The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hard to Pray...Even as a Missionary

I wrote this journal entry to God while serving as a missionary in a remote village in Africa.  My co-missionary and I taught in the village primary school.  Once a week, on Thursday's, I stayed home to study the Bible and prepare a message to give in the church service twice a month or to prepare a "word," as they called it, to be shared at any moment they called me to share.
_____________________
May 10, 2001

God, my Father,

Here I am again.  It is Thursday morning in my little house in the village of Muthyoi, Kenya.  My friend has gone to school to teach, and it is time for me to study for my Sunday message at church.  For some reason, though, I cannot start as I usually do.  I only have just under three months left here in Kenya, and I want everything I say to be from You and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  I know that means I need to pray, but I am going to be honest and tell you that I seem to not be able, or have a strong enough desire to pray continually.



Praying on my own is so difficult.

 Instead, I find myself just thinking of my life, my own desires, and what you might want.  I want to pray with words that please you and are within your will, but in my smallness and weakness I do not know what this is.  But, my Father, you know all my thoughts, and, Jesus, you say that you are interceding for me.  

You know what I need Jesus.  Please pray for me with words that will be pleasing and will show me the answer.  Holy Spirit, strengthen me in this area of my life.  Pray through me with groanings and words I cannot express as it says in the Bible that you will do.  Make me aware of your promptings and give me peace that you will do in me what God desires as I seek and ask him.

I find joy even now knowing that the work is yours to do, Father.  You are changing me slowly by slowly in your time.  Thank you.  I don't know what else to do.

Today I need help especially to have the right attitude in studying your word and preparing to share it with others.  Enlighten my mind, but more importantly, give me a love for your people and your message to them.  It sometimes seems that something is missing from my teaching from your word, and I believe it is the moving of your Spirit.  I know you will move in your time and as you choose, so I will trust you even when I don't see you, knowing that you have a better time and plan for your work.  

You know the joy and encouragement it would be for me to see you moving in people's lives and using me to do that.  Help me to not bore people with what I think is the best thing for their lives.  Give me joy and eagerness to be your mouthpiece.  Thank you because I know you can do these things.

In the name of Jesus I pray believing and trusting.

AMEN...........and AMEN

Yours,

~Cindy

Friday, April 25, 2014

To Have or Not to Have (Thoughts on Being Rich and Poor)

This journal entry was written while I was living in a small village in Kenya, East Africa, after about seven months of living with a Kenyan family in "the bush".  It was a place where there was no electricity, no running water, no cars, no indoor plumbing, no shower, no bath tub, no comfortable bed, no carpet on the floors, among other things.  Most of the Kamba people living in the village might have had a set or two of clothes (often with holes), possibly a pair of shoes, food that they grew themselves, water from a dirty spring, a boney cow or two, a couple coins for school fees, a fire to cook their food, among other small things.


Me with some locals in Muthyoi, Kenya

I, though I didn't have much with me in relation to my life back at home in America, had much more than those that around me in Kenya.  I could fit all my belongings that I had with me in a large duffle bag and two backpacks.  To me this was a little, but to them this showed that I was very rich.  


The following were my struggles and a breakthrough in understanding of "having" and not "having":

_______________________________________________________________
20 March 2001

This morning I felt the release of a great burden which I have been carrying for a long time.  That burden was the guilt of having things, being better off than others and having access to better health care, education, and comforts than people I want to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have continually striven to sacrifice everything that I am and that I have to Jesus and for his purpose, but the harder I try and the more I give, the more I realize it's not enough (and it never will be).  There will always be someone who has less than me, which will make me feel guilty of my position.  This thought of mine this morning suddenly made me realize that guilt and renouncing all things cannot be the answer God desires in me.  It was then that I brought to mind those people of my acquaintance who have more and live better financially than I do.  I realized that that is not the main thing that I consider in them, rather it is their character and obedience to Christ.  

I could bring to mind many people who have more than I have whom I did not wish that they had less than me, but I was/am very thankful that they have more than me. This, I realized, was because of their attitude both toward me and toward what God had given them.  They treat me as a friend and of no less importance than them, and they readily shared what they do had with me and others and used it for God's glory.  They did not react in guilt or try to hide what they had from me.  In fact, their love came through even stronger through this demonstration and the intermingling of our lives.

I am not guilty for what Christ has freely given me, salvation from death through believing in him, though others have not yet received the salvation that he freely offers.  No, I thank and praise God for it, then go and share salvation through Christ with those near and far.

Everything I have was given to me by God, a gift to be used for his glory.  My place is to thank him and remember that these things are not "mine", but have merely been entrusted to me for a time.  I guess it could be possible for a person even who has less than all others to hold too tightly to the little that they do have, or even to let the fact of their self-sacrifice become a source of pride or self-pity.  This in turn ruining their joy in Christ and the genuine love for others they could have.

What a relief to think that it may be okay for me to accept the blessings that God has allowed in my life.  At the same time, what a grand responsibility in using what I have with the purpose of loving others.  

May God find me a worthy steward of the gifts he has given me and grant in me through my stewardship a growing love for others and obedient commitment to Christ.  Whether God grants me much or little let me find my first act that of obeying him in the small things he daily asks me to do and share.

"To obey is better than to sacrifice." (excerpt from I Samuel 15:22)

There is freedom in obedience and praising and thanking God.

______________________________________________________________

Though I wrote this almost 14 years ago, it is a good reminder to me today.

~Cindy

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cutting and Scars - To Those Who Are Like Me. *Caution: photos may be triggering*

I read this today, and it brought me back.


To all those who are like me, who have cut and desired to die and now have scars,

I remember that feeling which I had for so long of the need to cut myself and the desire I had every day to kill myself, and I remember the razors I had hidden throughout my house and my life, there to be used whenever the feelings were too strong.  

Scars on my wrist from my years of struggle (Please be gentle with me.  This is the first time I have shared them).

It took a long, agonizing time to begin to recover, but I was helped along by others to learn healthier ways to cope.  But the biggest awakening to me while I was down in that pit was to know the truth that God loved me completely just the way I was even in the midst of my awfulness and shame and sadness.  No one else could do that for me.  I didn't have to be better first. 

Now when I look at the scars on my wrists, I am reminded of the agony of that part of my journey through the dark and heavy shadow of death to which I almost succumb(or did and was rescued again and again).  That memory never leaves me like the many scars on my wrists that have been gone over and over until they became a forever part of me.

 You know the feeling, the ache that won't leave, the intense hatred of self and life, the plea for it to be over, and the fear that it might be.  And you probably know the feeling of being unlovable, of seeing all the discustingness  and falseness inside, or of realizing there is nothing of worth there at all...

...And yet there is ONE TRUTH that reaches beyond all the darkness we are caught in.  Maybe you have heard it?  God puts his arms around us and says, "I love you just the way you are, scars and all.  I gave my only son over to death for you.  He has taken your place in this darkness.  You don't have to punish yourself and die.  Jesus has already conquered this death for you.  Trust me.  My arms are around you.  Believe, and rest, and live.  I love you forever."  

Jesus back after being lashed 39 times, taking on our punishment.
Jesus hand being nailed to the cross.
Jesus feet nailed to the cross

Look at Jesus' back, and hands, and feet.  See the scars that he has that were caused so that he could rescue us from the "hell" we are trapped in.

Scars remain on Jesus' hands after raising from the dead for us.
Scars remain on Jesus' feet after raising from the dead for us.

Jesus has scars.  He gives us a reason to consider hope.  I mean, who can understand more than us the significance of the literal scars Jesus carries on himself and the agony he went through that was so deep that he sweat literal drops of blood as he cried out for it all to be taken away.  I remember crying so hard that I had to gasp for air.  But Jesus went through that pain and incredible loneliness so that when he conquered that death, people like me and you with our many and deep scars may be loved and rescued and free.  I believe, and this alone gives me hope and this new kind of peace and new life. 

A symbol of the cross on which Jesus died that now covers all my sin and shame.

Today I told God all about your pain (yes, you that are reading this now) and that you are lost and alone.  I cried tears for you, and I could sense that God was crying tears for you too.  He is waiting for you to come to him so he can give you love, and hope, and purpose, and rest, and life, and make you new.

What greater love has man than this, that he would give his life for his friend.

(To read the story of Jesus' agony and scars, read the book of John in the Bible.. I would love to hear your story of scars and after you have read his story in the book of John, what Jesus' scars mean to you. If you have trouble finding it let me know.)

You are in my heart and prayers.
With love,

~Cindy

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ponderings on Going as a Single Woman Missionary

Pondering spirituality, singleness, and missions on one of my favorite thinking rocks

What would happen if I listened to my heart?  What if I stopped seeking to be the most spiritual that I can be on my own?  What if I stopped trying to get to that position that I think God honors the most?  Would God be disappointed in me?  Would I be less of a Christian because I can't make it on my own? Would God honor the desires of my heart and show me that He was in them?

What am I trying to prove?

I told God that I was willing to go anywhere and do anything for him, and I gave up my dream of the satisfied settled Christian family I desired.  I told God that I would be ready and prepared to be a missionary in case he called, and I gave up an education as an accountant and a future, well paying job.  I told God I would be a missionary, and I gave up marriage to the man I loved.  

What must I give up next?  How much loss must my heart endure to please my God?

I have told God that I will go as a missionary even as a single woman to unreached peoples.  Does this mean that I must now give up the hope of ever having a husband and children?  Are all of my desires wrong that He must take them from me?  Am I a failure if I admit that I cannot do this on my own?  

Is it okay to need someone to love and to need to need someone to love me?

My heart yearns for companionship in seeking after God and serving Him.  Oh, to be able to glorify God through the in a marriage relationship.  But, I fear, as a single woman, that my heart will continually seek its companion (in the pursuit of God) by attaching itself to leading men in inappropriate ways.  I do want to be pure without detaching myself from life and the ability to love.

Am I too weak, Lord, if I say that I cannot fully do this on my own?

I am not as strong as I thought I had to be, but I long to be used by you.  I long to give myself fully to You and to others.  No distractions, forward together.

What do I do?  Move forward on my own, or wait, listen, and trust the You will fulfill the desires You have given me even if others do not understand.  

Show me your way Lord.  I love You.

Your Daughter,
~Cynthia Marie


Inspiring Poems and Quotes, 20 November 1999

The following  are some poems and quotes that touched my heart from Brent Curtis in "Less-Wild Lovers," which I had written in a journal entry during my senior year of college:


"Batter my heart three personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend.
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new,
I like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but, oh to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend;
But is captive and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you and would be loved fain;
But am betrothed unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me."

- Brent Curtis, "Less-Wild Lovers"


...sentences left by one former traveler,
"Don't be afraid of embracing the disappointment you feel, old or new.  Don't be scared of the unreachable joy either.  They're the highway markers home.  I've gone on ahead.
Your Truly."

-Brent Curtis, "Less-Wild Lovers"


"There comes a place on our spiritual journey where renewed religious activity is of no use whatsoever.  It is the place where God holds out his hand and asks us to give up our lovers and come and live with him in a much more personal way...We are both drawn to it and fear it.
The desire God has placed within us is wild in it's longing to pursue the One who is unknown.  Its capacity and drive is so powerful that it can only be captured momentarily in moments of deep soul communion or sexual ecstasy.  And when the moment has passed, we can only hold it as an ache, a haunting of quicksilver that flashes a remembrance of innocence known and lost, and if we have begun to pass into the life of the Beloved, a hope of ecstasies yet to come.
To hope in the kind of goodness that would set our heart free, we must be willing to allow our desire to remain haunted."

-Brent Curtis, "Less-Wild Lovers"


Something to ponder.
~Cindy

Link to Brent Curtis's, "Less-Wild Lovers"