Monday, April 29, 2013

Hair Drying and Raising Children...

Drying my hair...that's when I'm most inspired to write. I don't know what it is about standing in front of a mirror with an appliance in my hand. Maybe it's the fact that I have a lot of hair and it takes a lot of time to dry, boredom sets in and my mind wanders. But inevitably, I'll think of the most interesting things to write about. So, I hurry the process along, get my legal pad and write as fast as my pencil will go. Yes, I write long handed, the method I prefer.

Today, for instance, I was thinking how unique we really are. That we each, from the time we begin toddling around, are searching for our place in the world. We're making decisions at a very early age about our likes and dislikes and forging our own path that will take us to where we'll one day be. I can look back on my children and their personalities at two and three years of age and see the same determination in them today. I can see the same likes and dislikes. A few things have changed but for the most part they've not strayed from their beginnings.

Many things will come into play to influence the outcome and we do have some control. I can remember a time in my own young life when I was in the first grade. I was walking to the bus stop early in the morning, which was just down at the end of the street. I was crying crocodile tears. The issue that ruined my morning and no doubt ruined my mom's morning? I didn't get to wear the dress I wanted to wear. I can remember it so clearly, I was heartbroken. I can remember walking just a little ways down the street, far enough away from my house, and stopping. My mom was still in the door telling me to go on to the bus stop. I was sobbing. I guess I thought maybe she would change her mind if she saw how upset I was. I tell you this to say I am STILL VERY particular in what I wear. I don't like to shop much, unless it's with a friend. I'm a very modest dresser so in this day and time it's difficult to find clothing I like. This is minor in light of what I want to talk about but hopefully you get my point. Those things that are in us that make us want to fit in are likely to be there as children and stay with us.We all want to fit in, be accepted, and loved. For me, it was as simple as wearing the dress I wanted in first grade. As I got older, the stakes got higher. I imagine it's the same for you too!

How many of us, of any age, think we have to have the right friends, the right house or wear the latest fashions to be accepted or loved? These things weren't as important to me as performing. I thought I had to be doing something. If someone asked me to do something I had to say "yes" or I thought they wouldn't like me. There were times I genuinely felt called to do certain things and I sure knew the difference once I got involved in something I wasn't supposed to be doing.

My heart is broken for our younger generations as I see them struggling to fit in. Many of them succumb to drugs and alcohol and even plastic surgery as teens to accomplish this. On the other hand, we don't give enough credit to the ones who stand strong on their principles, in their faith, and claim victory in the area of purity and abstinence. Many of our youth ministers are overworked and underpaid while trying to counteract the affects of a culture gone mad.

Families are torn apart because children see their parents very little, and when they do, they see them trying to live a lifestyle they can't afford, at the child's expense. They're sending a message that money is the main agenda.

So, they continue to ask the question, "where do I fit in?" to the wrong people. We as parents need to help them answer that question through solid, biblical council. The world wants to gobble them up and will find a way. It's our job to protect them.

Unfortunately, I didn't have this protection, since my mom died and my family kind fell apart. I know what I'm talking about. It taught me some valuable lessons that my husband and I incorporated into parenting our children. We've made our share of mistakes at parenting, but that's where grace is given freely, and if your children have seen a pattern through the years, they'll forgive.

I read a quote by Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, she said, "Busyness empties a soul." I think I would go on to say, "busyness empties a family." It takes away from spending quality time as well as quantity time with our children and teaching them to love themselves as God loves them and how to "fit in" anywhere they go, and with anyone they come into contact.

OK, so I'm finished preaching...this is something I care deeply about. It's taken me a lot of years to love myself for who God made me to be and to see myself as He sees me. I've asked Him to give me what He wants me to write and so when I dry my hair...well that's what I got for this post. So what does hair drying have to do with raising children? Not a thing, but maybe it got your attention! Maybe there's a child you know that's trying to find a place to fit in. We, as adults, have the answers for them...it can only be found in a Person, not things, but we have to lead the way.

Blessings from My Little Corner,
Cindy

p.s. Thanks for reading all the way to the end...it was longer than usual!

Monday, April 22, 2013

When the Nest Emptied...A Life Repurposed

Last year at this time I was wallowing in change. The empty nest had engulfed my home completely and I was in another pit of despair...another place of uncertainty.

My second born had previously moved out, but she graced our presence very often, especially the first year, spending nights at home so it didn't seem like she was gone. The second year was a little more difficult for she became a little more independent, and this was good. She needed this...she needed to spread her wings and see how far they would take her. And oh, they have taken her to heights I don't think she could have dreamed at her young age. Her daddy and I…(she lovingly calls him "D") are so proud. She will finish her Masters in Education degree, in a couple of months with perfect grades thus far. Yes, we are proud!

Even though my children graduated from college at the same time, the poor job market kept my first born from finding a permanent job in his field of study as quickly. He wasn't able to move out when she did, so he was the buffer and delayed the onset of the official "Empty Nest." But, he found an excellent job and began his move to independence.

Let me just tell you. I. Was. Not. Prepared. I thought I was handling it well. But something clicked inside me when he walked out with his Ingles bag of incidentals to spend the first night in his apartment. I know you're thinking I went to his room and bawled my eyes out, and you'd be right, but not completely...I also went to her room. I had a total meltdown for her...my baby. And for days after, I would go to their rooms and cry. It seemed life was over...my job was done...what more was there left for me to do?

My life had been devoted to my children since their adoption as babies. I saw them as gifts from God and poured everything I had into them. I was the mom whose hand went up when a volunteer was needed. My home was the one they brought their friends to socialize right on through college. When I dropped them off at school their last words to me were, "be the first one in line at pickup." So, don't you know I would arrange my day to be there for that, and a thousand other things. My husband was the same but men parent differently and, though he knew he would miss them, he knew it was time.

But, months later, deep in my soul, after God allowed me to wallow in myself, let my friends counsel me, sent me to Russia to learn to trust Him, He whispered into my heart..."what about Me? Now do you have time for Me? Have you ever thought to ask Me what I want you to do with the rest of your life?" Once again He used the scripture, "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 NIV

Well, that got my attention and life has changed. He's put me on a path of healing and wholeness but it took getting still before Him and listening. He's given me a new purpose that reminds me daily there is life after the nest is empty. You happen to be reading one of the results of the change He's brought into my life. He can do the same for you. Seek Him for He wants to be found.

Blessings from My Little Corner,
Cindy


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Little Bird Watching...

I watch the birds in my yard. Put out bird feeders and bird houses and they will come. I've spent countless hours on my porch, sitting very still so I don't disturb their normal rhythm. It's also very calming and I can feel the stress flowing right out of my body. I want them to be comfortable with me in their midst...to feel safe.

Now you're probably thinking, "when does this woman have time to work if she has time to watch the birds?" Well I don't get to sit every day, but this time of year when the temperature is warming I'm anxious to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Spring. I have plenty to do but I take time to at least watch them through my windows.

There is so much activity going on in Nature...it can't help but know what to do. All of my birdhouses have nests and the moms and dads are going in and out constantly with food. I can't keep sunflower seeds in my feeders...I guess all that nest making and egg making has them famished.




The Lord says, "not even a sparrow falls to the ground that He is not aware or does not will it," and then we have the audacity to wonder where He is in our circumstances. I'm guilty of this myself. He was there all along providing for me through those He placed into my life. Maybe He's placed people into your life...sometimes He uses total strangers...




Bird(squirrel)feeder!!


to meet your need

 where you are

 right when you need it.

When He feeds the birds, He feeds them from nature, from things that He causes to grow. Even the sunflower seeds that we buy, He has grown. But, think of the joy we receive in putting the very seeds He's grown into our feeders. He allows it to channel through us so we can share in the joy of giving, the joy of  experiencing His creation up close.

Don't you think He allows us to be channels of that same joy, only more profound? When we serve...when we do unto others...when we allow Him to use us to care for the widows and orphans or anyone in need, we share in the blessing and His kingdom is advanced. So go ahead, put out a few bird feeders...they will come and your life will never be the same.

Blessings from My Little Corner,
Cindy

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Missions Girls

They are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, nurses, teachers, engineers, managers, bookkeepers, caregivers, church goers, music lovers, missions lovers...but most of all they are Jesus lovers.


Our Speaker, June Emery, Front Row on Right
They are my friends and the women I hang out with on the first Monday night of every month...and if I'm blessed, I see them at other times throughout the week since we attend the same church. They are some of the most lovely, dedicated and fun lovin' women you would ever want to spend time with.

We meet to do missions...

Don't we look like a fun group?

hands on

in the trenches

whatever the need is

missions...

For that is what we are commanded to do when Jesus said, "love your neighbor as yourselves." We also pray for missionaries on foreign lands and we pray for our own and everyone in between...and in the process we are the ones who are blessed.

One of the things I love most about our group is the variety of our ages. My own daughter who is only 24 years of age has joined our little band of missionaries and she gives us a different perspective than our oldest who is 70 something. I believe this a beautiful picture of Titus 2 where the older women are given instruction on teaching the younger in their midst.

Some of our recent ministry projects include pajamas for children taken suddenly into DSS custody, tea party for Under His Wings residents, hymn singing at The Garden House(an assisted living facility), prisoner packets, goodie bags for workers for Virginia mission trip, Pure Water Pure Love-puts filtered water systems in place for foreign missionaries, we collected soap for New Foundations, Craft Night at Under His Wings and are regular hostesses for Oil Change Ministry.

At our most recent meeting this week, we had a guest speaker, Mrs. June Emery. She came to speak to us about the Christian Learning Centers of the Upstate. This is an organization that sponsors "Released Time" in our public school systems in the upstate of South Carolina. This allows students to be picked up and taken to a location off campus to study the Bible for one hour. High school students can actually earn one credit hour toward graduation from a public institution in our state. She gave a very informative talk and several ways in which our group can get involved, one of which is to let the public know about this amazing program. The statistics alone are worth it being in every school in the state of South Carolina...but we could have told them that without any statistics. Here is their website for more detailed info www.upstatereleasedtimeinfo.com. God said His Word doesn't return void. "So is my Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11 NIV

If you live in my area and want to get involved with a group of ladies who love Jesus and others then contact me through my blog or on Facebook. We are always looking for new members...no requirements necessary except willing hands and heart. I would love to hear from you. There is a world out there who needs to know the Good News and we need to tell them.

Blessings from My Little Corner,
Cindy


Monday, April 8, 2013

Sheep of His Pasture

Once upon a time when I was a young wife living in the hills of West Virginia in a little log cabin, my father-in-law brought me two lambs and I became their surrogate momma.

Baby Lucy
He'd been in the mountains turkey hunting and one of the neighbors where he hunted was a sheep farmer. Bronson could be an intimidating man but he loved animals so he stopped to look at the new lambs. The mother of the lambs had died so he must have thought to himself, "I'll take these little lambs to Cindy, she can't have babies of her own, this is the next best thing" ...they did have to be bottle fed, after all. He was a man's man, but he did have a soft spot for me and I know this was an act of love. I was thrilled for I love animals too!

I began mixing formula and getting my babies on a schedule. I was in heaven until one of them died. I was grief stricken. I couldn't even
keep a baby lamb alive. I pulled myself together and vowed that the remaining lamb would live. I named her Lucy, after my grandmother(she was honored). Since lambs have to eat like babies, with a bottle and nipple, we bonded very quickly. She grew and flourished and eventually moved to other foods but our bond was cemented.

Our little log house sat on thirty acres and we didn't keep her in the fence all the time so she would wander down to the house. If I had the windows open and she could hear my voice, she would follow the sound of my voice from window to window. It was the sweetest thing...by now you know where I'm going with this.

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me." John 10:27 NASB

Last summer, I clearly heard His voice telling me to "Be still and know Him." So...I gave up some responsibilities so I could do just that. I've been "busy" in the church for most of my life and though I know Him, He wants me to REALLY know Him, intimately like no other. Everything I've read or studied since last summer goes back to, "Be still and know Me." I want to know Him so well that no matter where I am or what I'm doing I will go from window to window just to catch a glimpse of Him. I want to look for Him in the everyday, ordinary things.

They say sheep are very dumb, and that may be. I'd rather be the dumbest sheep in the pasture than the most brilliant scientist on the planet that has just discovered the serum that would cure every disease known to mankind, if that brilliance kept me from the simplicity of the gospel.

I learned so much from my adventures with Lucy and her offspring. She gave birth to Desi and then twins the next spring. The parables in the Bible came alive for me during this time. Sheep are defenseless and need a shepherd to guide them. They are easy prey for wild animals and easily led astray to greener pastures.

We are much like sheep...we too are easy prey for evil attacks but there is so much more at stake. We want to go our own way, and many times find ourselves in what we thought were greener pastures. 

Lucy with her twins
Desi in the background
But, the good news is if we'll listen to the sound of the Shepherd's voice, He will guide us and lead us. One of the most quoted passages of scripture in the Bible is also the most comforting, and pictures the Lord as our Shepherd and we, the sheep of His pasture.

The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Psalm 23:1-3 NIV



Isn't that reassuring? Then, when we get quiet and still before Him, He speaks.

Have a blessed day,
Cindy

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Turkeys Beware!

I have been replaced by a bird...a large, ugly bird with a beard, a long, scrawny neck and a big wart on his nose. It happens every year during the month of April, my husband's love affair resumes with this particular bird, the wild turkey.
His other love!!!
It began for him as a young boy in the hills of West Virginia. His dad, an excellent hunter, took him along and taught him the skills of turkey hunting and his love of the sport has grown into an obsession, you might say, for life as we know it ceases during this time.

Let me paint a picture for you...

Months before the season opens on April 1st I begin to hear sounds coming from my Ipad that resemble a turkey...and the human voices are always whispering. Do you know how many You Tube videos are on-line for turkey hunters? Let's just say he's tried to watch all of them...and then there are the little wooden boxes that are used to call turkeys...to lure the poor, unsuspecting birds in for the slaughter. Oh, I'm sorry, that was mean. And then if that's not enough he must go scouting for these birds. Are you getting the picture?

Now I say to you, what is the appeal? I just don't get it. I will have to say he's an excellent hunter, just like his dad. Last year he killed his limit, which is five birds. I've actually cooked the birds for him and they're pretty good to eat. He explains to me there is great skill in killing a turkey and I believe him. My dad hunted these interesting birds as well so when he lived with us I may as well have left the room once they got on the subject of turkeys. I guess it's a man thing...

I used the analogy several years ago with shopping. I said, "what if I came in and said I'm going shopping and I have to spend $XXX.XX to shop and then the next day came in and said, I'm going shopping again, and then proceeded to do this for 30 days, except for Sunday, of course, we would never hunt on the Lord's day?"

 I think I made my point!

Word pictures are great aren't they?!!

Actually, I love it that he has hunting as a stress reliever. It's really a way of life for him. It was a way for him to connect with his dad and he loves the outdoors. We settled those issues years ago and he knows I'm very proud of his expertise in hunting and fishing.

But, the poor turkeys better run for their lives because the season in South Carolina opened on April 1st and he's out there. He's been stalking several pieces of land and practicing his calls and he's chomping at the bit to match his total from last year.

Turkeys beware!!

Have a blessed day,
Cindy, the Turkey Hunter's Wife



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