Friday, January 28, 2011

my horrible no good very bad day week

Anyone else glad the weekend is here??!

I must confess in advance, I feel guilty sharing about my horrible week, especially after I just shared how much I want *She Sparkles* to be a joy-filled, celebratory, fun place to visit.

But then this week happened. Ugh.

I warn you are about to view pictures that may cause your stomach to gag. Yes, be afraid, be very afraid.

So what made my day week so horrible?

It started Tuesday night. We were blessed to receive a wonderfully prepared homemade Meatloaf dinner from a dear friend. I had an unopened bag of Fresh Express lettuce that I needed to use, and thought it would go nicely with the meal I had received. Little did we know.....

Here is Jake holding his discovery on his fork....

No, it's not a pea pod ~ although it does look like is actually A (HEADLESS) GRASSHOPPER!! Ewwwww!

From there, my week went down hill.

John and I are experiencing real challenges with one of our dearly loved kids, and this precious one and I battled for 2 hours on Wednesday. I wish I had pictures. No, I don't.

Here's a snapshot...

Me ~ trying to stay calm, preparing dinner, waiting for John to come home, praying for peace & wisdom

Child ~ screaming at me for an hour that I'm a horrible mom, worst mom ever, no one loves her, etc.. (turns out she had a sad thing happen on the bus ride home, and I was the lucky target of her anger. Because I asked her to take off her boots. Lovely).

Finally I called my mom and asked for help. Yep, I'm 40 and still need my mommy :)

(On a personal note, this precious one has diagnosed emotional challenges, so typical consequences, etc.. are not always effective. We are seeking professional help.)

Thankfully my mom came right over and was able to help calm down the child who shall remain nameless.

Thursday just got worse...I won't bore you with the details, but trust me ~ it too was a real "hum dinger" of a day, involving kids, school, fighting and meanness. Ugh.

So, of course, when I ran into the grocery store quickly to return the grasshopper (yuck) and pick up something for dinner (tacos, what else) ~ EVERYTHING IN ME THOUGHT I MUST BUY A DIET COKE. OR TWO. OR MAYBE I CAN JUST DRINK RIGHT OUT OF THE SODA FOUNTAIN.

(Did I tell you I'm trying to exercise my self-discipline muscles and haven't had a Diet Coke in 2011? Those of you who know me well recognize the miracle that I've made it "thus far".)

And trust me, my flesh was crying out I MUST HAVE DIET COKE NOW!!

Thankfully I was able to bypass all of the pop calling my name ~ mostly because I was headed straight towards the Starbucks conveniently located in my local grocery store.

Ahhh....a Venti skinny vanilla latte with no foam and extra hot will make everything better.

As I was pulling out my Starbucks giftcard (thanks, Mom!) ~ I suddenly thought of a talk that I have shared over and over and over again....

About where do we run when life gets stressful. About STOPPING in the midst of the Stress, Acknowledging our need for Him, Filling our heart and mind with Truth, and Expecting God to show up....

And at that moment I realized I had a choice....

(to be continued.....)

P.S. For more Caffeinated Randomness, be sure to visit Michelle at
Lost in the Prairies...Found By God. Please tell her Cindy says hello! :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Welcome to *She Sparkles* ~ Blizzard Bloghop

Hi Bloggy Friends and visitors from the Blizzard Bloghop! Welcome to *She Sparkles*!

My name is Cindy and I'm so glad you are here! I'm thrilled to have the chance to introduce myself to you!

First, you may be wondering, how did I come up with the title, *She Sparkles*??

Well, many years ago, my friend Shauna Niequist shared if she had to describe me in one word it would be "*sparkling*" (I thought to myself.."hmmm...sparkling ~ I like it!").
Years later, when I came across Zechariah 9:16...

The LORD their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people. They will *sparkle* in His land like jewels in a crown..... creative wheels starting turning ~ and *She Sparkles* was born!
(And trust me ~ after many, many years of rebellious, defeated, sinful living ~ I now count it a huge privilege and honor to *Sparkle* for Him!)

My hope is that *She Sparkles* is a joy-filled place to talk about faith, family fun, marriage, parenting within our personality, prayer, and even finding hope in the midst of great tragedy.

Most recently, I've been very honest with my life long weight struggle, and my desire to live Fat Talk Free. I also love books and anytime I come across a book/resource I love ~ I try to pass it on! (In fact, it's not too late to enter my latest book giveaway!)

My husband, John, is a controller for a local country club. He is handsome, hard working, loyal, an amazing dad, and enjoys doing laundry (a rare gift, I realize!). We have been married 10 years!

John and I are blessed to have 4 great kids ~ ages 7, almost 8, 9, and 16. Trust me, there is never a dull moment at our house!

This fall I stepped out of my comfort zone and shared my first "vlog"!. Not that I enjoy the video camera (trust me) ~ but I do love sharing with others how amazing God is!

Mostly, I hope any time you visit *She Sparkles*, you will leave you feeling joy-filled, encouraged, ready to have a party & celebrate, and pointed to Truth!

(And, if you're ever feeling stuck or defeated, feel free to shoot me a quick note. Just ask my friends, I love to give little pep talks filled with Truth and hope!)

Thank you so much for stopping by *She Sparkles* ! I hope to see more of you! And please feel free to leave me a comment so I can come visit your lovely blog too!

Sweet blessings to you~

National Best Selling Book "I Dare You to Change!" & Signed Book GIVEAWAY

Have you read any new good books lately?? :)

One of the many blessings of *She Sparkles* is the opportunity to read and review new books! And my favorite part is sharing the blessing with you, my dear bloggy friend, with book giveways!!

I was thrilled when I was recently asked to participate in a Blog Tour featuring the nationally best selling book I Dare You to Change! by pastor/author Bil Cornelius.

Check out this quick 60 second video and you'll see why......

"DARE TO CHANGE" 60 sec SPOT from Bay Area Fellowship on Vimeo.

I Dare You To Change! was released in September 2010 and has already become a USA Today and Wall Street Journal National Best Seller!

Here's a brief description from the back of the book...

"Do you ever say, "I just want to be happy" or "I just want a better job" or "I just want to be able to pay all my bills this month"? Are you fed up with where you are? In order to make the changes that will make a difference in your life, you need to do something unexpected, bold and, at times, risky.

Let's go on a journey together. Let's learn to take courage and see God's best for our lives....."

I loved this book! You know me...I love big dreams, experiencing God's victory, and living the full, powerful life God intends for His dearly loved children!

Not only does Pastor Bil do an amazing job of diving into Scripture and unpacking what the Word has to say ~ he shares clear, practical action steps on how best to actually make the changes in your life (so we can "do the thing" as Beth Moore often says!).

Some of the areas Bil deals with in the book are:

* Breaking Your Cycles of Failure

* Discovering Your Calling and Go Big!

* Adopt a New Attitude!

* Develop a Plan and a Team!

* Act Decisively!

* Sustain Success!

Reading this book had encouraged, inspired, and empowered me to make specific changes in my life. And I love it!! Yippee! :)

I think Craig Groeschel (author of "The Christian Athiest") says it well......

“I Dare You to Change” is both challenging and inspirational, a great guide to make God-given dreams a reality with plenty of practical advice. This book will move you to action to start living God’s best in your life. Bil Cornelius’ challenge to live the life you have always dreamed of is inspirational, and”his practical advice will propel you to action. Read this book now!”

Be sure to check out the first full chapter and see for yourself! :)

Or, even better, sign up for my givewaway! One blessed winner will receive a signed copy of I Dare You to Change! Woo Hoo!

To Win my I Dare You to Change! Giveaway:

Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why would you like to win a copy of I Dare You to Change??

RULES: Starts today, Thursday, January 27th and ends Sunday, January 30th at 9 PM. Winner will be contacted via e-mail.

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
•Post this Giveaway on FB

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

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 life-giving, empowered, AMAZING weekend!

P.S. Don't forget to check out my Groundhog's Day Family Fun ideas! Feb 2nd will be here soon! :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Groundhog's Day Family Fun

The winners of my Red Hot giveaway are Sally Brown (free $40 retreat ticket ~ Woo Hoo!) & Jenny C. (out-of-state Retreat package!). A huge thanks to all for your great insights about lukewarm/red hot living! :)

Hey Friends! :)

As you know ~ I love to celebrate!! :) I love "marking moments", making ordinary days "extraordinary", and finding simple ways to brighten up our everyday lives.

I truly believe, "Life should not just lived, it should be celebrated!".

Thus, the reason I am thrilled February is almost here!! Valentine's Day is one of my all-time favorite holidays! I have two special family member's birthdays to celebrate! And, the Red Hot Retreat is coming up on February 25th & 26th. (Woo Hoo!).

Plus, let's not forget ~ next Wednesday, February 2nd....Groundhog's Day. :)

Now please know, I really don't care if the Groundhog sees his shadow. I can never remember "which" means "what" anyway (shadow/no shadow, 6 weeks of winter ~ you know what I mean)! Who cares. :)

We started having Groundhog's Day parties a few years ago just for the FUN of it ~ and you know what, we have a ball! What a simple, easy way to have a little fun after school and spend time with friends. We love it! :)

How can you resist a cute little cupcake like this?? (Recipe

At the party, we also like to look on the internet to see if the Groundhog saw his shadow.

Again, we know Who decides how many weeks of winter are left, but the kids get a kick out of watching the news report.

And what party would be complete without crafts? You can get some great ideas here or
here or here.

What about for you?? Anything special you'll be celebrating this February?? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by She Sparkles! Have a super, JOY-filled week!!

Many blessings to you~

P.S For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head over and visit Kristen at We Are That Family. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marriage Monday: Marriage Wisdom

Our Wedding Day ~ August 5, 2000 @ Mars Hill Bible Church, officiated by our friend & Pastor, Rob Bell Jr.

Hey friends~

Question for you....if you knew a couple getting married and wanted to pass along a "nugget of wisdom" with them, what would you suggest??

One of the best pieces of advice John and I received was the idea of mini couple getaways, or what we refer to as "mini-moons" (get honeymoon, but just a "mini"... ).

Our wonderful marriage mentors suggested that John and I take time away once each season (yes, season) to reconnect, enjoy each other's company, have fun, and relax. We've graciously accepted the challenge! And whereas we've not been perfect at getting away once a season, John and I have been intentional about going on "mini-moons" as often as we can!

Thankfully we've been blessed to have "Grandma help" to make this possible with 4 kids (thanks Mom & Jackie!) John and I have been able to go on "mini-moons" to beautiful places in Michigan (including Traverse City, Saugatuck, Pentwater, Grand Haven, and even the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island).

Last summer we ventured out of state and enjoyed our "mini-moon" to Port Washington, WI. We learned that as much as I try, I'm not a boat girl. Here I am trying to hold down my lunch as we take a 4 hour ferry ride across Lake Michigan. Ugh.

My favorite "mini moon" was during the summer of 2006. I was experiencing some serious health difficulties, and felt very anxious and worried about my condition. I mentioned to John how I longed to be "fortressed" in a castle to better understand God's protection and mighty care. I wanted to feel like a princess, and rest in my Strong Father's arms.

John, being the amazing man that he is, found a real castle an hour south of our home. I spent the weekend in a real castle totally feeling like a real princess! What a blessing!

Here are some highlights... (Can you tell I'm wearing a crown? ~ smile)

In the picture below, yes I'm wearing flip flops with my dress. You had to take off your heels at the front door as to not scratch the castle's hard wood floor.

And lastly, our beautiful castle bedroom. Our window overlooked the castle's flower garden. I was able to sit in the morning sunshine, read from the Psalms, and feel like a genuine, protected, dearly loved Princess! (Thank you, John!)

John and I have both enjoyed our Mini-moons over the past 10 years of marriage! A special thank you to our marriage mentors, Doug and Judie Childress, for giving us the challenge many years ago!

What about for you?? What's the best nuggest of marriage wisdom you've received?? I'd love to hear from you!!
And for more Marriage encouragement, be sure to check out fabulous tips with Julie at Come Have A Peace or Jill at the Diaper Diaries!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Have a wonderful, wisdom-filled week!!

P.S. John, if you're reading's time for us to start planning our Winter 2011 getaway! :) (Any suggestions, friends??)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Caffeinated Randomness & A Red Hot Giveaway!

Hey friends! Happy Weekend to you! I'm joining my friend Michelle today for some Caffeinated Randomness. I warn you in advance ~ my thoughts are scattered, random, and I'm a little ticked about some stuff...(but I also have a fun GIVEAWAY ~ so please stick with me)!

So first, thanks for your grace as I vented this week about Fat Talk and how it's driving me crazy! Even this morning, one of my favorite Bible teachers (who is a thin, healthy, beautiful women) shared that she has been eating so much this week she is now Fat. Really? You're fat? How does that make all of the women larger than a size 6 feel? Lord help us all!

Also, on a sad note, remember the post I shared about the French model Isabella Caro (who recently lost her battle to anorexia). Yesterday I learned that Isabella's mom committed suicide. Their whole journey is so tragic. :( May God bring healing, comfort and health to their family during this difficult time.

Personally, this week someone broke into my husband John's truck and stole his briefcase, which was filled with many important papers, backup computer files, etc.. Ugh. (Fortunately they didn't use the garage door opener, esp. since we forgot to lock the door from the garage to the house ~ thank You, God!)

John has spent the last few night searching dumpsters in our area to see if he can find his briefcase. (If you live in our neighborhood and saw John "dumpster diving" this week ~ that's why - smile!) We're praying for a miracle!

On a lighter note (whew!) ~ I have spent the week knee deep in God's Word, preparing my Red Hot messages for the upcoming Red Hot for Jesus retreat sponsored by Sunshine Church in Grand Rapids. I'm so excited!!

The retreat is this February 25th & 26th. I'll be sharing Friday evening, as well as 2 messages on Saturday. I just love, love, love the *BRILLIANCE* of the Bible ~ and can't wait to share what I'm learning!

I get so fired up thinking about the huge impact a group of Red Hot, passionate, powerful women could make for Kingdom purposes in this lost, hurting, and broken world! Woo Hoo!

And, guess who is the Worship Leader for the Red Hot retreat?? Erica Simpson! Have you met the gifted, beautiful, amazing Erica?? You will love her! She's been sending over samples of some of her song selections ~ and can I just say they are AMAZING! :)

Here's a quick little promo for Red Hot with Erica (on the left), Cheryl Bauer (from Sunshine's retreat committe) and me :) As you know I "dislike" the video camera, but since we're all friends here at *She Sparkles*, I'll humble myself and share... :)

Lastly, the generous Retreat Committee of Sunshine Church has given me a Red Hot retreat ticket (value $40) to GIVEAWAY to one blessed *She Sparkles* reader. Yippee!!

To Win my *Red Hot* Giveaway:

Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for women living *Red Hot* for Jesus??

RULES: Starts today, Friday, January 21st and ends Monday, January 24th at 9 PM. Winner will be contacted via e-mail.

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
•Post this Giveaway on FB

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

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".

Out of State friends ~ if you live out of state (or just know you won't be able to attend the retreat), feel free to enter the GIVEAWAY (just let me know you will not be able to use the ticket). I'll randomly pick one "non-attender" and send you a Red Hot retreat package after the event ~ complete with DVD's from the weekend, retreat notes, etc.. What fun! :)

Whew! So what have you been up to this week? What's on your calendar for the weekend?? I'd love to hear from you!!!

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

Sweet blessings~

P.S. Did I ever tell you when I'm in the midst of a huge writing project I cook/bake a lot?? It's crazy, I know... My family has enjoyed cider-glazed stuffed pork roast, homemade twice baked potatoes, roasted pork tenderloin, banana chocolate chip bars, and so much more! I need more recipes :) Share with me please!! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

TILT: Living Victoriously

My dear Bloggy friends,

I had no idea when I posted my struggle regarding comments with my current body size ~ (recap
here), the overwhelming response I would receive. As one dear reader shared, "Almost every woman I know has body image problems, even the slender." Wow.

Thank you for your prayers, words of Truth, encouragement and support. It was one of those posts that after I hit "send", my stomach sunk a bit, and I thought, "Did I really just share on the world wide web my fat pictures?"

BUT THEN I remembered I was now "
Fat Talk Free" (lol!) ~ so I couldn't talk that way to myself anymore! My God does not talk that way to me ("fat girl" is not in His vocabulary!) ~ so I won't talk to myself that way either!!!

I took a deep breath and just asked God to use my hurts for His redemptive purpose.

Also, I received so many personal stories of hurt, shame, guilt, and tears regarding body size, insecurities, and just plain old life in a broken world. THANK YOU for sharing your journey with me. I am praying for each and every one of you ~ that we would walk all FREE and LIVE VICTORIOUSLY as the mighty women God is calling us to be!!!

Speaking of living victoriously, one of my favorite Bible teachers,
Priscilla Shirer, shared this "little gem" on her blog and it really blessed me. May it encourage you as well....

Max Lucado
, in "Walking with the Savior" says of living victoriously:

"You get impatient with your own life, trying to master a habit or control a sin - and in your frustration begin to wonder where the power of God is. Be patient. God is using today's difficulties to strengthen you for tomorrow. He is equipping you. The God who makes things grow will help you bear fruit.

Dwell on the fact the God lives within you. Think about the power that gives you life. The realization that God is dwelling within you may change the places you want to go and the things you want to do today.

Do what is right this week, whatever it is, whatever comes down the path, whatever problems and dilemmas you face - just do what's right. Maybe no one else is doing what's right, but you do what's right. You be honest. You take a stand. You be true. After all, regardless of what you do, God does what is right: He saves you with his grace."

1 John 5:4-5 This is the victory that conquers the world - our
faith. So the one who wins against the world is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God

Cindy here again....What is getting in the way of experiencing the full, victorious life that Jesus came to offer us all? Body image stuff?? Fear?? Worry? Relationship troubles??

I pray for each one of us that we would let go of the lies, fully rely on God (and His power and promises), fill our minds with Truth, and then do what is right this week ~ whatever it is!

Let's walk in victory today!!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!! God's richest blessings to you!!

P.S. Please take a moment and watch this video "Beautiful" by Mercy Me. It is filled with such TRUTH, and if you're having a particulary hard "stinkin' thinkin'" day, it will change your focus ~ guaranteed! I love it! (Thanks, April!)

P.S. S. For more Things I Love Thursday ideas, hop on over and visit Jill at The Diaper Diaries. :) She's hosting a fun GIVEAWAY today too. Be sure to share with her that Cindy sent you! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WFMW: Fat Talk Free

Hi Friends! I'm reposting today...mostly because I need to remember the commitment I've made to myself to live Fat Talk Free.

I, too, have made "2011" resolutions/declarations to pursue Healthy Living (and, if you can believe it, haven't had a Diet Coke in 19 days. See, our God is a God of miracles ~ smile!) ~ however, it seems like with the constant bombardment of Diet ads/commercials and weight loss books and more... I'm wrestling with reminding myself that my value is not based on the size of my pants.

Freedom. Victory. Overcoming. Whole Living. Loving God. Loving Others. Serving. TRUTH. More of Jesus. Joy. And more Love.

Oh Lord, may this be the cry of my heart... Not trying to get into my skinny jeans....

Ok friends, I'll be honest.

I've been in a funk this week. Ok, maybe this whole month.

I lost my joy. My peace. Even my sparkle. :(

First, some history....

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

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.

I didn't eat a piece of Jake's birthday cake that day because I felt so unbelievably fat. It was empty, defeated living.

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!! I now have the mind of Christ! 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 this past summer), I have been walking in Truth and freedom and joy....

....until lately.

Unfortunately, someone close to me, is uncomfortable with my weight. Thinks I'm unattractive. Doesn't find me beautiful. And thinks it's important to share this information with me.

I wish it was some random weird commenter from cyber-space, but it's someone in my community that I value and respect.

Friends, I'll be honest, this has really thrown me for a loop. The other night I was on the phone with my girlfriend balwing my eyes out (yes, the ugly cry) ~ and I felt like I was headed in a backwards direction, and fast. The lies were taking over, and I didn't know how to make them stop.

Have you ever been there before??

As I spent time praying later that evening, I rememembered something I learned in a Bible Study that was eye opening for me. Kelly Minter, in her book No other gods shares, "Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the TRUTH".

Remembering that simple statement was like an "AHA" light bulb moment 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 I am beautiful and accepted by God....just the way that I am!!

The TRUTH is that God delights in me!!

The TRUTH is that I am secure, significant, set apart in Christ!

The TRUTH is that I am 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.

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 recently came across the Reflections Body Image Program. I love what they are doing to teach women to pursue health, well-being, and true beauty!

In case you are wondering "what is fat talk, anyway?" Here's how the Reflections Program describes it...

Fat Talk describes all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies.

Examples of fat talk may include: “I’m so fat,” “Do I look fat in this?” “I need to lose 10 pounds” and “She’s too fat to be wearing that swimsuit.”

Statements that are considered fat talk don’t necessarily have to be negative; they can seem positive yet also reinforce the need to be thin – “You look great! Have you lost weight?”

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!

The official "Fat Talk Free" has already passed, but I'm declaring my life to be Fat Talk Free....Lord willing, from this day forward!! Anyone with me??

P.S. For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to visit Kristen at We are that Family AND... if you've not seen this video on Fat Talk before, PLEASE take 3 minutes to watch it! You'll be so glad you did!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How Do You Do It All?

Hey Friends! Happy Mailbag Monday to you! :)

One of the most frequent 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 praying through and writing out 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 week, a wonderfully talented, prayer warrior from Northern Michigan shared she'll be in town next week, and asked if we could get together. I would love to spend more time with her! But in my heart, I knew my purpose and priority of wife and mom must come first. And for this season, I'm only gone one night a week (Monday night Bible study) and the rest of the nights I'm home tucking kids in and hanging out with my man.

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.

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

* 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!)

* My kids eat tacos, pizza and chicken nuggets way more than I would ever want to admit :)

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". How true!!

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~

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Man's Rejection, God's Redemption

Carol Kent taping ~ Day 2
(Left to right: Jan, Carol's sister Bonnie, Erica, Carol's sister Jennie, me, Suzanne)

Hey Friends :)

What a week! After spending two days at Carol Kent's DVD taping, I'm hitting my Books and spending the day working on
my Red Hot retreat material. Woo Hoo! :)

But, can I be honest?? Preparing for this retreat brings up every lie, insecurity, and fear in me!

"What if my teaching doesn't make sense?" "What if everyone else doesn't think the insights are as amazing as I think they are?" "What if I don't get everything finished in time." "What if they don't like me?"


For today, rather than going down those "unhealthy trails" of negative thinking and lies, I'm looking UP and filling my mind with TRUTH!

I'm celebrating the huge victory I've experienced through Christ in my life ~ and reflecting on how God has taken "man's rejection" from the past and brought much health and healing to me!

My "old fears" DO NOT have to impact my "new days", do they??

And we are NOT unaware of the enemy schemes and his tactics.

Here's the "wound" I've been reflecting on...and my journey from rejection to redemption....

When I was a little girl I always DREAMED of being a cheerleader.

While other little girls were playing princess or drinking tea at their tea parties – I was at home practicing my cheers or working on my jumps! When I was cheering, I felt fully alive!

I can still remember my first set of pom poms. I dressed my dolls in cheerleading outfits. I hung cheerleading posters on my wall, went to cheerleading camp in the summer. There was nothing like cheerleading to me!

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

Unfortunately, that’s not my story.

I did make it as a freshman football cheerleader…alternate.

I did make it as a freshman basketball cheerleader.

And when I tried out for JV cheerleading, I found there were 10 girls trying out for 10 spots.

I could already see myself in the new JV cheerleading uniform. :)

But unfortunately, after tryouts, I received a call –

I didn’t make the team.

I wasn’t good enough, to them.

I didn’t have what it would take, they said.

The coaches decided they would rather go with 9 cheerleaders that season.

On that day, I made myself a promise. Never would I cheer again. Never.

Never would I set myself up for such pain, humiliation, rejection. That part of me was done.

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

It was empty and defeated living.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last year during Bible study, my dear friends "got me good" with an amazing surprise. :)

In the middle of our study, the "ringleader" Natasha comes running into the room with a purple megaphone, while 5 friends bounce in the room carrying cards with the letters C - I - N - D -Y.

Suddenly I look around the room, and everyone in the room is holding pom poms and cheering with all their might.

For me.

They are cheering because it is my birthday and I am on their team.

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

Only God could take a shy, insecure wanna-be cheerleader (me!) and fill her to *overflowing* with peace and joy and confidence in Him. Only God.

And only God could orchestrate an amazing birthday filled with so much joy, celebration, and healing. Only God. Isn't He good??!

Friends, I don't know what kind of wounds you've experienced, but please know God can bring hope, healing, and redemption to the deepest pain. Allow Him to clean out, comfort, bandage and heal those places of hurt.

Watch Him speak Truth over the lies that have shaped your thinking and impacted your decisions, for way too long.

We do NOT have to allow our "old fears" to impact our "new days", do we?? :)

Woo Hoo! I'm so EXCITED I think I want to cheer! Yeah, Jesus! :)

Let's pray...Thank You, God, that You do not waste our pain. Thank You for being a God of Truth and Hope and Redemption. Thank You for the beauty of sisterhood and friendship. Thank You for life in Your Name. Thank You that in Christ we are loved and forgiven and chosen. Please use us, O Lord, to remind others of the JOY that is found in life in You. For Your Glory Alone. Amen.

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Have a joy-filled, liberating, victorious day!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What are YOU wearing?

Hey Friends! I'm hanging out with Carol Kent and friends this week at Zondervan's taping of a new DVD series "Between A Rock and A Grace Place" based on Carol Kent's amazing book by the same title.

(Picture above with Carol is from earlier today, and below (l to r) Robin from Zondervan, Carol's sister Bonnie, Jan, me, & Suzanne from Sunshine Church)

In preparation to be a studio audience member, I was asked to bring a number of different outfits to change into (so it appears we are joining Carol for Bible study on different weeks).
As I was rummaging through my closet looking for what to wear, I was reminded of my former blog post on our "thought closets". It made me stop and ponder on what I was REALLY preparing to wear.....
Enjoy this mid-week repeat!

What thoughts have been rolling around in your mind these days??

A Bible study that I'm working through by Jennifer Rothschild (Me, Myself, and Lies - it's awesome!) encourages us to think of our thought life like a closet. And our thought closet is designed to host the mind of Christ. We cannot allow it to become cluttered with wrong thoughts or words or ill-fitting labels.

What's hanging in your closet??

For many years, my closet was filled with rags and hand-me-downs labeled "Not good enough", "Unloved", "Rejected".

And then I met Jesus. (Can I get a "Woo Hoo"?!)

Jesus ripped down the old rags (that were never meant for me to wear), and exchanged them for beautiful, glorious garments perfectly designed and hand-crafted just for me.

"Loved", "Beautiful in His Sight", "More than enough", "Redeemed" now hung in my new and improved thought closet.

However, unfortunately, every once in awhile, I pick up an old rag and bring it in. I walk past a magazine with a mom of 8 kids in a bikini on the cover (although she had a tummy tuck!) and add "fat girl" and "unlovely" to my closet.

I flip through Pottery Barn catalogs, and suddenly "not good enough" becomes wrapped tightly around my waist.

When did we start allowing the world's standards to define who we are??

If I'm going to be the victorious, powerful, fruit-bearing woman God has called me to be ~

I must not allow that old rag to hang in my closet for even a moment.

One smelly lie can start stinkin' up my whole thought closet. It must be removed. Confessed. And replaced with God's Truth. Immediately.

So for today, I choose to fill my thought closet only with Truth.

I will meditate on Colossians 3:12 and clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

I will live on guard to the enemy and his schemes.

I will ask God to help me keep my thought closet clean and orderly and pleasing to Him.

How about for you?? Are there any old "rags" hanging around that need to be tossed out? Is it time for a new garment....or maybe a whole new wardrobe? What's in your thought closet these days??

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Have an amazing, liberating, Truth-filled day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Price of Beauty

Hey Friends!

Is it just me, or is anyone else tired of being bombarded with ads, books, commericals and diet talk EVERY WHERE! Ugh.

Please know, I am all for health, whole living, and caring for our temples ~ but really, if I see one more "before and after" picture I might just lose my lunch. There really is more to life than just the size of our jeans.

Maybe I'm in such a bunch because, although I am committed to living "Fat Talk Free," ~ the unhealthy "Thin is In" message is negatively impacting my home. In a big way.

And it's horrible.

I had to take one of my precious kids to the doctor yesterday because she doesn't want to eat. Why?? Because she doesn't want to get fat.

Can you believe it?? John and I are watching her lose weight, having to monitor her eating, and remind her that food is not bad. Eating too much is bad, but eating to care for our body is necessary.

My heart is breaking over here.

Thankfully as we left the doctors office (who is the best pediatrician in the whole wide world), I asked my daughter what she learned. (We were with our doctor for over 40 minutes, so I was hoping she was listening!) My daughter shared....

* I'm not fat.

* I can eat more.

* If someone calls me fat, I can let it blow away.

My daughter is a tiny little thing (50 percentile for height/weight)....and yet she hears people getting teased at school for being fat. So she decided not eating would help solve her problem.

Thankfully I think we caught it in time.

This isn't always the case.

Please take just a few minutes and watch this video. It's Jessica Simpson interviewing model Isabella Caro on Jessica's show "The Price of Beauty".

It's just a few minutes long ~ I think you'll be so glad you watched!

Unfortunately Isabella was not able to win her battle with anorexia, and died tragically this past November 2010.

Oh friends, may God use us to be a voice of Truth, hope, and life in the lives of others!

May we stop saying things like, "You look great ~ you lost weight, didn't you?" and instead see the hearts and souls of those we come in contact with. (For the person who said that to me at church on Sunday, it's ok. I know you were trying to be helpful.)

May God gives us eyes to see love and joy and patience and kindness and gentleness in others ~ and may we affirm those important character qualities with our words.

And may we be careful of the words we share (even about ourselves), ESPECIALLY when little ears are listening.

What about for you?? How do you stay healthy and Truth filled in this area? I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. God's richest blessings to you!!

P.S. Thank you for all of your kind comments about my new "fruit diet". For obvious reasons, I'm changing the name to my "Fruit-filled healthy living plan". It's working GREAT ~ in the midst of a full, challenging week, I am experiencing God's peace, joy, victory, and satisfaction. Following hard after Him is the best healthy living plan of all! :)

My New Diet and other Random Updates :)

Hey Friends!!

Happy 2011!! I hope you are off to a GREAT New Year filled with much *joy*, love, and life-giving moments!!

Here's what I've been up to over the past few weeks....

* Christmas Vacation *

Not only did we just "survive" Christmas vacation, we had a blast!! I used some of my "
Christmas Vacation Family Fun ~ A to Z" ideas, and maximized every minute with my gang! Here's a quick, mini photo recap...

Our "Monday Fun Day" with friends and neighbors! (Remind me to tell you how I structure Monday Fun Day's sometime ~ it works GREAT with kids everytime!).

Here are our little elves hard at work getting ready to ice some cookies.....

We also took our traditional photo with Santa. (Please know, we don't focus on Santa much at all in our family, but just for fun, we do have our picture taken every year with the jolly old guy. Some Cindy trivia...I was pregnant when we saw Santa in 2000, 2002, and 2003. Whew!)

Our family spent the night at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids
(thanks, Grandma!). The girls brought some friends downtown to swim, and we enjoyed a yummy family dinner inside the Amway. What fun! :)

And yes, my little Sarah and I did sneak away to Starbucks once (or twice, or so). It was her idea, really! :)

Also, a huge note of thanks to my mom for taking all 4 for a sleepover and to my father-in-law Bob for taking the gang bowling for the day so I could recharge!

Christmas vacation wasn't much of a "vacation" ~ but we sure had fun!

Other random updates...* breathing *

As you my remember, my breathing has been HORRIBLE for months; and I had bronchitis twice this past fall. Ugh. I've been on steroids (which have made me irritable and puffy - yuck), and having to use a nebulizer a couple of times a day.

THANKFULLY, I went to the doctor again last week, my meds were all switched, and I feel like a NEW WOMEN!! Hallelujah!! Amazing what being able to breathe will do for you!!

* Red Hot*
I am waist high in my Red Hot writing. I love it!! I even dream about the church of Laodecia at night!! And I'm thrilled to share that next month (Feb 25th & 26th), I'll be teaching some of the material at a Red Hot for Jesus Retreat sponsored by Sunshine Church in Grand Rapids, Mi. (If you'd like more information, I'd love to send an invitation to you! All are invited and welcome!)

Can you even imagine what God could and would do through a group of women fired up, filled up, passionate, and RED HOT for Him?!! Woo Hoo!!!

Last week, I was asked to make a little promo video with more details about the Red Hot event (hopefully I can get a copy of the video to share here). What fun!

Pic above is starting at left: Erica Simpson (Worship leader EXTRAORDINAIRE!), Cheryl Bauer (leader from Sunshine Church), and me :). Film maker: Jeremy Simpson.

Lastly, the dreaded "weight topic".

As you know, my weight has been an area of struggle for most of my life.

You name it, I've tried it to lose weight over the course of my life ~ Cabbage Soup diet, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, eating disorders, and yes, even cocaine.

This past summer, I decided ENOUGH. I would pursue FREEDOM with my whole heart. I would not allow myself to talk so unkindly to myself anymore ~ in fact, my life would be a "Fat Talk Free Zone"

And I've been enjoying this new freedom...until all of the issues with my breathing.

Between the extra steroids, being unable to exercise without an inhaler, and two bouts of bronchitis, my trips to the gym have been minimal. Needless to say, the scale has gone up, and I'm not happy about it. At all.

And this time of year, how can you not go to the grocery store without all of the magazines screaming at you...saying "Look like me." "You, too, should be wearing a bikini" "Try this" "Buy this diet aid" get the drift. commitment to myself is to continue to live Fat Talk Free. I will not buy into the "not good enough" mentality. I WILL pursue freedom, health, wholeness, self care, wellness, and TRUTH.

I will speak kindly to myself, with words of grace and hope.

I will not become self focused, crazy in the head, and allow my worth to be defined by a number on a scale or the size of my jeans. I will not.

However, I do recognize I need a plan. I will be "careful" with my choices and select foods that are healthy and good. I am choosing to go without Diet Coke/pop so that I will drink more water. I will increase my exercise (esp. now that I can breathe!!!). And, lastly...


In fact, I'm calling this my "Fruit Diet"....God's fruit, based out of Galatians 5:22-23.

Rather than focusing on food, being hyper-sensitive about calories, and spending my days thinking about what I should/could eat ~ I will meditate on FRUIT, and ask God to help me be more...

*Gentle, and yes,
*Self Controlled.

When I'm tempted to run to food, I will STOP and ask God what is really going on (what do I really need?? Usually the answer is NOT chips and salsa!).

And then I'll ask Him how I can love someone else. Be kind to one of my kids. Share *joy* with a friend, family member or neighbor. And ask Him to fill me with more of His Spirit. I need an abundance of Jesus in my life! Anyone else??

This new "Fruit Diet" has given me freedom, hope, and a Truth-filled head. Yippee! :)

Important Disclaimer: Please hear my heart...I'm not saying WW, going on a diet, etc.. is bad. For me personally, given my track record, I just recognize choosing a weight loss plan is NOT getting to the ROOT of my ISSUE.

If I'm ever going to live free (Galatians 5:1), it's time to eradicate the ROOT ISSUE, and allow God to plant NEW SEEDS ~ Seeds of Truth, that will grow HEALTHY FRUIT. I need a healthy heart & mind, as well as life-giving, God-honoring habits. And this is just personal for me ~ I am not judging whatever anyone else senses God is calling them to do.

Lastly, please know....whatever size you are, whatever body shape God has given you, whatever hair color you have, the size of your bank account, the job you have (or don't have), whether you are a wife, mom, student, grandma, or single woman, whether you have big muscles or small muscles....none of that stuff defines you.

None of it.

In fact....

....just the way that you are. Will you say that out loud, "I am beautiful."

It's true! You are Beautiful!!

Whew! If you've made it to the end of this post, thank you! :)

How about for you?? How was your holiday?? What's your 2011 plan?? What has God been teaching you these days?? I would love to hear from you!!!

Thank you, dear *She Sparkles* friends, for your encouragement, Truth, and kindness. I thank God for you!!

God's richest blessings to you!

P.S. Over the next few weeks, as I prepare for the Red Hot retreat, my posts will be much less frequent. (But I'll miss you!) If you would like to receive an e-mail when I post something new, you can sign up here. I have some fun giveaways planned over the next few weeks (including Red Hot tickets) ~ please keep in touch! :)
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