Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Here's some updates to help you know what has happened over the past 12 hours...
Many of you have heard of the urgent prayer request for Tom Torresson. I am just coming home from the Heart Center ~ please, I beg you, please pray for Tom and his family!!
At this time, he is in a medically induced coma and is on a ventilator. The doctors are planning to start “warming” his body at 8:00 PM tonight (Tuesday). THIS WILL BE A CRUCIAL TIME TO BE PRAYING!!! Tom’s Mom Liz is a nurse (and was able to get on a direct flight, along with his sister, from Virginia ~ praise the Lord!) ~ Tom’s Mom was saying that this is when it will be very “risky”. The doctors do not know how Tom’s body will respond. I was there when the cardiologist told Jen it could “go either way” ~ and that she should prepare for the worst. Friends, Tom is 39 years old! PLEASE PRAY!!
How is Jen?? She is in shock right now. She is tired and drained and weary.
How are the kids? At this time, they just think Daddy is at the hospital because he wasn’t feeling well. Sydney (the 2nd grader), bless her precious heart, asked her mom to have Daddy call her so she could say Goodnight to him. Oh, please, please pray!!!
How can we help Jen and her family?? As I mentioned, Tom’s mom and sister are now here, his dad and step-mom should be arriving any minute, and Jen’s mom will be here today. I think right now they need prayer the most. I did say we have an amazing group of men/women who would love to serve at any time ~ if you are interested in bringing a meal, could help with child care or anything, would you please let me know?? I can start putting a schedule together for later in the week. Maybe just shoot me an e-mail, and I’ll keep you posted as needs arise.
How can I best pray?? For a MIRACLE!!! Plus so many other things…for Jen, for the kids, for his family, for peace, for the doctors and care staff, for God to bring HOPE in this difficult situation, and for God to continue to reveal Himself to Jen and her family. Oh Lord, we need Your presence and Your power!!! Lord, we need YOU!!!
When the Physician's Assistant came out and was sharing updates with Jen, he said, “Well at least Tom has his age and his health on his side”. Friends, Tom has GOD on his side!! Let’s go before the Throne and ask God to do a miracle in our midst!!!!
PLEASE KEEP PRAYING!!!
I will update you as soon as I hear anything. Please pass this along to any and all friends and prayer warriors!!!!
An evening update sent from a friend in our small group….
Tom, Jen's husband, is at the Heart Center. They have stabilized him as best they can and are going to cool his body down and keep him 'cool' for the next 24-48 hours. After that, they will slowly warm him back up and see how it goes. Sounds like they are unsure what damage has been done and are hesitant to say how they feel it might go. They did confirm it was a severe heart attack. Family is flying in tonight. Cindy was taking Jen home to get some things to stay the night with Tom. Please pray for a miracle! Sounds like he has some precarious days ahead before they can determine anything long-term....but we know the Great Physician!! Pray for the doctor's wisdom, Tom's comfort and Jen's (and family) worry and stress. Keep praying and pass along to any prayer warriors in your own life.....we know Jen would appreciate it! Will keep you posted with any news--
First e-mail sent today (thanks Lindsay!!!)
Ladies- I just got off the phone with Cindy Bultema-- please pray for Jen Torreson's husband. He has had a massive heart attack, was taken by ambulance to the heart center and when Cindy last heard, they were trying to resuscitate him. She was told by EMT's to "prepare for the worst"....... Please pray!! Will keep you updated as I/Cindy knows more details...... Lindsay
P.S. If you can't place Jen from our Monday study, she is the pretty girl with the blond bob who sat in Cindy's second chair (Patti with the power!) when she did the Identity illustrations. She has 3 kids (8,5 and 3) and family is not in town.....pray for Jen and the kids too!
Friday, March 27, 2009
Just stop. Maybe the kids are fighting, the dog is barking, my husband is coming, the house is a mess, I’m still in my workout clothes, I smell, I don’t have dinner planned, the phone is ringing,…. Just stop. I need to take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Stop.
I am learning to pour out my heart to God. It really helps to get my stresses off of my chest.
Infuse me with your peace, and I think about He is the God of peace
Infuse me with your patience, and I think about His patience
Infuse me with your strength, and I think about how strong and mighty He is
So let’s be honest, after I pick myself up off the bathroom floor....
My kids may still be fighting
I’m still wearing my smelly workout clothes
My husband is now closer to home
And I still don’t have a dinner plan –
But by running to the Strong Tower, I now have a peace, a strength, a sense of security that I wouldn’t have by running to Starbucks or a plate of chips and salsa!
Acknowledge your need for the Lord
Fill your mind with God’s Truth
Expect God to show up!
Dear friend, my hope is the next time we are faced with a challenge or stressful situation (which may even be yet today!), the Lord will equip us and empower us to walk through the challenge victoriously (rather than running elsewhere)!
Perhaps the SAFE example will come to mind (it has helped me tremendously!). Whatever the Lord uses, may we be committed to turning/running to Him alone, and may He remove ANYTHING in our lives that is getting in the way of FULLNESS with Him!!
Have a super weekend!! :)
Proverbs 18:10 ~ The Name of the Lord is a Strong Tower, the righteous run to it and are SAFE.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I wish I could have spent the morning in bed, but I had to go to a taste test bright and early this morning. It always sounds great when I sign up, but after 90 minutes of discussing breakfast foods and then having to try 7 different bowls of cereal in 15 minutes (which I couldn't taste anyway with my cold) ~ my head thought it was going to explode! (The bright side is that I "randomly" ended up sitting next to my old neighbor, and made extra grocery money). But so much for a nice, peaceful morning to restore my weary soul while my kids were at school.
So what did I do? I went to Starbucks. I drive myself crazy! Why do I think when I'm feeling lousy that a decaf venti skinny vanilla latte with no foam and extra hot will make everything better. Why?? Why in the world do I do this?? Why do I run to a latte to soothe, to satisfy, to comfort - when I know where my real Satisfaction comes from! O Lord help me!
The Bible Study that we just finished on Monday nights totally speaks to this topic. (It's called No other gods by Kelly Minter. I would highly recommend it ~ especially the workbook). We've only been finished with the book for a week now, but I guess I should pull it back out tonight. Review those scripture vereses. Remind myself why I want to run only to the One True God, and how truly Satisfying He is. Focus on the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. Allow Him to comfort and heal me, and bring His peace to my weary soul.
No more lattes for me. Not that they are a bad thing (if you enjoy a Starbucks run, please don't hear me trying to discourage you). I just know for me personally I run to lattes like a gambling addict runs to a casino, or an alcoholic runs to a bar. It's called idolatry, and I want nothing to do with it. Nothing! I have confessed my sin to the Lord and received His forgiveness and His grace.
Oh, and please help me mark this moment. No more Starbucks for me!
P.S. If you see me with one of these cups in my hands, please feel free to tattle on me!!!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
But you'll never believe what happenend yesterday! I woke up with a horrible head cold and NO VOICE! NO VOICE! I couldn't believe it! I immediately called my dear friend who recommended I gargle with echinacea. (I should mention that she didn't even recognize me when I called her!) I was so desperate I would try anything ~ so I drank Immunity Boosting Tea (I won't mention what Jake & John say the tea smells like), I ate vegetable soup, took lots of Vitamin C ~ but most importantly, I summoned a group of prayer warriors and asked them to pray like crazy!!
What a blessing to have a group of women go before the Throne on my behalf! I spent most of the day on the couch (feeling like I had been hit by a truck) and begging the Lord to empower me and heal me quickly!!
This morning I woke up and didn't feel much better. My voice was mostly a squeak, and I was sneezing in groups of 5 and 6 sneezes at a time! I was sniffling like crazy, and felt like a disaster. The Luncheon started at 11:00 AM - but I knew these dear prayer warriors would pray me through!!
Would you believe that once I arrived at the Country Club where the Luncheon was held, I did not sneeze one time. No cough. Nothing. My voice was strong for my time of sharing (30 minutes!). My friends that were there commented that you would never know I was sick (or that I felt so bad). PRAISE THE LORD! It was truly a miracle! (I had stocked the podium with Kleenexes and cough drops and ice water - and I didn't have to use anything). Woo Hoo!
Once I started to share, God took over ~ I forgot how lousy I felt and was blessed to share my story. God's presence was definitely with us. The whole Hearts in Step program was beautiful! It was such a wonderful experience! (And then my girls went to grandma's and I went back to bed for 3 hours!)
What did I learn?? That with God NOTHING is impossible! That prayer works! That there is an enemy who really has come to steal and kill and destroy. That we have ALL the POWER we need for ALL the challenges we face! And that we need one another! What a blessing to know that while I was stretched out on the couch yesterday, I had women all over the country going to work on their knees on my behalf. I am humbled and blessed by their support and encouragement!!!
If you have not heard my testimony, please let me know. I'd love to share with you how God took a shy, insecure girl who made many mistakes and self defeating choices, and filled my emptiness and loneliness with His love and His peace and His joy!! There is NOTHING He cannot do! Trust me! Our God is a God of miracles ~ I know because I'm one of them - and I experienced one today!!
What about for you...are you faced with a challenge that seems impossible? Are you feeling empty or lonely or like you've been hit by a truck? May I encourage you to invite some friends along on the journey, and go forward in prayer. Prayerful lives are powerful lives! Let's allow God to have His way in us and then stand back and watch what He will do!!!
Let's pray: O God, how we thank You that You are in control of all things! We acknowledge that life can be hard, that our challenges are real, and that there is a battle going on in the heavenlies. We Thank You God that we have Victory in You! That nothing is too hard for You! That you bring people along to journey with us and encourage us along the way. Use us, O Lord, to make a difference in this world, for Your Name's Sake! Not to us, Lord, but to Your Name be ALL of the Glory!! In the Name of Jesus - our Savior and Redeemer - AMEN!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name;
make known among the nations what He has done.
Sing to Him, sing praise to Him;
tell of all His wonderful acts. Psalm 105:1,2
(This scripture can also be found in 1 Chronicles 16:8,9 where the words are sung as part of the celebration of David's bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.)
My hope is that as we commit this verse to memory, we will stop and give thanks to God for what He has done in our lives. He is so faithful and good, isn't He??!!
And for me personally, this verse couldn't be more timely. I have the opportunity to share my testimony at a luncheon tomorrow. I am always so humbled by these invitations! To think that God could use me ~ who before Christ was shy, insecure, empty and made huge, poor, self defeating choices. I was a mess - trust me! A big mess!! To think that God would come in and rescue me, save me, fill me with His Spirit, give me a clean, pure heart AND a whole new reputation ~ only God can do that! Only God!! So I am humbled and grateful ANYTIME, ANY WHERE that I can share the miracle that God has done in my life!!
Give THANKS to the Lord, call on His Name;
make known among the nations what He has done.
Sing to Him, sing praise to Him;
tell of all His wonderful acts!!!!
What has God done in your life?? What are you thankful for today?? Please share!!!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
The other night I was at Target buying laundry detergent, when guess who I see?? Jo Ann. Oh boy, this is it. It's time. Time to go over, get past my face turning beet red, and say hello. But she looks so focused, I tell myself. And I do have a lot to do before I get home to my sick kids. I purchase my cleaning products and head right on out.
In the parking lot, I'm struck by my disobedience. I chickened out again. Here I want to pray big prayers and help do big things for the Kingdom - and I can't even say hello to sweet, kind Jo Ann. I confess, repent, and promise the Lord next time I really will say hello to her. Promise.
I head to Meijers to get some fresh fruit and groceries. I'm not there 10 minutes, when guess who walks in?? Jo Ann. I am so tempted to keep walking, but something in me heads straight over to her (before I can change my mind). "Hi Jo Ann - it's Cindy Stille - remember me??" "Oh Cindy" she says, giving me a big hug, "of course I remember you. How are you??!!". Our conversation couldn't have been sweeter. We chatted nearly 30 minutes in the Meijer grocery aisle...about JC Penney days, our familys, our church. Life in general. I shared with her how I now know Jesus. She wonders if she could have been a better witness. I assure her that she did reflect Him well, I just wasn't ready. We talked on and on and on. It was an amazing, up lifting conversation!!
I left Meijers that night so full of joy!! After a long, exhausting, draining day with sick kids, the Lord encouraged me through an old friend from high school days. If I would have chickened out again, I would have missed it. There is blessing on the other side of obedience!!
Will this happen every time? Nope, not necessarily. Jo Ann could have not remembered me, or judged me, or been to busy to chat. There are no guarantees. The only guarantee is that the Lord is pleased with our obedience to Him.
What about for you? Is there something (big or small) that the Lord has been asking you to do?? What is getting in your way? Is it time for you to face your fears and press on towards obedience? I'd love to hear more about it!!
Let's pray: Dear God, Thank You for gently leading and guiding us in all things. Please give us ears to hear Your still, small voice and the courage to obey. Thank You for Your patience with us (and Your grace). Keep us close to You, I pray. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Friday, March 20, 2009
But then I'm reminded of God's promises, specifically in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Jesus said to the apostle Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness". I love that word power. In the original Greek language, it is the word 'dunamis' meaning might, strength, great ability. It's where we get the word 'dynamite'. Dynamic power! It is the power of transformation, and - amazingly - it was released for us when Jesus was raised from the dead! Glory!
I want this POWER in my life! When I am weak (which is daily!) ~ I want to be strong and mighty and full of His dynamic power! I have tried to live life on my own before, and failed miserably. And, Lord willing, I won't go back. What freedom comes when we take the pressure and expectations off of us - and put them back on God and His Word. He is Able!! And as a Christian, we have ALL the POWER we need for ALL the problems we face! Let me say that again..we have ALL the POWER we need for ALL the problems we face! God's incomparably great POWER is available to help us!!
I get so fired up about this! Sometimes I just want to scream from a mountain top, "Where is the POWER??!!" To watch Christian men and women living defeated, empty lives - or even mediocre lives - thinking that's all there is to the Christian life - breaks my heart!! Jesus desires us to live full, abundant, glorious lives in Him!
I'm not sure when this post finds you today...perhaps weary and exhausted like I am? Overwhelmed? In the midst of relationship challenges? Job concerns? Financial pressures? May our weaknesses put God's POWER on display all the more! Teach us, O Lord, how to live in the fullness of Your power!
Let's pray: Dear God, We acknowledge You as our All-Powerful God! Lord, today we may feel ___________, but the Truth is that in You, we are strong, and able, and mighty! Please release Your power in our lives. We invite You to go to work! Use us, O Lord, for Your Kingdom purposes! For Your Glory alone! Amen.P.S. My dear friend and mentor just gave me an awesome resource - a pamphlet called, "The Power of God - and the Faith that Brings its Release in our Lives". It's a simple prayer guide to daily release God's Power in our lives. If you would like me to make a copy for you, please let me know. It is fantastic! :)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
And you know what...I've been blessed today! By the phone calls and the e-mails and the chicken soup and the peppermint tea! I've been blessed by the sunshine and the robin in my tree and the flowers starting to pop out of the ground. I've been blessed with a day home with my cute husband and the chance to snuggle more with Sarah and to bump into friends while I was walking my dog. Today is a GOOD day. :)
What about for you?? What are you focusing on? Your endless "to-do" list? The money you don't have? Your husband's flaws? Your fears? Your kid's messes? Your insecurities? Your disappointments and your hurts?
May I encourage you to turn your gaze Upward? Point that "magnifying glass" right towards the sky and ask God to be HUGE in your life! There is nothing that He cannot do!! And may the Lord reveal Himself to you in a special and unique way!! You are loved, dear one!!
Oh magnify the Lord with me, And Let us exalt His Name together! Pslam 34:3 KJV
Monday, March 16, 2009
Imagine my surprise when about 5:00 PM last night I wasn't feeling so great. I had been extra tired all weekend, but I thought it was just due to caring for the sick ones and traveling back and forth to a hockey rink 35 minutes away. By 6:00 I knew this wasn't just being tired - and headed up to bed. I'll spare you the details - but let's just say at one point I was curled up in a ball on my cold bathroom floor crying my eyes out. I have not been this sick in years! When Sarah was sick and I would ask her how her stomach felt, she would say, "HORRIBLE!". I now know what she meant. I feel HORRIBLE!!
What a bummer!! Today is a BEAUTIFUL spring-like day, and I would love to be outside playing with the girls when they get home from school at noon (instead, John is coming home at lunch). One of my good friends started a new job today as a nurse in a cancer center. I'm so excited for her - and had a card and flowers I was going to surprise her with and put on her door step. There goes that idea! And, obviously, I won't be able to go to our Monday Night Bible Study (Magnificent Monday's, I call it!). I'm so disappointed!!! I love being a part of this group ~ and tonight we finish up the last chapter of the book. How I'll miss seeing all of my new friends and hearing how they are doing!!! Instead, as soon as my dog comes back in, I'm back to bed. Yuck! This is not how "I" had my day planned at all!!
I still believe with ALL of my heart that God knows what He is doing! This isn't how I would have planned my day (or weekend!) at all ~ but I surrender to His Soverignty and will continue to praise Him (even if it is from under my sheets!).
My stomach is starting to rumble, so I better head back to my bed! May your day be filled with much SUNSHINE and many blessings!! :)
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I'm tired today...so instead of thinking about all of the things that I need to do ~ I'm reflecting on the many blessings God has brought into my life! I'm so grateful for LIFE in His Name, my kids, our wonderful family (that all live so close by), my amazing friends, great schools, our dog Rocky (even if he does like to sleep in our bed), the ability to share my passion for Jesus with other women at Sunshine Church, our health ~ I could go on and on!
Today my heart is especially full of gratitude for my husband John! He is one in a million ~ and only the Lord could put two people exactly opposite together and make it work! I was thinking today of everything that John does for our family - he is so helpful around the house (he even does all our laundry and ironing!) and is such an AMAZING dad! But mostly today I am reflecting not on what John "does", but who he "is"! His character - John is such a man of integrity and Godly character. I love how he stands for Truth ~ always! I love his heart for the world. I am grateful for his patience with me and with our kids. I appreciate his support ~ especially with my desire to share God's Word. (It's not uncommon for John to give me nights off or days away ~ whatever I need to give my best for the opportunities the Lord sends my way.) I am grateful for John's wisdom and for his love!
Yes, I am so thankful for John and that God would hand pick me to be his wife! Is our marriage perfect? No. But are we committed to doing whatever it takes to pursue the oneness God has for us - Yes! :) I'm grateful for the hills and the valleys we've experienced in our marriage ~ which have helped us grow closer to the Lord and to each other. I'm thankful for the gift God has given to me in my wonderful husband John!
What are you thankful for today??
"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17
Dear God, Help us to stop and reflect on the many blessings You have given to us. In the midst of our busy, full days - may we see Your goodness and Your gifts all around us. We praise You!
In Jesus Name. Amen :)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I love every part of watching my boys play hockey! I love the thrill of the sport, cheering my boys on (except sometimes my husband says I get too excited - me??!), encouraging the other team members, sharing the stands with my family, keeping warm with hot coffee, and just the overall JOY of it all!
Hockey is a great reminder to me of how I want to live my life! I love watching how the hockey players keep an ear open to the voice of their coach. While the fans in the stands are yelling and screaming with all kinds of directions and instructions (Go! Move your feet! Get on the puck! Hustle!) ~ the hockey players skate with such focus and intensity, but are always listening for the voice of their coach. Always. The coach has the big picture in mind (winning the game), so it's his job to tell the individual players what to do and when to do it. And what do the hockey players do? Whatever the coach says ~ even if it doesn't make sense!
And have you ever watched how the hockey players change their line?! Amazing! How do they know when it's their time to get off the ice? Or hop off the bench? The coach isn't yelling their names - he softly calls it, and the players follow his lead. It's a beautiful thing - to me, it's like poetry in motion, watching a well led team listen to their coach, obey his instructions, and follow his lead to victory!!
I want to live my life like an intensely focused hockey player! I want to be in tune with my Coach. I want to follow Him wherever He calls me to go, whatever He calls me to do! No questions asked - just an absolute trust that my Coach knows what He is doing!
But I'll be honest...sometimes the voices of the folks in the stands distract me. Don't get me wrong - the people in the stands are for me too - their plans can just be different than what my Coach has in mind. "Cindy, you should __________, or why don't you _________". And before I know it, I'm so busy looking to the stands for direction that I take my eyes off the puck, and whammo - score one for the other team!
I'm learning that true victory comes only from listening to the voice of my Coach and following His game plan! What a blessing to know that we are on a winning team (we know how this game ends!) ~ and that if we stay focused on Him - we are guaranteed VICTORY! :)
What about for you? Whose voice is loudest in your life these days? Do you have folks in the stands shouting at you? Are you looking to the stands for direction? Is there noise or clutter robbing you of your focus? Or do you hear the gentle, wise voice of your Coach calling your name? Follow His lead ~ He knows what He is doing!! :)
"My sheep listen to My voice: I know them, and they follow Me". John 10:27
O Lord, thank YOU that YOU always lead us to TRIUMPH in Christ! Thank YOU that we are on a VICTORIOUS team! Please give us FOCUS and CONFIDENCE and STRENGTH! And may YOUR VOICE always be LOUDEST in our LIVES! For Your Glory alone! Amen! :)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
I love this verse! Here is some commentary from my favorite Bible teacher (Beth Moore):
"The original Hebrew word translated hope in Psalm 62:5 is 'tiqvah' which literally means 'a cord, as an attachment'. The psalmist contrasted the disappointment he often experienced in man with the security he found in his faithful God. His cord or rope was attached to God alone. We're all holding onto a rope of some kind for security, but if anyone besides God is on the other end, we're hanging on by a thread!
Be very honest. Picture the rope you are hanging onto for security. Is God on the other end, or have you placed your hopes and expectations in someone who might not be able to deliver??"
Don't you just love it?? May the Lord imprint this verse not only in our mind, but also on our heart! Hang in there! Time spent memorizing God's Word is never wasted time!!!
I was sharing this with a friend on New Years Eve, and she, too, wanted to memorize more scripture in 2009, but wished someone would give her the verses to memorize. I offered to send her the same verse I pick for Jake - and she liked that idea. It made me think maybe some of my other friends might like to join us as well. I sent out an e-mail with my idea, and the response was EXCITING!! Men, women, boys and girls - young and old - all over the United States signed up! How fun is that? There is so much POWER in God's WORD ~ so to think of the many, many friends committing 2009 to the renewing of their minds is THRILLING to me! And the excitement continues...one friend e-mailed all of her old college roommates and invited them in on our A to Z journey - and so her college roommate (who now lives in CA) e-mailed me to say she is in on the challenge. One dear man (who is, let's just say, older than 70) is mentoring a young man attending the University of Michigan. They have both signed up for the A to Z challenge. And my very best childhood friend (who now lives in PA) sent me a link to her blog with her little girl Emma (who is not yet 3) saying her verse. I could go on and on with how the A to Z challenge is spreading. Isn't God fun?! :)
All of that to say, if you are interested in joining us in our memory work - I'd love to send you the verses as well. Like I shared with Jake - this is something I am SO PASSIONATE ABOUT! My life has been TOTALLY TRANSFORMED because my mind has been TOTALLY TRANSFORMED and this has come from studying and learning and memorizing God's Word. I promise the verses aren't long and difficult - and learning a new one every other week seems really doable. And you can jump it at any time ~ we're not trying to be legalistic about this ~ even if we each learned 5 new verses ~ Praise the Lord! May those 5 new verses replace 5 lies we have picked up from the world!!
Now that I have this blog, I will be posting the verses on this site (typically every other Monday ~ F will come later today). If you would like to receive the verse as an e-mail to you, I would be happy to send you a new verse every other week. How fun! Time spent memorizing and meditating on God's Word is never wasted time. So what do you think...are you in on the challenge??!
Let's pray: Dear God, I pray YOU would help us with the A to Z challenge. Open our minds and our hearts, Lord, and equip us as we commit to memory the life-changing TRUTHS from your Word. And Lord, please give us perseverance! When life gets busy (and it will), remind us of the importance of letting Your Word dwell richly in us! Thank YOU that memorizing Your WORD can be fun and exciting! May our passion for Your Word spread! For Your Glory Alone!!!! Amen!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
The Bible study is called, "No other gods" by Kelly Minter. I would HIGHLY recommend it! The author does a great job of defining modern day idols (liking shopping) and the lies and false beliefs behind them. If you are ever looking for a new study, check it out at http://www.lifeway.com/e2/shop/?R=797560. I guarantee you'll love it! There are 50 women going through the study together on Monday nights at Sunshine Church. It is a HUGE blessing! Not only do I enjoy the study, I love each and every one of these women! They are so authentic and compassionate and beautiful ~ and I am learning so much from them!
Back to the movie....I don't want to give away everything...so I'll try and choose my words carefully. It's about where we find our identity, and honesty, and the beauty of community, and so much more. It's rated PG so it's relatively harmless (I do wish some of the women would have worn a bit more clothing) - but there really are some amazing quotes and insights to take away from this movie. I'll close with my one of my favorite thoughts to ponder. Rebecca, the shopaholic, at the end shares (something like), "I'm finally in a relationship with someone who can love me back".
I love that line! How much time/energy/money do we spend investing in things that ultimately leave us empty and unsatisfied? Things that can never love us back. Like our career or the internet or our image or success or shopping or food or busy-ness or perfectionism. Not necessarily bad things, but stuff that will never, ever satisfy the God-shaped hole we all have in our heart. Things that can never love us back.
Oh I am so grateful that we can each have a relationship with Someone who will always love us back! That we don't have to go through life trying to find our identity in things or stuff or our career. Aren't you?? :) Thank You, God, for Life in YOU and the fullness and freedom that comes from experiencing Life in Your Name!! Now that's one "Confession" I am excited to make!!
P.S. I'd like to go and see the movie again (maybe when it comes to the cheap theater). If you're interested, please let me know! I'd love to have you join me! :)
Friday, March 6, 2009
So what did I do with the blog? Nothing - except listen to the voices in my head and kept that brick of fear in my backpack. It seemed safer that way....except carrying those bricks gets exhausting, doesn't it??
Finally, after a good friend strongly encouraged me to put that brick down once and for all, I went back to blogspot. Finished my profile. Prayed about my first post. And sent it out. Whew! Of course, for a quick second, panic struck once I hit "publish post" - but then there was a great sense of relief and victory and peace. My shoulders felt lighter and I slept well that night. I prayed that God would use my words to encourage and point others to Him.
Not even 10 hours later, I was on the phone with a dear friend. Through her many tears, she thanked me for starting the blog. My friend has been struggling, and when she read my first post about the bricks, tears just started pouring out. God used the visual of the bricks to reveal to her that she, too, is carrying "bricks in her backpack"....and He is ready for her to place them down. It was amazing to listen to her and pray together. The presence of God was in our midst!!
You know what struck me when I hung up the phone with my friend? How often I think about how my "bricks" impact me. How my fear and other junk gets in the way of me living the full life God has for me. But it's not about me - I want my life to matter for God and His Kingdom purposes! And I realized anew yesterday, that not only does carrying around "bricks" rob me of life and peace and fullness in Christ, but it also robs those around me. I'm grateful to God for revealing to me in a fresh and powerful way that it is time to be free of fear. What's the worst that can happen? And no matter what....my God will still take care of me!!
So what about you? I must gently ask again...are you carrying "bricks" on your journey? Maybe it's fear or worry or doubt or addiction or unforgiveness or anger?? Not only is it robbing you of life, my guess is that it is significantly impacting those around you. Your precious family, your friends, your community, the Kingdom. May God bring fresh revelation to you and hold you close as you surrender your "bricks" to Him. It's time!
Let's Pray: Oh God, how we belive that Jesus is the Christ! We desire to have LIFE in His Name (John 20:31). Please gently remove anything that is weighing us down, so that we might more effectively reach out to others! Use us, God, to turn this world upside down for Your Name's sake!! For Your Glory alone!! Amen :)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
For yesterday's MOPS gathering, I brought along a backpack, and shared 7 different things that I believe we need to pack for our journey (in this case, our Adventure in Mothering), if we are going to be ALL that God intends for us to be. Not items like Kleenexes and cough drops, but things like a Truth Nametag to remind us who we are in Christ, an IV for daily infusions of His power and His strength (don't we all need those??! - I know I sure do!), a Caribiner to keep us linked to other sisters in Christ, and more!
However, before we can start filling our backpack, we really need to empty it first, don't we?
In my backpack yesterday, I carried two, huge heavy bricks. One brick I labeled WORRY, and one brick was labeled FEAR. Two big weights that, thankfully, we DO NOT have to bring with us on our journey with Christ!!
My bricks were real life examples for me. Fear can be huge in my life. I fear not being good enough, I fear rejection, I fear missing out on the FULL LIFE that God has for me. If I'm not careful, FEAR can take away my joy and keep me from experiencing God's goodness in my life.
I am so THANKFUL for God's Word ~ and His many, many reminders to "Fear Not!". I am grateful that God gently leads us through our fears, speaks Truth into the lies, brings others to be voices of Truth and remind us to keep going (and always at just the right time), and that He never, ever gives up on us. Ever! What an awesome God we serve!
What about for you? Are you feeling burdened, exhausted, "heavier" than you need to? Are there any "bricks" weighing you down on your journey?
May today be the day that you empty out your backpack of anything that is not from Him (fear, worry, insecurity, idolatry, addiction) so that you can enjoy the full, free adventure of Life in Christ!!
Dear God, Thank YOU that in Christ we can live FREE, FULL LIVES! Please reveal to us if there is anything that is weighing us down or getting in the way of experiencing all that You have for us. May today be the day we gently place our "bricks" at the cross (and leave them there!). Please use us to make a difference for Your Kingdom!
In the Strong Name of Jesus we pray ~ Amen!
Women's Retreat, January 28, 2012
MOPS, January 31, 2012
Cornerstone Women's Leadership Conference, Grand Rapids, MI, Feb 17-18, 2012
MOPS, Portage, MI, March 6, 2012
MOPS, Grand Rapids, MI March 26, 2012
Women's Tea, April 28, 2012
MOPS, Corinth Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI, May 15, 2012
Speak Up with Confidence, June 21-23, 2012
**Where I've been....
MOPS, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Jenison, MI, December 15, 2011
MOPS, Sunshine Church, December 13, 2011
Christmas Candlight, Cutlerville CRC, Grand Rapids, December 5th, 2011
Praise and Coffee Nights, Hastings, MI, August 11, 2011 (Open to public)
Monday Night Bible Study, Sunshine Church, August 15, 2011 (Open to public)
Women of the Word, Sunshine Church, September 15, 2011
Hillside Church, September 29, 2011
Redeemer Lutheran Church Women's Retreat, Austin TX, October 22-23, 2011
Women's Weekend Retreat, Chapel Pointe, Hudsonville, MI, November 4-6, 2011
Carol Kent's Speak Up with Confidence, Grand Rapids, MI, June 22-25, 2011
MOPS, Cornerstone Church, Grand Rapids, MI April 25, 2011
MOPS, Calvary Baptist Church, West Branch, MI April 12, 2011
Red Hot for Jesus retreat, Sushine Church, Grand Rapids, MI, February 25-26, 2011
MOPS, Hastings Baptist Church, Hastings, MI, December 7, 2010
MOPS, Sunshine Church, Grand Rapids, MI, November 23, 1010
West Park Baptist Church, Knoxville, TN, November 19-12, 2010
MOPS, Thornapple Calley Church, Hastings, MI, October 26, 2010
MOPS, Corinth Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI, October 19, 2010
MOPS, First Cutlerville CRC, Byron Center, MI, October 14, 2010
MOMsNext, Sunshine Church, Grand Rapids, MI, October 4, 2010
MOPS, Seymour CRC, Grand Rapids, MI, October 1, 2010
MOPS, Vermontville Bible Church, Vermontville, MI, September 21, 2010
Magnificent Monday's, Sunshine Church, Monday September 27 - Monday November 15, 2010
Chapel, Solomon's Porch Church, Hudsonville, MI, August 29, 2010
Chapel, Rockford Christian Elementary School, Rockford, MI, April 19th, 2010
Spring Tea, 4th Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI, March 23, 2010
MOPS, West Cannon Baptist Church, Belmont, MI, March 4, 2010
Monday Night Bible Study, Sunshine Church, Grand Rapids, MI, Monday's Feb 8th - May 10, 2010
Women's Weekend Retreat, Neland CRC, Grand Rapids, MI, February 5-6
Sister Time, Kentwood Community Church, Kentwood, MI, January 26, 2010
MOPS, Ridgepoint Church, Holland, MI, December 17, 2009
ABC Moms, Ada Bible Church, Ada, MI, December 15, 2009
Women's Christmas Event, Rush Creek Bible Church, Byron Center, MI, Dec 8, 2009
Christmas Tour of Tables, Brookside Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI, December 5, 2009
Cafe des Amis, Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI, November 12, 2009
MOPS, Sunshine Church, Grand Rapids, MI, November 10, 2009
Monday Night Bible Study, Sunshine Church, Grand Rapids, MI,
Psalm 115:1 ~ Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory!
Thanks so much for taking the time to look at the Ministry Information section of *She Sparkles* !
One of my greatest passions is sharing messages of encouragement, hope, joy, Truth, and abundant life with others!!
I am always blessed to share my life-changing testimony with others.
I am also passionate about the following topics:
* Thriving (Not just Surviving) Your Mommy Adventure (very popular MOPS talk!)
* "Fat Talk Free" Living
* No More Stinkin' Thinkin'
* Being a God Reflector (2 Cor 3:18)
* Red Hot for Jesus!
* Enjoying your Marriage
* Life Beneath the Veil
* The Power of Prayer
* Building Spiritually Strong Families
...and so much more.
I would love to share at your retreat, Women's Ministry Event, MOPS gathering, or any other Speaking or Writing opportunity that you may have available.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of specifc topics I have available, a sampling of my teachings, reference information, or more information. I would love to hear from you!
Here are the ABC Scripture verses we are memorizing:
A - Above all else.... Proverbs 4:23
B - Be joyful always... 1 Thes 5:16-18
C - Commit to the Lord... Proverbs 16:3
D - Do not let any unwholesome talk... Ephesians 4:29
E - Every good and perfect gift... James 1:17
F - Find rest O my soul... Psalm 62:5
G - Give thanks to the Lord... Psalm 105:1
H - How great is the love...1 John 3:1
I - I am the Alpha and the Omega...Rev 1:8
J - Jesus answered, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life...John 14:6
K - Keep your lives free from the love of money... Hebrews 13:5
L - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...Hebrews 12:2
M - May the words of my mouth...Psalm 19:14 (NIrV)
N - Not to us...Psalm 115:1
O - Open my eyes...Psalm 119:18
P- Peace I leave with you...John 14:27
Q - Be Quick to listen...James 1:19b
R - Rejoice in the Lord...Phil 4:4
S - Set you mind...Col 3:2
T - The Name of the Lord...Proverbs 18:10
U - Until now you have not...John 16:24
V - Victory rests with the Lord...Proverbs 21:31
W - What good is it ...Mark 8:36
X - eXalt the Lord our God...Psalm 99:5
Y - You shall have no other gods...Exodus 20:3
Z - Zealous always for the fear...Proberbs 23:17
In fact, my dad told everyone he was agnostic or atheist, depending on who was at the door with a pamphlet for him. My dad was very distant emotionally and physically. I don’t think he meant it be hurtful, he kind of just modeled what his parents had done.
My Mom, bless her heart, would take us to church every week–
My brothers and I would fight all the way there,go into church,and fight all the way home. And that’s basically how I viewed “church”.
I didn’t understand the simple truth that God loved me.
I was a chubby little red-head -- shy, insecure, teased all the time.
I took it personally and it just made me feel all the more unloved and rejected. I was a classic case of low self-esteem.
As I grew older,
the more I tried to mask my insecurities – to pretend everything was okay, -- the more empty I felt inside.
I felt so alone and so desperate for someone to “love me”. Anyone.
I tried to fill this emptiness, this loneliness in my heart...
You name it – I tried it - food, men, alcohol and shopping –
By the time I graduated college in 1993,
I had pretty much sampled everything the world has to offer.
I was still empty and lonely – and carrying a huge backpack of guilt and shame for the poor choices I knew I was making.
Soon after college,
I found out I was pregnant.
Not my favorite Thanksgiving --- telling my parents right before the turkey and stuffing that their only daughter was pregnant –
and would be going through this ordeal alone—a single mom.
Thankfully, my parents were very supportive
and 9 mos later they were blessed with a wonderful grandson –
and I had a beautiful, precious son, Jake.
Fast forward a few more years – I was 26 and a single mom
a college grad waiting tables for a living –
I was thousands of dollars in debt
and had a new, very serious problem: cocaine addiction
What started off as just “experimenting with friends” after work – quickly consumed my life. Cocaine gave me new confidence – new energy.
It numbed my pain, and even made the extra pregnancy weight I gained literally fall right off .
Suddenly, I was being noticed --- men wanted me. Isn’t that crazy?
I‘d lost so much weight that my face was hollow and sunken, I was am emotional wreck -- but I was wanted!
My own Grandma said, “Wow, Cindy, you’re so beautiful now!”
NOW?? --- Hadn’t I always been beautiful?
So, the cycle of addiction continued….
In my heart --- I knew this was not the life for me. I wanted to be a good mom. Except – my daily choices did not reflect my heart’s desire.
Cocaine was as routine to me as brushing your teeth and I didn’t know how to stop!
I remember sitting on my bed one night wondering…
“What in the world happened??
“How did my life turn out this way”??
A few days later ….. I accidentally overdosed on the cocaine.
I drove myself to a med center, where after tests, the doctors told me they needed to take me by ambulance to the hospital.
I was told I’d probably be dead on arrival.
I didn’t die like they said I would,
but was quickly brought to my senses when a police officer spoke to me.
I heard what happened – so you obviously used cocaine ---
that’s a misdeameanor
and if you used, you possessed -- that’s a felony.
I heard you drove yourself to the Med Center
What if you had killed someone? -- that’s negligent homicide
and a minimum of 15 years in prison.
I heard you’re a mom – is that what you want? - your son visiting his mom in prison every week?
That conversation with the police officer -- I’ll never forget, and thankfully, no charges were filed.
But, I made a charge to myself that night as I left the hospital:
I vowed I would do whatever it takes to get my act together and figure this life thing out.
The next morning, I was thinking, if I could be like anyone, who would I want to be like? And I thought of my friend’s mom. a woman I barely knew, named Carole.
Her daughter and I worked together at a restaurant.
Carole and her husband often came to the restaurant, and Carole was so full of joy, of life, & laughter.
So, I picked up the phone and called her,
“I don’t know if you remember me , but I’m Cindy, your daughter’s friend, and I need help”.
She said, “Cindy, you need Jesus.”
Now when Carole said I needed Jesus -- I knew I needed something to fill that emptiness in my heart— so, on that day, July 21, 1996 I decided to believe in Jesus and surrendered my life to Him!!
I said, “Jesus, I’ve tried it my way, this time I’ll try it your way!!"
I didn’t waste anytime trying to figure out what this whole new life with Jesus was about ---
I quit my job, left all my so-called friends, and started going to a Bible teaching church.
I also began meeting with a wonderful Christian counselor.
I remember one day she said, "Dream Cindy, when you look down the path of the future, what do you see??…"
I was like, “Dream?? See a path?? “Yeah right, lady”
I felt like I was in a pit so far down that I couldn’t even see up, much less see a path towards the future…
And then she shared with me, from the Bible Jeremiah 29:11-13
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
For the first time in my life, I truly felt and believed that God could use me, the real me, and that He had plans for my future!!!
I began to study the Bible, and put into practice what I was learning.
All those empty places inside were being filled with God’s peace and God’s hope. Even my backpack of guilt and shame fell off.
I, also met a wonderful group of Christian friends.
Suddenly I really was experiencing the joy and the acceptance I had always desired.
I got a new job coordinating a program for teen moms and their kids
and also, was invited to schools & churches to talk about self-esteem, and staying drug & alcohol free.
And then …..I met a guy. Not just any guy, but a really special Jesus-loving guy! :)
His name – David Timmer.
One day he commented on my WWJD bracelet. The bracelet led to dating, and 2 years later on Thanksgiving week-end 1998,
David asked me to marry him. Of course, I said YES!
I was living such a happy Christian life! :) Planning our wedding. And I was never going to have to be a single mom again.
Jake was happy! I was happy! Life couldn’t get any better!
Just to give you a snapshot of our happy life... :)
Right after we were engaged, my boss gave us tickets to see the Nutcracker. We got all fancied up, put Jake in his best Christmas sweater and off we went. It was an amazing time! :)
We capped off the evening by putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it. After Jake was all tucked in bed, David & I were sitting there watching the beautiful lights --- and he asked for some paper.
David was pretty persistent, and I asked him why?
He said, “Cindy, I just want to write down how I’m feeling right at this moment. This has been a perfect day and I just don’t ever want to forget
how much joy I feel right at this moment.”
4 days later -- just 5 months before our wedding and 2 weeks before Christmas...I received a call while I was at my parents house.
David had been killed in a freak workplace accident.
That night is a blur ……….
I remember weeping and wailing and throwing myself on the ground.
I asked my pastor over and over again: WHY? WHY? WHY would God allow this?
David so wanted to bring glory to God through our relationship.
We were even going to pass out those silly WWJD bracelets at our wedding!
We wanted others to know Jesus through us!
David often said he would give his life for just one person to know Jesus.
WHY would God take him home??
The next day, on the front page of the GR Press was David’s story – of how we met, WWJD bracelets and all. That morning I knew God was in this -- He knew what He was doing -- somehow He was in control.
Two days later, at David’s funeral, my Dad (the atheist/agnostic) accepted Jesus as His Savior!
REMEMBER David had said he would give his life for just one person to know Jesus. Little did he know …. it would be MY DAD.
And you know what…God does not waste our pain.
And, it was painful … I’ll be honest…
That next year after David’s death was tough -- incredibly tough
Some days I’d get out of bed and say, “ OK God, I’ll get up and put lipstick on. You’ve got to do the rest; that’s all I can do.”
I leaned hard on God,
leaned hard on the Bible,
leaned hard on my friends (who were so good to me, they even sent me & Jake to Disney World).
My dear mentor at the time, a precious, Godly woman in her 80’s named Eileen said…"Cindy dear, you have a choice –
You can let David’s death make you better or bitter."
And I decided, regardless of my circumstances, I was choosing better!
Soon after David’s death, I was offered a new job – and became the Children’s Director for a very large church.
And that's where I met a new friend. :) John was in charge of the church payroll, so I’d see him every time I’d get my paycheck. He knew of David’s death and the hard time I was having, and sensed I needed a friend.
So John was there for me: mowing our lawn, fixing our car,
gluing 100 gummy worms on a board for Jake’s 100th day of school. :)
He was also there for all of my “firsts” after David’s death, which were so unbelievably hard.
One day, soon after the 1 year Anniversary of David’s death - I remember looking at John and thinking, “Wow, you’re cute. How come I never noticed that before??” And, yes, I was the one to ask him out on our first date. :)
When we first started dating, Jake was 5 at the time, and would run around the house with mistletoe – hoping John & I would get caught under it. His little mind thought if we were both under the mistletoe, we would get married.
Well, little Jake got his wish! :) John and I have now celebrated 11 years of marriage… and added 3 more children.
Jake is now 17, Benj is 10, Amanda is 8, & Sarah is 7. I am so blessed! :)
And, not only did Jake get his wish – I got mine as well!
I’m no longer a single mom – now I’m a stay-at-home mom with a wonderful family that loves me.
My life today is in a healthy place. Jesus is the difference!
Her sparkling personality will draw you close and hold you while she teaches and inspires you to live and walk in the super-abundance God has for you. Cindy is honest and real, exposing her own trials to create a bridge for her audience between pain and Godly potential.
Above all, Cindy is a woman who loves Jesus, and with prayer and the truth of God’s Word, passionately desires to encourage women to realize the fullness of life in Christ. You will love her compassionate heart as she testifies to Christ’s unconditional love and faithfulness that redeems our lives for His glory, regardless of who we are or what we’ve done.
Cindy attended Michigan State University where she earned a degree in Psychology. Her previous work experiences include working for Bethany Christian Services with adolescent sexual offenders, developing and supervising a transitional housing program for homeless teen moms and their kids, as well as coordinating a state licensed child care program.
In 1999, Cindy was hired as the founding Director of Children’s Ministries at a Grand Rapids area mega-church, leading the transition from being a one person department to overseeing 12 staff, equipping 1,000 volunteers, and ministering to 2,700 kids every weekend. Her picture and personal testimony have been featured in Believe magazine. She is a sought after MOPS speaker often asked to speak in local churches, schools and Mom’s groups.
Cindy would say, “I am passionate about others knowing the life that Christ offers. Whether it’s my family, my friends, or even fast-food workers, I love sharing how awesome God is with anyone/everyone who will listen!” When you meet Cindy, her warm and sunny smile will give away the fact that it is the joy of the Lord that compels her to celebrate life!
Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband John and their children Jake, Benjamin, Amanda and Sarah. Her number one ministry is that of wife and mom. Cindy is very intentional about creating a home/family life full of love, warmth, beauty and belonging.
When she’s not running a full household, you can find Cindy attending/leading/facilitating a small group with other women, going for a power walk, attending one of their children’s sports events, meeting friends for coffee, going on a school field trip, or doing her Bible study in a local bookstore. They are also active in their home church, Ada Bible Church.