Author Archives: Cindy

About Cindy

I am a city girl turned country girl. I moved to the country for my first teaching job and 32 years later I am still here. My husband and I are blessed to have a son and a daughter and son-in-law AND we have two "granddogs" who we love to spoil.

Motivate ~Five Minute Friday

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 / Pixabay

After a break I’m joining back up with the Five Minute Friday gang to write for five minutes on the prompt, “Motivate”.  You can read the posts or join in at www.fiveminutefriday.com

Time starts now:

Motivation doesn’t come naturally to me.  Actually, it usually takes something big to get me to do what I know I should.  It’s not until I receive a high blood sugar report that I’m motivated to exercise.  Company coming is usually the reason that motivates me to clean my house and unfortunately, guilt is what motivates me to do a lot that I don’t want to do but know I should.

Prayer is the same for me.  When things are going smoothly I sometimes let my quiet time be filled with other things even though I know to live a life connected to Christ, I shouldn’t. Often, it’s when life becomes challenging I find the motivation to pray.  Boy, Paul knew what he was saying when he wrote those words in the “do-do” chapter…..you know the one, ” I don’t do what I should do but instead do what I shouldn’t do”!  From his pen to my lips!!!!

It’s the time of year when a lot of people are making New Year’s resolutions.  I admire those who are motivated by a goal and follow through. Me? Obviously, not so much.  It’s never too late to change though, so maybe writing these words will be motivation enough to get me started to do what I know I should do and not do what I know I shouldn’t do!! What DO you think?

 

Blinded by a Critical Eye

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) / Pixabay

I’ve been given the gift of seeing life through a critical eye. It’s allowed me to create balance with color in my artwork, improve writing by discovering hidden mistakes and places that need revising, and to analyze my students’ work to determine where my teaching had fallen short. Even decorating my home is easier with a critical eye, as it enables me to know just where to hang things on the wall without the need of a tape measure or level.  My favorite thing about seeing through a critical eye? I think it’s that my view of the world around me comes in bits and pieces, minute details that can be easily missed.  Recognizing those little nuances gives me a greater appreciation for the intricacies of nature, helps me perceive unspoken needs and emotions in those around me, and often it offers me a clear vision when problem solving.  Sounds great doesn’t it?

Recently, my eyes were opened to recognize how blind I really am!  You see, as positive as my critical eye may be, it also can plunge me into the dark, short-sighted practice of criticism. And while hearing that wasn’t easy and as much as I wanted to defend myself, I’m ashamed to say I know it’s true.  I’m not sure where it comes from, insecurity I suppose, but it’s way too easy for my critical eye to focus on and pick apart the most insignificant things in others: the way they dress, their manner of speech, what they do or don’t do, and unfortunately the list goes on.  In hindsight, I recognize, however unintentional it’s been, being blinded by my critical eye has caused me to hurt those I care most about. In diagnosing my critical eye blindness, I’ve bumped into another realization: the vision I have of myself is also blurred. As hard as I am on those around me, I’m even harder on myself.  I tend to set my sight on my imperfections, mistakes, and failures until those are all I see.  Maybe you can relate.

So what’s a blind critical eyed gal to do? I read some very wise words this week over at http://www.CindyKrall.com 

She wrote, “Self-talk can be empowering or defeating.  Many of us are careful about what we say with regards to others, but we can fall short when it comes to the way we treat ourselves.  This verse (“No longer will there be any curse.” Revelation 22:3) reminds me that we can “curse” ourselves, sometimes without meaning to.  Christ nailed those kind of curses to the cross as well.” 

I think Cindy’s words apply not only to what we say, but to what we see in ourselves and in others, as well.

No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket.  Instead, it is put on a lamp stand to give light to all who enter the room.  You eye is a lamp for your body.  A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul.  But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness.  Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness.  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you.” Luke 11:33-36 (NLT)

Christ! The One who nailed curses to the cross, caused the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and is the same One who came so the Blind. Could. See. I can’t navigate this life with the limited sight I have on my own.  Fixing my eyes on God, trying to see things from His point of view, is the only way to cure my vision problem.

I’m not big on making resolutions, however…. not just for the new year but for life, I want to resolve to use my critical eye to see the intricacies of others and myself the way God sees us;  no longer looking for ways to tear down but instead, with loving eyes, to shine a light  that encourages and uplifts! It will take work, patience, and a lot of prayer (yours are appreciated); but hopefully, I’ll be seeing more clearly very soon!

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now, I See!
~John Newton~

 

 

 

 

 

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Silence (Is Golden) ~ Five Minute Friday

“LISTEN & SILENT are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.” / Pixabay

Time Starts Now:

I’m a talker. I love to tell stories, to think aloud.  Several years ago I was riding in the car with my husband and father-in-law; chatting as I normally do when it was suggested that I couldn’t be quiet for a designated period of time.  What? The gauntlet was thrown and the challenge accepted! Not only did I proclaim I could be silent for that period of time, but rather for the entire trip! The prize if I succeeded? My father-in-law had to buy me flowers.  I’ll have you know I won that contest….well… sort of……when the flowers finally arrived, the note on the card simply said: “Silence is Golden“!

I now believe there’s more truth to that statement than I was willing to admit to back then. Recently, I’ve come to realize that when someone’s sharing their situation with me, my first instinct is to open my mouth and tell my version of their experience or to offer my solution. Neither of which were asked for.  Thankfully, I’m now learning to keep the noise in my head from tumbling across my tongue and to just listen instead. “Silence is Golden“!

My quiet time with God also tends to be anything but quiet! When I try to be silent before the Lord, song lyrics may start singing in my head or my grocery list appears out of nowhere and I begin to talk my way through it. Before you know it, I’ve filled the Holy Space I wanted with racket that I could do without!  Tell me I’m not alone! “He leads me beside still waters”. “Be still and know.” You see?  God’s been trying to teach me that “Silence is Golden” all along.  Now all I have to do is listen.  I think I’ll take that challenge! How about you?

Time’s up!

 

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Rest ~ 31/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

This is the last post for 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com

It’s been a challenge and I’m amazed I made it to day 31 and only missed 3 days! Those were spent with family so I don’t regret them at all! All 28 posts are here. Just click on the “Five Minute Fridays” tab above if you’ve missed any or are just joining in. So, for the last time this month, here we go…..

Time Starts Now!

“Be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10a (NLT) / Pixabay

I know this may sound a little crazy, but I have fond memories of a rest stop!  Traveling from WV to Michigan by myself with two small children could at times be, shall we say….stressful! After driving for a few hours, jittery feet, touchy-feely hands, and cranky mouths began appearing in the backseat. Thankfully, it was at about that same time we arrived at the “Welcome to Ohio” rest stop.  It became our tradition to pull off and “rest”  on every trip.  We’d use the facilities and then with the promise of stopping at the vending area on the other side of the parking lot, I’d send both kids marching (literally marching) on the path: up the hill, across the top, down again, and straight to me to get their quarters for the machines. Was there whining at times? Sure. Complaining? You bet, but we were all better off after the break from the long car trip.

This month of writing has given me at times my own share of pacing feet, wringing hands, and a negative Nellie mouth. Just about the time I was ready to give up, the Holy Spirit would send me  welcomed words and my fingers would begin to march across the keyboard. Sometimes those words took me up, down, and all around to get my point across.  Using a donkey, my gallstones, growing grass, and now a rest stop all seem to be unlikely vehicles for a blog post. I love that though! It’s a confirmation to me that the message is God’s and not mine.

Driving to Michigan, I still smile as I pass that rest stop.  I’m alone in the car now but at times I can still hear little voices in the back seat telling me when to turn off to stop. Like those car breaks of old, I’m ready for a break from this month of writing.  I truly enjoyed this challenge and  I  cannot express my gratitude to each of you who’ve read my wanderings of words. You’ll never know what it has meant to me.

Time’s Done…..But I’m Not

It’s my prayer that somewhere in the midst of these 28 days of quick writes you’ve found something to encourage you. While my intentions were always to share my writing with you, the reality is that each and every post has taught me a lesson I’ve needed!  As my friend, LaVonne always says, “The Big Guy sends you what you need when you need it!”

I’m not sure what’s coming next, but for now I’m ready to stop for a bit and with fond memories, rest.

 

 

 

Refine ~ 30/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

“Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad, Who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip. For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. Psalm 66:8-10 (NASV) / Pixabay

I’ve discovered that editing is something I enjoy. I have an author friend who recently trusted me to fine-tune her latest book.  Looking closely at writing to find just the right place to pause, adding the perfect words to produce the greatest impact, and yes, to eliminate what’s unnecessary are jobs I like to do……for others, that is!

Having my own writing corrected is another story.  It can be difficult to receive feedback about the places that need improvement, to see lines crossed out that when written, seemed so right, and to find characters dear to my heart noted to be underdeveloped.  Each red mark feels as if it’s written directly on my heart. Every author knows that editing is vital if you’re going to improve as a writer.  As painful as it may be, the process results in a much better finished product.

That brings me to today’s prompt: “refine”.  It’s not a word we want to think about because like editing words on a page, we need refining to progress. Refinement evokes thoughts of intense heat to remove impurities, fervent cleansing to get rid of stains, and the smoothing and shaping of any rough edges.  Every Christian knows that those often are the result of going through difficult circumstances. Painful as it may be, we also understand that refinement is vital if we’re going to become the “much better” person God designed us to be.

I don’t know about you but when I’m in the fire, I often find myself bargaining with God, making promises of change if He will just remove the heat.  Refining is aimed at our heart and its fine-tuning isn’t something we can accomplish on our own. It takes trust in God’s process. He may show us where we should pause and rest, teach us how to develop our character, or identify those things we need to eliminate so that we’ll have a greater impact on others; whatever it is, we are assured that the Author will continue to write our story until we are refined like silver, His pure and precious finished product.

Follow ~ 29/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 (NIV) / Pixabay

My husband is having a cowboy themed Halloween at work.  So in keeping with that idea, I followed a new recipe today for the Former First Lady Laura Bush’s prize winning “Cowboy Cookies”.  She has experienced victory with her combination of ingredients and those that have  tried them have shared their rave reviews!  You would assume then, to get the same positive results it would make sense ( she was the First Lady after all) for me to adhere to her instructions step-by-step. But, you would assume wrong.  Oh, it would’ve made sense; but no,….thinking I knew best; I deviated from the proven method still expecting the same (or better) results!

Ever have the lightbulb suddenly come on when you haven’t been the brightest? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. As soon as I went my own way instead of following the plan laid out for me, I realized it may not have been the best idea. And in that moment, I recognized that I often make the same mistake in my Christian life, too! Sheesh! These lessons just keep coming at me!

How many times have I, knowing God’s “recipe” for life is perfect, veered off in my own direction because I wanted what I thought was best? Ever been there? I don’t know about you, but for me it’s more times than I’d like to admit.  I tell myself, “a little extra of this won’t hurt” or “less time on that can’t make that much difference” and even “I don’t need to add this to my life at all!” As you might guess, the results fail to meet my expectations.

When Jesus said, “follow me” to the disciples, He expected them to follow Him all the way to the cross. His plan for each of us is exactly the same. Recognizing that Jesus died so that we might live and sharing that with others offers the BEST possible results.  So, the next time we’re tempted to alter our way, we must remind ourselves that God’s already given us the winning combination; we need only to keep our eyes on the Prize and follow Him step-by-step to true victory!

 

 

Connect ~ 28/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

“I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.” Psalm 3:4 (NIV) / Pixabay

My mom and sisters are together today in Michigan and I’m home in West Virginia.  Days like today are hard on me as I’m far away from the women who’ve loved me the longest. I can’t believe I’ve lived 500 miles from them for 35 years now!  We’ve talked about those times when we were all young mothers and weren’t able to connect with one another very often.  Back then our only options where calling long distance….but who had the extra money….or writing letters……but who had time! We missed out on a lot of each others’ lives and when we finally got together? Non-stop talking to try and catch up! 

Now, here we are.  Our children are grown and on their own and I have grandchildren!  We’ve come a long way and so has staying connected.  I’m so thankful for texting, cell phone calls, and Face Time.  Technology today helps bridge the miles so that sharing the big events and little moments keeps us close even though we’re hours apart. And when we finally get together? Still non-stop talking!

 I long for connection.  I ache for time with my grandsons and family, but also with my friends and those in my church .  It goes even further than that as a writer because I also yearn for a connection with those who read my thoughts and reflections. I don’t know about you, but being separated leaves me feeling depleted and isolated.

You know? The same is true about our relationship with God. It’s so easy to let ourselves become detached.  Busy lives, difficult circumstances, relationships, or our priorities can cause us to become disconnected from the One who has truly loved us the longest! Talk about depleted and isolated!

I’ve issued a connection challenge to myself, maybe you’ll want to join in.  Am I (Are we) seeking God’s message as often as a text? Looking forward to being one on one with Him as much as with those with whom we Face Time? Spending the same amount (if not more) time in conversation  with God as with the contacts in our phone? I can tell you, I have some changes to make!

God designed us with the desire for connection with others, but more importantly with Him; so He sent Jesus to die for you and me, giving us free access to His direct line.  No dead batteries. No glitches in the internet. No blocked calls. He’s anxiously waiting for us to finally put down our phones, call out, and connect with Him. And just a little reminder to myself:  When we get together? Less talking and a lot more listening!  Just say’in………………..

 

I’m glad to “connect” with you today!  It’s hard to believe this 31 Day Challenge is about over!  If you’d like to read more thoughts on connecting go to http://www.fiveminutefriday.com

 

Overcome ~ 27/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

It’s the final countdown of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes challenge. I have enjoyed seeing where the Lord’s lead me with each prompt and it’s been fun to write everyday! If you’d like to read what others have written click on over to http://www.fiveminutefriday.com

Time Starts Now!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) / Pixabay

I have to have an MRI tomorrow. Gallstones have reared their ugly little heads.  As if the discomfort and apprehension of an attack aren’t enough, I now have to enter a small tube and stay there!

“People have MRI’s everyday,” I hear you say. And I know that’s true, however for me to slide into a small, confined space, I must first overcome my fear of being there. Elevators, caves, little rooms…you name it, if it’s small I. Don’t. Like. It. My breathing quickens, I begin to sweat, and my frantic search for an escape begins.

What’s a panicked gal to do? The only thing I know to do…….PRAY!  And so, I’m praying for peace, for calm, for logic, and for success in completing the test (without making a fool of myself). I’ve also asked family and friends to pray for me and it’s working!  Today, my fears have lessened and my confidence has grown.   I believe that I’ll be able to do what’s needed to get these crazy gallstones taken care of.

Tomorrow when the test is complete and I emerge from the place I once dreaded, I will remind myself that I did not overcome my fear; prayer did! 

Time’s up.

What are you facing today that you need to overcome? May I pray for you?

 

 

 

 

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Change ~ 26/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

 

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Thinking about change today has brought several things to mind: changing diapers, changing the sheets on the bed, changing appointments, changing the toilet paper roll….none of these are things I love. I’m not surprised though, because my relationship with change has always been a little challenging, ok, maybe a lot challenging!

I like an even keel, status quo, comfort zone kind of life! The familiar is my safety net. And then out of nowhere, along comes change. It pulls back my net , lets go, and flings me kicking and screaming into the unknown!

Have you ever watched a caterpillar become a butterfly?  Every year my Second Graders and I would collect Monarch Caterpillars, put them in a large pickle jar I kept in the classroom, filled it with Milkweed, and then waited. Each day we’d watch for any sign that would signal a change. Then sure enough, a brave caterpillar would climb up the ruler in the jar, attach itself, and hang upside down. I spent many evenings sitting with my lesson plans and papers to grade in front of that jar observing the process.  When it’s close to the time for the caterpillar to become a chrysalis, it begins writhing to and fro. It flings itself back and forth just as if it’s kicking and screaming against the unknown! And then, in a blink of an eye it is encased in a green tomb.

I so feel that those caterpillars and I have been kindred spirits.  Change has turned my world upside down, too.  My mind has twisted and squirmed until I’ve wrapped myself in worry and felt enveloped with fear.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.” (Richard Bach)

 I’ve written other blog posts on change and now this one today, it’s becoming clear that God is teaching me something. I don’t know about you but maybe you’re with me and it’s time for us to change how we view change! Yes, it can be painful and it can be scary but instead of seeing it as an ending, I’m learning we need to embrace change as a beginning. Regret creeps in when I think about all I might have missed because I was attached to status quo.  You too? What if leaving our comfort zone and being flung into change is what it takes to teach us to fly?

So, to end I’m going to bravely test my wings and begin to transform my thinking about change.  “That brings several things to mind:” changing from working to being retired, changing into “MiMi”, changing from old house to new, and changing to become what the Master calls me to be! All of these are things I love! Now that’s a change!!!!

How about you?  Will you too, share a few changes you love in the comments below?  I can’t wait to see you soar!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Because ~ 25/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

I have the MOST wonderful mom!  The older I get, the more I become like her and that’s a good thing for me!

 

 

“Honor your father and MOTHER, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (NIV)

 

Because

Those dreaded words
Our mothers said
When we were young and free.

With rolled eyes
I’d stomp my foot
When they were aimed at me.

That simple phrase
In a tone quite firm
Would end our childhood fun.

I never knew
Just what it meant
Except that we were done.

As I grew
I vowed one thing
That I would never do.

Repeat those words
My mother used
When I had children,too.

It didn’t take long
As a mother myself
For reality to set in.

The kids were wild
I was tired
You won’t believe what happened then.

To put an end
To their sibling rants
My hands went to my hips

I opened my mouth
And my mother’s words
Came easily from my lips.

The children stopped
And looked at me
Their eyes rolled to and fro.

I said it once more
In honor of mom
Because… I said so!”

 

 

 

 

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