Friday, October 29, 2010

What Are You Most Afraid Of??

Hi Friends! Happy Weekend to you!!

I'm what is it you are most afraid of??

For me, I join the millions of people in the world with a fear of public speaking.

When I was little, I wet my pants at school often because I was too afraid to raise my hand in class. (I'm not kidding, you can even ask my mom). The thought of everyone looking at me was just too much for this shy, insecure, red haired little girl.

After I came to know Jesus, I sensed the Lord wanted me to share my testimony for His Kingdom purposes.

I was terrified.

However, after years of living in rebellion, I was more terrified of not obeying Him than people looking at me. I would go with fear and trembling whenever a church would ask me to share (but trust me, I never went out seeking opportunities).

In 1999 I was hired to work as a ministry leader at a Grand Rapids area mega-church. Only the Lord would provide opportunities for this shy girl to share ministry updates in front of 10,000 people on Sunday's. (Did you notice I said TEN THOUSAND people!)

Only God.

In 2003, I heard for the first time about Carol Kent's Speak Up with Confidence Seminar. I knew I should go (if I was going to speak in front of people, I should at least have the tools to do so more effectively). However, the thought of going to this seminar TERRIFIED me.

I chickened out.

And so it continued, every year Carol Kent's Speak Up would come to town, and every year I would stay home due to my fears and insecurities.

Finally in 2007, I knew I must face my fears and attend Speak Up.

I went, sat in the back row, gave my little speeches while being evaluated by others (without throwing up or anything horrible), and came home. Whew ~ mission accomplished. (And, truth be told, received glowing remarks. Thank you God!)

In 2008, I knew I needed to go back...and this time for the Advanced Seminar. (I was asked to speak at my first church retreat ~ teaching 4 one hour sessions ~ and needed to learn everything I could from Carol and her gifted team!)

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Carol Kent herself would be evaluating my last mini Bible teaching. I was shaking in my high heels ~ literally!! I tried to put on my lipstick and had to use two hands, I was trembling so badly. I begged the Lord to infuse me with His strength and His peace, or this was going to be a disaster!

And you know what....He did!!

The Lord empowered me and I spoke with clarity, boldness, and a holy passion!

When I was finished sharing my 5 minute Bible presentation, Carol said, "Who are you?"

I said, "Ummmm....I'm a mom...."

Carol replied, "I mean, what do you do??"

I shared, "Well, I, um, speak at different churches sharing my story....

Just then my dear friend Donna Fagerstrom interrupted and shared, "Carol, she's not telling you everything. She was the ministry leader of a local church and is just amazing...."

(Bless you, Donna, you are always such an encourager!)

Then Carol shared, "Cindy, I think we're supposed to stop right now and lay hands on you. I sense God has a very special plan He desires to fulfill through you. Let's gather around you and pray."

Of course, I wept like a baby as an amazing group of Godly women surrounded me and prayed over me. What an unbelievable blessing! I still tear up when I think about that day years later.

Would you know that since that time the Lord has been opening amazing doors for me to share of His goodness? God has infused me with such confidence in Him, passion, and desire to share Truth all over the place. Not one time have I sought out opportunities (some things haven't changed) ~ and yet He has blown me away with His purposes and plans. Only God!!

And last year, once again, I went back to Speak Up. This time I sat in the front row. :)

I also had the chance to share lunch with Carol Kent....

And meet amazing women like April from Barefoot Offerings

And Becky Turner
, Jennie Dimkoff, Sharla Fritz, and so many other wonderful women!!

God's Word is clear...the Lord has not given us a spirit of timidity or fear, but of POWER, LOVE, and SELF-DISCIPLINE (2 Timothy 1:7).

So I'll end where I began...what are you most afraid of??

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

What has the Lord been preparing for you to do? Are there opportunities or avenues that you sense God is calling you to step out into, but you are allowing fear to get in the way?

Please take it from this former "chicken" ~ trust Him! Look to Him and as Beth Moore says, "Do it afraid!"

Thanks for listening to my journey from fear to faith today! I'd love to hear what God has taught you in this area. Share with us please!

Have a wonderful, joy-filled weekend, my dear bloggy friend! I treasure you!!


P.S And be sure to check back tomorrow....I'll be reviewing Carol Kent's latest book "Between A Rock and A Grace Place". I recently received FOUR copies to giveaway. Woo Hoo! I can't wait to share her latest writings with you!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How To Do It All

Hey Friends! Happy Thursday to you!! I'm knee-deep in Fall fun family stuff today, so I thought I'd re-post my response to one of the most frequently asked questions I receive...."Cindy, How do you do it all?". Enjoy ~ and I'd love to hear from you!

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is...

"Cindy, how do you do it? You're married, have 4 kids, a speaking ministry, write a blog, lead a Bible study, etc... How do you do it all??".

My answer is simple ~ I don't. Whereas it is true I am married, have 4 awesome kids, love speaking and sharing what God has done in my life, and enjoy all of the great friends I've made on my blog *She Sparkles* ~ the truth is that are a lot of things I don't do.

In fact, here are some of the things I've learned about trying to do it all....

1. "Trying to do it all" doesn't work.

For many, many years I tried to do it all. In my life before Christ, I tried to be...

Super Employee (i.e. workaholic).

Super Thin (i.e. eating disorder).

Super Mom (I was a single mom, it was a ton of work and I never slept!).

Super Perfectly Clean and Organized Home Owner.

It was empty and defeated living.

My search for perfection led me down a path of horribly unhealthy, self-defeating behaviors, and eventually almost cost me my life (literally ~ you can read more here). I am committed to never going back to being Super Woman!!

2. Know your Purpose

I now try to live very intentionally each and every day (while still having a lot of fun along the way)!! :) I spent time each season reflecting on my purpose, and try to make daily choices reflecting those decisions.

3. Prioritize your Time

On my quest for intentional, purposeful living, I have learned it is crucial to prioritize my days. Am I the only one that can turn on the computer to send a quick note, and realize 2 hours later that I forgot what I went to the computer to do?? Ahhh!!

I spent time each morning reflecting on my priorities ~ and then plan my day accordingly. Unfortunately, it also means I must say NO to a lot of things. For this season, I am choosing to not watch TV. I will never be known for my gardening skills. When friends come over, I usually feed them ice cream, tacos or pizza (I'm not kidding). I haven't been to the mall in months.

I'm learning I must say NO to good things in order to say YES to God's best.

Of course, this isn't always easy. Just this past weekend, a wonderfully talented woman I met asked me to go to dinner Friday night. I would have loved to spend more time with her! But in my heart, I knew my purpose and priority of wife and mom must come first.

Instead, I spent the night playing kickball with my family and enjoying ice cream on our deck. I trust God will allow me to spend time with this dear woman another time. Saying NO to good things isn't easy, but I truly believe God will bless our desire to keep our priorities in line.

4. Ask for Help

Asking for help has been the hardest, yet most healthy thing I've learned on my quest for sane, whole living. Here are some "helps" I currently have in place ~

* I've been blessed with a prayer team that lifts my family and all my speaking engagements in prayer.

* I have a college girl that comes over once a week (for the whole day - yippee!) so I can pray, study and write.

* My mom and mother-in-love frequently feed us on Bible study nights.

* I have a cleaning service (and they drive a car that lets the whole neighborhood know when they are over!!!). No secrets here!

* My husband John does all of our laundry. (bless you, honey!)

There is no way I could keep the full schedule I maintain without help from my family and friends!

Isn't it freeing to not have to pretend that we are capable of doing it all?? I love just being ME (the non-gardener, pizza buying ME), and I sure sleep much better these days!

Please know I do not have it all figured out! I'm on a journey, just like you. But the more we can be honest and realistic about what we are capable of doing (and what our floors really look like most days), the more we can free each other from trying to be perfect!!

Life's too challenging on its own, much less pretending that we have it altogether, don't you think??

I love how Beth Moore puts it ~ "We can't do all things for the Glory of God". Amen!!

So, what has God called you to do??

Speak? Write? Be a Mom? Work outside the home? Be a Grandma?? What healthy habits have you put into place to live a healthy, full life?? Are there things God is asking you to let go of while you pursue His purpose for you?? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Share with us please!!

May God guide you as you prioritize your days, may He help you say NO to good things and YES to the best, and fill you with an abundance of His peace and joy as you pursue His purpose for your life!!

God's richest blessings to you~

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Garbage City

Hey Friends :)

Happy Wednesday to you!!I thought I'd try a Wordless Wednesday
again, but you know me....I'm not very good at it! How can I not say "something?"?! :)

So last night I was looking through a magazine with hope-filled Christmas gifts when I came across the opportunity to share the Good News with children in Cairo's Garbage City.

I nearly fell out of my chair. Garbage City, in Cairo, Egypt! I've been there and had an amazing, life~changing experience there!

If you've not heard of Garbage's a slum on the outskirts of Cairo without running water, proper sanitation, or electricity. The residents literally live in the garbage. Yes, in the garbage with rats and pigs and all sorts of other creatures. ...and this is "home" to thousands of precious, poor children.

In 2003, I was invited to visit an amazing Egyptian church and spend time with my dear friend Maha and her family. And although I was 4 1/2 months pregnant with Baby Bultema # 4 ~ I said yes :)

One of the many highlights of the trip was being able to pass out Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes to the children of Garbage City.

Here I am (on the left) being escorted to the area where the children were waiting. And yes, that's raw sewage running down the middle of the street.

When we arrived in the church and I saw all of the beautiful children, I was quickly moved to tears.

I asked one of our interpreters, "How do you say Jesus loves you in Arabic?"

She responded "Jesus be hebec" (my spelling...not sure how you really spell it....)

And that afternoon, as I knelt in the dirt in 110 degree heat in a room jam-packed with kids (did I mention I was pregnant?!) and passed out the shoeboxes.... I shared with each and every beautiful, precious child "Jesus be hebec, Jesus be hebec"

With tears streaming down my face, I knew at that exact moment that this was what I was created for! That I wanted to surrender my life to share with anyone and everyone, no matter where God would take me, all about Jesus and His great love.

It is a defining moment in my life I will never forget. :)

In the picture below, I am helping show the children what to do with the various items from the shoebox (sometimes challenging when we could only use our actions, and not words because of the language barrier). This little girl was given powder, but had no idea what to do with it!!

As I stroll down Egyptian memory lane on this Wordless Wednesday, here are a couple more highlights....

* Visiting children in the hospital, orphanages, and special needs schools....

(Picture above is my good friend Julie and our new Egyptian friends, right before we all started in a major dance party!!)

* Sharing at the Egyptian church (the poor interpreter ~ boy did I talk fast!)

* Spending time with my dear friends Maha, Ramez, Farah, Hady, and Rafik

What an amazing experience!

My husband John has also been to Garbage City (he went just months before I went). When I showed him the article last night and the opportunity to share the Good News with children from Garbage City, John's first response was, "so how many children should we sponsor??" (I love my man!)

(Hint ~ if you're on our Christmas gift list, you might be helping support the children of Garbage City this year!)

Thanks for journeying with me on my "semi-Wordless" Wednesday today! I'd love to hear from you....have you had the chance to serve overseas? Experience God in a special, unique way under challenging circumstances? Please share your journey with us!!

May the Lord bless you with a Wonderful, Worship-full, Word filled Wednesday!!!


P.S. Could I ask...before you close this post, would you stop and pray for this area of the world? May God reveal Himself in HUGE ways to these precious people, and provide AMAZING opportunties for them to learn more about JESUS and His GREAT LOVE for them!! :)

P.S.S. To watch a brief video on Garbage City, click Reaching Egypt's Children - Short Version.wmv from American Bible Society on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Easy Crockpot Italian Chicken

Hey Friends! Welcome to Tasty Tuesday!

I'm curious...does anyone else wrestle with having a healthy meal ready for your family in the midst of full fall days??

What's a woman to do??

One word ~ CROCKPOT!!!

Although it is Tuesday, I'm giving my dear husband John a break from our Taco Tuesday's.

(I'm entered in a chili cookoff this weekend, and I've been practicing different Chicken Chili recipes ~ A LOT! Poor guy ~ I think I made chicken chili 5 times in the last 10 days!)

So for today's Tasty Tuesday, we're switching from Mexican food to Italian....and making Quck and Easy Crockpot Italian Chicken!! Yum!!!

Quick and Easy Italian Chicken

1 1/2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 26-oz jar nonfat pasta sauce
1/4 cup nonfat Parmesan cheese

Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker; pour sauce over top and sprinkle with cheese.

Cover and cook on low heat for 6-7 hours or high heat for 3-3 1/2 hours.
Enjoy!! :)

Does it get any easier??

Trust me, your house will smell amazing with this Italian Chicken. I'm planning to make a side of noodles, salad, applesauce, and french bread. Voila!! Dinner is served!!

What's for dinner at your house tonight?? I'd love to hear your Tasty Tuesday ideas!!

And for more great recipes, head over to All Thingz Related, Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday and Tuesday's at the Table recipe exchanges. What fun!

Have a Terrific Tuesday!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

See ya later!

Thanks for all of your great feedback from my Fat Talk Free posts (recap here and here). I spent the afternoon mailing out "Friends Don't Let Friends Fat Talk" decal stickers ~ if you requested one, it should be coming soon!! :)

Hello friends! :)

Recently I shared I was dreading saying goodbye to a very special friend. Your words of wisdom and insight were so helpful to me as I've prepared to say goodbye (I mean, "see ya later") to my dear friend, Jen Torresson.

Jen and her family are loading up the moving van today, and will be heading to their new home in Pennsylvania (which is a long ways from Michigan!) as I write.

Today is a very sad day :(

Have you ever had a friend that from Day 1 you knew this friendship was going to be special??

That was me and Jen! At our first "coffee" years ago, we were already sharing real life. Jen's family had just moved to Michigan from California, only for her husband Tom to lose his job. Jen and I 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.

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 of 2008, 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!)

Soon after, Jen went on a women’s weekend retreat with her new church – and she gave her life to Jesus! (Woo Hoo!!!)

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

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

And I will never forget the day, just 2 months after Tom's heart attack, that I was sitting between Tom and Jen at their church, waiting for Jen's name to be called, so that I could baptize her.

Only God.

Last week, as we gathered in my home to celebrate Jen (and her mom) ~ my heart was so full of gratitude to the Lord!
Jen and her family have such a special place in my heart...always.

See ya later, Jen. Although our times together will not be as many (who will meet me at Starbucks every week??) ~ I trust that our conversations will not be any less meaningful. I thank God for the amazing opportunity to journey with you over the past 4+ years. I appreciate your generous spirit, your love for family & friends, your wisdom, and listening ear. You are family to me, and I will always treasure you and the gift of your friendship!

It's not goodbye.....just "see ya real soon"! Love, Me :)

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. May your week be filled with much joy, friendship, and life-giving moments!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Loved. ~ Fat Talk Free Week Part 2

Remember the playground game "He loves me. He loves me not"??

My little friends and I would stand outside at recess time thinking of cute boys that we liked. We would pick a flower and start pulling off the pedals, "He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not"......

Unfortunately this little childhood game describes my thinking for most of my growing up years.

In fact, I spent nearly 35 years of my life going through the same old destructive, self-defeating, negative thought cycle...

When I lost weight, ate the right number of "points", fit into a certain size, I would say, "They love me!".....

And when the scale increased and my pants size went up, I would think, "They love me not!!".

And given that I was a chubby little red-haired girl, most of my life I felt unloved, and my self-destructive life choices reflected that false belief.

Ridiculous, I know, that somehow we would believe the lie that...

Our worth = weight
Our love = our pants size
Our value = how thin we are

Crazy, huh?! :)

Thankfully, after years of self-loathing, binging/purging/, starving myself, Cabbage Soup, over-exercising, striving, starting over on Monday, and yes, even illegal remedies.... I AM FREE!! Hallelujah!! :)

However, my freedom came at a price.....35 years of "stinkin' thinkin'", hundreds of missed opportunities, thousands & thousands of dollars, and unfortunately it almost cost me my life.

But no more.

That's why I am declaring my life a Fat Talk Free Zone. I refuse to allow the enemy to rob me of any more joy, memories, opportunities or life!

I am committed to doing whatever I can to be a voice of TRUTH, HOPE, and encouragement to any and all who will listen! I will not allow this world to dictate where our joy, worth and value comes any longer!

I mean, have you looked at what the media screams at us???

Commericals like this one where Sara Rue shares she now feels fantastic because she can fit in skinny jeans. Skinny jeans = happiness??? Are you kidding me???

And sorry, friends, if you ask me if you have "back fat" (you know who you are ~ smile!), or tell me how fat you feel, or talk about your "muffin top", I will hand you a bumper sticker, and will remind you that.....

You are loved (period)

Not "you will be loved" when you lose the weight.

Not "you might be loved" when you go down a pants size.

You are not loved more on the days you stay within your WW points, and unloved when you eat the M&M's.

He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you!

and NOTHING can separate you from His perfect, unconditional, unfailing love.

LOVED (period)

And that's why I am so grateful for the Reflections Body Image Program. and their commitment to teaching women about the pursuit health, well-being, and true beauty!

If you haven't already, please head over to the Reflections site and join me in signing the Fat Talk Free promise which reads...

"Today I promise to eliminate Fat Talk from conversations with my friends, my family and myself. Starting now, I will strive for a healthy ideal, which I know looks different for every woman, and focuses on health, not weight or size.

I will celebrate the things about myself and the women in my life that have nothing to do with how we look. I decide to end Fat Talk NOW!"

Let's practice living Fat Talk Free!

For today's challenge, please call and friend and share with them something that you love about them that has nothing to do with their outside appearance.

For example (I'll go first) ~ Mom, I love you for many reasons....including your generous heart.

Aunt Debbie, I love you for your listening ear and selfless spirit.

Julie R., I love you for your listening ear, wisdom, and for always point me to Truth!

Sally B., I love you for your joyful, uplifting attitude.

Kristy D., I love you for your sensitive spirit, sparkle in your eye, and love for others.

Lisa Shaw, I love you for your praying, encouraging heart.

Julie Sanders, I love you for your caring heart, amazing way with words, and passion for family.

You get the drift?? And if you haven't done so already, please leave me a note sharing what YOU love about YOU!!!!

Let's celebrate who we are (flaws and all!) and END FAT TALK!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!! Have a joy-filled, liberating weekend!!!

P.S. The awesome ladies at Tri Delt sent me a handful of "Friends Don't Let Friends Fat Talk" decals. If you are serious about living Fat Talk Free, drop me an email with your mailing address. I would love to send a decal your way so that you too can share this important message with others.

P.S.S. Here is the latest "Fat Talk Free" video (this is a new one I've not posted before!) Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WFMW: Living Fat Talk Free

Hello dear Friends ~

In case you didn't hear, they caught my neighborhood's serial arsonist! PTL!

Also, thanks for all of your encouragement as I say goodbye to a special friend this week. Your wisdom and prayers have been so significant to me! I'll share more soon...

For today, in honor of "Fat Talk Free Week", I wanted to take a moment and share some thoughts on living "Fat Talk Free".

In case you're wondering, "What is Fat Talk?", take just a few minutes and watch this awesome video....

On a personal note, as many of you know, my weight has been a life long issue for me. For as long as I can remember, I've felt not thin enough. Or pretty enough. I believed the lie no one would ever find me beautiful. (Recap here)

My self talk was filled to the brim with "Fat Talk".

My weight struggle came to an all-time high when I was pregnant with my eldest son Jake. I was alone. Soon-to-be a single mom. And I ate my stress, pain, fear, and shame (and anything else someone would feed me!).

Here is a picture of me on July 15, 1994 ~ the day Jake was born.

By Jake's 2nd birthday, I lost all the weight, and more. See pic below...

Even at the weight I was above (wearing a size 4 dress), I still felt not thin enough. Or pretty enough. Or that I could ever be beautiful.

Thankfully, soon after Jake's 2nd birthday, I met Jesus (woo hoo!) ~ and my life has not been the same since!!

In His great mercy, Jesus has not only given me a new life, but a NEW MIND!! And over the past 15 years, I've been very intentional about filling my mind with the TRUTH of who GOD says that I am!

And even though I no longer wear a size 4 (picture below is from last weekend) ~ I now walk in Truth and freedom and joy....

...although it definitely takes a daily (sometimes hourly) renewing of my mind.

The world, the media, the enemy wants us to believe that we are not enough just the way that we are.

My dear friends, this is a lie from the pit of hell.

I love what author Kelly Minter shares in her book "No other gods",

"Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the TRUTH".

Remembering that simple statement has been HUGE for me!!

Yes, it is true, I am not a size 4 (or an 8 anymore).
Yes, it is true, my body has given birth to 4 children.
Yes, it is true, I do not look like the women on the magazines.
Yes, those things are true.

But the TRUTH is that we are beautiful and accepted by God....just the way that we are!!

The TRUTH is that God delights in us!!

The TRUTH is that we can live secure, significant, set apart in Christ!

The TRUTH is that we are dearly loved by the Lord God Almighty! Woo Hoo!!

"Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the TRUTH".

My greatest desire is to be a voice of TRUTH in my own life, and the lives of every single person I come in contact with (my friends, family, neighborhood, community, on-line, and more!).

I will not allow the comments of others to make me have "crazy head".

I will not return to an eating disorder or drug addiction to lose weight.

And I will not allow my words to others feed into the lies we receive from the media and the world, about where TRUE BEAUTY and WORTH comes from ~ so help me God!!

That's why I'm declaring my life to be a Fat Talk Free Zone! I am so grateful for the Reflections Body Image Program. I love what they are doing to teach women to pursue health, well-being, and true beauty!

Sorry, Satan, you may try your sly and subtle tricks with me ~ BUT NO MORE! I will live and stand and walk in TRUTH!

And the TRUTH is that our God does not talk "Fat Talk" to His dearly loved children, does He?!

This week (October 18th - 22nd) is the official "Fat Talk Free" week, but I'm declaring my life to be Fat Talk Free Forever!! Anyone with me??

Please head over to the Reflections site and join me in signing the Fat Talk Free promise which reads...

"Today I promise to eliminate Fat Talk from conversations with my friends, my family and myself. Starting now, I will strive for a healthy ideal, which I know looks different for every woman, and focuses on health, not weight or size.

I will celebrate the things about myself and the women in my life that have nothing to do with how we look. I decide to end Fat Talk NOW!"

Let's practice living Fat Talk Free! Please share something you love about your body! (Fill in the blank. I love my ______________.) I'll even go first! I'd love to hear from you!!

Celebrate who you are this week and let's END FAT TALK! Have a joy-full, Truth-filled, amazing day!!

P.S. The awesome ladies at Tri Delt sent me a handful of "Friends Don't Let Friends Fat Talk" decals. If you are serious about living Fat Talk Free, drop me an email with your mailing address. I would love to send a decal your way so that you too can share this important message with others.

P.S.S. For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to visit Kristen at We are that Family . You'll be glad you did! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I hate goodbyes.

I hate goodbyes.

When I was litttle, we moved from Kokomo, Indiana to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I threw up all 5 hours of the trip (my poor mom!). Even at age 12, I couldn't handle the idea of saying goodbye to my dear friend JJ

In fact, I still haven't said goodbye~ JJ and I continue to keep in touch...almost 30 years later.

If you've been my friend for any length of time, you know this is true. You can't get rid of me if you try (smile).

Goodbye is not in my vocabulary.

I know what you're probably thinking. "Cindy, experts say the ability to say goodbye is a necessary life skill".

I know, I know.

And I want to be healthy and whole and normal ~ I really do.

But goodbyes bring up too much pain for me...

* Moving every 3 years as a little girl.

* Saying goodbye to my favorite grandpa to cancer way too soon.

* Experiencing the tragic death of my fiance David just 5 months before our wedding and 2 weeks before Christmas.

I don't want to have to say good-bye anymore.

Julie knows this is true. Every time she is preparing for another international work trip, I'll say, "I'll try and call you before your flight to say goodbye."

We both know I'm not going to call.

Saying goodbye is a necessary life skill, and I guess it's time I start to mature in this area.

In fact, this next week I'm going to have to say goodbye to a very dear friend, and I'm dreading it so much I can hardly stand it.

I hate goodbyes.

How have you made it through painful goodbyes??

I'd love to learn from you, my dear bloggy friends. :)

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. May God bless you with a fresh measure of His joy, hope and peace!

P.S. To be continued tomorrow.....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Divine Infusion!!

My dear bloggy friends,

I was absolutely blown away by your e-mails and response after my Praying Down the Tracks post. Please know I have spent the past few days praying for you (rather than blogging)! Laying down tracks for...

* Karried by His Love who is being bombarded with lies from the enemy (and the many women who are faced with similar challenges). May we all be women of Truth, Freedom and Victory!

* My dear East coast sister who's husband of 15+ years has left her and their 5 young kids for another woman. May God comfort this dear family as only He can, and surround them with helpful, gracious friends during this difficult time.

* Another dear Florida friend who is busy ministering with her husband on the other side of the world. May God empower and equip them ~ and all of my ministry friends around the nation/world ~ for amazing, Kingdom advancing opportunities!

* For my dear friends who are wrestling with health issues, and who are in desperate need of a correct diagnosis and plan. Oh God, we call on You as our Great Physician and ask for Your divine wisdom and guidance!!

I could go on and on... I have lifted every prayer request before the Throne individually and specifically. What comfort and hope to know that prayer really does work ~ and that we can lay down the tracks for God's comfort, strength, and hope to come roaring through! God IS faithful, trustworthy, and True!! Woo Hoo!!

Personally, I'm wrestling with my own "stuff" these days. Hard conversations. Wounds re-opened. Hurt feelings. Overwhelming To-Do lists. In addition, I'll soon be experiencing significant loss, and start to cry just thinking about the loneliness. In many ways, this season just doesn't look like I had hoped that it would.

Life can be hard sometimes, huh??

And so I turn to God's Word (don't worry...I am reading God's Word with a venti Starbucks latte in my hand ~ some things haven't changed! :)). I love Phillipians 4:13
in the Amplified Bible which reads…

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me – I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me…

That's what I need today ~ an infusion of His inner strength into me! I picture myself in my comfy purple chair with my arms stretched out, palms facing upward, and an IV of His strength slowly dripping right into me.

And I pray....

Infuse me with Your STRENGTH, O Lord..., and I think about how STRONG and MIGHTY He is...

Infuse me with Your PEACE..., and I reflect on His peace, His perfect peace (shalom shalom), that surpasses all understanding...even in the midst of disappointment and dispair

Infuse me with Your PATIENCE, O God..., and I think about how patient He has been with me. Always. Even when I didn't deserve bit.

May I extend that same patience to my kids (and my dog!) today!

Infuse me with Your GRACE..., and I am overwhelmed as I ponder His amazing grace. His grace that saved a wretch like me
. May my life (and my thoughts and actions) reflect His grace to all who encounter me today.

Let's be honest. My circumstances have not changed. My heart still needs healing. Relationships still need mending. And my loss is still coming (I'll share more details later....)

But by asking God for an infusion of His strength, peace, patience, and grace ~ I can now leave the house equipped and empowered by the One True God to face any and all circumstances that life will throw at me today. Bring it on!

What about for you?? Could you use an infusion today? An infusion of God's strength? His patience? An extra dose of His peace? May I encourage you to sit back, rest in Him, and allow God to infuse you with everything that you need. He is able....of this I am sure.
Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. I thank God for you!! May you experience His divine power today!

P.S. May I pray with you.... Dear God, Please forgive us for trying to meet the challenges of our day in our own strength. Thank You for the promise that You will equip and empower us with everything that we need for victorious living. Please infuse us with Your Strength and Grace so that we might reflect You to our friends, family, neighbors, and this lost and hurting world. We love You! In Jesus' Powerful, Liberating, Life-Changing Name..... Amen :)

P.S.S. The winner of the
Angela Thomas giveaway is Karried By His Love. Please send me your mailing address, and I'll be sure to get Angela's book right out to you! :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Praying Down the Tracks!

Hey Friends! Happy Monday to you!!

I am spending the morning praying and preparing for our Monday Night Bible Study tonight, and I've been reflecting on one of my favorite quotes on prayer....

"Our prayers lay the track down on which God's power can come.
Like a mighty locomotive, His power is irresistible,
but it cannot reach us without rails."

Isn't that an awesome visual?! I love thinking of a huge, mighty locomotive filled to overflowing with God's power and blessing...and how my part is to pray and "lay down the tracks".

I'll often picture this mighty locomotive in my mind as I pray for my husband..."laying down the tracks" as God's power is unleashed in John's life as he heads off to work.

Or "laying down the tracks" for my children...asking God to come "roaring through" with His protection and goodness and grace in their lives.

You get the drift.... :)

And it breaks my heart to think of a Powerful Steam Engine, filled with divine blessings and miracles, waiting patiently in the station, desiring to have rails on which to run.

Let's pray down some tracks and watch God's irresistible power and might blow us away!!! Woo Hoo!! :)

And Thank You, dear bloggy friends, for "laying down the tracks" for me. Over the past few weeks, you have blessed me beyond words with your prayers, notes of care and concern, and encouragement. I am humbled and grateful.

(And for those of you who are praying for me on Tuesday's & Thursday's while I work on writing my "Red Hot" Bible Study ~ bless you!! I can totally sense your prayers!! Some days I can barely write fast enough to keep up with the "down load" I am receiving. I can tell others are praying!! Thank you!!!)

What about for there a way that I can pray for you this fall season??

Can I help lay down some tracks on your behalf??

Friday, October 8, 2010

Do You Know Who I Am?? (& Giveaway)

Hey Friends!! Happy Friday to you!! Are you jumping for joy that the weekend is here?? :)

And thank you so much for your warm comments after I revealed my Red Hot secret! You guys are the best! :)

Years ago, when I an overwhelmed, exhausted mom with 4 young kids (3 in diapers), I came across the book Tender Mercy for a Mothers Soul by Angela Thomas. What a God send!

I carried that book with me everywhere....even my gym bag for awhile, and I would huff and puff on a treadmill while Angela's encouraging words washed over me!

I felt like I made a new friend as I read Angela's stories. She too was a mom with 4 young kids ~ and Angela had such a refreshing way of sharing her journey, her day-to-day family life, and her faith. Angela unknowingly helped me get through many challenging days on my early motherhood journey.

Since that time, I've had the chance to read a number of Angela's other books, including.....

* Do You Think I'm Beautiful (and the study guide)

* When Wallflowers Dance

*A Beautiful Offering: Returning Gods Love with Your Life (and the Bible study too!)

(I only wish Angela's single mom book had been written during the 6 years I was a single mom!)

I've truly enjoyed all of Angela Thomas' books. I feel like I am having coffee with a good friend and Angela is just sharing her hopes, her dreams, her fears, her insecurities. Angela has a very special, unique writing gift, and this summer I was also thrilled to hear her live at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference. What a blessing! :)

So imagine my great surprise and delight when I recently received a request to GIVEAWAY Angela's latest book, Do You Know Who I Am??.

Of course my answer was YES!

"In her book Do You Know Who I Am? Angela Thomas asks God if He knows her—and ultimately does He love her—as she is, right now, today.

In each chapter, she names a different identity issue, such as: “I am invisible,” “I am worn out,” “I am undisciplined,” “I am ordinary,” and “I am afraid to dream.” With each honest admission, Angela teaches that God lovingly replies, “Yes, I know your heart. I see your struggle. Now…do you know who I AM?”

Ultimately Angela reveals that the secret to being known and loved lies in an intimate understanding of who God is. Each identity struggle is answered with a short biblical study on the character of God that assures readers that their personal, spiritual, and eternal fulfillment is not dependent on getting themselves together. Rather, God has a purpose for them just as they are—broken, afraid, disappointed, disillusioned...."

Not only is this book filled with biblical teaching and practical application, I appreciate Angela's authencity and transparency. For example, Angela shares her weight loss challenges, being barely able to fit into her wedding dress, and the journey she has been on
since becoming married (including gaining 25 pounds).

Angela also shares very openly about her insecurities, her longings, her desires, her brokenness. This is definitely a book all women can relate to! It's been a hard book to put down!

And don't just take my word for it! Since the book debuted this week on Amazon this week,....

It's Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars

And is rated # 2 in Books > Religion & Spirituality & #3 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Self-Help > Self-Esteem

Woo Hoo!! Way to go, Angela!! :)

Dear friends, I would love, love, love to share a copy of this book with you!!

To Win my "Do You Know Who I Am?" Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why would you like to win "Do You Know Who I Am??

Extra Entries:

•Follow *She Sparkles*
•Subscribe to *She Sparkles*
•Add my *She Sparkles* button to your blog
•Tweet about this giveaway including a link to this post

Please be sure to leave me a comment to let me know your extra entries.

RULES: Starts today, Friday, October 8th and ends Sunday, October 10th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog during the week of October 11th

If your email address is not connected to your ID, please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at with the subject "Giveaway".

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Have a wonderful, joy-filled weekend!!

P.S. Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided with a copy of the book in order to facilitate my review. As always, all opinions about the product are mine all mine.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I've got a secret!

Hey Friends :)

Can I let you in on a little secret??

You may remember when I hinted a few months ago about my new "office" and my Tues & Thurs "work days" ~ but yes, I am working on writing my very first Bible study. Woo Hoo!!

It's title?? "Red hot!" I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!! :)

However, the truth be told, I feel like a big, sloppy fish out of water!

What in the world do I know about writing a Bible study?? I didn't even grow up in church, led an embarassingly rebellious life, and still get confused about the books of the Bible. What am I thinking?

I mean, I love working through Bible studies, selecting Bible studies for women and I am so passionate about the Word I can barely sleep at night, but write a Bible study, really??

But then I read words like this from Erwin McManus....

To set up the quote...In his book "Wide Awake", Erwin challenges us to put an end to all the "sleepwalking and settling", and reminds us that each one of us was created by God for a reason. Living "wide awake" (or in my paraphrase, red hot!) is about realizing that the world desperately needs us to live up to our God-given potential.

Erwin shares...

"We need to live wide awake because there are
diseases killing millions and we need to find a cure,
famines leaving multitudes starving and we need to provide food,
economies leaving families homeless and we need to create opportunities for work and wealth,
genocide that must be stopped,
slavery that must be ended,
water wells that must be dug,
children who need to be loved,
relationships that need to be healed,
elderly who need to be cared for,
beauty that needs to be created,
futures that need to be saved, and
dreams that we must not let die or go unfulfilled.."

Oh sign me up, Erwin!! I WANT TO LIVE "WIDE AWAKE"! I want to live a RED HOT, passionate, effective, fruitful, purposeful life in Christ!! You too??

I don't want my life to be so focused on me or my comfort or what's for dinner or what's on sale at Walgreen's or whether I'm a size 8 or a 10 or, for crying out loud, what size Jennifer Hudson is this week.

How easily I can get distracted from what really matters. What matters to God. What is important to Him and to His heart.

Let's live our lives Red Hot! Let's ask God to use us to make a difference in this lost and hurting world. To reflect His goodness and His grace wherever He might have us...whether it's at Starbucks, or in an office, or on a missions trip, or in our own neighborhood.

Let's live our lives Red Hot and look for those divine opportunities to be His hands and His feet. Let's live our lives looking for a child that needs love, a friend that needs a hug or an encouraging word, a co-worker that could use a listening ear.

Let's live our lives Red Hot ~ and allow Him to do immeasurably more in and through us than we could even ask or imagine. There is a future that needs to be created, and it is waiting for us all to wake up and get out of bed.

As Erwin says..."The alarm has sounded, and it is time to shake off the slumber." It's time to live, to create, to imagine, to dream . . . . Anyone with me??? Woo Hoo???

I am so FIRED UP about what I am learning!! Have you ever studied Rev 3 and the church in Laodecia?? Watch out if you are with me, if you ask me about it, I will start spewing everything I am learning, my arms will start gesturing, and you will get a 15 minute sermonette if you wanted it or not.

The Bible is so brilliant I just can't help it!!!

If you are interested, I would love your insight, wisdom, and prayer support on this "writing a Bible study" journey! :)

For starters, I'm curious....what are the biggest obstacles for living a "red hot" life that you encounter??

Do you know someone who you would describe lives "red hot" for the Kingdom?

If you were going to work through a study on Red Hot living, what would you hope to take away from your time in the Word??

Thanks, dear bloggy friends, for allowing me to share my little secret today with you today. I'm off to "work"!! Yippee!! :)

God's richest blessings to you today!!

P.S. A HUGE thank you to my awesome friends, "prayer posse", and the amazing Monday night gals for journeying with me!!

I love when I get little care packages, like this from dear April in Virginia....

What a blessing!! Thank you!! I'm so glad God didn't intend for us to journey alone!! Love you guys!! :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ordinary Days?

Hey friends!!!

A few months ago I came came across this quote in a parenting magazine...

"The best bit of wisdom I received from my mother was really quite simple: children need ordinary Tuesdays....."

This quote made me think...Am I giving my children ordinary Tuesdays?? Or are days jammed full with "stuff to do"??

What does an ordinary Tuesday look like for us?? What are the everyday activities that form our simple little life?

Well, it's not Tuesday today, but here's a sneak peek into our Ordinary day today...

1. I spent the morning making a meal to deliver to my good friend Lindsey.

(Here is a pic of my sink when finished, I should have taken a picture of the meal ~ it looked much nicer than a sink full of dishes ~ sorry!)

2. I went and helped in Benj's 3rd grade classroom. (Here's Benj and his awesome teacher, Mrs. Pluymert!)

3. My dog Rocky and I drove out to Belmont, Michigan to deliver the meal. Of course, there happened to be a Starbucks on the way.... :) And then Rocky was tired and needed a nap.

4. We had Tea Time...and then they were off!!!

5. Benj went with Grandpa Bultema to hockey.

6. Jake had football practice.

7. Amanda took over my office to play Webkinz.

8. Sarah had Bible study in her bedroom with her friends.

9. And last but not least, we're having leftover Tuesday's Tacos for dinner!!

So there's a "sneak peek" into our ordinary day....although I must admit ~ I have a hard time thinking any day is "ordinary".
You know me...any ordinary day is an opportunity to celebrate our extraordinary God and the gift of life He's given to us!!

What does an ordinary Wednesday look like for you?? How did you spend your day?? I hope it was Wonderful!! :)

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. May God bless you with a fresh measure of His love, joy and peace!!

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