Thursday, December 24, 2015

Worship, the Heart of Christmas

The writing life can be a rollercoaster life. One day words are streaming from your brain to your paper and the exhilaration is a free flowing release of emotion. The next day, nothing. I journal my thoughts and prayers almost every day, but there is a difference in the words I write for publication.

However, the release of my words has an enemy. He would like to silence my words and me altogether. Since I've been writing publicly my life circumstances have been even harder than before. I have to believe these two things are directly related.

I was reminded of this as I read this in a devotion:

"If we learn to worship God in the trying circumstances, He will alter them in two seconds when He chooses."
Oswald Chambers

I just finished a study on the book of Daniel in the Bible. Daniel was such a man as this. He was taken captive into Babylon (present day Turkey), as a teenager and no matter what they did to him, he never forsook God. They tried every means possible to provoke him into denying the one true God of heaven and earth. God saw his humility and faithful heart and used him to prophecy the rise and fall of world empires and the final kingdom of Jesus Christ. Daniel was highly favored and it began because he loved God more than he loved himself. He trusted God and was faithful to Him no matter what. Oh, to be a Daniel. That is my heart's desire.

So, back to my original point. The enemy doesn't want me to write. I don't say this because I'm better than, or less than another writer. He just knows how to attack me. He knows how to steal my joy and this is my personal demon. We all have them if we claim Christ. This is one of the ways I've found to share my faith openly, words of hope to a world who needs to know a Savior who loves them.

My prayer for you this Christmas is for you to be a Daniel in the coming year.

May you find joy that causes you to worship from a heart of love, as Daniel did. He was stripped of everything he knew, his people, his culture, even his identity, and yet, he never forgot His God.

People will come and go. They will disappoint and fail us. It is human nature. But God will never fail. It's not in His nature. He cannot. He is faithful and will never leave us.

Christmas is a time of nostalgia for many. As adults, we try to emulate our childhood Christmases and give our children the best of everything. We have images of snow covered villages and sleigh bells ringing, sweet families going together to cut trees, hot cocoa by a roaring fire. But, it may not be like this for everyone. Christmas can also be time of sadness if we get lost in the trappings of the world's version of Christmas. Jesus is Christmas and He is the only reason I celebrate.

Our present will never be able to compete with our past so let it go. Let the memories stay enshrined where they are. Pay tribute to them, share them during family celebrations so they will not be forgotten, but don't worship them.

We have a Savior who came for the purpose of redemption. He's waiting, not under a tree, or in a manger...not even on a cross. He's risen, and waiting for a glance from His father. Let's worship Him this Christmas and sing from a heart of gratitude. Your joy for Christmas, and all things hoped for will be found in Him!

Merry Christmas!
Cindy

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Five Ways to Have Your Best Christmas Ever

Most of us struggle through the month of December longing for a Christmas in our memory, whether real or imagined. We compare and contrast and nothing ever measures up to the Hallmark version in our own four walls we call home.

This is a holy time of year for me, but it's also another day in an ordinary life and stuff happens. People die, my mom did, and yours have too. It hurts and the painful reminders of loss and deep wounds are reopened. Be tender to the heartache of others as you celebrate the most blessed time of year.

I propose my list of Christmas do's to help you in this last week before the big day. They're not earth shattering, but they help me, and maybe they'll help you if you are one of those people who've had a visit from Uncle Scrooge.

1. Get thee into the kitchen and whip up something delicious, not for yourself, but to give away. You will bring delight to the recipient and the flip side is they will love seeing you all year long.


2. Find a church musical program to attend. Music makes the heart happy. Worship is a direct line to our source of true happiness, and will make your Christmas jollier than Santa ever could.

3. Get out to your local mall, not for shopping, but for people watching. Enjoy the sights and sounds of children and mall music. Get a coffee and sit near Santa. It's sure to bring smiles and may even conjure a memory or two.

4. Spend time with people you love. It's not about presents friends, it's about people. Jesus wasn't born for presents, He was born for flesh and blood. Invite people into your home. It doesn't have to be fancy and your home doesn't have to be spotless. One of my dearest friends is having a small gathering tonight after our choir program. She'll provide light snacks and lively conversation and I know it will be a sweet time for those who attend.

5. My last suggestion is put away social media, after you read this of course. Shut it down. Limit your  social media time in the very least. Stop comparing your Christmas experience with everything you read on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest. Did I say that? Yes, we all do it. We think he or she has it all together, when the truth is, we all try to put the best we have out there. Everyone has "stuff," so don't think you are alone in yours. Just get off social media for a time and enjoy the Christmas God has blessed you with.

The best Christmas we could ever have is the one we honor and adore the Savior of the world. We have a holy God who came to earth as a baby and was given the name above every name...Jesus.

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped, 
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
 being made in human likeness.
and being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself and became obedient to death
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted Him to the Highest place
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
 every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
 to the glory of God the Father.
Phil. 2:6-11


P.S. If you live in the Anderson, SC area and are looking for a place to worship, please join us tonight, Dec. 20th at 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 21st at 7 p.m.  for our annual Carols by Candlelight. It's a beautiful time of worship with choir, praise team, orchestra and handbells. Yours truly will be ringing. Please join us!




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What the Red Cup Will Never Take Away

I've been told I live in the past, but that's all I know. That's my story, my past and my present. The future is not ours to know. God alone is the keeper of that secret. Man can try as hard as he may, to no avail.

I'm studying the book of Daniel in the Bible on Friday mornings, with the "Mooreites," as we call ourselves. We use the Beth Moore series as our study material. It's a fascinating book, if you've never read it. God revealed glimpses of His plan for the future to Daniel through visions. Can you imagine him writing out his dreams upon waking, and thinking how crazy it must sound? But he was faithful to his God and knew Him to be faithful to do what He says, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Much of biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled. We'll celebrate the birth of the Christ child in a few weeks, one of the greatest prophecies ever foretold, the other of course, would be the death, burial, and resurrection of that same child, a thirty-three year old man.

History not yet in the books, yours, mine and the eyes of all those gone before us, will one day witness the ultimate prophecy fulfilled...the events of the Second Coming of Christ. Are you prepared? Your past does not have to define your future.

The Christ child that we'll celebrate came for a purpose. There is no power on earth that could stop His coming, His going, or His coming again.

In the same vein, there is no power on earth that can stop us from worshiping Him this Christmas or any other time...not even a red cup, as powerful as that cup has become. Worship comes from the heart and goes directly to the throne of God almighty.

Don't let the world take away what is not theirs to take.

Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly. Share that wherever you go and with whomever you meet.

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world, 
whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life."
John 8:12 NIV

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

If Teacups Were Women, A Thanksgiving Post

I have a collection of teacups in my dining room that's spilled over into my kitchen, and even into a bedroom, or two. They make me happy. Not in the kind of happiness like holding a baby for the first time, or hearing someone say, "I love you," but that homey kind of settled happy.

I've been collecting teacups for many years, and not just any cup, it must speak to me.

There were a few cups sitting on the bar waiting for a new home. I noticed how they'd been well used. I walked into my dining room and took a quick tour of the cups sitting on the buffet. They sit there every day as I casually walk past them but today was different. Most of these cups are rarely used...beautiful to look at, dainty, gold trimmed, fine porcelain cups.

Today, as I looked at my cups I was reminded of how cups are like women.

You know the one in your group of friends on Facebook who posts everything about her perfect life and you slither to the floor as you recall your not-so-perfect life. Your voice goes silent as the girls chatter on about their perfect marriages and their perfect children with their perfect grades. She has the gorgeous face, clothes, and body to go with her life and you bleed with envy. That perfect cup has never been used. It's probably not been through the fire yet, or maybe she's just good at hiding her flaws.

Then there's the hardworking girl that everyone likes. She's not ashamed of who she is. She's beautiful in her own way, yet smart and simple at the same time, a girl next door kind of quality. Her beauty comes from the fact that she knows she has a purpose. She's tough and she knows how to roll with life's harshness. I like this girl and her cup. I have several Transferware cups that are sturdy and dependable. They have character about them if you look closely enough at the detail. Most people don't take time to look past the simplicity of this girl. But trust me, she's worth a second look. This cup can take the heat of the dishwasher and come out beautiful every time.

And then there's the last cup I noticed in my collection. This one is beautiful and fragile. She's been through the fire and survived. Chips and cracks reveal the years of use to her frame, yet she can still serve her purpose. She was created to hold hot liquid, to be held in the hands of another. Her flowers, though faded, still bear the mark of her creator. If she could talk, I wonder what stories of love and loss she would tell. She might tell of tea parties and love stories, of little girls and weddings, and late night worries of sick babies.

I often think on these things as I'm drinking from antique cups of generations of women no longer with us. What stories would my Ma Bailey or my mother share with me if they were alive? I can only see them in my dreams where they live, and as I remember them.

Which cup are you? Have you been through the fire? You may be fragile as the last cup, but don't give up. You've come through the fire and you have purpose. You're strong and beautiful and if my cup could talk she'd tell you the same.

I've been through the fire, and so have many of you. There is One who is faithful to go through the fire with me, and you. I like to think I come from sturdy stock, but sometimes I'm so fragile the only thing holding me together are the flowers on the side of the cup. It's during those times my Savior is the one who gently picks up the cup and says, "This one's mine, I'll hold her today."

This Thanksgiving, 2015, I'm most thankful for Jesus, the Shepherd, who cares for me tenderly and loves me with an everlasting love.

He'd love to add you to His collection. I can promise He'll handle with care and your cup will always be full and running over...if you allow Him to fill it.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Cindy

Thursday, November 12, 2015

When You Find Your Wings

Do you know anyone who didn't figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up till they were way past grown up? That would be me.

If you asked me that question when I was a little girl I would've said, " a mommy." I kept a doll in my arms until I was embarrassed for anyone to see me playing with them, and I can't even tell you how many times I ducked out of worship to hold real babies in the nursery at my church.

As I got older, my mom's dream for me was to work in a hospital as a lab or x-ray technician. We spent our lives in hospitals because of her cancer and I suppose she thought this was a wonderful opportunity for me. So, when someone asked what my plans for the future were, I'd look in my mother's eyes and say what she wanted to hear. I didn't know I had a choice.

And then she died when I was fifteen years old. Life changed and so did I.

Graduation happened before I knew it. Decisions were made with little thought and no input from any adults. I was accepted to a school with a journalism program, which is what I always wanted to pursue, but at the last minute, I changed my mind and went to a school with all my friends. As I said, there was no input from any adult. My school of choice, WV Tech, was a wonderful school. It's now part of West Virginia University. They didn't know what to do with me since they didn't have a journalism major so they enrolled me in the Printing Management major. Looking back, I should have gotten an English degree, but that was a different era and no one could foresee the future. I certainly didn't have a helicopter parent looking at my schedule either.

I left school after one year and married. We've been married thirty-seven years this past June.

I tell you all this because I'm wordy...I'm a back story kind of girl.

The first half of my twenties were spent in West Virginia on thirty acres in a little log cabin with horses, chickens, sheep and goats. I was happy as a clam except for the big hole in my heart where there were no babies. There was a sadness about me that only a woman that has experienced infertility knows. She's good at hiding her deep longing, tucked safely in bed at night or driving alone, then she and her Lord know.

The second half of my twenties were the complete opposite. We moved to the coast of South Carolina, Myrtle Beach for Pete's sake. Six months before, these words came out of my mouth, "it's a nice place to visit but I'd never want to live there."

Goodbye West Virginia, hello Myrtle Beach. God has a hilarious way of changing our plans and our attitude. We lived in a townhouse, adopted two beautiful babies from Guatemala, and made many lifelong friends. My heart and family was full.

Andy and Bailey
At the beginning of my thirties, we moved to the upstate of South Carolina and started a new life in a new house. We lived in that little house eight years and made wonderful memories and built more solid friendships.

We built our dream home in 1997, where we've spent eighteen years nesting. My beautiful children have flown from the nest and I've survived. We planted trees, bushes, gardens, flowers, and then woke up one day to shadows towering over the house. The road is no longer visible from the porch. The house is quiet, no footprints on the carpet. Familiar sounds are silent. A sign is in the yard foretelling of future owners. It's time.

Through all those years I've been home. If Andy or Bailey forgot something after they went to school, I took it to them. If a driver was needed for a field trip, they volunteered me because they knew I would go. I love to drive. If they gave out frequent driver miles, I'd win hands down. If cookies or a million other things were needed, I was that mom.

Our home of 18 years
When they left home a few years ago, I struggled to find my way. I didn't know what to do with my life without children to take care of. God has been so good and patient in helping me in the darkness. He has given me a voice through writing, a love I always had, but He's given me courage to pursue it and put my words out there.

He's also helped me uncover my creativity. It's been there all along but I stayed so busy with my to do list I wouldn't take time for creative outlets. He's given me courage to think outside the box which is monumental for me.

I'm finding my sweet spot at fifty something years old.

I've been buying and refinishing old furniture. My dream is to one day combine my love for tea and antiques and open some kind of shop. For now though, my garage is a workshop where I've spent countless hours, with a stiff back, sanding and staining.

I wouldn't change anything about my life. The most important accomplishment for me has been the two children who call me, "Mom." It's taken a lot of soul therapy to get to this place. God is faithful. I've learned that much about Him. He will keep His promises, ALL of them. He will satisfy your soul if you seek Him with all your heart.

Maybe you're like me and are facing an empty nest, or you're already there. Life goes on after children leave. It's completely different though, I can promise you that much. But I'm learning it can be good.

Life is a series of stages...but you have to know when to let go of one and embrace the next. The challenge is in the hand-off. Give yourself grace and time to explore who you are, who you were, and who you want to become. Until you draw your last breath on this earth, God is not finished with your life. There is someone you have influence over. Don't waste it.

Cindy


Saturday, October 31, 2015

If Teacups Could Talk

I had the privilege of serving tea to Mrs. Janet Huckabee, wife of Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and currently a presidential candidate. The Tea was held at the home of Cliff and Gloria Bryant and sponsored by the Republican Women of Anderson County.

When Gloria called and asked if I would help I was so excited. My brain went into overdrive. Even though a large group was expected, I asked if we could use real teacups. She agreed immediately.

Most of my cups needed to be hand washed so I filled the sink with hot, soapy water a couple of days before the event. It also gave me the chance to polish my tea table and cart. As I gently washed each cup a story came to mind associated with the purchase of, or the giver of the cup. I realized my life history could be told through my teacups.

I'm a collector of things. I love beautiful things. Most women do. I love china patterns, old and new. When I travel, teacups or thimbles are my "go to" souvenirs.

They are so much more than a physical object of beauty though. For me, they've come to represent a way of life. I believe we are a people who have lost our way. We don't know how to stop and take time for the important things like having a cup of tea with a friend.

If my cups could talk and tell my story, I'd want them to say she took time for people and she loved. When I told one of my girlfriends I was using my cups, she said, "aren't you afraid a cup will get broken?" I told her what's the use in having them if they're not used.

As my mind traveled down memory lane, the cup from England reminded me of when our family went to Europe with the T.L. Hanna High School soccer team. We visited five countries and I got to see places this girl from a small town in West Virginia never thought she'd ever see.

Who would've thought I'd have to go to a Russian church to find a teacup. That's a true story. It's also a reminder every time I look at my beautiful blue cup that God answers prayers. Many prayers were said for Ksyu(Sue) and her salvation. It's also a reminder of the great spiritual needs of the Russian people.

Two of the cups used at the Tea have a matching teapot I purchased at a tearoom in Greenville, South Carolina. The Ragamuffin Tea everyone was raving about originated from that tearoom.

Me, Janet Huckabee, Gloria Bryant
One of the beautiful teapots I used, Crown Gold by Wedgwood, reminds me that a middle class girl can grow up and serve tea to a presidential candidate's wife. We're all just ordinary people being used by an extra-ordinary God.

The cup I wanted Mrs. Huckabee to have her tea in was a special cup for me. I love history and all things about George Washington's home, Mount Vernon and Arlington. One of the cups in my collection is from Mount Vernon with the original thirteen colonies imprinted on it.

I believe Governor Huckabee stands for the values our country was founded upon. He is bold in his faith and doesn't waiver in his belief in God. He is vocal in his approach with the media and his style and charisma have gained him many followers. I thought it appropriate for her to drink from such a cup.

Mrs. Huckabee spoke to us about the values they hold dear and the great divide of where we are and where we need to be.

In biblical times, God told His people to build an altar to mark a place where He did something in their lives. It was for their remembrance, not to worship, but to recall His activity in their life.

What are the teacups in your life? What are those things you can say are the "altars" that tell a story of God's love for you and activity in your life?

Many things will stand out to me about the Tea. I loved meeting like minded ladies. I received so much joy sharing my teacups, tea, and the beauty of hospitality. But one thing stood out above the rest that I have overlooked in the past. There is a man who could lead our country..."one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

 God bless America
 and God bless 
Governor and Mrs. Huckabee




Monday, October 5, 2015

Beauty in the Broken

I love old furniture. Let me rephrase that statement. I love furniture in general, but I particularly love traipsing around antique stores looking for pieces that need new life. Tiger oak is my favorite kind of wood and you can find it in all variations of furniture and degrees of decay. You must look past the grit, grime, and scratches, as well as the junk surrounding it in the store to what it could be.

I drove to a neighboring town last week to pick up a table. Since I had a truck I decided to stop at another antique store down the street. There might be a treasure awaiting me, and my table wouldn't be lonely. I was almost ready to leave (actually I was out of time) when my eyes locked on a dresser in a back booth. It was covered with a black, sticky gunk, but I could see tiger oak peeking through in a few places. The long mirror captured my entire reflection and reminded me of a dresser at my Ma Bailey's house. There are some pieces that make a heart connection, and this was one of them. I looked at the price tag and it was reasonable. Then I noticed a 20% off sign on the wall and that made it even better.

My table was not alone.

I began work on the dresser. Filthy doesn't even come close. The drawers were filled with bugs and cobwebs. I washed and rinsed and washed and rinsed. When I started sanding the top I thought it would be easy. I was wrong. The layers of black seemed to go on and on. At first, I thought I'm not sure this is worth it. I don't see anything beautiful emerging. But, I kept sanding and the black grit crumbled away little by little.

She was a broken woman, shunned by all who knew her. Men had used her and thrown her away. The Pharisees were ready to stone her for her sin. But Jesus. He saw her heart. His eyes of love pierced through her brokenness, the lies, the shame, and the guilt. He saw her potential. He told her what she could be if the blackness of her life was removed. She could live and breathe in the beauty of His holiness. John 8:1-8

A life repurposed.

It's never too late for God to turn junk into a treasure. What one has tossed aside can be another's path to a new life.

There is life on the other side of brokenness. The process of getting there isn't easy but it's worth the sanding and the pain in the waiting. In time, it will be beautiful, and ready for service in His kingdom.

If you're broken, there's beauty in the brokenness. Don't give up on yourself. Let God remake you from the inside out. His specialty is looking for the ones who are hurting. He is tender and merciful and wants to meet your every need. You must turn to Him and acknowledge your need for Him.

You will seek me and find me 
when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

For those of you who may be the Pharisee, try to look past the outward appearance. There is a beating heart inside every person you meet. There is a life story they carry, burdens they bear you know nothing about. Give grace where needed. Love unconditionally, expecting nothing in return.

I'm still working on my dresser and it's turning out more beautiful than I expected. I'm so thankful I didn't give up on it. It's been worth much more than the money I invested. It's a treasure I think I'll keep for myself, a visible reminder of my worth in broken places.

His death and resurrection are a visible reminder of your worth in His eyes. You are beautiful to Him, scratches and all. Let Him use the healing balm of His love to sand away the pain of your broken life. I promise He will do it. He did it for me.

Cindy





Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just Me and the Critters

I have two neurotic cats, Buck, fifteen, and Livvy, five years old. They are opposite in personality, but both love me. Since Buck was a kitten he's been afraid of going outside in daylight hours and for some crazy reason Livvy is the same. If Buck goes out at night and I don't let him in before the sun peeks over the horizon, I don't see him until darkness comes. Neurotic with a capital N.

Livvy and Buck

He was also afraid of people. Everyone knew I had a cat named Buck, but only through pictures. He was the elusive Bucky Boy...until recently. He has become the poster cat for The Extroverted Cat. Of course I'm teasing. I asked my veterinarian, Dr. Walker, if cats can develop dementia and he said, "Oh yes." There you have it.

So this summer we've been spending time on the porch. Both cats have ventured outdoors with me in the early morning hours. They seem to feel safest if I leave the door cracked a tiny bit even though I'm right there.

One morning I'd slipped back into the house to refill my teacup and when I came back to the door and opened it, Livvy shot in with a chipmunk in her mouth. She dropped the critter at my feet as if I'd won a prize.

It hobbled around my kitchen, then straightened its back and took off running.

The crazy woman (me) ran with a broom trying to trap the critter.

I had a problem on my hands. This was not on my "to do" list today.

1. Laundry
2. Work in yard
3. Run errands

The critter got away.

One month later the crazy woman (me) was out of town and got a call from her son. Andy says, "Mom, I think there's a bird in the house."

I told him I'd take care of it as soon as I got home.

A few hours later I found out where the "bird" had been eating on a dog bone in my pantry. I saw his little brown tail curled in the back of the pantry.

The critter cage was set in the pantry with fresh seeds and about 3:00 the next day the cage began to rattle. The critter is now in the woods, back with his own kind.

I'm telling you this story because now I shut the door when we venture outside in the morning, and Livvy and Buck are not happy with me.

They are safe. Nothing can harm them. I am there to protect them. They can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. They can scare the birds(not hurt them) and roll around on the concrete. They can breathe in fresh air BUT they choose fear over freedom.

Livvy goes back inside and paws at the window. She will not trust the closed door behind her.

How many times have I not trusted God with a closed door? How many times has He been there to protect me with a closed door and I wanted a fully open door before I would move out and call it "faith?"

He's there through everything, but sometimes He asks us to simply follow Him in faith. Shut the door Cindy, and trust Me. I will protect you and keep you. I know what is out on the porch and beyond. Come out and sit awhile with Me.

Maybe He's asking you to trust Him with something, to close the door and trust Him in faith. Join Him on the porch. There's room in the swing for two.

Blessings,
Cindy


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Learning to Keep it Simple

I'm having one of those "remember when" moments.

I was washing dishes recently and thought how simple a process it is. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water, slide silverware in first to soak, then wash glassware. My Ma Bailey warned me never wash sharp knives in water that is too hot. She said it dulls the blade. Because of this I never put my cutting/chopping knives in the dishwasher.

It occurred to me how fulfilling and cleansing it is for my soul to stand over the sink at this labor of love that precedes the cave woman.

I use the time to myself to think on important things like what I'm doing the rest of the day or the next day or week. I think of what my children might be doing. I pray for them and my friends and family. Sometimes I simply watch the birds and squirrels romp about in my backyard.

Washing dishes allows time for me to live small.

I've been thinking a lot about how cluttered life can be, too much of everything. I'm weary of managing all my stuff.

We laugh and remember when we had one television in the house and it was black and white...yes, it didn't even have a color picture. Now, we have four televisions and I don't even watch one of them, unless Downton Abby is on ETV.

Do you remember when there was one phone in the house, usually in the kitchen, on the wall? I can still remember my number when I was a little girl, and my best friend's number. I couldn't tell you the numbers of my friends now, with the exception of one. Their numbers are stored in my iPhone and I scroll down to their name and tap. That may seem simple, but if I were stuck without a phone, I'd be in serious trouble. That is not simple living.

We are a society dependent on technology and I don't like it.

I want simple again.

I grew up in an era I didn't fully appreciate. Life was hard but I'd like to remember the good values of growing up without so many distractions. We knew our neighbors well. Cookouts were a regular thing in the summer months. The age difference didn't matter either. Eventually, that grandmother would take me into her home and let me finish my senior year in high school. I left her home in August of 1977 bound for college, ten pounds heavier.

I ask myself the question, "have our advances in technology taken us in a direction closer to or further away from community?" Have we lost that sense of smallness with our mega churches, mega malls, super box stores, rather than mom and pop stores?

Life is not simple anymore. We have too many gadgets and apps to get anything we want and yet all I see are people walking around like robots attached to their gadgets.

I don't know what the answer is and I know you wouldn't be reading my words without technology, but these are my thoughts. Am I alone in my thinking?

As I type this, I'm sitting in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore surrounded by people. Not a single person has spoken to me, nor I to them. We are consumed by our thoughts, laptops, books, writing, work, toys and activities.

I know we can't go back to the day where the gas station provided someone to fill up your tank and wash your windshield. Can we? No seriously...The guy in my hometown who worked at our local gas station went to church with me. I have sweet memories of pulling into the station and it was an Andy Griffith/Barney Fife moment. "Want a bottle of pop?"

We all have memories of nostalgia of a simpler time.  I want that back while using some of the good of technology.

I want to be the kind of neighbor who loves and knows the needs of those around me. Relationships need time to root and they need regular care and maintenance. Would I take someone into my home because I'd already spent time with them?

Living simply doesn't mean we have to give everything up and live in a tent, but it does mean we have to look up. We need to open our eyes to those in front of us and around us, get back in touch with the simple things of life. We need to stop looking for the next high, the next adventure, the latest technology. Make do with what you have, pare down, give away and spend time with those you love.

There is a world that needs our attention but it begins with the simple things at our finger tips...a real conversation with a friend, a home cooked meal, a hand written note, or movie night at home with popcorn.

So how do we do this? How do we keep it simple? How do we keep first things first?

It begins with our spiritual lives. I was sitting in Bible study yesterday and Beth Moore shared this verse via a video series on the book of Daniel. It popped out at me because I'd written this post and hadn't been able to finish it. The simple life became clear.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.
Psalm 27:4 NIV


Jesus...even His name was simple. Five little letters in our English language. He is my example for living, for breathing, for dying. He connected with people. He listened, he cared deeply, he made time for them. He saw to the very heart of them because He was God. It didn't matter what they had done or who their people were, He loved. He had no cliques, although He did have best friends. His life had purpose and when it was time to complete His mission He did it with humility and courage and most of all, love. 

And so my friends, stop and smell the roses, but do it with a heart of love for the Creator who made that rose. Then share from a heart of gratitude. 

Have a lovely Saturday,
Cindy














Friday, August 28, 2015

Getting it Right at Turtle Speed

I'm a slow learner. My brain processes information at turtle speed. I don't consider myself dumb by any standards, but I have to think things through and let them take root. I'm an avid reader, but because I also read fast, my brain doesn't always absorb every detail. Do you ever find yourself at the end of a page saying, "what did I just read?"

Don't be ashamed to admit you are a slow learner like me.



I'm the one who gets the punchline of the joke...the next day.

Take movies, for instance, though I don't watch many, if I really like it, I'll watch it over and over. There's usually something new to be found each time I watch.

Slow is not always a bad thing. Look at the Black Eyed Susans. They are one of the first flowers to poke their green buds through the cold ground in the spring, but it takes them all summer to stand at attention and show their glorious blooms. Their Creator had a specific purpose for them at a specific time in the growing season.

I'm in a Friday morning Bible study group. We prefer the Beth Moore studies. Some of the series have been repeated two and even three times, but we all agree we learn something new each time. We're at a different place in our lives with each study. Though God's Word never changes, it is alive and speaks to my life where I am at any given moment in time. The Author is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but my stage of life is in a perpetual state of change.

I'm thankful for His faithfulness to me and how He understands the way my brain works. He created my brain, my heart, my emotions, all of my being to work together. He knitted me together...He never rushes me or gets impatient with me. He is long suffering and tender. I've been taking time this summer to sit in His presence. Sometimes He is quiet but I know He's there.

Slow can be a good thing.

As the busy summer months come to an end and the autumn months approach look at the stage of life you're in. What does the Creator want to say to you? Slow down long enough to let Him speak to you and let His words soak deep into your marrow. You may have to sit awhile and hear it several times or read it over and over. Your investment of time will be worth it.

Step out in abandon and do whatever He tells you.

When I sit with a good friend over coffee, it takes awhile for us to kick off our shoes into conversation that changes me. Coffee gets cold as friendship warms my soul. It's the meeting of two hearts...the sharing of lives. That's the way it is with my Savior. I need to sit in His presence and let Him speak deeply. He needs to have my full attention, just as my friends do.

One thing I hear Him saying over and over is to live simpler, get rid of clutter, and do more for others, get the focus off yourself. That's my goal.

Slow down in this busy, cluttered world of ours to find out what your purpose is. Then set your sights on doing the thing you were made to do, even if it's at turtle speed. You'll get there and bloom like summer flowers.

Cindy










Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Journey Through the Classics

One of my goals for 2015 was reading more of the classics of literature. My favorite genre is biographies. I hover around that category most of the time. I love to stalk my friends' reading lists and am envious of their variety, so I decided to come out of my box and try something different. The classics seemed like a great place to begin. I read a few in high school but that was a loonnng time ago.

I haven't been disappointed. There is a reason they've stood the test of time. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Lewis, and Shakespeare knew a thing or two about crafting a sentence.

My favorite writer, by far, has been Hemingway. His writing draws you in as if you're looking over his shoulder watching each scene unfold. I was there with him in the boat as he struggled with the fish in Old Man and the Sea. My arms grew weary as he fought through the night with no sleep or food.

 I was the unseen guest in A Moveable Feast, Hemingway's last novel, published after his death. It's the story of his Paris years in the 1920's and chronicles the infamous meetings of writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Hemingway. Their daily gatherings set the tone for many writers to follow.

There's nothing I like better than sitting with my writing buddy at Starbucks, The Corner Bagel Shop, or her local "office" while talking over writing projects.

Other books recently read include A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. While I don't know if it's considered a Christian classic, it should be. I highly recommend this book. Phillip Keller, the author, gives insight from a shepherd's point of view as well as the son of missionaries. He was also a wildlife photographer. The book makes you fall in love all over again with the lover of your soul, Jesus Christ. He takes you on a journey through the life of a shepherd and his sheep in a one year cycle and relates it to Jesus, our Shepherd. Run to your nearest bookstore or log on to http://www.amazon.com and order this one ASAP.

More favorites:

The Red Letter Life: 17 Words from Jesus to Inspire 
   Simple, Practical, Purposeful Living by Bob Hostetler

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly

Spirit Hunger by Gari Meacham

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitsgerald

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

These are a few of my latest reads. You can log on to Amazon.com and purchase any of these with a click and a credit card. But then, if the title of this post caught your attention you probably already know that. Happy reading!

Cindy




Monday, June 22, 2015

The Greatest Tattoo Artist...

I was laying in bed on a recent Saturday, the early morning light barely peeking through the blinds. One of my cats jumped on the bed and rubbed my hand. I felt to see which cat, but knew from the sound of the jump it was Bucky Boy. I rubbed his head and thought of my children.

I know Andy and Bailey. I can distinguish the sound of my son's footsteps when he comes to pick up his dog over the sound of my husband's footsteps. I'd know the sound of Andy's voice in a chorus of a thousand voices and I recognize the dimple in his cheek as soon as he smiles.

With my eyes closed, I'd know if I were hugging my daughter or a stranger. There's a way she fits perfectly against me, snuggled next to my heart, her head on my chest. I'd know the feel of her hair and her skin without the need for sight.

I know what foods they like, what kinds of movies they prefer. I know one likes to read and the other doesn't. I know they both love the outdoors, and they both adore their dad. He taught them to love the outdoorsy stuff. I know they both love to cook. I know I would give my life for them, yet I've never been faced with that decision.

God knows me far deeper and intimate than I even know my children. The Bible says He even knows the number of hairs on my head. He knew me when I was in my mother's womb. He knows I went barefoot in the grass and got way too many bee stings when I was a little girl. He knows I told all my secrets to my cats. He knows how many nights I cried myself to sleep because He caught all my tears in a bottle. He knows all the times I was disobedient and got away with it. He knows the joy I experienced when I became a mom.

He knows me because I'm His child.

The morning after this post was written, I read this in Jesus Today:


"I have called you by name; you are Mine. No matter how isolated you may sometimes feel, you belong to me...although I have vast numbers of followers, you are not a number to me. I always speak to you by name. In fact, you are so precious to Me that I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands."


We all want to be known by someone. We want to count for something, leave a mark to say we were on planet Earth. The hit television series, Cheers, of the 80's decade, made this line famous, "Where everybody knows your name."

I'm so thankful to the One who knows every star, every galaxy, every tree, bird, or fish in the deepest sea, yet He knows my name and has it inscribed in the palm of His hand. He loves me so much He gave His blood for me, and you. He willingly died for all, even the vilest sinner.

Is your name inscribed on His palm? He shed His blood for you but you must repent of sin and confess Him before you can truly be called one of His children.

My children know how much I love them. We have a relationship. Do you have a relationship with the God who loves you? Do you communicate with Him? His Word was written for you to know Him intimately, as He knows you.

While many long for everyone to know their name, the only one that really counts is the One who holds your eternity in His hands. It  mattered enough that he would inscribe it in His palms.

Now that's a tattoo I'd like to see.

Cindy


Saturday, June 13, 2015

How I've Learned to Have a Good Day

One of my blogger friends wrote a post recently and listed several ways to be happier in your daily life. It's the simple things we do that make a difference. She inspired me to share a similar list with my readers.

1. Begin your day with an open heart before the Lord. A good devotional and journal are good, but your Bible is all that's necessary. Express your love for Him and thankfulness for blessings, share your troubles, and intercede for those who come to mind. Don't feel guilty if it's 15 or 50 minutes, just do it. Your day will be better for it.

2. Exercise...and I'm not talking about going to the gym and doing an hour of cardio or pilates. Get out and work in your yard, take a walk, jump rope with your children, or pull them in a wagon through the neighborhood. Cut grass with a push mower.

3. Do something for someone else. There really is truth in the old adage, "it's better to give than to receive."

4. My friend included make your bed, and I have to agree. I've made this a daily habit and it's nice to climb in a neat bed at the end of the day. On the rare occasion it's been left unmade, my day has felt rattled. Maybe that's just part of my weirdness.

5. Empty your sink of dishes and wipe off the countertops. It sounds simple, but for me, it helps.

6. Call someone you love and haven't talked to in awhile. A small gesture sure to put a skip in your day.

7. And in that same vein, write a letter to your children for them to find when they get home from school. If your children are grown, write a letter and send by snail mail. Tell them why they are special. The same could be done for your spouse or significant other.

8. Unplug from electronics...computer, phone, television, and connect with people. I promise you will have a better day.

9. Let go of the guilt that you were not all things to all people. There is only One who can fill that role. Let go of the pride that your "to do" list was not completed. If you did Number One on my list your day was a success.

It's your turn, I'd love to hear how you've learned to have a good day. Please share in the comments.

Cindy

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sittin' on the Dock at the Lake

What a picture perfect, gorgeous day on Hartwell Lake. I hadn't planned on coming but the sunny skies and my need to write called my name. A change of scenery is good for me, it helps get my creative juices flowing.

I love the beauty of four distinct seasons. I love the hope of spring. Flowers begin their trek into the light after laying dormant through the long, cold winter months. Birds can be found nesting in trees, and if you watch their flight pattern, you can spy them feeding their hatchlings.

Lawn mowers and weedeaters can be heard in the neighborhood as yards are rid of winters' remains. The smell of fresh cut grass is heavenly to this country girl.

I'm sitting on a dock, in the sun, with the wind blowing in my face. At the moment, it seems I haven't a care in the world, but I do. Life is hard, but God gives us these days to focus on Himself. He gives the beauty of His world that He created to enjoy, so we might look to Him and be reminded of who He is. Ultimately, He is in control, not only of His creation, but our lives.

I forget that sometimes and get in His way. I fret and worry and leave Him out of the equation. It's days like today that He reminds me who controls the wind and sun, the clouds and the rain. He watches it all and He sees the big picture of my life, beginning to end. He knows where I've been and where I'm going. I need to trust Him.

He knows all this about you too. He knows the big picture of your life and longs to be involved in the intimate details of your day. He cares about the sunny days as well as the gray skies that come your way.

I hope you've found some time this spring to reflect on the beauty of creation. More importantly, I hope it causes your heart to worship the Creator. A heart of praise is the best medicine. Whether rain or shine, He is our source of peace and the light for our path.

Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.
Psalm 95:1-7

Cindy

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When the Birds Gave Me Voice Lessons

Most mornings in the spring and early summer months you'll find me on my back porch, with Beau of course. He's my son's dog who comes to keep me company each week day. He chases squirrels and I watch birds. He knows how much I detest the squirrels eating all the birdseed.

Cardinals, Bluebirds, Chickadees, Goldfinches, and Hummingbirds fill my feeders with activity. Two Bluebirds are nesting, providing me with hours and hours of enjoyment. There is a small bird that goes about its morning scratching and pecking at tree limbs. I rarely see it fly down to the feeders or leave the tree in search of living food. It simply pecks and scratches.

It occurred to me that's the way my mind works with worry. I peck and scratch...over and over. I become focused on whatever issue is at hand through a comment spoken or something I've read and before I know it all sense of time is lost. My mind has written its own plot with characters and endings, most of it doom and gloom. I always think the worst is going to happen. I really should be writing this stuff down, I may have a best seller on my hands. Some of my worries have been taken to outlandish measures.

On a serious note, worry gets us nowhere. It only leads into depression and anxiety. I should know for I deal with depression and am seeking help.

One of the Bible verses I'm clinging to is:

For to set the mind on the flesh is death,
but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:6 ESV

I don't want to be like the bird pecking and scratching in the trees, lost in my thoughts while life passes me by. I'd much prefer to be like the birds singing from the top of the trees. I know my voice is there, and she knows how to sing. The climb up the tree is the most difficult.

How about you...does worry steal precious moments from you? Does it rob you of your voice? Maybe you're like me and depression has you in its grip. The mind is a powerful organ, able to cause us to do or say things we'd rather not. God spends much of His Word focused on the mind. That's why Satan knew to suggest the thought to Eve, "Did God really say..."

Take time for yourself and watch the birds, they have much to teach us about the human condition. I'm ready to climb that tree, I hear the birds singing.

Cindy

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Psalms for the Soul

I went shopping recently, and on impulse, bought a new Bible. I didn't need a new one but it called out to me. I have a study Bible and my well-worn Bible that automatically falls open to my favorite passages.

The teal blue book I purchased is a devotional Bible. When I got it home and opened the pages I knew why it was supposed to come home with me. In the familiar words I read the ancient message from God:

"Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path."
Psalm 119:105 NIV

Do you need a light for your path? I do.

The Psalms beckoned my attention. This was part of the description at the beginning of the book:

"The Psalms are songs and poems, but they are also prayers. In reading them we learn to pray from the heart, to lay ourselves open before God who already knows the depth of what lurks within us, who gives us freedom to bring those depths to the light..." Zondervan

Isn't that beautiful? I'm comforted knowing I can lay bare my soul to the One who already knows what I'm going to say. He's already there with His light because He is light. He will illuminate all the dark places in my life and guide my feet in the direction they need to go.

And as I go, He gives me songs and poems to encourage me along the way. He also reminds me I'm not alone when I mess up. Even David, the man after His own heart, went through painful periods of sin. His enemies pursued him and he could find no rest or peace in his soul. He penned words of lament for us to relate and understand the depth of the human condition. We also see David return to the relationship he had with his God and find forgiveness and healing because of the tender mercy and compassion he experienced.

I have wept and rejoiced with David over my own failures and found his God to be the same compassionate, tender God, full of mercy and love.

The same can be true for you. Open the Psalms and read for yourself. Whatever life hands you, there is a psalm that will speak to your heart. The words are life and they will breathe healing into your wounded soul. But you must read and apply the words and allow the One who loves you most to prove His faithfulness and trustworthiness.

Like David, and me, you'll be able to say:
The Lord is my shepherd,
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along right paths for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
They comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows;
Surely goodness and love will follow me
All the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:1-6

 Cindy



Thursday, April 9, 2015

When Life Gets to Be Too Much...Find a Bookstore

As I write this post, I'm sitting in one of my favorite places, a bookstore.

My dad lived with me for a year when he was dying with cancer. When the stress got to the level of, I. AM. GOING. TO. EXPLODE., he'd give me a few dollars and send me to the local bookstore. There was a lot he didn't know about me, but he learned that one thing.

He and I spent my last birthday together, while he was alive, in a bookstore. He had a chemo treatment that day and insisted we make a stop as his gift to me. He bought me a book and a latte. I had to explain the exorbitant charge for the latte. He was accustomed to senior discounts on coffee at the local diner.

Since I was a little girl books have transported me to another time and place. They educate, inspire, transform, and challenge me.

Bookstores and libraries have a calming affect on me. Maybe they take my mind off current issues and problems and allow my brain a rest. I tend to analyze and overthink most things while moving cautiously on everything.

I browse the cookbooks, writing books, magazines, and home decorating books and let my mind create beauty. Then I venture over to the newest publications to see what is hot off the presses. My favorite genre is biographies so I check to see who's written what about whom. I prefer autobiographies unless it's written by an author with an excellent reputation. I didn't read many of the classics in my younger years so I have a goal to read one per month this year.

There are many good Christian, women authors who write with deep spiritual insight that I'm particularly interested in. Emily Freeman, at the top of my list, speaks to the soul. I've just discovered Bob Hostetler, and if you've not read any of his books you're missing a treat. Falling in Love With God is a must read. Donald Miller is another favorite of mine. His book, Scary Close, a book about intimacy, is already on the NY Times bestseller list.

As I've written before, I'd go to the book mobile every other Saturday with an arm load of books and return home with a different arm load of books. They were my escape.

Now I read because I love to read. Books have been my informal education all these years. Instead of the book mobile, I have amazon.com and a credit card, a dangerous combination. One click and the package appears at my door a few days later. No lugging books anymore. Life has changed but my love of reading has not.

Read to your child or grandchild. You may have a book nerd waiting to emerge.

A world of possibilities awaits at the door of the local bookstore or library. Go check it out and relieve some stress while you're at it. I promise you won't be sorry.



Happy Reading,
Cindy

Thursday, March 19, 2015

You Can Go Home Again

I left my hometown in the summer of 1978. I couldn't wait to leave. I closed the door to bad memories and opened it to marriage and ushered in a new life in a new town. I welcomed the change.

Life eventually took us to another state and going home meant something altogether different.

My personal roots are complicated. My home of origin was torn apart by cancer, death, and circumstances beyond my control.

Me, Bus and Wilma-2013
My mom's best friend, Wilma, and her husband, stepped in to fill the void. Through the years, their home became the one I returned to. Their arms were the ones that welcomed me with hugs. When my children were born, even though I had a relationship with my dad, their house was the one I couldn't wait to visit to show off my new babies.

I have many memories of my early years. It's a blessing and a curse. The house I felt the safest in is still my favorite place for a drive-by. I can envision my family inside, still intact. It sits one block over from Wilma's home.

Life has a way of bringing you full circle. Age has a way of showing you the big picture.

Forgiveness has faded the bad memories and returning home has become something I look forward to. There are two plots of land that sit on a hill on the outskirts of town that will keep me returning until I breathe my last breath. The two people I honor with my visits gave me life.

The two I came to visit recently have given me joy in my life. They've given me part of their lives. They are two of the most selfless people I know. I made a visit to my hometown and spent a couple of days with Wilma. She's been in the hospital for an extended stay and I wanted to spend time with her. As we often do, we talked about the past, memories we cherish, people we know. I've looked into her eyes, felt her warm embrace, and seen tears trickle down her cheeks as I depart my entire life. It's the way we do goodbyes. She has a tender, genuine heart.

During the years since I left, many things have changed. The high school is now the middle school, and my grade school is now a community center. The downtown area has had landmark buildings torn down and new offices built in their place. Gino's, our favorite pizza place was relocated, and The Dairy Queen is a no-name ice cream shop.

But, home is still home. When I drive through town, memories of my childhood come flooding back. In many ways, I'm still the little girl on the inside when I revisit the town of my past. I can still see myself walking to the book mobile on Saturday afternoons after doing my chores. I can remember playing in the vacant lot on my street, learning to ride my bicycle, learning to drive a car, and losing my mom to cancer.

My high school graduation-1977
But, on the outside, life has made a few changes. I'm a little worn, a little weary. The burdens of life and age begin to show the tell-all signs if you look closely. Coming back to my roots reminds me I'm not the same as when I left. I've made some good choices along the way that have enriched my life, made me stronger, drawn me closer to the One who loves me most. I've also made some choices that caused me to drift.

I'm thankful for the two people who live on a corner in West Madison who never change. Their love and support have remained faithful in my life for as long as I can remember, and I have a good memory. When I left the hospital last week, I told Wilma I loved her. She replied back to me, "I love you more." I couldn't argue with her for I don't know anyone with more love to give.

Even though the home of my parents no longer exists, I can go home again. There's a saying that says, "Home is where your heart is." My heart will forever exist in those I love as long as I have breath.

A part of me will always reside in my hometown. I thought I could run away but my roots go deep in that little town that first shaped me. I had to face my demons and lay them to rest.

It was the heart of the people who truly loved me that held the greatest influence.

Look around you at the lives you touch. You may not think you have much to offer. There are hurting, lonely, children all around you. Invest your time in these little ones, or not so little ones. Their future may depend on it. God may be calling you. Don't disappoint Him, or a child in need.

"...Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you? Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'"
Matthew 25:44-45


Cindy






Friday, March 6, 2015

When Life Sends You a Curve Snow Ball

This blizzard wasn't in my plan.

The plan was to travel to West Virginia on Tuesday, spend Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, and Thursday morning at the hospital with Wilma. I'd leave on Thursday afternoon for home in South Carolina.

What do they say about the best laid plans?

Our life is not ours to plan, nor is the weather.

As I write this post, I'm sitting in a hotel room with time on my hands, time I didn't know I'd have for writing.

She's a southern car, what's snow?
I tried to leave, but treacherous roads and pouring snow prevented me from my journey. My goal was to get home by Friday morning since that's when my Bible study begins, one I've been anticipating for months.

Now that's a good thing, right? So why was I prevented from getting home?

It occurred to me that sometimes even a good thing is not the best thing.

I was heartsick when my car would hardly make it out of the hotel parking lot. All I could think of was I need to be home in twenty-four hours. At twenty miles per hour on the interstate, I need to get this car moving. But driving on icy roads was also foolish and my good intentions may have given me a one way ticket to the pearly gates. The flip side of that was I would get my intense Bible study.

So I'm choosing to be thankful for the time to rest. I'd stocked up on junk food, water, and Gatorade. I'm warm and dry and the scene is beautiful as I gaze at the winter wonderland out my window.

I've been sucked into the Lifetime movie channel. You should see me, I'm crying with a battered wife, the wife of a murder victim, and the daughter of an overbearing mother. I don't watch much television at home. I had to remind myself that my books and writing were better choices. Writing won.

For whatever reason, this is God's best for me. As the snow continues to fall, I'm reminded of Who is in control of all things. That fact gives me comfort.

What is God's best for you? It may look different than His best for me. Just like my situation in the snow, I knew which decision to make. I didn't like it, but it was the right thing to do.

Sometimes our answer is obvious and sometimes, not so much. That's when we pray for discernment and wisdom. He will be faithful to answer our request in His time. His best will always be for our good. I have to keep reminding myself of this fact.

Until better days and warmer weather friends, spring is coming.

Cindy

Thursday, February 26, 2015

When the Sparrows Took Center Stage

It was snowing by the time daylight fully emerged, one of those mornings that evoke memories of jumping up and down with delight at the thought of no school. Though for me, the nest already emptied, it was a day of normal activity.

As I sipped tea, snow fell in quiet, steady rhythm as birds flocked to feeders dripping with fresh seeds. Watching from my kitchen window after traipsing in the snow to fill the feeders, sparrows had the most fun.

I love watching birds feast to their hearts' content. It was worth the trek in the snow.

There were birds of all kinds. I grabbed my phone to capture a few pictures of the elusive bluebird who visits. She's building a nest nearby and swings in for daily rations. Cardinals are common visitors, as well as Goldfinches, beginning their metamorphosis to the color of a summer day.

The most common are the sparrows. They get no applause, no fanfare. No one says, "let me get my camera and take a picture of the sparrow." We ignore the sparrows and long to gaze at the beauty of the bluebirds and Cardinals. They are indeed beautiful, breathtaking in fact. 

Isn't that the way we treat people? Isn't that the way we treat ourselves? We pass over the common people for the ones we think are important, the ones that can make us look better, advance our careers, help us climb the social ladder, or fit into the popular clique.

But Jesus chose to speak of the sparrow in His Word. He chose the bird that doesn't stand out above the rest, the one who goes about his day doing what a bird does. He chose an ordinary bird to teach us who He is. He chose a humble bird to teach us how much He loves us, and that He is the source of everything we need.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." 
Matthew 10:29-31 ESV

We're prone to seeking out the beautiful people, the ones who seem to have it all, for guidance and fulfillment. We were not created to live like that. Most of us were created to live ordinary lives, helping and loving ordinary people.

I want to live as the sparrow, however, I want to treat everyone as if they are a bluebird or Cardinal.

Since I've been writing and revealing my deepest hurts and fears, I've learned we all have pain in our lives. Most of us go through life feeling like the sparrow that no one notices.

But there is One who tells us not a single sparrow is ever out of His sight. He knows every tear we've ever shed, every hurt, every loss and He loves us with an everlasting, faithful love.

Now that is something to jump up and down about. Maybe that's why the sparrows have so much fun at the feeders. Could it be the sparrow has discovered the secret to abundant living?

His eye truly is on the sparrow, and you, and me.



Cindy

Thursday, February 19, 2015

This One's For You, Katy

I love the idea of taking the thing you fear most and turning it upside down. One of my greatest fears was in writing. The thought of anyone reading my words, my innermost questions and opinions, well, that was too much for me to grasp.

But, as I shared in a recent post, I pushed past the voices in my mind and just did it.

I wanted to give this fear its own space, for its given me so much joy the past two years. This month is an anniversary for my blog. A world of possibilities opened up for me when I conquered this particular fear monster and hit "publish" that first time.

I have someone special I'd like to thank publicly, and give a few reasons why I love her so much.

Meet Katy...
Katy at The Cove in 2013

She is a writer, friend, confidant, mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, Christian, teacher, musician, gardener, and lover of Hershey, her chocolate lab.

She is smart, beautiful, loyal, outrageously funny (with a bit of sarcasm), talented, and an excellent writer. And she has a green thumb, with a beautiful yard to prove it.

She is the reason I have a blog and I wanted share our story. Everyone needs a "Katy" in their corner.

My husband was walking with Katy, and David(her husband), one Wednesday night at church and he said something to her about writing, and that I liked to write. She said she had no idea I was a writer. We've played handbells together for several years, but never talked about writing.

As soon as she got to the handbell room that night, she brought up the subject of writing. I told her I was a closet writer. I said I was too afraid to let anyone read anything I'd written.

A few days later she sent me a link for a writers conference in Asheville, NC. She asked me to please go with her. She said she'd never gone to anything like that and it would be so much fun to go together.

I went online and checked out the conference and decided it was safe enough. I told myself, and Katy, I would go as her cheerleader.

As most females do, we planned our trip, coordinated our outfits...the important stuff. We were excited to be going to The Cove in Asheville. If the conference was a bust, at least the scenery was beautiful and the food would be excellent.

Katy and I both love the written word, but let's just say the spoken word was overflowing the cup many times over that weekend.

We both felt like we had arrived at our Mecca. We were with our people. We soaked up every drop of information, every resource, and every ounce of inspiration our writerly minds could absorb.

It was at this place I heard God say in the quiet of my mind, "I didn't bring you here just to be Katy's cheerleader. I want you to write for me."

When we got back to our room that night, I let Katy read something I'd written. Never before had I allowed anyone to read my words. It was too risky. They might reject me, and I couldn't take that. I'd faced too many rejections in my life.
Attempt at a selfie at our favorite hangout...Starbucks

She read it and gave me positive feedback. I still didn't call myself a writer though. But, it was a start. Something was birthed inside of me.

My friend gave me courage.

When I came home from The Cove in February of 2013, I published My Little Corner. That name has significance since I live on a corner and my office is in a far corner of my home. I wanted to share from my little corner of the world. Katy encouraged me from the first time I published, and she continues to this day.

We meet for coffee and talk for hours, about writing and life. She's listened and let me talk out my fears. Sometimes that's all it takes, that person in human flesh who will listen and allow you to talk without fear of judgment. As you talk it out, your fears become smaller and you gain control over them.

Katy is not one who puts herself above others. She is selfless and always ready with a smile.

I am a writer today because of her encouragement. I hope I'm a better person because of her friendship.

We share a lot of things...our love of writing, gardening, music, chocolate labs, but the most important one of all is Jesus. He is the one who binds us together. I believe He is the one who whispered in her ear the thought to invite me to The Cove to set His plan in motion, and she obeyed.

So Katy, thank you for listening and obeying. Love you girl.

Cindy

p.s. Katy writes at http://www.katybrownglymph.blogspot.com. Go over and visit her blog, you'll love her as much as I do.







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