This is the last installment, thankfully!

Continue reading

family_1Kayla_princess

…reflecting on what I’m learning as I turn 43 in a few days (this has been a challenging task to keep up with!) One of the themes of this week: Where has the time gone? (Look at lil K at about 6 weeks at her first outing…and now, at 3.5 years old! It feels like just a short time–well, most times it does! We have to learn to love the moments…

 

August 24: There are just some moments where you sit back and watch and realize that the years are truly short; days might seem long, but then you look up and it’s another year…or 11 years later. That’s one of the many thoughts that ran through my head today as I watched my best friend and her husband host a block party.  (How in the world did we get old enough to really host these things?) I smiled as I watched her very handsome 11-year-old son sit and talk with my husband—it feels like only a few short years ago I watched my college pal worry if her little shaking newborn was okay ( my mom said he needed to be swaddled!). How did this little baby get to be 11? How did my friend’s 9-year-old get to be a surrogate big sister for my 3.5 year old (big sister pushed my girl on a bike, big sister  helped my Kayla  in the jumping jack and took pride in having a little kid to show around). Wow! Wow! Wow! I’m reminded today to enjoy the moments…the crazy ones, the hard ones, the great ones…because we’ll look up and it will be 11 (or more) years later. Enjoy this moment!

August 25: Today was an excellent day! I was especially touched at the simplest yet kindest gesture at church. A woman wanted to share something with me about parenting. She leaned in and purposefully grabbed my hand and spoke softly into my ear. Awww, refreshing and reassuring. I appreciate her gentleness and care in how she said those words…even more than the words. It’s hard for me to take advice sometimes…but I so appreciated that she took the time to make sure I understood her words were meant with gentleness and sincerity. Oh, if we could all deliver messages like that maybe our words would be better received. I’m learning…

August 26: I am so looking forward to a little break this week and weekend. Kayla is out of school so we will hang out a bit at the end of the week; I will then journey to New York to see my other bestie. I need a break. It’s so nice to have something to look forward to—this helps me keep going. I must learn to plan treats and things to look forward to—whether big trips away or small lunch breaks. Looking forward to something helps!

August 27: Staying the course regardless of the signs we see is so important. On this weight loss journey, I’ve been weighing in each week. For the past 2 weeks, I have stayed the exact same weight. Now, this is a good thing when you’re not trying to lose, but when you’re working out, tracking what you eat, trying your “almost” best, it can be frustrating. But, this week, I stepped on that scale and was down a significant amount (for a woman about to be 43!) It showed. My hard work was not in vain. And in life, I’m learning things work like that silly scale. Sometimes our hard work and effort do not show on the day we expect it to (or in the way), but if we don’t get discouraged, keep doing what we know works, evaluate what isn’t working, we can do it. I look forward to another loss soon…but I will also learn to keep working regardless of what one system shows as progress (or lack of) and know that I am making progress. We’re going for progress, not perfection, says one of our weight loss counselors. Amen!

August 28: I celebrated a friend’s graduation from seminary today…a few months later than we initially planned, but we celebrated all the same. It put me on the way back machine from when I was in her shoes—a mere 10 years ago. Seems like a very long time, yet such a short time. Again, weird how time does that to you. My heart goes out to her as she stands at a crossroads—filled with decisions and emotions. I, too, had many of those same feelings…and I’m thankful that 10 years later I am still moving—even when the path seems unclear. Walking by faith—especially when the path seems unclear. Learning…

August 29: Kayla and mommy jumped rope today. Oh, the life of a carefree child. I love it. And jumping speed rope is a great cardio workout. Whew. I’m thankful that although I had postpartum cardio myopathy (yep, heart failure), I am here to jump rope with my child (and live to write about it!) Thanking God! Thanking God! Thanking God!

August 30—I got a treat today! I got to visit with my cousin. She shared stories about my grandmother and her mother, who were sisters. It was nice to hear more about my grandmother and the “good old days.” I was reminded even more that there is nothing new under the sun. We’ve got to share our stories to help those coming behind us.

Part 2 of My Birthday Countdown…What I have learned this year (and week!)

 

One of my absolute favorite memories as a child...our trip to Disney; I'm with my two biggest influencers: mom and dad! They were married on 8/19/61.

One of my absolute favorite memories as a child…our trip to Disney; I’m with my two biggest influencers: mom and dad! They were married on 8/19/61.

August 17: (#8) I love being able to combine work and family time. A princess party for an author’s book and a 3.5 year old princess equals a fun (even if exhausting) day. And to think, when I accepted this job 6 years ago, I had no idea I’d be blessed to raise my own little princess. Thankful for God’s amazing hand (and writing of the script!)

August 18: (#9) Whoa…pace yourself, girl. It was a nice day in Chicago…perfect weather. After church, I immediately started to wonder: what will we get into today? My answer: Whatever it is, it has to be outside. Park, nap, pool, hairwashing…makes for a full day. I’m tired. Work may be my chance to rest this week, says every working mother. I didn’t know it would take this much energy to hang with a child; God bless parents, please! And help us learn to pace ourselves.

August 19: (#10) During my morning walk, listening to the newly download Tye Tribbett’s lyrics: If he did it before, He’ll do it again…same God right now, same God back then.” I broke down. Slumped over in praise and honor and glory and grief (amazing how all those emotions can come at the same time). I was enjoying my time with God that morning…and then it dawned on me that it would have been Mom and Dad’s 52nd wedding anniversary. I thanked God that two people could come together and stay together (til death parted them), raise 3 children, teach us how to put God first, show us that they were not perfect–but that they tried hard to follow God’s will; our parents sacrificed, they trusted in God, they desired more for their kids so they pushed us and pushed us and loved us. Oh, I’m truly blessed by the union of Manual and Ernestine Washington on August 19, 1961. Wow, God was with them then and God is with us now as we navigate through life and work to love and honor and cherish our mates. I pray my brother, sister and I can always rely on the model we were blessed to see firsthand: to trusting in God to be the best parents and mates that we can be…and I pray that if you haven’t had that model, I pray God can show you the way (like he did for my mom and dad!)

August 20: (#11) It is sometime easy to complain about what isn’t right in life…I won’t even start. But, it is, in my opinion, our task to remind ourselves of all that is right. I once heard this referred to as “changing the radio station within your mind.” When you start to focus on the negative, the bad, the violence, the sickness, the lack, etc., change your channel and focus on what is good in your life: for me today—the five minutes of peace while watching TV with my child, the meeting with co-workers that was fun and did get one thing accomplished, traffic that wasn’t as bad as it can be, a mate who makes dinner (thank God!), etc. While this isn’t a prescription to ignore the things we are called to fix in this world, it is a reminder to focus our minds on those things we need to be grateful for!

August 21: I made Kayla’s lunch early for her Thursday picnic. I do think I was just as excited as she was. There are just some fun things about motherhood—things to make me downright giddy. And then there are other things to make me wonder how in the world we can possibly do it all. But, God is teaching me this day and this year to operate through His strength. Pray about everything. And somehow, someway, the still small voice reminds me: “that’s not important” or “do you really need to do that right now.” I’m working on listening more!

August 22: The picnic that was planned at Kayla’s school was canceled. I was sad to see the rain right about the time the little tots were supposed to be at the park, but when I showed up at the school, the teacher said, “we spread out a blanket on the floor and had a picnic inside.” And again, another reminder to focus on what we do have: blankets! Indoors! Creative teachers! And sweet little ones who are happy when you just mix it up a bit. No outside for them this day, but smiles and laughter and giggles as they sat on a blanket. Oh, God give us the heart of these sweet children to appreciate those special little things in life!
August 23: As I paid off some long-running credit card debt today, I wrote: Praise God on each bill. I was just so thankful for reaching some of our financial goals. Our spreadsheet for the past 3 years or so has been tight! I had written at the top of the spreadsheet, a few words of encouragement and our goals. And today, I got to check off just a few more of those goals. Thank you Lord. I continue to Praise God in the midst of reaching these goals…and learning the lessons of delayed gratification, saving, and planning…even at 43, I still have to learn these lessons (or be reminded of them!) And I’m thankful for a mate who is in agreement about debt reduction. We’re getting there, by the grace of God. I was also reminded of the day my mom sent the last bill for the mortgage on our home. She praised God that day. I vividly remember the grateful look on her face; I was too little to probably know the full story (had she missed a few payments? Been in danger of missing them? Certainly she and my father had tight budgets while raising 3 kids, but somehow, someway, through faithful steps, they paid off their mortgage.) I’m thankful for being able to witness this at a young age. Through rough times, dry seasons, and seasons of making goals, God is faithful. Today, I am thankful.

me and mom1

 

 

 

 

 

That’s me…with my mom sometime in the early 70s!

 

 

I had planned to post this during my series of blogs on Mother’s Day week (how to celebrate Mother’s Day when mom is no longer on Earth); well, as grief would have it, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to continue that emotional journey that particular week. So, this post never made it up. But, today I celebrate Mom’s 71st Birthday and I thought this would be a nice way to honor her and to encourage all of us who belong to this club. Happy Birthday, Mama!

 

Whoa…the big, bad wolf (that’s me) just had a melt down.
Yep, after saying how I felt after 7 years of saying good-bye to mom, posting to help others, reading your comments about how special she was and the recipes of hers that you still use…and then, enjoying a warm bath and reading the first chapter of a new Tyndale release (A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson), I broke down.
Sophie, who is from the South, described her Mamaw and Papaw’s (I didn’t know that’s how you spell that! Awesome editorial team at Tyndale!) marriage, relationship, and eventually Mamaw’s death.

salty

This is the cover of the book I was reading when I had my melt down. Sophie Hudson paints such a vivid picture of how they said good-bye to Mamaw that I couldn’t help but recall how my family said good-bye to Mom. I don’t know Sophie, but we have so much in common. Humanity! (more on that later)

 

Whoa…Sophie told this through the eyes of her 14-year-old self…right around the same age my oldest nephew was when his Mamaw (my mom) died.
Whoa…her cooking (uhm, if you had tasted Ernestine Washington’s cooking, you’d know what I mean…just about the best around Southern Louisiana for sure…she always wanted to be a home economics teacher and while she never did, she used all of that talent to bless her family and friends…and she actually retired as a nutrionist aid who helped mothers on the Women Infant and Children (WIC) program learn to cook nutritional meals…uhm, sounds like God gave her the desires of her heart…more on that another day!)
Whoa…mamaw sounded like the white version of my mom.
Whoa…I was supposed to be reading to unwind and catch a few more zzzzs before I get ready for the day.
Whoa…that’s how grief will do you; when you’re not thinking about it, when you’re feeling fine, when it’s a good day, a bad day, an uneventful day, a full day, it can hit you. Right smack in the middle of your heart.
So how do you go on?
Know that you will go on; someone how some way, you will. How else will you be able to honor your mom and her legacy. Surely she didn’t pour all that she had into you for you to die when she died.
Yes, grieve. Yes, cry. But go on. Live like your mom taught you to live; learn from the lessons she passed on—intentionally or inadvertently through the mistakes she made. Live as a woman or man who wants to honor mom through your life.
How I do it?
I pray (mom prayed a lot; I heard her pray out loud for her family every Sunday morning; it used to get on my nerves, but now I cherish the fact that I know exactly how and what my mama prayed for me…more on that another time too!)
I try to find balance (if I could send a letter to my mom 50 years prior to her death…I’d ask her to put herself first just a little bit more; exercise more, eat better, handle stress differently)…so I try to do those things myself in her honor.
I love my family and my friends. Mom loved us…unconditionally. When we messed up, I never felt judged; disciplined yes…but judged…no. She’s was that kind of person.
Mom taught me to love the Lord through her messages and most importantly through her life. I seek to do the same…what a difference having that anchor makes in times of trouble.

So, grieve my friend. But live too. Live like your mama taught you to!

 

 

How do you honor your mom?

katara_and_mother-image2

 

I was mom’s 3rd child and 3rd child to graduate from college (Fair Dillard, N.O., LA!). She was a firm believer in education…thank you, Mama!

Continue reading

How can you help seniors with depression?

How can you help seniors with depression?

I know I’m guilty of not always remembering the trials and tribulations senior citizens (usually those over 65 but sometimes younger) may encounter. But depression among seniors is a reality.

Consider this:

  • You’ve retired or been forced to stop working because of illness, a lay off or downsizing, etc.
  • You want to retire but are afraid of the financial ramifications (or the healthcare costs).
  • If you are retired, you don’t necessarily get out of bed at 6 a.m. anymore to go to an office filled with people (even if you don’t always like the people you work with, co-workers really are a family, a social network of sorts)
  • If you are retired, you are probably on a very fixed income. I know those of us who work are on fixed incomes, but we can do things to make more money (work overtime, get bonuses, get other jobs/sources of income.) But retired seniors are often relying on checks from pensions and social security, praying hard not to have an incident that requires more than their monthly budget.
  • As a senior—especially in this country—you are probably taking some form of medicine and the small print probably lists depression as a side effect.
  • If you’re not taking care of a loved one, you may feel as if you are not needed.
  • If you are taking care of a loved one, you may feel worn out, burnt out, saddened because of the loved ones illness.
  • You could be mourning the death of a loved one. You can feel like a burden to your relatives, even your own adult children who have commitments of their own.

Yes, depression among seniors is real. So how can you help?

Think about the seniors in your life and find ways to include them in your activities regularly. Invite them over for dinner, cook a meal and eat it with them, take them to a restaurant, or pick them up for church.

Share life with them. Share stories of your kids, give details about your day. In other words, treat them like you treat any other friend. Share with them.

Remember to also treat seniors with respect and not like they are children. In fact you might ask their advice or ask them to tell you about a time they had to deal with an issue you’re dealing with. They may enjoy sharing wisdom with you.

You will be blessed and so will your senior.

How do you help the seniors in your life? Leave a comment and share.

Tags

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: