Monday, October 26, 2009

On Forgiveness ~ Part 4 ~ Freedom!

Today concludes my mini-series on Forgiveness. My hope is that if you (or someone you know) wrestles with unforgiveness or self-condemnation, that God might use these posts to offer hope and life to you!

Jesus came so that we might live FREE!! Free of the Guilt, Free of the Shame, Free from the Lies. Let's take Him up on His gift of Free, Abundant Life ~ TODAY! :)

A few weeks ago I had the chance to give my testimony at our Monday night Bible Study. I shared my journey of self-defeating behaviors and addiction, until Jesus, thankfully, got ahold of me at age 26.

The next day, I received a note from a sweet woman who had been in attendance. "Dee" (not her real name) was having a hard time forgiving herself for the drug addiction and poor choices she made many years ago (for a recap, click here). Dee wanted to know how I was able to forgive myself and move forward.

Dee's letter made me sit and think. I reflected on how God brought me through my own journey of Forgiveness ~ forgivenss of myself, as well as others. I wrote Dee back and shared some of the practical, visual steps I took on my road to freedom and wholeness in Christ (for a recap, click here).

I then began to pray very specifically for Dee, and invited a group of prayer warriors I know to also interecede on her behalf.

How is Dee today?? Well, I'll let you decide. :) Here is a note I received from her just last week....

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your testimony—I have been able to Heal and press forward. My parents have been such a true blessing, and my mother—oh Cindy, I cannot describe the change that has been happening in her since I confided in my parents After listening to you several Mondays ago.

The powerful Lord has truly been working to heal My family and then to bring of all things to bring my mother and me together in over 35 years!!!!!!!

I can only say that forgiveness is the foundation of Christianity and serving Jesus. When we do not Forgive, the pain is so heavy and long lasting.

Anyways Praise the Lord today louder than yesterday!!!!!! In His name, your sister Dee.

Isn't God awesome?? Only God!! Only God!!

Let's pray....Oh Lord, we THANK YOU for Dee and for her openness in sharing her journey so others might see You. THANK YOU that there is no one too far from You. THANK YOU for the freedom and the LIFE that is available to us through CHRIST!!! We love You, Lord, and desire to be used for Your Kingdom purposes and Glory!! In Jesus' mighty and powerful Name we pray!! Amen!!

Have a BLESSED week!! I'm off to Bible Study!! Woo Hoo!!!

P.S. Would you do me a favor?? Before you close this post, would you mind lifting Dee up in prayer? (God knows her real name!) Would you pray that God would continue to bring healing and hope and life and fullness in Christ to her?? And that He would use her, in His perfect timing, to be a voice of hope and Truth to others? She has been such a blessing and inspiration ~ I would love to bless her as well! Thank you!! :)

Photo Credit: here

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fantastic Friday ~ Jump for Joy!! :)

The flu is gone! The flu is gone!! Woo Hoo!! The flu is gone!!! :)

THANK YOU for your faithful prayers and words of encouragement. I feel FANTASTIC!!
No cough.
No sniffles.
No fever.
No sore throat.
No ear infection.
No aches.
Can you believe it?? I'm healthy!!! Hooray!! THANK YOU GOD!!!

It's a Fantastic Friday!! I'm off to go have fun with my family!!
May your Friday be filled with much joy and laughter and celebration!!

Award Time!

I am feeling better today!! Thank you so much for all of your kind words, encouragement, and prayer support! I've actually showered, been to the store, and even worked on laundry! It feels so good to be half-way healthy today!! Woo Hoo!!

I've been blessed by a few Blog awards over the past few weeks, and now that I am feeling better ~ it is about time I pass them on!!!!

I received the Loyal Blog Award from Alisa Hope over at Faith Imagined! (Alisa Hope is a extremely gifted, Christ-centered writer. Check out her blog! You will be encouraged and uplifted...guaranteed!) Thank you, Alisa Hope, for this award!

I am giving this award to 3 Loyal, Lovely ladies:

Crissy over at Crissy Blog Design

LaVender at Momsweb

Julie at Come Have A Peace

Thank you for being such a great encouragement and voice of Truth to me!

I also received the One Lovely Blog Award on September 26th from Ann with Honoring the King. (If you are ever looking for great deals/bargains, check out Ann's blog. She highlights sales at CVS, Target, etc.. You're sure to enjoy her blog!) Thank you, Ann, for this Lovely blog award!

I am passing the One Lovely Blog Award to Chellie at Art from my Table. Chellie is an amazing, health conscious, kid friendly cook! I am so grateful she started her new blog!

True story: When I was really sick with a fever this week, I remembered Chellie had a delicious Chicken Soup recipe on her blog. I checked it out, but was too exhausted to try it that day. Instead I called my Mom, and she brought her homemade Chicken Soup right over. (Thanks, Mom!!) I'm going to make Chellie's the next time a friend is sick though!! As Chellie says "chicken soup is perfect comfort food!"

Lastly, on September 3rd, Tina at TinasBookReviews gave me this fun Beautiful Bingo Blog Award! She nominated me for being Gorgeous! (You are too kind...thank you, Tina!)

So now I have the privilege of nominating some Beautiful blog's......

B-For Beautiful JJ @ The Landii

I- For Inspirational Christy @ Danni Frain

N- For my real life Neighbor Jill @ The Diaper Diaries

G- For God-focused Sandy @ One Day at a Time

O-For Outstanding Michelle @ Lost in the Prairies...Found by God

Your blogs bless me, inspire me, make me laugh, and sometimes cry!! Thank you for the time and dedication you devote to your blog. You are doing a Beautiful job!!

Most importantly, thank you to all my dear friends for allowing me the privilege to share with you the daily lessons that God is teaching me. My greatest desire is to always point you to Jesus...for He truly is the Way, the Truth, and Life. May all Glory go to Him alone!!

Many blessings to you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sick Day!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I have been waiting for today, Tuesday October 20th, for months!! I was
scheduled to speak at a local Moms Group called SisterTime. I've prepared a message "Thriving on Your Motherhood Adventure". It's such a fun message, and I couldn't wait to share it and meet these SisterTime moms!

Sunday afternoon we went to a family birthday celebration. When we arrived back home, suddenly I wasn't feeling very good. In fact, I went straight to bed (shoes and all!). When I woke up 3 hours later, I had a horrible fever, chills, and a cold. I was devestated!!

I shared the news with my friends and asked them to please pray!! I went to bed early confident that I would wake up refreshed and healthy, ready for Monday night Bible Study and SisterTime on Tuesday.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up Monday still running a fever! There went my hope for Bible Study. God has provided so many great leaders to fill in the gap when I am not there, but it was still very disappointing for me. I miss my Monday night friends!!

I asked more friends to pray and trusted that if I didn't talk and just slept all day Monday, I would be fine for Tuesday. John took the day off of work to care for me and my daughter Amanda (who also has the flu). I layed low, went over my notes in my head, and trusted I'd be feeling better soon...or at least in the morning.

Finally about 7:00 PM last night, I was on the couch praying. I was asking God for His best for SisterTime. All of a sudden it hit me...His best might not include me!! I would be devestated if I shared any of my sick germs with these moms. Was it His best for me to go when I was not feeling well? What did He have planned??

I prayerfully decided I better call the SisterTime Coordinator. In case I wasn't able to make it, I wanted to give her advance notice. I should let her know how I was feeling.

Amy, the SisterTime Coordinator, was such a blessing. She cared about me and wanted me to have another day to "stay in my jammies". Amy didn't mind coming up with a Plan B. (In fact, she thought maybe they'd watch a Beth Moore video. Oh boy, did that give me PEACE. What a perfect plan!). Amy decided it'd be best just to reschedule (rather than waiting to see how I was in the morning), so that I could have another good night of rest.

After I hung up the phone, I cried. I was so sad. I said to John, "Do you think the enemy won since now I'm not going?" John very firmly said, "No, he didn't win. You've just been blessed!".

As I shared with John more of my conversation with Amy, he said, "I want to write her a Thank You note. Wow! What grace and love she extended to you. You've been blessed!!"

How am I this morning?? Although I no longer have a fever, I still have a sore throat and bad cold. I just called a friend and she said "Oh Cindy, you sound horrible!" (I thought I sounded better ~ shoot!). All 3 of my little kids are home with me (their school is closed due to the flu!), so perhaps we'll watch Camp Rock (again!) and have a Terrific Tuesday here in our jammies.

Thank you, SisterTime Amy, for your grace and care.

Thank you, John, for your support and love.

Thank you, Mom, for my care package on the door this morning (and yesterday too).

Thank you Monday night friends, for all of your notes and prayers.

Thank you, Facebook friends, for all of your kind words and support.

Thank you, Jackie and Jen and Jill, for stopping by and helping and brightening my day.

John is right ~ I am blessed.

How are you doing today?? Has the flu hit your home/school?? How can we pray for you today??

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

On Forgiveness ~ Part 3

This week I've been sharing about Forgiveness on my blog. It started here when I shared a very powerful letter I received from "Dee". In my last post, I shared my response to Dee's e-mail. And for today, I will share Dee's follow-up e-mail.

When I asked Dee if I could share her notes on my blog, her response was, "Yes, you may share my journey. Cindy, your website has helped me and I have found the Truth there. In these days, we need to hear more of the truth. And if we can reach someone on the computer, then glory to God." Isn't she amazing??

Again, my hope and prayer is that if you (or someone you know) wrestle with thoughts of self-condemnation, perhaps the correspondence Dee and I have shared will encourage you on your journey towards freedom and wholeness in Christ.

Dear Cindy:
You are right—I need to slam The truth at the devil!! I have let the devil take some control, and now I am going to push him out of my thoughts!!

I have been praying that God will show me how to forgive my self, and He told me the slate has been wiped clean each and every time I come to Him and confess my sins.

You know when my husband died 7 years ago I did make those lists of people I was upset with or mad at. Or have wronged. And I did start praying for them, and my anger towards them left. Actually I did have a lot of pain that I was holding on to and God did help set me free. Now I can see them as people who God loves and that I love and pray for.

I have asked a couple of my friends to pray for me too. Each morning when I look at myself in the mirror I tell myself that I am Forgiven. When I made the choice to stop doing drugs I was making a good choice. And God did help me overcome the desire and need for drugs.

You know my Pastor that being a Christian is hard work. The devil works extra hard to push us off the path a touch.

I have much peace and joy this week. I am sleeping better also.
I can hardly wait for Monday night to get here. Thanks for listening. Prayer is so powerful. The privilege of prayer, lets God do his Powerful thing!! See you Monday at Bible Study.

Sisters in Christ, Dee

Isn't it awesome to watch God work so powerfully in Dee's life?? Go back and read her first e-mail (here) which was written not even a week prior. Only God!!!

And if He can do it for Dee, He can (and will) do it for you!! :)

P.S. On my next post, I'll conclude this Forgiveness series with one final note from Dee. You won't want to miss it!!

P.S.S. Let's pray... Oh God, we are so thankful for the forgiveness that we have in You. I pray You would help us to live and walk in complete freedom in You. Lord, thank You for "Dee" and her willingness to share her journey with others. I pray You'd continue to work powerfully in her life...for Your purpose, for Your Glory. We bless You, Lord!! In Jesus Strong Name! Amen :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

On Forgiveness ~ Part 2

In my last post, I shared an e-mail I received from "Dee" after she heard me share my testimony. (If you didn't read Dee's e-mail, please click here to read it. You'll be so glad you did!)

I'll be honest...I had the hardest time knowing what to say to Dee. Finally, after a number of days of staring at her e-mail, I did what she originally asked me to do....share more of what I learned on my journey.

Today I'll share my response to Dee. My hope and prayer is that if you (or someone you know) wrestle with thoughts of self-condemnation, perhaps the correspondence Dee and I have shared will encourage you on your journey towards freedom and wholeness in Christ.

Hello dear Dee,

I have prayed for you every day since you sent your note. I wish I had all of the right answers or a verse that would make it all better, but instead will share what I've learned and pray God would encourage you with my words.

First, please know, walking in forgiveness (of myself and others) has definitely been a process for me. When I turned to Jesus in 1996, I was carrying HUGE burdens of shame and guilt. The choices that I made during the years of my life “before Christ” were horrible. When I finally hit bottom with my addiction, I was a real disaster. Trust me.

God really used a Godly mentor named Michele to help me on the road of forgiveness. One of the things that Michele had me do was make a list of all of the poor choices I had made, and write them on a balloon (I actually needed two balloons!!)

Then I prayed that God would forgive me of all of my past choices (1 John 1:9), and let the balloons go. This was very healing. The balloons were such a great visual reminder of my sins being GONE ~ really GONE.

When the enemy (the devil) tried to remind me of my poor choices, it was helpful to remember that sin was GONE (just like the balloons). I was forgiven! No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t take the sin back.

Michele also asked me to make a list of every person I needed to forgive. Kids that had teased me. The people that had hurt me. Myself.

Then she gave me a bag of stones. I sat by a lake and pulled out a stone one by one for each person. I took the stone, prayed a prayer forgiving them for their action, and then threw the stone in the lake. It was a day of immense freedom and victory for me!

It was amazing how many of the people I had forgiven I would "run into" after the lake episode (at the store, etc). It was so helpful to think “you have no more control over me. I’ve forgiven you” rather than have such hurtful thoughts toward that person. I was free!

I realized how much FREEDOM there is in letting people off of the hook. The unforgiveness of others was not hurting them, only me.

I've also learned the beautiful thing about life with Jesus is that He does give us do-overs, Dee!! Jesus is a Savior of 2nd (and 3rd and 4th) chances!! He can take your poor choices and make something beautiful out of the mess. Only God can do that. He will make beauty out of your ashes, in His timing.

And not only did God give me a do-over, He also gave me a new reputation. Only God! And if He can do it for me, He can do it for you!! Guaranteed!

One last thought… Forgiving myself has been a mental choice. Even if I don’t "feel" forgiven, I need to walk in the Truth that I am forgiven. I asked God to help me see myself as He sees me (I still pray this every day).

My mind tells me that I am not good enough, made horrible choices, a disappointment to my parents, etc.. I MUST FILL MY MIND WITH THE TRUTH OF WHO GOD SAYS I AM. I MUST!!

And when the enemy starts to fill my mind with guilt and shame, I throw God’s Word back in the devil’s face.

God’s Word says I am forgiven.

God’s Word says there is NO CONDEMNTATION for those in Christ Jesus.

God’s Word says I am Lavishly Loved.

God’s Word says I am accepted just the way that I am.

Julie wasn’t kidding when she said I have verse cards everywhere. It’s true. My life has been transformed largely because my mind has been transformed. I still live this way today.

I don’t know if any of this is helpful to you, Dee. Please just know that I care and that you are not alone. It is not a coincidence that God brought you to our group. Or that He had me walk over and hug you Monday night. Now I look back and see that as God saying to you “I love you, Dee. I forgive you. I’ve forgotten. Let Me help you forgive yourself. Let’s walk in forgiveness and peace”. Jesus came to set you free, Dee. Victory is yours in Him!! In Him, Cindy

Dee's response to my response on my next post...

Friday, October 9, 2009

On Forgiveness ~ Part 1

I recently had the chance to share my testimony at our "Magnificent Monday" Bible study. As I was speaking, I could tell that parts of my journey were significantly impacting a dear woman (I'll call her Dee ~ not her real name), who was sitting at a slight angle to my right. Later that evening, I shared with my friend Julie, "If sharing my testimony was just to reach Dee, it was worth it. Something that I said really got to her. God is doing something huge in her life."
Little did I know...

Just a few days later, I received a very real, yet heartbreaking e-mail from Dee. I share it with you today with Dee's full permission.

Hi Cindy,

Your testimony was very powerful this past Monday night. I cried a lot
That night. Actually, most of the way home too. My friend suggested I
Email you.

I can not forgive myself for turning to drugs. I started drugs right after I graduated
High school, when my parents kicked me out of the house. No actually I was already
Smoking pot then. I did not stop until 1991 right after my mother in law died.

I neglected my children most of their life and have tried very hard to make it up to them.
I have not been very successful where my daughter is concerned. I am trying to be
A Christian mother and grandmother. I gave my life back to God in 2001, a year
Before my husband died. We were married to 27 years.

Since his death, I have watched the poor choices my children have made, and all I can
Do is scold myself for being so selfish when they were little. The most important thing
In my life at that time was being high.

I believe the only reason for me still being alive is my dad prayed and prayed. I love
To listen to his prayers now.

My heart is sick over the way I have behaved. I am happy that I stopped doing drugs since
1991, and I have no desire for them. I wish I could have a do over life.

How did you forgive yourself? What am I missing? I have been able to forgive my parents
For throwing me out of the house, Oh,, that did take some time. I love them so very much.
But I am so mad at myself. I cannot seem to get away from self condemnation.

Your Friend,

Wow, huh?? I just stared at my computer and wept. And then I prayed, "Oh Lord, how can I encourage Dee?? Please give me Your Words to share!"

Continued on my next post...

P.S. Thank you for your kind words and prayers as I've been battling my latest round of sickness!! I am excited to say I'm feeling slightly better ~ it's now more of a nagging cough/cold rather than the flu! I am PRAYING that I will be completely healed by Monday night! I cannot miss Bible Study two weeks in a row!! I miss all the Magnificent Women!! :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Bright Spot!

(Picture above ~ Me and my son Benj. This post is dedicated to my precious little guy!)

I'm really sick...again! I've been fighting chills, a fever, horrible sore throat, fatigue, and more! I even had to miss Bible Study last night! Bummer!! I'm off to the doctor this morning...

In the midst of my "less than Magnificent" Monday yesterday, I was still very blessed. New Beth Moore Inheritance DVD's to watch (although I kept falling asleep as soon as I turned on the TV). Lunch from Panera. A nice, cold Diet Coke (thanks, Julie ~ boy did it hit the spot on my sore throat! I'll try "no pop" again next month). Homemade chicken noodle soup. Offers to bring Starbucks (you know I'm sick when a vanilla latte doesn't sound good!). Calls and e-mails of hope and encouragement. Lots of prayer support. I am blessed and grateful. :)

My family has been extra supportive and caring. John has been taking care of all of his "household responsibilities", and mine too. John even left work early yesterday to take the kids to their school skating party. I was so bummed I couldn't go. I've been looking forward to it for weeks!

My little guy Benj (age 8) sure blessed me though! We've been talking all week about "the races" at the skating party. I knew Benj would do great in the race, but he was nervous even to try (he's an amazing hockey player, so I figured he'd do well). I was disappointed I wouldn't be at the skating party to encourage Benj to try and to cheer him on!

Of course I wasn't surprised when John and the kids came home happy after a great time together. What did surprise me was the fountain Diet Pepsi Benj was carrying. It was for me!

Benj did try the skating race, and he won! His reward? A ticket for a free soft drink. John said Benj carried his ticket in his pocket during the rest of the party. When it was time to go, Benj told John he wanted to get a cold drink for his sick mom. He had saved his reward ticket for me!

Isn't that precious?

I am convinced that even in the midst of our most challenging days, God will bring bright spots to us...if we choose to look for them!

What about for you? What bright spots has God brought your way??

Many blessings to you~

P.S. Sorry if my thoughts are a bit jumbled...I'm heading back to bed and then off to the doctor!!

**UPDATE** ~ I'm back from the doctor. Thankfully it's not swine flu or strep throat, just a nasty upper respiratory infection. Hopefully I'll be on the road to recovery soon! ***

Friday, October 2, 2009

Five Question Friday!

Wow! Where did the week go?! :)

Now that my 4 kids are in school (almost full-time), I always smile when someone asks what I do with "all of my free time"!

My week was filled with hockey practices, JV football, ballet, field trips, lots of homework, many minutes of reading with kids, PTO baking, lunch duty, Bible study (woo hoo!), preparing for upcoming talks, recess duty, plus...not to mention a horrible cold and sore throat!
Ahhh! I need another nap!

Tonight I stumbled across a cute blog called My Little Life that hosts Five Question Friday! What fun! Here goes...

October 2nd Questions:

1. What is your favorite ABBA song?
I don't know too many ABBA songs! I would have to pick "Dancing Queen" since it's the only ABBA song I know. I used to roller skate to Dancing Queen a lot when I was little!

2. The thing you love most about fall is...the beautiful colors, jumping in leaves with my kids, Honeycrisp apples, hot cider, fall decor ~ so many things! My favorite would be our Family Tradition of taking a hay ride and enjoying donuts and cider together afterwards!

3. What store you would love to spend to heart's desire (money is no object)? Party City! I love to CELEBRATE and every time I go to Party City, I'm convinced I must throw another Party! In fact, tomorrow we are having a Michigan/Michigan State football party ~ just because the football decorations there all looked so fun!! :)

4. What is your favorite snack food? Chips and salsa, for sure! Best when paired with a nice, cold Diet Coke! (I'm giving up pop for the month of October though, so I need to move on....)

5. What was your first car? My first car was a blue Ford escort. I purchased it new when I graduated from college in 1993 (thanks to my Grandma Stille).

A fun God story...When John and I were getting married, we didn't need my blue car anymore. I sensed we were supposed to give it away to someone in need. John wasn't too sure about giving it away at first (esp. when it was still in good, resellable condition), but after praying about it, he quickly changed his mind. John knew a single mom from church who was struggling financially, so he called her to see if she could use a car.

Would you believe her car had recently died, and she had just asked her small group to start praying about transportation for her and her son?! Isn't God awesome??

John, Jake and I went to deliver the car to her, and I took her for a ride before handing her the keys. I reminded her that God would always take car of her and her son, and anytime she doubted His care and provision, to just remember this car!! It was such an awesome day!!

The next day I was called into my boss' office at work. (I worked at church and the associate pastor was my boss). The Associate Pastor wanted me to know the Elders were grateful for my hard work and wanted to give me a $7,000 raise!! Woo Hoo!! A coincidence?? I don't think so!! God is good...all the time!!!

Hope you enjoyed my first Five Question Friday! Hop on over to My Little Life and join the fun!
Many blessings to you!! :)

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