52. “Can beauty come out of ashes?” (Remembering my grandmother on her birthday.)

“Rats? I hate rats. They drive me crazy. Crazy? I was crazy once. They locked me in a rubber room. I died in that rubber room. And they hurried me in the ground with all the spiders and rats. Rats? I hate rats. They drive me crazy …”

Of all the people I know who knew my grandmother, you either loved her or you couldn’t stand her. Or both. 😄 She was a colorful character, always up to something with that crooked, wonderfully playful smirk. Today is her birthday, and she’s tell you that being born on Halloween automatically makes her a witch and that she’s really older than dirt. May I never lose the sound of her voice. She had a strong voice, but always with a hint of a laugh or a ring to it that culture easily transition into a jovial song.

I hear from a lot of people that the 1st are the hardest after losing a loved one, and it’s been true this whole month. Because we weren’t really that close as I got older, as time and distance got away from us both, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel in the months after her passing. I wrote a blog right after her death and all the unfolding and healing that took place in my heart as a result.

She was more my mother in the first 8 years of my life, when she was raising me, than anyone else. She taught me so many things. My love of cooking and baking is a direct result of fond memories with her. She taught be about being a good steward of our planet and all of God’s creatures. She taught me that I have a voice to fight against injustice. She taught me the beauty of art and creativity and always encouraged my curiosity and imagination.

Papa died several years back, he had been in and out of cancer remission. The mixture of tobacco, motor grease, and Coca-Cola is still one of my favorite smells in the world, and I can almost smell it every him every time I think of him and Grammy and the house in The Ocala National forest where I grew up.

Jumping off cliff into the river, long days of fishing with Captain Tom, climbing trees, running around bare foot on the dirt roads, jumping in mud puddles, and stepping in cow patties. (I know that is gross, but Grammy loved it. I always wanted to do that because she did it, and I would try to sneak into the cow fields, though I wasn’t allowed to go by myself.) The huge tree in the front yard with the rope swing my uncles put up. The small pond surrounded by cattails in the backyard between the house and Papa’s garage. My uncles all teenagers and doing crazy stunts to scare an amaze me. And how bright the stars were at night. Oh how I go back there over and over again in my mind.

When they put that house up for sale, I created a petition (I was 7) and went around having everyone including potential buyers sign it. I will always picture them both there in the kitchen making breakfast. We always had toast with butter and strawberry preserves, and of course coffee. I had my own place at the table – a regular dinning chair with a stack of phone books as a booster seat. These images and memories are my safe place, my refuge.

Before Papa died, my aunt who I adore told me to think of everything I wanted to say to him, everything I wanted to ask and then say it. Ask it. So that when he goes, I won’t have any regrets or wonder. But the only thing I could think of at the time was: “Thank you. And I love you. You were like a father to me and I will never forget your love.” And he knew that very well. To me he was a quiet man and akin to Papa Surf with the bigger nose and full grey beard. But when he spoke his words had meaning.

I took my aunts advice into consideration when Grammy became ill and went to the hospital. I went to see her and wrote her a letter. I have no regrets or unresolved feelings except one and it’s so odd. While I was visiting she kept mentioning a drawer in the kitchen full of jewelry she had made and said that I could take whatever I wanted. I did want to look because I love all the jewelry she made, but I never did look. I didn’t want her to think or feel like I just came to get something from her.

Obviously that would never be my intention, ever. All I really wanted was time with her. But I was raised by people who seemed built that way, so I tend to be overly cautious and hyper aware of things like that. But it keeps kitting me again and again that I never looked in the drawer like she asked me to. Did she think me dismissive as a result?

The weekend of her memorial service my sweet uncle asked me if I wanted some pictures and some of her ashes. I kindly replied with a “Thank You” and planned to tell him in person that I wasn’t sure I wanted any ashes. Being honest it gives me the creeps, and I feel terrible that it does as I know how much it means to people.

But when I met up with my uncle, his eyes heavy with tears ready to spill over, he handed me an envelope of picture my dad asked him to pass on. Many I already had and several more that were pictures which actually documented some of the abuse I went through when I was younger. I don’t know if he or my dad realized that as they were going through Grammys things.

I wouldn’t put it passed my dad though to have done that intentionally as a reminder that he “saved” me from my mother and her abusive (ex)husband. They are from a time my other uncle took me to the park and took pictures. Grammy probably had hundreds of picture of me from my time with her as a young-in.

But I remember that day and I remember knowing why my uncle was taking the pictures but I didn’t say anything because I was happy to spend time with him. They catalog a giant hand-sized bruise across half my face that took several months to heal. I have no recollection of how I got it but it was there. It’s funny how memories hit you altogether vividly when you had entirely forgotten. Then bam! I feel the hand print even now.

Then came this simple white box, the size that would hold a bracelet from a jeweler. Looking my uncle in the eyes, I couldn’t say “No Thank You.” I just wanted to hug him and cry for him. He and Grammy were super close. And his loss added to my own. So a accepted the ashes. Put the box in a Russell Stover’s bag and the ashes sat in that bag in my car for months.

Every time I thought about them I’d burst into tears. Tears that this is what one of the most monumental people in my life has been reduced to. I am know the owner of a percentage of her person. And I know all about the sacred burial ground legends about disturbed spirits and all … from her to be exact. Grammy even told me a story about how she wound up with the remains of a Native Medicine Man and it haunted her until she had someone take them away and put them at rest. Then I’m supposed to bring a small part of her now decided up body into my home?

I just couldn’t deal. But the longer they stayed in my car, the more worried I got that something would happen and they’d spill everywhere. Trying to be helpful, as I shared that plaguing thought with Mike, he innocently said, “well then we can just vacu….”

“Justin Michael, DO NOT finish that sentence!” And a began to sob between bouts of hyperventilating and hysterical laughter. Not the kind when somethings actually funny, but the kind of hysteria hysterical laughter that comes on when something is far too much for your system to process. He didn’t mean it to be crass or unkind. He though it would resolve the issue. In my mind though, how morbid and inhumane to vacuum up what remained of my dearest grandma-ma. If she’s looking down on us, she was probably laughing hard at the thought, though, so That picture made me laugh for real.

This went on for an hour, as it had come on by such a surprise. But at the end of it, I asked God for the strength and the piece to bring her ashes inside. I prayed protection over the ashes, over our home, and over my heart. All I have of her is this small box of gray dust. What to do? It can’t just sit there. Do I make a trip up to the Oneida Mansion House and scatter them there? I remember her saying something about that a long, long time ago. Do I take them to Silver Springs? That was our stomping ground. Our favorite place.

After weeks of her little white box full of dust collected dust on a shelf in my home, I finally got the courage to call a friend. I barely got through the conversation, but I was finally able to talk about it without crying. You see, the husband of a dear friend is a glass artist, and I knew he had done work in the past with memorializing remains. I’d rather support a small business and local artist than a funeral home. Plus it was easier to talk with someone who knows me than a stranger because I’ve been extremely awkward about the whole thing.

Grammy loved to tell me the stories of the Iroquois passed down through the centuries. My favorite is the creation story and how the earth formed on the back of a turtle. She loved to tell stories, loved to be mischievous, and loved to say kooky things like the quote at the beginning. And a loved her. If I was going to have these ashes, I might as well does something with them so they would honor her and be protected. And it turned out beautifully.

Isn’t it beautiful?! I’ve wanted to post about this for a long time and couldn’t bring myself to do it. I always think of her when I see turtles. I see her in Grandmother Willow and Moana’s grandmother as well. I see her in the river and I see her in the moon. I see her in stacks of books and libraries as I also get my love of reading from her. I see her in homemade bread. I see her in dream catchers as she made beautiful dream catchers. She was an artist and loved to create. She was also an gifted amateur photographer. I see her in turquoise. She was always wearing turquoise jewelry. I think of her when I smell sage. I think of her when I play Tetris, and when I drink my coffee in the mornings.

I would give almost anything to rewind the clock and go back to The Forest as a little girl and sit at the breakfast table with her and Papa one last time. One last hug. One last picture of Papa reading the newspaper and Grammy toasting the bread. When you’re little, you don’t realize how precious these small moments really are and then they’re gone. I’m filled with grief that we weren’t able to be closer as I grew up. But that grief is matched with peace knowing that God used them to give me everything I needed and make me who I am today. And that’s how beauty comes out of ashes.

If you’ve lost a loved one, I am so sorry.

Lord, send Your angels to surround and comfort those who mourn. Though our sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning. Your love never fails. You are our comfort, our friend. You know our loss and You know our pain. You came that we may have ease. May we drink if Your living water. All who are thirsty. All who are hungry. Lord, let us receive. In Your preside name, Jesus, amen.

LiveALIVE Today,

Cindy

51. 7 Ways to Build Wealth, Broke

Broke is a mindset. You heard me. And I’m not writing this from a place of, “I’m rolling in it, so listen to me.” I’m writing this as someone who still isn’t where she wants to be but she’s been through financial hell and back again. I’ve learned ALOT along the way, and I was thinking I might share some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years.

Just for some (hopefully relatable) background, I started out in the financial world with terrible credit and I’d personally never even applied for a credit card. Somehow I started out on the wrong side. I have a pretty good guess as to how that happened, but figured it out far too late to really do anything about it. I couldn’t even get a Walmart store card. Yes… you heard me again. That’s how bad it was. To make matters worse, I didn’t know how bank accounts worked or how to write a check. I was judged, overlooked, scoffed at, and taken advantage of as a result.

When it came time to buy my first car, even though I had a sizable downpayment, the only lender who would work with me offered me a 19% interest rate. Yes, you heard me that time too. 😆 But you know what I did know? I did know that I want to become independently wealthy, that I enjoy figuring out ways to increase my income. I may not have been able to write a proper check, but I did know about making investments and saving money. Not just the physical act of putting money in savings, but actually how to cut costs and wise investments versus unwise investments.

So it was really rocky at first but then I got my first big girl job, and immediately did all of the right things. Savings, investments, etc. I intentionally lived below my means in order to build wealth (when I wasn’t busy over-investing in friends and family😘). But then I took a huge leap of faith, to focus on my own business and leave my corporate job. It was time. (Mike can tell you all his crazy financial mishaps if he wants to. 🤪😘)

Little did my husband and I know, but that was the beginning of a 5-year long spiritual attack on our finances and everything else. At one point we were living on my part time income only, over 15k+ in debt from medical bills and bad advice, with both cars broken down, and me in and out of the hospital due to medical mysteries. It felt like a never-ending nightmare. We started to become paranoid to trust a season of less difficulty because another shoe was bound to drop. But we had hope, good people on our side, and we refused to give in to a scarcity mindset – though at times it was hard not to.

Fast forward to the present, my husband and I own 2 cars and have owned our first home for 3 years now. We’re also virtually debt free! In the 3 years we’ve owned our home we’ve seen the property value increase exponentially, and as soon as we finish our improvements, ooo boy, mama goose and papa penguin are excited! And we are both very happy and growing in our careers. Praise The Lord for His provision and favor! He deserves all the praise!

Here are 7 ways Mike and I continued with an abundance, wealth-building mindset through it all:

1. We stay the course. I cannot tell you how many times the temptation to return to the 9-5 life took hold of me in moments of struggle and doubt. “Did I hear you, Lord? Did I make the right decision?” Each time I asked, I was met with a very solid, “Stay the course. Trust in me.” God always provided. And in so many wonderful and unexpected ways that neither we, nor anyone else, could really take the credit. So we committed to follow one course until successful. I could write a whole other blog on the blessings, of our own and for others, which have occurred because we stayed the course. You can’t put a price tag on that.

We knew that sacrificing the time and energy of building the ministry God called me to would not be worth it in the end. It would only set us back. Don’t get me wrong, I earn a great income, but it was uncomfortable trusting God in those hard times. Oh, how we’ve grown because we did.

2. We remain grateful. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were definitely moments where we were anything but grateful. Moments where we have in to the frustration, overwhelm, fear, etc. but in the end, we chose to defer to grateful. We recognize that work is a privilege, and we enjoy it. We’re not shy about hard work. We focus on all that we do have. We focus on being good stewards of what we’ve been given. You’d be shocked at the money you will save when your learn to be grateful for what you have. And through the attitude of gratitude, it’s so cool how we are able to give generously as well.

Gratitude also allows us to be gracious receivers. If you’re like me, the idea of a handout makes my skin crawl. I’d rather starve than have someone feel sorry for me. (I know that’s dramatic, but God is working on me.) It brings others joy to help when they feel lead and we enjoy finding ways to repay that generosity. Where I come from, there’s no such thing as a gift. Everything had a price. Humbling myself and being willing to let others in and let them bless me has been super tough. It’s taught me a great deal though. We never expect anything, and instill struggle a little accepting generosity, but God has a way of surprising us.

3. We have mentors we trust. There are a lot of selfish, greedy, dishonest people out there who’s only aim is for their own benefit. When you’re starting out and don’t have a clue and there’s no one to guide you (that was me), you’re vulnerable and easy prey for the dishonorable. But I didn’t give up. I would cut my losses and search for people I could trust. People who’s values match my own, people who have a passion for what they do because they see the value in how they help others.

Yes, we’re in business to make money, but many entrepreneurs and business people choose their professions because they find fulfillment in adding value to others. Now, we have a team of trusted advisors and professionals who we couldn’t appreciate more! They help us diversify.

4. We review our budget. Mike and I review our budget almost weekly to make sure that what’s going out is working for us to provide for our needs and goals. If something’s not working we adjust. Communication is vital. It was a frustrating process as we worked through this piece. We have different ways of thinking about finances. We had to be very patient with each other; we learned not to point fingers and quickly own our mistakes. We set aside intentional time in our schedule to do this.

We also talk with our providers and ask questions for better understanding. We express our objectives so that our providers better understand what we’re aiming for. That’s lead us to make some pretty cool moves with different policies to set us up for greater abundance. We do not have all our eggs in one basket, and not only look for ways to save money, but also ways to earn.

5. We avoid the unnecessary. All work and no fun make Mike and Cindy dull kids. But, we have made sacrifices to free up room in our budget. We almost refuse to pay for any subscriptions to anything period. But we still leave room for our hobbies and date nights etc. Mike is the spender and I’m the saver. We’ve learned the merits of both and have found a good balance.

We’ve learned to be DIYers where we can, and are wise about where we can’t. If you don’t need to pay for it don’t, but this is highly subjective. Be careful. We think before we purchase. Is it something we need? Is it something we will use? Do we have something similar already? Will we regret it let if we do/do not purchase it?

6. We’re savvy shoppers. With my health struggles and Mike’s aversion to running lots of errands, we’ve developed some great systems to help us save time and money when we’re shopping for things like groceries. It’s become sort of a game that we strategize and celebrate our effectiveness and efficiency. I’ll leave this one brief as I think it’s best suited for a post of its own at some point.

7. We practice grace. I have wasted way too much time and energy beating myself up for an embarrassing number of things that I probably couldn’t control as much I believed I could. Mike has really helped me big on this one. Sometimes we miscommunicate or miscalculate. Sometimes we don’t reach the goal by our elected deadline. One example is in our investments accounts. It took Mike a while to come back around to this because he was badly burned by an investor. Where we both started strong in this area, through life and unforeseeable mishaps, we basically had to start over. And when we did, we had to start much smaller.

But the win here is that we started. A small start is better than no start at all. And if you fall of the horse, don’t quit, get back on. And to look at where we are now through all of that, I’m overwhelmed. Good things can take time, but are well worth the wait.

There you have it. With these tools in place, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come from the kids we were when we started out. What tips and tricks have you learned or developed for money management? I’d love to hear from you!

LiveALIVE Today,

Cindy

Heavenly Father, you are wise beyond measure. You know all the secrets. Yet like a good parent, instead of handing them to us, You work with us we we can learn for ourselves. Things stick Bette that way and we appreciate them so much more. God, I thank You for all the people in our life who have helped us be it through their generosity or their wise counsel. I thank You for those who took advantage of us, for You used them to teach us. Lord, would you bless them all. Thank You, Lord, for extending Your hand of favor of each person reading this blog. May they find a 100-fold harvest from their efforts. May they find people they can trust who can help them. Give us eyes to see, expand our capacity and creativity. Thank You that You have placed opportunities all around. Oh how You love to bless Your children. Father, forgive me for taking You for granted. Forgive me for lacking gratitude. Forgive me for anytime I’ve hardened my heart to generosity, either giving or receiving. Fill me and all those reading with a mindset of abundance and gratitude. In Jesus name, I thank You for these things. Amen

50. Idols I Worship While I’m Running Out of Time

I don’t have much time and the sense of urgency is exploding from me so intensely, again I find myself in tears. A couple weeks ago, a shared a post 45. it’s not about me where God finally released me to focus on my own shortcomings. During the last years of healing and growing, I found myself unable to see clearly my own part in much of the mess and it annoyed me. God knows that comfortable with everything being my fault and my responsibility to fix, so He took that away from me I order to help me see many things I couldn’t see before.

Coming into the fullness of understanding about my health, it has been such a gift to understand much better traumas effect on the body. It has changed my thinking so completely. I believe the truths I’ve learned could be of benefit to you, too.

Every day my heart is beating. Everyday my nervous system continues to function (even in it quirky way), every moment my lungs draw in breath is a beautiful gift. Life is a gift. It is both fleeting and long-suffering. Both awful and beautiful. But all a gift. Life is fragile yet durable.

I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be alive. But I am. And that realization has changed things. Think back in your life for a moment. All the decisions that were made which lead to your conception and birth, going back generations. A beautiful friend of mine walked a harrowing journey through infertility shared with me once the statistics on conception, let alone live birth. 🤯 You, reading this right now, are a miracle. I venture to say none of us should be here, truthfully.

Now I’m living in the reality that I’m on borrowed time. What am I going to do with each moment that I’m gifted? The answer is a challenging complexity and yet beautifully simplistic. Can you guess what the answer is? I bet you know …

Jesus.

He is the key that unlocks the mystery and the majesty of life. He is the love that conquers all. Why do you think it’s written: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Think about those 3 nouns. Way – a path or direction, a solution. Truth – pure and final reality. Life – the very breath we breath and The Force which binds all, the cycle of creation. THE. Not A. The way. The truth. The life.

I talk with many people who fear death and fear discomfort in this life. Most of us do I think. We don’t want things in this life to be difficult. We want to be healthy, live in comfortable homes, drive comfortable vehicles, look at least fairly presentable. Some of us out more emphasis on these things than others. We are privileged. We seek to preserve our own lives and much of our time is taken up by that goal. We may do good things and we may help others, but we live life as if we have time all the time in the world. We don’t.

Please here me, I’m not advocating for us to run around all hysterical. (Were already doing that right now anyway.) We are obese with knowledge and with comfort, and we are starving of The Spirit. The day will come when our lives in America will be at stake for His name. It may be tomorrow, it may be generations from now.

We can get mad at that all we want, but our selfishness in hoarding all His grace, truth, and love for ourselves is at fault. You can blame the devil all you want to but we helped. I helped.

By worshipping idols, I’ve helped. And here are some of the idols God has lovingly revealed to me:

1. Others

What other people think has lead to a social media addiction. It has lead to many anxiety attacks over the idea that certain people will never be proud of me, or I will never be enough. I will never have enough money, nice enough possessions, or high enough social status to deserve their approval. I’ll never be thin enough or spiritual enough.

Not enough and too much. Too emotional, too female, too opinionated, too spiritual, I talk too much, and take up too much space. My perspective is too much. I’m too smart. Too good and therefor a threat. So do I shrink or do I rise? Do they need me, can I be useful? Will they choose me? I have to be significant, I have to serve a purpose. What did I do wrong? How can I fix it? A slave to others. It never ends.

As a result of this, I went from spending hours alone with God almost daily and treated poorly for it, I lowered my expectations to where I’m more inclined to read and study someone else’s interpretations and someone else’s prayers. I started going to others for answers rather than leaning on God. And I am treated poorly for that too, so I made others my idol. Trading in who they all say I should be in place of who God says I am.

2. Myself

My comfort, my education, my achievements, my safety, my usefulness, my gifts and talents. Truthfully anything that we put above or in place of God is because we are worshipping self – but people got very angry with me that last time I said that. I almost left the house we were at for fear I was going to be burned at the stake, the sense of violation I felt rise in the room when I said that.

I’m so sorry, it’s true. If we choose other things over God, it’s because we are choosing ourselves over Him. Every time. Ex – when I mindlessly get on Facebook and Instagram from bed first thing in the morning, it’s because I want to see what notifications I have before anything else.

I tried to think of a 3rd but really any idol (a person, place, thing, or idea we value over God) can be summed up in these two. Even money. Why do we idolize money? For others and for self. The more money, the higher the status and the more comfortably we can live. Money is not bad. In fact it can be very good. But if we place its value over God, it’s an idol. And truly even simpler is that self is the only idol. All other idols root back to self.

I don’t have much time. So what am I going to do with the time I have? If I go home tomorrow or 100 years from now, it’ll be gone before I know it. I want nothing short of The Kingdom if God to manifest here in earth! What does that mean?

That means, I want everyone I come across to know the love and freedom of Jesus. His healing power and His grace. I want believers to wake up and find their way. We’ve been asleep in our privilege and we don’t even know it. A life with Jesus is not boring or restrictive. It’s the opposite.

A life with Jesus is not about what church you go to, how well you know The Bible, how much you listen to Christian radio, how many “blessings” you’ve collected. It’s about His Love. He didn’t sacrifice His blameless life so that we could live in suburbia with our nice cars and big screen TVs. He gave us freedom so we could share that freedom with others. If we are set free, shouldn’t we want more than anything to see others set free?

I’ve had the humbling honor to meet several people in my life who intentionally live a life of poverty and homelessness so that they can share Jesus with people on the streets. Growing up, I just knew I was going to serve in foreign missions, most likely in Africa. I just knew I was going to put a dent in ending child abuse and human trafficking. I haven’t yet been called over seas, but I am heavily burdened about DMST and child abuse.

We have the solution – are called to be the solution. But we’d rather be part of the problem and just feel like we’re part of the solution. It’s easy to look at something like the drama with Netflix and in politics right now. It’s heart breaking that we can be so enraged by one of thousands of inappropriate movies and one blanket politically correct statement, but we are blissfully blinded to the fact that our next door neighbors are trafficking their children. We are unwilling to get involved. Why? That’s harder to do. And while we can live without Netflix now that we have Disney+, how would reporting the suspicious activity of our neighbor disrupt our lives?

We want to judge one another based on our own politically spiritual opinions but we won’t hug a homeless person because we might “catch” something from them. They might go crazy and shank us. Is this what Jesus died for? Is it? Somebody help me, because I just can’t imagine that this is the Life, and life more abundantly that He came to give us. Listen, God did not command us against idol worship for His sake. He did so for ours. He knew where we’d end up and He has the solution to all our problems. Ask me how Jesus in the solution!! Please ask me – not that I can be wise in my own opinion but that I may share more personally!

Hear my heart, nothing disgusts me more than child sexual abuse. I survived it. And I’m still understanding it’s toll on me and others like me. Nothing disgusts me more. But what is our anger and outrage going to solve. It makes us feel better. Make us feel like we’ve done something about it so we can sleep at night. But our social media outrage and petition to remove one movie is not going to do anything to end pedophilia. But do you know what might? The Love of Jesus Christ.

Maybe pandemics and spiritual afflictions like pedophilia, pornography, sex addiction, prostitution, human trafficking, domestic violence, and homelessness. This is spiritual warfare, but we’d rather just get angry at each other. When Jesus walked the earth, He was angry with the religious people. He showed compassion and the strength of His peace to those who were afflicted.

Love is the opposite of enabling, though many times we confuse the the two. So please do not think I’m making a case for these vomit-inducing horrors. If we weren’t too busy chasing idols, maybe we could more easily recognize the true war that is going on. It’s not of flesh and blood but of spiral forces of evil in heavenly places. Maybe it would keep us up at night. Maybe we would spend more time loving others as the solution.

When we turn a blind eye to abuse and homelessness, we are enabling it’s continuation. When we enable a person in bondage continue to be in bondage, we are furthering the issue. I know so many parents fighting for the safety of their children and they are fighting relatively alone because fear, shame, and judgement hold them back from truly being free. What if someone turned to that mama and said, “You don’t have to stay. There’s a better way. Jesus sees you and this does not have to be your story.”

Or to that man and say, “There is no shame here. You are not less of a man because of this situation. There is a truth. And you are a victor in this truth.”

Or to that child, “Life isn’t supposed to be this way. I’m so sorry for what you are going through. You will have a better life.”

Friends we have the power to overcome it all. His name is Jesus. Tune everything and everyone, including yourself, out and listen to Him. He is the way. He is the truth. He is the life. While we still have time.

LiveALIVE today,

Cindy

Oh Abba! My heart breaks. It longs for your Kingdom. It longs for this life to be at rest in Your arms. But if You have caused my heart to beat and my lungs to breath, let my eyes also see. Let me mind also think. That my soul also burn for Your way, Your truth, Your life. If I die, I die and I maybe at peace with You. If I am hated, let it be for Your sake. If I am rejected, I am accepted by You. Forgive me for the idolatry I’ve committed in my heart, with my words, thoughts, and actions. Break these chain off of me that I may freely worship you.

Take the yoke of the world off my shoulders and replace it with Yours. Transform us, Jesus, by the power of Your love renew our minds. No weapon formed against those who love You shall stand because no weapon formed against You can stand and we are Yours. You are ours. Help us to live each day like we’re running out of time so that we may be reminded of what truly matters. You. Your love is the answer.

The answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42. Me and You. On the 6th day You created me. On the 7th day You rested. Your creation set into motion, an infinite cycle of beauty and wonder. You are the 7th Hand that reaches down to do what only You can do. Change us Lord, create us in the likeness of Your image. In Jesus, I pray. Thank You Lord for not destroying us completely though we seem bent to destroy ourselves. It is Your peace is will seek, to build up and not tear down. Amen.

49. Bless Our Cute Little Broken Hearts

Toddlers in Tiaras

Dance Moms

One Tree Hill

Degrassi

Skins

Euphoria

Kids

The Lover

Anne with an E

Minnie’s First Time

Thirteen

The Babysitter

American Beauty

Pretty Baby

The Blue Lagoon

Gigi

The Girl in The Book

Animal House

The Color Purple

Hounddog

Life As A House

Little Miss Sunshine

And Dare I say it … Twilight (a centennial dating a high schooler) which lead to 50 Shades of Grey … (I love Twilight as much as the next person, I’m just thinking out loud).

“You don’t understand, 50 Shades is a wonderful, redemptive love story.” I do understand that. But where was our Christian outrage over the portrayal of the female protagonist? Or how about all of the graphic rape scenes in Game of Thrones? “Once you get passed the 1st 3 seasons it’s not as bad.” Really, do we hear ourselves?!

The hyper sexualization of minors on the big screen, the small screen, and everything in between is nothing new, nor the exploitation of abuse for rating’s sake. We should be outraged by that and so much more. But there’s a bigger picture, brothers and sisters, that we need to be aware of. A device even more outrageous than anything we’re seeing in pop culture, outrage culture, cancel culture. 

I know it’s tough to be awakened to the horrors of this world. The shock, the disgust, the outrage. But it’s nothing new. It’s even in the Bible. There are several books/chapters that I think if I ever have kids, I’d like for them not to read until they are much older! For generations now in America, we’ve been privileged in our Christian culture. 

When I first joined my church family, I attended a small group of beautiful, wonderful young women. Women that, when I shared my testimony, told me they thought things like that only happened in hallmark movies. Congrats to their parents and the church culture they were raised in! I was in awe that, with all the horror I’d witnessed and survived, there were children growing up completely unaware of such things. What a wonderful gift! I’m being serious. It was such a beautiful thing for me to know that some children get to grow up unscathed. 

So I get that it’s hard to become aware of these things and our emotions flare up and we react. I’m not saying that anyone’s views or feelings are invalid. Hear my heart. I agree Cuties takes it too far, especially when we view it through the eyes of “things like that don’t happen.” They do. If you grew up thinking that pedophilia, child abuse, racism, trafficking, etc. was the exception, the few and far between, it must be awful to have the bubble bursted. The rose colored glasses shattered. I’m so sorry. I know it’s awful. My heart breaks with you. 

Honestly though, that’s how 11 year old girls were acting when I was 11. I knew a 12 year old who bragged about becoming pregnant by her 22 year old boyfriend, at Maryville Middle no less. So the school systems aren’t the problem/solution on what our kids are exposed to.  

They’re mimicking what they see older girls doing in a rush to be more mature. They have no idea what they’re doing, but no one is paying enough attention, nor can they be bothered to explain things or have an honest life conversation. So this is the result. And now we’ve got social media and reality tv which encourage this behavior. Seriously, Cuties isn’t that different from things you’ll find which have had several seasons on channels like TLC. 

Take a look into some of the movies and shows I listed above. There’s plenty more out there. And let me ask you something – not from a place of judgement – but to offer perspective – it’s easy to become outraged through social media about a movie that failed to protect the innocence of children. Have you ever seen first-hand a child being mistreated by a parent or adult and looked away? You told yourself it was none of your business, every parent has a bad day now and then,  or you weighed the cost of your own inconvenience to getting involved. Yeah, I’ve done that too. 

Even me, a survivor who is hyper vigilant, and an advocate for child safety. I recently learned that a dear young lady I knew many years ago had been severely abused. I knew her family. I saw the signs. But I never knew any of what I saw had ever been directed at her. But as in almost every case, it was worse than I could have imagined. I once saw a lady I’d never seen before in the lobby of my own church violently shove and speak brutally toward a boy of about 9 years old in her care. I stood there in shock and uncertainty. Dozens and dozens of people around us and I was the only one who saw it. I allowed her to walk out with that boy and I’ve seen neither since though I’ve looked. I didn’t know her name or his. I’m haunted by that. 

I think back on my childhood and all the dozens and dozens of people who knew we were abused and did nothing. Witnessed ill-treatment on multiple occasions and said nothing. Fast forward to watching strong people of faith whom I love dearly spewing venom on social media over a movie. Incredulous. If it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back, great! Praise God! But don’t stop there. That’s just a small, small piece of the tale as old as time. The war from the beginning. 

The biggest horror at work in all of this is the division going on. Among politics, Covid precautions, vaccinations, etc.,  it feels like Christians are more divided than ever. It’s terrifying and heartbreaking to witness. People who thought they were “ride or die” jumping to swift and relationship-killing conclusions because instead of taking the time to listen and understand where someone else was coming from, they become outraged. It’s like a spiritual tearing of the flesh. It’s a full moon and we’ve turned into proverbial werewolves. 

Brothers and sisters. It’s hard to wake up. I know. When we wake up to a nightmare we wake up swinging. I implore you put down your clubs, take a step back, and look around. We are allowing fear and anger and pride to control our emotions and our decisions. Everyone alive right now could loosely be considered a trauma survivor. We’ve worked into a lather over all these emotionally gripping topics; and if we’re not careful, if we don’t recenter, we’re going to implode. 

This is spiritual warfare. Yes we need to save the children and end human trafficking. But we need to understand that this is nothing new. We have a greater part to play in fighting this battle. Canceling Netflix is a minor thing you may choose to do to make a statement. But it’s so much bigger and deeper. If we want to see real change, we MUST let go of all of it and return to our First Love. 

You have valid reasons for your personal beliefs. Whether we agree or not, your reasons are valid. They’ve been shaped by your influences, experiences, and through the personal perspective by which you interpret the world around you. They’re shaped by your personality and values. However you feel is ok. But we are not helping our cause when we allow ourselves to partake in impulsive outrage and drawing lines in the sand. 

Don’t you see what that’s doing to the body of Christ? How do you think we all look to an outside observer? I’m sorry to say it but we look like immature, “uninformed”, hypocrites, from any angle. I am not saying that we are those things, but what does it look like from the outside looking in?  If we’re cancelling a streaming subscription and boycotting one company, are we prepared and willing to boycott the entire entertainment industry? Are we prepared to give up YouTube and Facebook as well? We’ve labor over and preoccupy our efforts toward singular details and turn nasty on one another over them. 

Jesus did not give His life for this squabble. We are so broken and so fallen that we do not see the sin in our own lives because we are too busy on a witch hunt for the sin in others. I am crying as I type this because I know it’s going to anger people. That’s not my aim, but I feel it happening. If I were speaking this instead of typing, I would want you to hear the love and aching in my tone. I just want us to see the bigger game that’s being played here, and have the transforming power of Christ renew our minds and create a steadfast spirit within us. But we’re scared, angry, bitter – full of those things instead of love, peace, and understanding. 

It’s the harder road at first for sure. To lay down your own convictions, emotions, opinions, and choose love instead. Is child abuse, pedophilia, and the like detestable? Yes. Should something be done? Heaven, yes. But what we’re doing right now is tearing one another apart over our opinions and reactions. That is the way we are going to aid our own destruction. It’s a wide road that leads to destruction and many will feel righteously justified along its path unaware of the trap.

Yes He defends the case of the widow, helps the fatherless, yes He stands up for the oppressed and abused. We help put Him on that cross just the same as everyone else when we carry on this way. Your brothers and sisters are on either side of the line and wholeheartedly believe that what they’re supporting is what Jesus would support all the while throwing rocks at one another for feeling the same way from the other side. It takes everyone’s perspective coming together. Choosing unity and understanding, a willingness to listen and honor each other above ourselves. There is evil at work here, blinding us with the obvious, stirring things up so we can’t see what’s going on in the shadows.  

We cannot force our beliefs on others. You can’t yell and scream and tear and judge others into your way of thinking. You can’t shove info or snarky memes down someone’s throat and expect them to get your point. It only serves to grow the gap, not bridge it. That’s why Jesus didn’t fight His death sentence. His gentleness through the brutality saved lives as He was being murdered. 

Peace dear brothers and sisters. I was reading Ezekiel this morning (a book I wouldn’t want my younger kids to read) and I asked God to give me a glimpse through the eyes of Christ as I read the grotesque words of those pages. Wow. When we prostituted ourselves BC, God used a heavy hand to rectify the brokenness we chose over Him. “When only love could make a way. You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange.”

How beautiful that He had a better way in mind for us. He sent Jesus. Because of Jesus I saw those prostitutes who returned to their old ways (an allegory I know) from a different perspective. Often times victims of abuse will go back to abusive relationships. Why? Not because they enjoyed being mistreated, but because that’s what they think is their identity. Sometimes it seems easier to return to your old life, your old ways, than to live in the freedom that God is offering you. The freedom is new and unfamiliar. You don’t know what to expect. It takes a different way of thinking, a new reality. That’s scary.

But thank You, Jesus, for offering us help in this new way. Because of Your sacrifice. Lowering yourself to the human condition. To be one of us. To see our beauty. To see our pain and experience it all first hand. The burden, the shame, the chaos. The messiness of life. You saw it all and You had nothing but love and compassion for the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, doubting Thomas, prideful Peter.  Holocaust-bent Saul.  You were even willing to converse with the pharisees who wanted to destroy You so that You could teach. You wanted time away, and instead You taught, You fed, You loved. 

Oh that we could be like children again. Eager to sit in Your lap and listen to Your stories full of wisdom and guidance. Oh that we would let go of our own wisdom, opinions, feelings, and see Your truth on display right in front of our noses. But our hearts are hardening and we feel justified in it. We are separating ourselves from each other physically, emotionally, spiritually. Where You call us to You in unity. We demand that others chose our way of seeing things or we decide not to love the ones who don’t. But You have prepared a table before us in the presence of our true enemy. And we are not each other’s enemy. There is room at Your table for us all yet we think our worldly beliefs somehow make us closer to you as compared to those who don’t share our views. That is not Your way. Show us Your way, Lord. Open our eyes. Soften our hearts. Teach us to control our emotions. Teach us to have discernment in our actions. Pull out the negative influences from our midst. Those who are scheming to destroy. Help my words, if it is Your will, not to be in vain. 

We fear the end of times. We live in fear of Your return? Why. So much more awaits us, yet we are panicked and desperate to hold it off a while longer. Sadly this is not to give us more time to live You out among the world. It is for us to live out this world more. 

We have prostituted ourselves to social media, political affiliations, and validation from peers. We’ve become wise in our own opinions and try to work everything out in our own power and understanding. We lean on You last. We say our prayers and maybe sometimes read Your Word. But when we do it’s mostly judgement and mostly worldly needs. Forgive us Father. We know not what we do. Lord, I am desperate for revival. Hear from Heaven and heal our land. Heal our heartsZeal for Your house has consumed me. Oh how I love them Lord, my heart is to Love like You have loved. 

We have the audacity and arrogance to say that You’ve sent natural disasters upon certain regions because of their choices, and we give no thought to how we are just the same, each in our own way. On our own we will never get it right. We cannot be humble without You. Even with the Holy Spirit, even with the Truth of Jesus we fall. Male pastors oppressing women over semantics, Sermons preaching against “sins” we feel detached from to bolster our sense of righteousness, when the wickedness which should concern us is our own. Oh, God, forgive us. Help us see through the Holy Spirit that You’ve given us as a gift. A gift we take for granted. We are privileged, complacent, and spoiled. Thank You for choosing to love us anyway. Thank You for seeing the good in us and having compassion for the bad. Oh that we could love others with the same love. You are the way, Lord. It’s in Your name I beg for us all. Amen. 

If you took the time to read this all the way through, thank you. If I angered, annoyed, or frustrated you, can you forgive me? I don’t have all of the answers either, but I know this is not the way; and that I will stand firm on because I love you. I’m hurting with you. I’m afraid with you. I’m outraged with you. But Jesus has given us a new Spirit and we are called to live by that Spirit and not by our flesh. May we surrender today and LiveALIVE. With all my heart, Cindy

48. On This Day 7 Years Ago: 9/12/2013

On this day 7 years ago, I had fasted and prayed over the decision. I knew God was calling me further into His intended purpose for me. The skills I learned in my corporate life would be a huge asset to this next chapter.

When I stood up to my boss over misgiving information, knee jerk decisions which elevated my district’s stress level and violated the trust of my employees – my team – so much cloak and dagger, so much a game to be played. I didn’t want that. I had the highest performing district in the company. All glory to God! 🙌

But until a certain point I had been given the freedom to foster a culture of teamwork, honesty, trust, and communication. I worked at this career for years learning the ins and outs. (I even knew how to rewire security gates and their keypads.) Where I had years, he had months.

He’d call me up and ask me to do something random, and then a day or even hours later would turn around and ask the opposite, changing his mind or forgetting what he’d already said. I can’t help but wonder if he was doing that on purpose. I never wanted his job in the slightest, but it baffled me that someone with so little experience had been given such a high position. It was a younger company so maybe thats what gave them an edge? 🤷‍♀️

My team knew they could be honest with me about what they thought of policies, processes, etc. I listened, passed it back if necessary to encourage them to grow, and took their suggestions under advisement. I delegated responsibilities to help elevate them. Employees who started as part time maintenance moved on to become full time property managers.

Through God’s Grace I successfully ran 2 entire properties singlehandedly for almost 3 months. During that time I received word that those 2 properties were out preforming all other properties in the company. I was just trying to put out fires at one and maintain the other, but God’s favor matched my effort. I can only give credit to Him. It was truly supernatural.

😵 Then when we held an auction that I warned them we weren’t ready to hold because a former employee was blatantly stealing from the company and no one was doing anything about it. He’d taken advantage and caused chaos to cloak his embezzlement. I think it was drug related. We wound up auctioning off the wrong thing and then both the clients and the company came at me like I was the criminal. It was a traumatic experience for sure, but I survived and received a promotion a short time later.

I even got special permission from my doctor to fly to Michigan 10 days after surgery for a special conference. I was on-call 24/7 though they did not pay my cellphone bills or offer me any overtime, etc. if called to the property in the middle of the night. I worked 60+ hours a week and only got paid for 40. And it was never enough. All the while, I was told “that’s not the way the corporate world works.”

To which I finally replied, “It isn’t that it’s the corporate world, it the choices you’re making. It can work this way and it is working this way. It’s not the corporate world, it’s the choices you are making.” By the end of my time in this career, I had snapped. It was the hardest thing to say goodbye to my team and the area I had worked so hard to help build all the while being scrutinized and manipulated at every turn. I still had a sense of joy and accomplishment. The hats I was forced to wear, it’s only by God’s favor I was able to handle it for as long as I did, and successfully.

I prayed and fasted for a great district manager to replace me, and God answered. My heart was torn between warning him about what he was stepping into, and not scaring him off from learning my team. He didn’t last long, because of all the reasons I left too, but he did a great job. I remember all that so vividly like it was yesterday. But on this day 7 years ago, I trusted God. I took a leap of faith. And today, I have no regrets but one.

My boss did not know Jesus and my attitude toward him in the end did not reflect the Love it should have. Hurting people hurt people, and his hurts ran deep – that was clear. He was in over his head and flying by the seat of his pants. In my naïveté, I didn’t realize that my knowledge and confidence had a negative affect on him to which he retaliated. I thought we were on the same team, working toward the same goals, but in the end I allowed him to push me to a breaking point. I wish I could go back and have an honest and Grace-filled conversation with him. To apologize for losing my temper. 💔🧎‍♀️

Though it doesn’t excuse his abusiveness, it’s not like me to do so unless I’m backed into a corner and suffocated. Fight or flight kicks in and I fight. I pray for him often. I pray The Lord is ministering to him and he has healthy people in his life to love and support him. Hurting people hurt people, but healing people should heal people. Instead I hurt back, I think.

“It’s awful being a grown up… The carousel never stops turning. You can’t get off.” But it doesn’t have to be awful. The career I have now is wonderful. I live my life according to my values and priorities. I serve others freely and I earn a great income doing so! I couldn’t be more grateful for all the lessons I learned, and skills I bring to the table in #mymklife because of my experiences. It’s made me a stronger leader and a more compassionate person. Thank you God for gifting me with that season. And a beautiful gift that my 1st day “full time” in Mary Kay is on this day 7 years TOMORROW – Mary Kay’s 57th Anniversary!!! 🎊💃🏼

Mary Kay Ash chose time defy all odds and start this company 57 years ago tomorrow with a good and a prayer. And here I am continuing her legacy of defying the odds. We are a company who values people as our greatest asset, not liability. We are a company built on service to others and enriching lives. Where people matter more than the bottom line. It’s reflected in our commitment to produce above and beyond products, our above and beyond career and compensation program, and our above and beyond leadership. 💪💝 The journey up to this point makes me all the more grateful for the life I have now!! ❤️❤️❤️

47. On This Day 7 Years Ago: 9/6/2013

On this day 7 years and 4 weeks ago, I felt a very strong nudge compelling me to ask if I could speak for the women’s gathering. I was sick to my stomach at the very thought of it because “who was I to ask such a thing.”

I was young and the lies that I wasn’t worthy, would never be good enough, didn’t deserve to preach we’re already wrapping around my soul. The message in my heart, how could I deliver that when I am still struggling with unknown (at the time) health issues. They don’t even know my whole story yet, because I didn’t know either. How dare I ask for the opportunity. The audacity. Who do I think I am? Wouldn’t they want someone more popular, more accomplished? (I have trouble remembering what God has allowed me to bring to the table.)

It was one of those moments where the words are going to spill out of you regardless if you want them to or not, so I asked, “Do we have a speaker for the next women’s gathering?” Ok, that at was question number 1. Now can I ask question number 2? The answer will be No anyway but at least I was obedient to ask. “Sure, that’s a great idea!” …. I’m sorry, what? The answer was yes.

The opposition which came against me in the weeks leading to and years that followed This Day 7 Years Ago, because a broken young women had the audacity to preach about breaking chains to a room full of 90 women. The highest attended women’s gathering, and the last quarterly gathering we would have. The answer was yes, but it always felt like no. And No for 7 years since. My marriage, spiritual gifts, personality, health, influence, leadership, finances, you name it, have all been viciously attacked.

Do you know, I still hear from women who attended that event on the chains that were broken? The victory they received. The encouragement it was to them. As for me, it seemed like my chains were only beginning to anchor. But on This Day 7 Years Later, I type this out knowing more freedom and peace, strength and love than I have ever felt.

So to all those women …
The women who were there as a lesson
The women who were there as opposition
The women who were there to support and encourage
The women who showed up
The women who helped make it possible
The women who prayed
The women who worshipped God
The women who cried
The women who laughed
The women who received healing
The women who received Jesus

Know that every time I think of that night, I see your sweet faces looking at me and I am humbled, honored, in awe. I pray for you often. Pray that you’re living in The Power of His Name, the power that breaks every chain. I am so grateful for each and everyone of you. So grateful for the opportunity to serve you!

To the woman that didn’t think she could. I didn’t really know you before that night, but if I can so can you! You want to know how I know that? Because it’s not about us. If God puts a song in your heart, sing it. If He puts words on your lips, speak them. Fear doesn’t stand a chance against The Power and The Presence of our Heavenly Father. Was it a perfect sermon, no.

For years I couldn’t marvel at what God had done, because I lived in fear that something came out wrong, and because certain people made sure that I knew my place – and on a stage, planning an event, preaching, etc. wasn’t it. But how God has allowed me to grow!!!

If God is speaking to you through a burning bush and telling you to do something, live in peace and strength knowing that your stutter isn’t going to stand in the way of His ability to part the sea!

Listen sisters, focus on the Gospel, be willing to share how Jesus has changed your life. Someone needs to hear it the way only you can share it. It’s not about you. Take the pressure off, take the comparison off. There’s room at the table and we all have something to bring. I love you!

Serving women and sharing The Good New of The Gospel – an Abundant Limitless Intentional Victorious Exuberant life … That’s my passion!! Freedom for the captives! And overwhelming, never ending, reckless Love that heals hearts!! What greater love is there that each human in existence is worth “leaving the 99” for?! That’s how I see each of you! I’m already rescued, and each person is the one. Reach out and touch a life today!

46. A History of Human Trafficking: aka World History

Inspiration for this post came after I shared a local news article which identified East Tennessee’s top human trafficking issue is families selling their children for sex. A person I know through networking commented that we must be in the end of times if parents are trafficking their children for sex.

I’m grateful for this person’s candor and willingness to share that perspective. But it struck me as so odd. This person is known in the community for establishing an organization which caters to impoverished youth in a foreign country. How could it not be known to said person that families and parents sell their children for sex? Are we that in the dark on this issue?

I responded that trafficking is as old as The Old Testament to which the reply was mostly splitting hairs. I elaborated for clarity and encouraged the person to contact local resources for more information and speak to someone if this topic was triggering. I didn’t get a response back after that, but my prayer is now one more person is aware and burdened by this. I’ve been thinking about that ever since.

People may believe that a parent is incapable of selling their child. And that the idea must be a modern concept. What a sweet world to imagine where this pandemic didn’t exist. Listen, JeffEp didn’t invent the wheel on this. The very sad reality is that our World’s History in great part was built on the backs of slavery … aka Human Trafficking.

These scrapes and bruises didn’t happen all at once, but over 18 years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. This is just my face, just what I can remember, and just what you can see with your eyes.

It’s true… Let’s take a trip through time together. I’m simply going to share what I’ve learned; but a quick consultation with, as a friend would say, “The Google,” will back up what I will share with you here. Now, I’m no historian, but I do enjoy learning history, just so you know. You may know WAAAY more and I’d love to learn! I know enough to be dangerous, as another friend would say. Ok, now where to start …

In the beginning, God. Then God created all, including humans. Humans rejected God and set out on their own. A major trafficking situation in Genesis is that of Joseph, but before that there is mention of slaves/servants, etc. so the concept was well founded. Also women were essentially purchased to become wives. And any time a man slept with his servant … that cannot be 100% a consensual thing because technically she was his “property.”

Seriously, we may have lulled ourselves into a false sense of security regarding the people of the Bible. They were deeply flawed, as are we. But there’s a Hope! Anyway, Joseph was sold by his brothers. But we know that family and parents selling their children was not new. It’s well recorded.

So we have Joseph who worked his way, by the favor of God, out of slavery and into being in charge of Egypt. A few generation pass and then the leaders of Egypt decide to enslave the hebrews for fear of them. How do you think all those wondrous Pyramids of Egypt, The Colosseum, The Gardens of Babylon, The Great Wall of China were created?

And The Vatican? Slavery was a major part of the Catholic Church for a large period of time. What about Gladiators? Also, the whorehouses of ancient Rome? Do we really think in a time when women were vastly considered property – and could be stoned on the spot if found to not be a virgin – that women chose prostitution because it sounded like a good career? It’s possible but I imagine it was an infinitesimal percentage. No, women sold their bodies at the behest of someone else. Who? …. Families who sold them or abandoned them.

Photo by Mouad Mabrouk on Pexels.com. Recent Historians are now claiming that many of these marvels were not built on slave labor, but paid labor. I do hope that’s true, but that’s not the history I was taught. It’s it easy to say that now to clean up our own history, thousands of years later. The farther we move away from something the blurrier it gets.

Children need parentage for sure but they’re not property. It’s extraordinarily said, yet common place, that not all parents can be trusted with their children. Though in many areas around the world women and children are still considered property. But before we get there, let’s continue to look at history. Google “Stolen Generations” and “Home Children.”

What about the Holocaust? One of the most horrific cases of genocide ever recorded. Genocide and Trafficking are hugely parallel. Think of all the experiments preformed, labor camps, and yes even sexual exploitation of anyone not fitting the profile determined by a megalomaniac. It’s horrible, but true, that we owe a great deal of scientific and modern medicine discovery to the human experiments of The Holocaust. The list goes on.

Enslavement of Black, Scottish, Irish, Jewish, and I’m sure many more, all throughout European and American History. In the Americas, we can go back to the genocide and enslavement of Native Americans and First Nations. The child labor of the Industrial Revolution. The internment camps. Mining operations of the west. The Mormon Trail. During The Great Depression parents were selling their children. Some may argue that it was life or death, but who knows what happened once those children were sold.

The “greatest moments” in human history were built on the back of Human Trafficking. It’s nothing new. It’s just gaining in attention. This is a War on Humanity itself and we’re letting it happen by our complacency and denial. And the easiest way to traffic a person is from within your own residence. Who is easier to traffic than a child in your own home under your own care? That’s my story.

I’m still trying to understand the depth and the breadth of what happened to me. It’s so much easier to run from the truth than it is to face it. I didn’t realize I was running. I thought I was healing. And I was healing, but the time came when I finally needed step into the light.

Whether my “parents” were active or passive participants, I’m not sure I care to know because it was a living nightmare either way. I have no solid proof of this, but instinct tells me I was trafficked early in childhood as well. I have no memory but I have vivid nightmares. I believe I was probably drugged and that contributed to my lack of memory. I could be wrong, but enough dots have connected to draw that conclusion. Somethings you just know. And as I’ve shared, others have come forward that this is their story too.

The number of women I have shared a conversation with who disclosed about sexual assault as a child or young adult is staggering. I believe the statistic of 1 in 4 is too low. I think its higher, and 1 in 4 are just those who understand and are willing to even anonymously admit what they went through. Why? 1) Because it can take as long as it takes if ever to realize it’s not your fault. Just because you didn’t say no or put up a fight, doesn’t mean you consented. Just because your body responds doesn’t mean you wanted it to happen. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’ve given universal consent to your spouse.

2) Some survivors truly don’t understand what happened to them or don’t see themselves as a victim because it’s how they chose to survive/move on. And most survivors I have the privilege to know, including myself, feel alone or so unique in the situation that no one would understand. Or worse still, many survivors believe it’s their fault. So those who are quick to point out wolf-cryers in an odd defense for suspected perpetrators are perpetuating a harmful myth regarding abuse. (I’ll write a blog about this, I’m sure, as I just deleted an entire rabbit trail.)

We may look to the past to learn from those successes and failures, but let’s do better about acknowledging the true history of where those successes came from and where the true failures are. We’ve allowed trafficking to be the thing hidden in the dark. We pretend it wasn’t/isn’t there as it’s too shameful. So we ignore it and it continues on in the shadows all around us. And when it does surface we often villainize the victim.

There is no greater failure from one person to another than to see a person or a people as less than human. That being said, most of us are more aware and willing to advocate against animal abuse than we are child abuse. (Not saying we shouldn’t care about animals, and the environment as well, because we should.) Harsh reality: There are people out there who picket for pro-life and abuse their children and/or allow others to abuse their children. Please forgive me for this, because abortion is another heartbreaking topic: at least those babies are at peace in heaven, in the Loving Arms of Jesus. If you’re enraged by my statement, please read on and my point will become clearer.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

When we view a people group or a person as property to be used and abused, traded, and sold, what is worse? And to betray the privilege of parenthood and seek personal gain at the torture and suffering of your own child. That has to be the highest form of evil. I saw a post from a trafficking recovery hotline which stated that the youngest person they rescued was 2 years old and she had been raped by 24 different individuals on the day she was rescued. She had to have surgeries as the trauma had scrambled her internal organs. Had she not been rescued she would have died and soon. (I am shaking right now, both from horror and conviction.) The trauma from one rape can kill a person, let alone multiple rapes a day, and a baby no less.

Where do you think these sickos got this little girl? From her parents or guardians. You don’t have to be kidnapped to be trafficked; otherwise we WOULD hear about it more. Meanwhile, we’re stressing out about football and what to wear to church. We must do better. We have to do better. And the first step is shining Light on Human Trafficking which is alive and thriving today. Where light shines, darkness cannot overtake it. It’s sickening to talk about and to be aware of, I know. Who more sickening for than those who lived to tell their stories. But they must be told. So we can be outraged all we want. We can be in denial all we want. It doesn’t change the fact that this is real and it could be happening right next door. Don’t look away. Lives depend on our awareness.

Father this topic more than most, maybe even more than all, is impossibly difficult to address. Lord, help us understand and give us the wisdom that if we suspect something, the chances are it is far worse than we can imagine. Give us the courage to speak up, to see with your eyes, to love with your heart. This isn’t just a problem between those who suffer and those who gain, but it’s a problem for every able, competent person. There are people reading this who suspect abuse and they’re afraid. They’re rationalizing their concerns away. Lord, please convict them. Be with those who are suffering. Comfort them, shelter them, send rescue! Father we ask why You allow bad things to happen, especially to the innocent. I imagine that You may ask us, Your children, the same question.

A child’s life may depend on our willingness to speak up. Help us to be a piece of the solution not the passive participant. Help us to know that when we look away and ignore abuse, we are part of allowing the abuse to continue and thereby a passive participant in the abuse. It’s a thought we don’t want to face but it’s true. It is not Your will that people should suffer in this way, but YOU always redeem! There is hope in YOU like few have known! Wake us up to Your grace and YOUR truth! In Jesus name, AMEN!

Live ALIVE Today so that others have a chance!

Cindy

45. it’s not about me

Wow, what a full circle journey this blog has taken! I’m currently reading Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen with my Sunday Evening Women’s Gathering. It’s has been an easy but powerful read. And as I’ve shared over the last weeks about the epiphany God gave me, the healing and restoring He’s been cultivating, and connecting dots to where it all went wrong, one thing stick out to me most. It’s one thing that I can with must confidence attest to: my own failure. I’m excited to dive in to this part of the journey! I have been waiting to get here for a looong time!!!

I’m so good at owning my failures and weaknesses, I’ll take others on just so I can say it was my fault and not allow someone else be responsible for their own junk. 😂 It’s easier for me to say I failed, I need to change, than to address those things in others. Everyone else is way up high, and I’m way down low. So, part of me has been irritated that I had to take a look at how others influenced me in a negative way, and the larger part is grateful that God chose that way around. It would be difficult to put into words the wholeness I feel in learning how to own what I need to and not own what I don’t.

So yay! I can talk about how much a really do suck at life in this post and I am THRILLED!! Thank You Jesus, for freeing me up to get to this point!! So if you’ve ever had a bone to pick with me you’re gonna love this. If you’ve ever put me on a pedestal, you may be disappointed and that’s ok. My life is not my own, but belongs to Jesus. My true desire has always been to be used by Him for His glory. I venture to guess that many readers probably think that’s weird. But regardless of what you think about me, it’s none of my business. Why? Because it’s not about me.

I woke up this morning feeling anxious that my character is being attacked – not directly, but in the peripheral where I can’t confront it head on. The last time I had a tingling like this my leadership abilities where being attacked. I asked for prayer and guidance and no one believed me, but it did wind up being true. I’m such a control freak that both instances I got caught in a spiral of trying to figure out where the attack was coming from so I could face it head on. Only this time, I recognized the spiral much more quickly and recognize it as a toxic pattern.

So instead of going through my life with a fine tooth comb, this time I surrendered it to God. I have no concrete evidence that this attack is occurring, only a feeling. Last time, I did figure out where the attack was stemming from and my attempts to confront it, not for myself but because it spoke to a bigger threat to the entire organization, I was told to sweep it under a rug. I often times feel helpless when there seems to be nothing I can do or say to affect change. It compounds when I can see it all so clearly and no one wants to listen or do anything to help.

What I haven’t fully embraced is that I am NEVER “helpless.” God is in control and I am His. However, when He knit me together secretly in my mother’s womb, I have a feeling He giggles to himself and said in His best Anjelah Johnson, “We gotta complicated order.” 😂😂😂 I am complicated. Overly self-aware on one end and blatantly blind on another. But I’m not fake.

It turns out, if you put any weight into personality tests, I’m an INFJ on the MeyersBriggs scale. Less than 1% of the population is estimated to have this personality type. The Advocate. Apparently it’s also common, you guessed it, with child abuse survivors. Yes. On other personality evaluation has pegged me so well. On DISC, I plot right in the middle, but lean I little to the IS side of the graph. Enneagram isn’t dimensional enough to feel right. Strengths Finder is is good, too, but I tend to fluctuate. Why? Because I have this annoying ability and desire to be what other people need me to be. It’s a gift and a curse.

If you need someone with organizational skills I can be the detailed one. If you need a leader, I can rally the troops. If you need a shoulder to cry on, I have 2 and they’re broad. If you need someone to elevate the energy and generate excitement, I can do that too. I am a problem solver and a filler of holes. I’m too good at reading people and learning what they need. And then I try my best to fill that need because that’s how I’ve learned to contribute to a relationship.

That’s another place where I sought my value from. How well I could meet the needs of others. So when I was leading my first small group, I spent hours a day in prayer for these women. I did everything they asked of me, everything they needed from me, and they disliked me for it. Fast forward a year or 2 and the same thing happened with this next group of people until it began threatening my marriage. My mentor abandoned me and running buddies left the race. The more things fell apart, the more I believed something was wrong with me that caused all of it.

The more the attacks came, the more I looked to others for validation, and the more I focused on myself. If it’s really really bad, I tend to be quiet about it in the moment. Even in the most trying situations, I more than likely will defer to grateful and find the silver lining. That doesn’t mean I’m not real, that’s as real as it gets. What began as a survival tool, turned into a way of life, and one I don’t plan to depart from. For everything there is a season and we’re to consider it all joy. So even when I’m down in the dumps I will look for The Light. Case in point:

Before I began my business, I fasted and prayed over that decision. I knew it’s what God was calling me too, but I had to wait a long six months before I was able to act on it. I’m grateful for that time because God was preparing me for things I couldn’t see. During those times of prayer, He gave me a few warnings.

1) Slow and Stead Wins the Race. He knew I’d want to be fast and furious in pursuit of leadership positions etc.

2) Don’t get caught up in the praise and recognition. He created me, so He knows my strongholds and the need for validation can get swept away by the prizes. But all of that, though marvelous and much, much appreciated, was never my WHY.

3) My journey was going to be different and not everyone will understand. Be cautious of who influences me. Still figuring this one out, as it turns out those I wasn’t concerned about are the ones who I probably should have been more mindful of.

4) His plan for me and my business is bigger than the business itself. My why has always been people. But getting caught up in all of the above clouded things. There’s a bigger picture here, but my need to please got in the way. My problem isn’t that I don’t dream big enough, it’s that my dreams are too big for even myself to understand.

I wish I’d been aware of these things when I first joined the church. 😆 Even though I found myself in the middle of everything God warned me about, which lead to a lot of questioning my purpose and if I heard Him correctly, I didn’t give up. Nowhere have I received more honesty and unconditional love than I have from the women I’ve met in my business. And nowhere has God used me to touch lives the way I’ve been able to through my business. It’s truly a dream come true. But I got caught up in trying to achieve things for the sake of pleasing others. It’s a beautiful thing that our dreams are linked, but it works best when we’re truest to who we are and what our dreams are.

Oh, why don’t I just give up already? My unwavering endurance may be irritating, but I have been painfully insecure. The insecurity that has controlled the last decade of my life is sickening. I’m honestly shocked than anyone would want to be my friend. Because I am so eager to please, I tend to attract relationships with people to serve their own purposes. And I like serving a purpose. The problem is, when I’m no longer needed, I’m discarded like yesterday’s newspaper. I’ve had a lot of “friends” in my life and “mentors” who only wanted me around because of what I could do for them at the time. As long as I found a way to serve their needs, they kept me around. But the moment I started growing in confidence or placing boundaries… “Cindy who?”

I don’t give up easily or at all because it’s not about me. If it was, I would have dropped out of high school, dropped out of college, given up on ministry, given up on church, given up on life. Every circle of people wound up being one abusive situation after another. When will it end? What is wrong with me that this keeps happening? So sadly it became about me. Because whenever I focused on others, abandonment and personal attack were the end results. There were tools I needed. The inward focus hasn’t been all in vain. I’ve grown. But it’s time to get back to The Root. And as I read chapter 14, “Run Your Race” it brought me full circle. It’s not about me. It’s never been about me. What people think of me, what they think they need from me, they really just need Jesus. I wasn’t strong enough when this whole epic journey started to stand on that conviction. But, oh Abba, I pray I am now.

I used to think that I had to be great or do great things in order to glorify God. But God is great with or without me. He is not dependent on my success or failure. I’ve had to learn and am still learning what it means to be dependent. Very few people actually care about all I’ve accomplished. Most people care about what I can do for them or how I make them feel, the value I add to their life. The overachiever in me is wounded by that as I built so much of my identity on achievement. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” But I’m not great at all, but boy do I care. I care deeply even for my “enemies.” Our true battle isn’t with our fellow man. It’s Christ in me, when my flesh isn’t in the way, who is Great. He just is. I don’t have to do/be/say anything! His name is above all names. And He know each one of us by name. If we choose, He calls us His. Isn’t that amazing?!

Will you pray with me friends? Pray for protection, conviction, clarity. For the true strength that comes through weakness. That I can be delivered for these stronghold of what others think, seeking validation, and not caring about those who are jealous or petty or conniving. (Afterall, it’s not our business what others think of us. (I wish I could remember where I learned that to pay credit!)) They are not my focus. My focus is The Lord and He will move and do His will in His time and equip me along the way. I want that for you too, friend. There is a crazy amazing life we get to lead in Him but it comes from a surrender like we’ve never known. Are you willing to go there with me?

Perfect Father, I kneel my heart, my mind, my body, my spirit before You. Have Your way Lord. It is so much higher, so much greater than I can stand. You are overwhelming. Your love is uncontainable. There’s a bigger picture. We are set free not for our own sake, Jesus. We are free for the sake of others. It break Your heart that we battle against each other. Not realizing that the true enemy is the one at work. He is always working behind the scenes and we react unaware of the evil that surrounds us. Show us Your glory. You are light, You are hope. The enemy doesn’t want us to see those who are truly hurting. He wants us caught up in our own hurt trying to fix it. But we are Yours! We are a new creation through You. Set our feet on Your solid ground. Remove the scales from our blind and foolish eyes. You are victory. You are healing. You are ALIVE. In the name of Your precious and mighty son, King Jesus, I pray. Amen. I love You!

LiveALIVE Today,

Cindy

44. Dear Me. Dear Church.

When I titled the last post “The Real Me. My real Dream,” it was not to imply that I have been disingenuous in any way. When I first began attending a church, several things were said to me the trajectory of which shaped the better part of a decade. I wanted so badly to find a home and a family that I was vulnerable. I don’t blame those who said what they said/did what they did. They had no way of knowing that I didn’t have the tools to filter out which messages I needed to receive and which I needed to throw out. I did t even know. I’ve always been me I just haven’t believed in myself, always looking to others for validation.

This is common for child abuse survivors, as I’ve learned recently. I’ve been susceptible to people in positions of authority or influence, blindly following their guidance unless I already knew it was outright wrong. When you’re looking for a place to belong believing that you have nothing to offer but everything to learn, it’s the perfect set up. It seems so silly that the opinions of people who were just babies themselves could have such a significant impact. You as the reader may even feel that I was foolish. Fair enough. But in grace I know it wasn’t foolish, naive for sure, but not foolish.

I honestly didn’t know any better and had no one to tell me otherwise. I completely discounted the power of The Holy Spirit within me, completely discounted how my life experiences had molded my strengths and God-gifted wisdom. I only saw my weaknesses and flaws, and I spent hours in prayer asking for forgiveness for things that weren’t even mine to repent. Why?

They were treating me the same way that bosses, coworkers, friends, etc. had always treated me, so I began to believe that I really was the problem. And I brought that same pattern of belief with me into my Mary Kay career. However, I regret nothing. No time has been wasted because my God promises to redeem the time and to work all things for my good. I’m waking up and stepping out and I am gloriously enthusiastic about it!

Years ago I delivered a message at a women’s gathering in which I told the audience that none of us are special. 😆 That’s certainly not a message we like to hear, myself included. I stand by my statement. It’s really difficult sometimes to communicate these deep threads of thought in a clear and concise way without leaving gaps. I do the best I can and trust The Holy Spirit.

My meaning was that we compare ourselves to one another thinking, “If I only had this gift or talent or that gift or talent then I’d be special like this person or that person.” When the truth is we are all unique with our own stories, hardships, triumphs, and gifts. So each of us is special in our own way and none of us is special as in better than another. We put way too much emphasis on the wrong things, including me. Let’s all just drop the pretense already.

Ex- Do you ever catch yourself staring down your own nose at someone with a sense of superiority? You think you see something so clearly and confidently that you don’t think they can see? Instead of being open and humble about it, you watch on and say nothing because it makes you feel better and that’s what you think you need? Or have you ever chosen not to affirm or support someone because the idea of that person rising someone feels threatening to you? Instead, you watch on in scrutinizing silence, looking for things you can use or punch holes in. Thinking if you can, it means you’re better or you win? Or do you feel like you will never measure up, you’ll do anything to be seen as good enough? You live in fear that people will find out you’re lacking, so you keep at it? If so, there’s a good indicator of a hole you’re trying to fill or avoid. God, forgive us! There’s room at the table for all of us. Help us see.

Sisters, you don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. The truth is we all know nothing compared to Almighty God. We will always be able to poke holes in each other’s experiences, perspectives, etc. because we’re neither omniscient nor omnipotent. He’s given us access to Kingdom power, yes, but we are still human. He has gifted you in areas I’m not. I may be gifted in areas you’re not. And that’s wonderful!! Let’s get excited about that!! I’ve never understood why women seek to suppress each other instead of celebrating each other. Let’s start viewing one another as assets, not liabilities – that’s the world talk, not The Kingdom.

We can help each other! It should take the pressure off, right? Instead it seems we’re in a never ending hand-race to reach the top of the baseball bat! While some of us are “competing” to just keep up or be enough, which we’ll never achieve; others of us are competing because we have to be on top and don’t dare anyone threaten that. Isn’t it exhausting? Why can’t we see that “the world is wide enough?”

So this is me being awake and over it. Letting go of ego, putting aside the need to keep up. Able in Jesus name to own who I have always been at my core and not worry about if it fits someone’s idea of who “Cindy” should be. No longer willing to shrink. By shrinking, I’ve deprived myself of lessons I need to learn and others of lessons they need to learn all to try to keep others happy. All just to belong somewhere. When you grow up in abuse, don’t have any stable relationships at home, and you’re bullied at school, where do you belong? Love and belonging are basic human needs, needs I was starving for. But you can’t serve God and people.

I want to see women be released from the bondage of “not enough” and the fear of unbelonging to embrace who they are! God can unleash His power through us if we let all this go and run to Him for validation! That can’t happen when we get caught up in the inferiority/superiority crap. Be honest about your blindsides and help protect your sisters’. Let’s recognize we’re all in this together.

It’s a hostile environment we create when we compete and compare, especially in what should be a community which reflects the love and grace of Jesus. Above all, we belong to The One who breathed us and all of creation into existence with such care, that the hairs on our heads have been counted. I want to see a body of believers loving and serving the way we are truly called to, to learn what that really means. Together we could end child abuse. End homelessness. End slavery. End it all or fight like Heaven trying. To see that every person receive the love and belonging they were created for!

Hey, Beautiful! I just love you! I think you’re amazing! Thanks for reading. I hope it blesses you, releases you, or at the very least offers food for thought. We are walking toward greater joy and freedom together, and it is an honor to share with you! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever want to talk. I’d love to listen! In Jesus name, there is no condemnation here. I rebuke those lies of the enemy and thank You Jesus for replacing them with Your Holy Truth right now this second.

I want women to stop chasing after what they think they should be and own who they are. Then they would see that what they look to others for will start to manifest in their own lives. Often times people who attend churches disassociate from others they perceive as sinful so that the vines of others’ sins don’t creep in on them. I’m guilty too. “I don’t understand you so you must be wrong.” You learn to speak the language of sanctification and as long as you continue to speak what’s comfortable and familiar you’re accepted. Start asking hard questions or share a different perspective and the tide may change.

For a time, in my desperation of belonging and pursuing a “holy” life opposite of the one I grew up in, I thought that’s what we’re supposed to do. If holier, church-going Christians could accept me and accept my husband then maybe we could be worthy. I equated the acceptance of church people to the acceptance of God. I own every bit of responsibility for that. Nowhere have I felt more judgement, comparison, rejection, and pettiness than I have amongst women who claim Jesus as their savior. And this is an account of my whole life.

It’s everywhere, but I think I was naive to expect something different under the fold of a Christ-centered organization. I expected and wholehearted believed better from church people, and that’s why it affected me more than anything. No one is perfect. Heaven and Hell know for sure I’m not. If you’ve read any one of my blogs than you know how messed up I am. 😆 But where Hell won’t let us forget, Heaven washes us clean. And I am grateful to have grown beyond this expectation of church or church people. Jesus has offered so much freedom!

You don’t know what you don’t know. I couldn’t see that back then. I do now. I had to unlearn a lot of things and – I’m comfortable now saying – that so do many church people. Getting hung up on things like dress code and drums in worship, and ignoring starving people on the streets, speaking out about sexual orientation far more than things like child abuse. Judging that girl for what they think is attitude instead of realizing that she’s had to be tough all her life. It’s not disrespect, it’s passion, but our ego won’t move over for us to see it.

Instead of embracing different perspectives and personalities, we tell everyone they need to be like us. More truthfully we tell people, just like any other culture, to be who we think, or want, they should be. Ex – I’m a woman so I shouldn’t feel so comfortable standing toe to toe with a man. If I had been “raised better” maybe I could be more meek and mild. All of heaven knows how hard I’ve tried to shove myself into that demeanor. But Jesus didn’t choose the disciples to change their personalities and make them more like the Pharisees.

“We are willing to admit just enough of our own brokenness to be marketable and hold back the deeper ugly for fear of rejection. (Consider this blog my ugly cry, snot and all!) We are kind always, until they leave the room and then we say whatever we want and use the excuse we need to vent to a trusted confidant or we need to pray for those people. Or worse yet we’re passive aggressive toward them because we don’t know how to be direct.

We cloak things with theological words, and righteous-sounding riddles, leaving the recipient dazed and confused and feeling small. Criticize others for a thought or idea and turn it around with our own spin for our own gain. We rest on our privilege and struggle to understand and connect with those who think or act differently. We look at our privilege as a blessing so that we can minister to “the least of these” every so often while we live comfortable lives and don’t truly want for anything. We lose touch. We lose perspective.

I believe where we go wrong is internally measuring ourselves as better than, less “sinful,” more educated and thereby superior. Bless their hearts it’s our Christian duty to help sanitize em so they can appear more holy and make everyone more comfortable. There is a difference between sanitization and sanctification. Not everyone is like this, absolutely not, or I would not attend a church period. I am on my face in joy and gratitude for my church family. I’d be wayward and drifting without my church family.

Wherever you have people you have problems. Nevertheless community is vital even for an introvert. And yes, there are a rare few who fare better riding solo and that’s perfectly well. Hear my heart. True nonconformity isn’t a thing as we all conform to something in one way or another. We are all influenced by something and someone everyday. And I am beyond grateful to belong to a church family who is being lead out of this mindset and into the mindset of real people with real problems experiencing real love. Praise You God for this family!

If we are truly being transformed by the renewing of our minds- truly allowing The Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out – I believe we’d be more aware of our own sin and less worried about someone else’s creeping in. Why? Because “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 NLT

The Light within us cannot be overtaken by darkness. Our God is too powerful. When Jesus touched people, their “ick” didn’t get on His “wow.” His “wow” got on their “ick.” That power is within those who have received The Holy Spirit. “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 NLT

When the focus becomes about preserving our own holiness over loving someone’s brokenness, that’s when we’ve lost love and adopted religion. I have never in my life been able to judge someone, argue someone, compare someone, punish someone into accepting the love of Jesus. Have you?

A platform gives us a privilege but it doesn’t make us better. It should make us more humble. More loving. Because we know what it feels like to be judged and put in a box. We know how broken we really are and yet some how we’ve been given a chance to make a difference. What kind of love is that? That saints could be more lost and broken than sinners and yet He calls us His. Ooo, I gotta chew on that some more.

Father, allow only love and conviction to be heard in these words. Thank You for opening my eyes just a little bit more. I’ve come so far and yet have so much longer to go. Thank you for loving me where I’m at and healing me. Forgive me for trading in my uniqueness for religious conformity. Set me free that I may be your vessel. So I can “Go!.
And hold all the mothers, whose babies bleed from bullet holes
And feel all the hunger, the bellies, and the bones
Shout for the prisoner, cry for justice, loud and long
And march with the victims, as Jesus marches on
And sit at all the tables, ’cause Jesus eats with everyone
And dance to the music, if
I can’t sing its native tongue
And cry for the wombs, the mothers and the empty arms
And hold high the warriors, fighting now for freedoms’ song
And love, love, love, love
Like it’s
my own blood
And love, love, love, love
As
I have been loved!”

In Jesus’ name, I beg! Amen!

LiveALIVE Today,

Cindy

43. The Real Me. My Real Dream.

Driving back from a meeting with my mentors and I found myself confused and frustrated. Not at them of course, but frustrated because something was stirring inside me and I could quiet put my finger on it. In fact I’ve spent a lot of time feeling frustrated and not understanding why. Something happened after I got home, and got still, that maybe just changed my life. It literally just happened so I’m writing to you in “as it happened.” Lord, help it make sense.

One of my mentors loves to talk about dreaming bigger. I love her for this and so much more! She asked me what I wanted to have accomplished come the new year. My answer: home renovations. In my head I’d love to see the whole house renovated but she asked for specifics. So I listed off a few things I want to start with. And she then tells me do dream bigger, and I realize I should have gone with me gut answer. It more than that, why am I year after years hearing the same message and feel like I’m running in place somehow?

As a leader myself, I know what it’s like to want so much more for those you lead than what they can see for themselves. It’s a blessing and a curse. So I left feeling frustrated and confused. Here I am coming around the mountain from a huge spiritual awakening in my life. Finding my voice, remembering and owning who God has created me to be, and the dream of renovating my house doesn’t seem good enough? Why is it that I’m still not dreaming big enough? Is that even true, though, because I do have big dreams. And in a lot of ways I’m living those dreams already.

That Still Small Voice says, “It’ll never be enough.

What won’t? Like for her? For me? For You? Or am I really still that far behind? I am excited to renovate my home. Mike and I have plans for sure! Will they be accomplished come January? It’s possible for sure! And I don’t mind putting in the work to see that happen. Aha! There it is! That old slippery slope. Why am I coming right back to those over-achiever thoughts of trying to live up to a proverbial expectation. Am I really back to where I started after everything?

I didn’t leave you there. You are not the same as before.”

God and I just took a long journey of me learning to overcome workaholism, perfectionism, and validation-seeking. And here it’s tempting to go right back. Of course I can remodel my entire beloved fixer upper by January! Anything is possible!

“Is that what you want to invest all of your time and energy on? Chasing that one thing because someone else suggested you could?”

I don’t know? Is it? If not that then what is it? God what are you doing with me? (Yes, I let really asked Him that.) Why aren’t my dreams/wants/desires good enough? I’m excited to knock those three things out by January on top of regular bills and medical bills, and holiday merriment, etc. and the last time I dreamed bigger trying to meet my perceived expectations from others … well, we all know how that worked out. At least everyone who knows, knows. That’s a toxic pattern in my life, Jesus, but you say I am more than a conqueror.

I ask again, what do You want with me? These last several months that you’ve been refining me. Taking me to places I’ve never been emotionally to heal me. Is it to put me back to where I was before?

… (silence)

I’m home now so I go inside and sit on the couch replaying the conversation from the car trying to figure it out.

Then I seem to realize something I haven’t done for myself in a while is pray. So I go to my praise and worship playlist on You Tube to get centered, and I stumble across a song I didn’t know I’d saved and barely remember before this night.

Please stop here, go to YouTube and look up. Nicole Nordeman’s “Dear Me” Lyric Video. Pretty pretty please, before reading on. And then come back for the conclusion.

As you can imagine, I immediately broke down. Crying, calling out to God. Father, help me. Show me how. I can’t do this without you.

It’s never enough because your true dreams aren’t of this world.

That song pretty much sums up why I’m frustrated. Sums up why I struggle with certain goals. Or “bigger dreams.” Because my real dreams can’t fit into a mold. It’s infinitely bigger than me. It’s priceless and immeasurable to Make Manifest the Kingdom of God on Earth. Before I didn’t have the words to decipher the longing in my heart.

That’s more than just a dream or even a passion. The reason for my existence. This is me. When I force myself to focus on trying to keep up or fit in, I am stepping outside my calling. I want to see The True Power of The Holy Spirit WAKE UP within The Body!

I want to see those proclaiming The Name of Jesus to rise from the dead and allow His glory to shine. Like what you like. Buy what you like. I love fancy things as much as the next gal. I am grateful for everything that I have. Material and otherwise. But none of it is as important to me as fighting for justice for the oppressed, comforting those who mourn, and LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE! His name is LOVE!

I no longer need to “lookout for number 1” because I am second; and “He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world.” Be a good steward of His blessings, absolutely. But chasing pavements leads nowhere. You can’t take your possessions with you, but you can take people. And my heart is with the people who are overlooked. The oppressed and abused. The discounted and cast off.

My dream is to lead a team of people with the same passion to love and to serve. To elevate others to come along side us. People who see the overlooked. People who are burdened to see Revival here and now. “To seek justice. Love mercy. And walk humbly.” To realize the power of God within them and unleash The Holy Spirit to set free the captives.

My final question for this amazing time with God is, how do you quantify, qualify, or concretize that dream? I know there’s an answer! I can’t wait to find out! There’s a bigger dream – a bigger picture – for us and we have scales over our eyes. We can’t see.

Father I am so thankful for the leaders you’ve placed in my life to ask these questions and get me thinking. They inspire me daily and bring out the best in me always. Thank you! Holy Spirit wake us up. Jesus set us free. Remove the scales from our eyes. Lead us to Love as You love. To see what You see. To serve as You serve. In your precious and mighty name, I pray. Amen!

LiveALIVE Today,

Cindy