Thursday, May 28, 2009

Real Jesus Love

Times are tough in Michigan. Four of my friends have husbands who are unemployed. Many families have suddenly received pay cuts. My brother (he's 34) showed up at his job last week to find his whole department was being eliminated, effective immediately. And my dad recently learned that the company he works for was relocating to Mexico. In just a few months, my dad will also be without a job. He will be 62 years old and unemployed. I'm quite sure this is not how he envisioned his career would end.

Last week at t-ball my dad mentioned that a number of workers from Mexico were in town for a few weeks. How uncomfortable (I thought)! These workers will be taking my dad's job from him, and now he has the task of training and teaching them. I wouldn't want that responsibility! Fertile ground for bitterness and anger if you ask me!

But rather than going down a negative trail, my dad was sharing how he enjoyed getting to know these workers from Mexico. My dad shared conversations he had with them ~ both professional and personal. Instead of grumbling and complaining, my dad was forming friendships with these men while they were away from home.

Imagine my surprise when Saturday morning at Jake's hockey game, my dad announced that he had invited his co-workers from Mexico to come and watch his grandson's hockey game. And sure enough....just a few minutes into the first period, in walk nine of my dad's new friends. They had so much fun watching the game, cheering on Jake's team (Goalie - Goalie - Goalie - they would yell!). Taking pictures. Laughing and smiling and enjoying every minute of it.

After the game, my dad walked his friends over to touch the ice (they'd never seen ice before). He found a hockey puck for them to take home as a souveneir. And then he left to show them the fish ladder, the Ford Museum, and other parts of downtown Grand Rapids. After the tour, my dad invited his new friend's over for a cook-out. They spent the afternoon together grilling and talking and hanging out at my parent's home.

In the book of Luke, Jesus reminds us to love our enemies. Jesus says, If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? (Luke 6:32-33)....But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. (v 35)

Thank you, Dad, for modeling real Jesus love. :)

Can you spot my dad? (He is in the center with the red collar.) What a fun day! :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Glorious Day!

Do you ever have those moments when you think "Only God"?! Only God could orchestrate something so beautiful, so powerful, so amazing?! :)

This past Sunday morning, I had the opportunity to witness and participate in the baptism of my good friends Tom and Jen Torresson. The whole experience was a miracle from start to finish!

You may remember I shared the story of meeting Tom and Jen, who were both far from God and wanted nothing to do with the Christian religion. (Refresh your memory here).

Today, not only are Tom and Jen both followers of Jesus, they decided to publicly display their commitment to life in Christ by participating in their church's baptism service. I wouldn't have missed this day for the world!!

To top it off, Jen asked me if I would be the one to baptize her. Can you imagine? I cried like a baby when I thought of the awesome opportunity to share in something so special and so sacred with her.

One of the many highlights of the morning happened before the baptism began. Jen, Tom, Tom's friends, and I were sitting together waiting for the service to begin. I was sitting in between Tom and Jen ~ Tom to my left, and Jen to my right. It was almost a surreal moment.

I thought of Tom and seeing him just a few months ago lifeless in his hospital bed. (If you've forgotten Tom's miracle, read more about it here). I thought about the many, many hours of desperate prayer for Tom and his family. I reflected on the cardiologist's words, "prepare for the worst". And now, here we were, less than two months later, and Tom is healthy and strong and ready to be baptized. Only God!

Here is a picture of Tom with surrounded by friends from his men's group right before he was baptized.

And as Jen and I stood in the water together right before her baptism, I thought about our hours and hours of conversations about God and faith and joy and Jesus and more . I reflected on Jen's strength during Tom's heart attack and her faith and dependence on God ~ and how she inspires me. I celebrated God's goodness in her life and His faithfulness in bringing us both to a baptism tank at Mars Hill Bible Church.

Only God!

So today, may I ask you to do two things before you close this blog?

First, think of that person that you know that is living far from God. The one that you think would never, ever follow Jesus...much less get baptized in front of hundreds of people. (Did you think of the person?? If not, stop and think of him/her before continuing.)
Would you pray for him/her? Pray that God would remove the veils that are getting in the way of seeing Him clearly (2 Cor 4:4) and that God would surround him/her with authentic men and women who love Jesus. And pray that God would do a miracle in his/her life and that they would come to know Jesus in a personal way!

And secondly, may I ask you to pray for Tom and Jen? Would you pray that God would continue to do immeasurably more than we could even ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20)? Would you pray that God will use them to bear much fruit for the Kingdom...and perhaps next year they'll be in the tank baptizing others! Wouldn't that be fun?!

Only God!!

Let's pray...Oh Lord, Thank You that there is no one too far from You! Thank You that You are a God of miracles (I know because I'm one of them!). Please bring to mind the men and women who You have placed in our lives that do not know You. Please give us the words to say and the heart to love and the courage to point them to You. Thank You that Tom and Jen know You...and I pray You would continue to reveal Yourself to them in loving, powerful, and amazing ways. For Your purpose. For Your Glory Alone. Amen!

P.S. The picture at the top was taken right after Jen was baptized. I'm on the left with the hot pink shirt, and Jen is the one wearing the dark wet shirt on the right. Only God! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Encouragment for the Day

Here is one of my favorite quotes! It inspires me to live powerfully and purposeful every day!

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says..."Oh no, she/he's awake!!"

Do you have a favorite quote/scripture/word of encouragement? Share it with us...please! :)

P.S. Check back on Monday if you can! Something very EXCITING is taking place tomorrow (Sunday) and hopefully I'll have a great picture to share with you!! It's something I prayed for very specifically for over a year!! Can't wait to share it with you!

Friday, May 22, 2009


I failed my test. My breathing test, that is.

I knew failing the test was inevitable ~ for the past few years I've really struggled with my breathing. I find myself wheezing and coughing all night long. I can't walk my dog around the block without losing my breath. When I speak at events, I have to keep an emergency inhaler tucked in the podium. My kids ask if I have an inhaler before we play outside. I've given up running. My breathing struggles have limited and restricted my everyday life.

When I went to the doctor, he told me it was asthma. Asthma?? I'm in my late 30's. How in the world did I develop asthma? The doctor gave me specific prescriptions and instructions to manage my asthma ~ take Claritin every morning, use a Flovent inhaler every day, and only use my rescue inhaler in case of emergency.

What did I do? I used the Flovent inhaler...a couple of times. I took the Claritin...for about 3 days. And then the Flovent and the Claritin sat on the shelf. I relied on my rescue inhaler too often. I missed out on fun opportunities and adventures. I accepted my new restricted lifestyle and thought I'd be stuck this way forever.

When the day came last month to take a new breathing test, I knew the results would not be good. The doctor asked if I was following his specific instructions. Was I using the Flovent? No. Claritin? Not really. The prescriptions were filled and ready to go, but they were both sitting on the shelf unused.

I came home with a resolve this time to do what the doctor had told me to do. I put a chart by my bathroom sink. I used the Flovent. Check. I took the Claritin. Check. Soon my chart was filled with check marks ~ and low and behold, I could run! I could play! I could breathe!

As I've been reflecting on my breathing journey, I've thought about other areas in my life where I leave things "sitting on the shelf". I wonder why I struggle with defeated thinking, or with fear, or feeling not good enough ~ but upon closer inspection...realize I've not followed God's specific instructions. Truth is left sitting on the shelf.
Scripture is clear we have been given everything we need to live the full life in Christ. Everything we need. But we need to do our part too. Having the prescriptions filled isn't the same as taking the prescribed dose each day. I must faithfully put into practice the specific instructions given to us through the Word. I must spend time in God's presence. I must refuse to accept a life filled with fear or defeated thinking or guilt. I must be intentional about the renewing of my mind. It's not enough for me to have a verse written on an index card ~ I must put Truth into practice!

How about for you? Are you experiencing all that God has for you?
Or are you allowing worry or unforgiveness to steal your joy?
Are you allowing fear to rob you of peace?

Are the lies of the enemy ("you're not good enough, or thin enough, or _______ enough") limiting or restricting your everyday life??

May I encourage you to put Truth into practice! Please don't leave His Words to you sitting on the shelf. Spend time daily allowing His Words of hope to bring healing to your current condition. And before you know'll be running and playing and breathing like never before!! :)

Let's pray...O Lord, thank You for Truth and for Hope and for Freedom in You! Thank You for Your Words that are Powerful and Life Giving! Forgive us for accepting defeated living. Empower us to walk daily in the Fullness of Life in You! For Your Purpose! For Your Glory alone! In Jesus Name! Amen :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wonderful Wednesday!

Today is Wonderful Wednesday! It's sunny and 82 degrees in Michigan! God has blessed me with a beautiful, healthy family...amazing friends...and more love and joy and peace that I ever imagined possible!!

I was going to write a new post today, but instead the girls and I have been enjoying the afternoon outdoors, and now my boys are home from school ~ so we're all headed off for ice cream. Yum!

What about for you...What is making your Wednesday wonderful?! :)

P.S. Jesus says in John 10:10 ~ I have come that you might have LIFE and have it more ABUNDANTLY!! May you experience life in all of its fullness!! And may you see glimpses of God's goodness and abundance all around you today. :)

P.S.S. You can leave a comment any day you happen to read this ~ it doesn't have to be Wednesday! :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


When I was a little girl I always DREAMED of being a cheerleader. While other little girls were outside riding their bikes, playing princess, or drinking tea at their tea parties – I was at home practicing my cheers or working on my jumps! When I was cheering, I felt fully alive!

I can still remember my first set of pom poms. (Well, actually I just had one pom pom – it was all I could afford) ~ but I would still use it and cheer with all my might. I dressed my dolls in cheerleading outfits. I hung cheerleading posters on my wall, went to cheerleading camp in the summer. There was nothing like cheerleading to me!

I wish I could tell you I was a varsity cheerleader in high school, that I went to college on a cheering scholarship, and still get phone calls when they need a cheerleader fill-in. :)

Unfortunately, that’s not my story. I did make it as a freshman football cheerleader…alternate. I did make it as a freshman basketball cheerleader. And when I tried out for JV cheerleading, I found there were 10 girls trying out for 10 spots. I could already see myself in the new JV cheerleading uniform. :)

But unfortunately, after tryouts, I received a call – I didn’t make the team. I wasn’t good enough, to them. I didn’t have what it would take, they said. The coaches decided they would rather go with 9 cheerleaders that season.

On that day, I made myself a promise. Never would I cheer again. Never. Never would I set myself up for such pain, humiliation, rejection. That part of me was done.

And unfortuately, I allowed my cheerleading experience to shape much of my identity....and went through high school and college thinking that's who I was ~ unwanted, rejected, not good enough. It was empty and defeated living.

And then in July of 1996 at the age of 26, I met Jesus Christ...and everything changed.

Jesus says that I am Beautiful. Just the way that I am.

Jesus says that I am Chosen. Handpicked by Him. He wants me on His team.

Jesus says that in Him I am complete. More than enough. Dearly and lavishly loved.

And regardless of how I feel, I am choosing to take Jesus at His Word.

Isn't it fun how God brings special people into our lives to be voices of His Truth?

Monday night during Bible study, my dear friends "got me good" with an amazing surprise. :) In the middle of our study, the "ringleader" Natasha comes running into the room with a purple megaphone, while 5 friends bounce in the room carrying cards with the letters C - I - N - D -Y. Suddenly I look around the room, and everyone in the room is holding pom poms and cheering with all their might. For me. They are cheering because it is my birthday and I am on their team.

Natasha shares..."There were a lot of "not enoughs" for Cindy. But the Truth is that Cindy was and is "More than ENOUGH" and God has truly used her, to share that truth with other women. For her Birthday we just wanted to remind her of that...Happy Birthday Cindy!!!"

Only God could take a shy, insecure wanna-be cheerleader and fill her to overflowing with peace and joy and confidence in Him. Only God. And only God could orchestrate an amazing birthday filled with so much joy, celebration, and healing. Only God. Isn't He good??!
Let's pray...Thank You, God, that You do not waste our pain. Thank You for being a God of Truth and Hope and Redemption. Thank You for the beauty of sisterhood and friendship. Thank You for life in Your Name. Thank You that in Christ we are loved and forgiven and chosen. Please use us, O Lord, to remind others of the JOY that is found in life in You. For Your Glory Alone. Amen.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me :)

This picture is from my birthday in 2007.

25 Random Things about Me

1. Qdoba is my favorite restaurant. I could eat their fresh salsa every day.

2. For my first date with my husband John we went rollerblading.

3. Growing up, I always wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader or a teacher.

4. My dad attended Purdue University when I was little ~ so I lived in the student housing there in Lafayette, Indiana.

5. I loved being an RA (Resident Assistant) at Michigan State.

6. My first job was at the Quad Movie Theater.

7. I love being a mom :)

8. I spent Easter 2002 in the Sahara Desert. We stayed in a refugee camp (cockroaches and all).

9. My mom is the hardest working, most giving woman I have ever met.

10. I lived in Kokomo Indiana from the 4th - 6th grade. I still keep in touch with my best friend from those years (JJ Stutzman-Landis). I can't believe she's put up with me all of these years! :)

11. In August of 2003, I officiated a wedding. (I hope they are still married!)

12. I love to CELEBRATE! Especially with colorful table cloths and lots of confetti!

13. I usually read about 4 books at a time. Currently I am reading...Different Child/Different Needs, Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer, How to Hear from God by Joyce Meyer, the Dunamis Project, and more!

14. I still go to Starbucks more than I should. My drink of choice - a skinny vanilla latte, extra hot, no foam (usually decaf, but not always).

15. I cook dinner every night. I would have never thought I would enjoy it ~ but I do. (Except tonight we did order pizza).

16. I had the opportunity to pass out Samaritans Purse Shoeboxes in Cairo, Egypt in 2003. It was absolutely lifechanging.

17. I gave my life to Jesus Christ in July 1996. My life has not been the same since (Praise the Lord!)

18. I am passionate about....Jesus, the Bible, praying, living fully, celebrating life, and being the best wife and mom I can be.

19. I dream of writing a book someday.

20. My son Jake is much taller than me now. He's only 14. I have to stand on my tip toes to give him a good night kiss.

21. Did I mention I love being a mom???

22. I could spend all day at Schuler Bookstore studying the Bible. Next to my home, it is my favorite place to be.

23. My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11. Someday I'd love to share with you how God used that verse to change my life.

24. My husband and I are exact opposites ~ but I couldn't imagine anyone else in the whole wide world I'd rather be married to. God is the perfect match maker!

25. My hope is to point people to Jesus with everything that I think, say, and do. He is my life.

I feel blessed that you stopped by my blog and made it through all 25 Things!

I am praying for you ~ may your day be filled with much love, celebration, and fun!

I'm off to go celebrate!! :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Friend Jen

Many weeks ago, I asked my friend Jen Torresson if I could share the special story of our friendship on my blog. Two days later her husband Tom had a heart attack, so the post I was thinking about didn't appear. Instead today, dear Jen, is the day! Thank you for allowing me the privilege to share....

From the very first time I met Jen two years ago, we quickly hit it off. :) At our first "coffee", we were already sharing life ~ Jen's family had just moved here from California, only for her husband Tom to lose his employment ~ so we kind of bypassed the small talk and went right into sharing our hurts, our hopes, our disappointments.

Then I asked the question, “Oh, so where do you guys go to church?”. “We don’t” Jen replied. I soon learned that although we shared a common love for family and for kids – we also shared many differences. Jen wanted nothing to do with the Christian religion. Nothing. She prayed to a higher power. Believed there were energies in the world. Didn’t understand my love for God, and didn’t want to. It was as if her mind was veiled to God and His Truth (2 Cor 4:3-4)

You know what I did? I started praying for Jen and her family. Praying that this veil would be taken away. My Bible study started praying for Jen. My husband, our kids were praying. Friends’ friends that didn’t even know Jen and her family were praying. Praying that this family would know God's great love for them!

Jen and I continued developing our friendship and she became one of my closest and dearest friends. Last winter, after about a year of journeying together, I invited Jen to my Bible study. She said yes. I couldn’t believe it! That night I finally had the courage to ask Jen if she would like to invite Jesus into her life. Jen wasn’t ready, she said. So I asked her if we could we pray together? Jen said that would be we tightly held hands and I prayed that God would take away the veil getting in the way for her and her husband – and that God would reveal Himself to them.

Soon after, Jen and her husband started attending church as a family. (I couldn't believe it!) And on Easter Sunday last year, as they were driving home from church, Jen’s husband Tom leaned over and said to her – "I met Jesus today". (Can you believe it??! Yippee!) And last May, Jen went on a women’s weekend retreat with her new church – and she gave her life to Jesus! (Woo Hoo!!!)

It has been amazing to watch God work so powerfully in Jen's life over the past year! God clearly has a very special and significant plan for Jen and her family! Most recently, she has handled the trauma of Tom's heart attack and his road to recovery with such faith in God and tremendous strength in Him. She is truly an inspiration!

"Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." 2 Corinthians 3:16

Let's pray: Lord, thank You for the Torresson family. Thank You for their powerful story ~ Your beautiful story of love and redemption and grace. Thank You for removing the veils so that they could see You! Lord I pray for others that are living far from You...our neighbors and co-workers and family members and friends...Lord, would You please prompt us to pray for them more specifically and would You continue to draw them to You. For Your Glory Alone. Amen.

P.S. Thank you, dear Jen, for letting me share your story...His story. Can't wait until Memorial Day Weekend! I love you! :)

P.S.S. Thank you, Misty Wondergem, for taking such a fun picture of us at Tom's Celebration party! You are an AMAZING photographer! Thanks for sharing your work! :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Celebrating Tom's Miracle!

Last evening our family went to a Celebration in honor of our dear friend, Tom Torresson. You may remember Tom's story....on March 30, 2009, Tom (who is only 39) sufferred a massive heart attack. The details of that day are frightening ~ Tom was without oxygen for over 30 minutes, received 40+ shocks to his body, and came VERY close to losing his life. PAINFULLY CLOSE. Tom's wife Jen is one of my closest friends, and when she arrived at the hospital (after following the ambulance transporting Tom) she was ushered into a private room and told to prepare for the worst. Can you imagine?? (Tom and Jen have 3 young children)! March 30, 2009 was a day filled with shock, despair, disbelief, many tears and a TON of prayer!!

By the grace and goodness of God, Tom survived his heart attack. (His cardiologist had given him a 5% chance of making it). We witnessed a miracle! It has been amazing to journey with the Torresson family through this experience, and see first hand the power of prayer! Tom's Care Page journaled families praying from coast to coast for Tom's healing ~ from California to Virginia, Florida to Michigan and everywhere in between. God's healing POWER has been on display for the whole country to see! Tom is recovering well at home, and the body of Christ is surrounding their family with meals and prayers and love!

As we were driving to Tom's Celebration last night, my little Sarah asked if we were going to sing a song to Mr. Tom. What a good question! So I asked her what song she thought we should sing to Mr. Tom. Sarah replied, "How about...'Our God is an Awesome God'??" Can you think of anything more appropriate??

This is honor of you, Tom...

Our God is an Awesome God

Who reigns from heaven above

With wisdom, power, and love

Our God is an Awesome God! :)

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