Everyone has a blind spot

Having an eye disease has ensured many, many tests over the last thirty-five years. Each doctor and each hospital has had their own set of tests but they were all looking for the same things. My eyes have been dilated more times than I can count. There is a test that I’ve had done several times that is quite invasive; it requires these hard contact like instruments that are placed on top of my eyes and they are designed to keep me from blinking. They are approximately the size of a nickel so they cover the whole eye. I have to sit in a completely black room for thirty minutes before the test is done. This is to make sure that my eyes are totally adjusted to the dark. I then move to another dimly lit room to begin the test. The contacts are put in place, my chin goes on the machine and the light show begins. For the next ten minutes or so, there is a succession of bright lights being flashed into my eyes at different speeds. First it starts with a flash about every five seconds. Then more frequently at about three seconds. Then one second, eventually it is at the pace of a strobe light. This is to measure my eyes reactions to bright lights and how they adjust or don’t adjust.

The next test of color choices isn’t invasive at all, however I can’t really tell much about colors. This test is over pretty quickly because of that. On and on the tests and dilation go. I always have a field test done to see how much peripheral vision I have lost. For this test, I put a patch over one eye while they test the other. Again, I place my chin on a chinrest and I am given a beeper to push whenever I can see the light appear. I am to look straight ahead and the person doing the test moves a little light all around the outer edges of my vision and I click as soon as I see it. There are many areas that the light is in that I simply don’t see. They are in my blind spots.

This made me think of how I have another type of blind spot. When I get wrapped up in my own thing and I forget to pray, when I choose to sleep in a little later and then don’t have time to read God’s word, or when I concern myself with unimportant details of planning and snap at my loved ones out of stress… these are blind spots. The devil knows my blind spots and will hide in them until I can see “the light”. Jesus is the Light of the World. He is the light of my world and I sometimes can’t see Him when I don’t spend time with Him. We all have blind spots that the enemy can and will hide in, keeping us focused on why we didn’t get that job. Why that spouse found refuge in another person’s arms. Why our child had to be laid to rest. Why we can’t seem to pay all the bills despite how hard we work. The blind spots are endless. The only way to remove them is to keep our eyes focused on “The Light”.

John 1:5 says “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (ESV). In those blind spots there is darkness, we cannot see the light. Friends, whatever your blind spot may be, God’s light cannot be overcome by the darkness. Keep His word in your heart and the blind spots will shine with Jesus’s light. He can give you sight in the blind spots.

 

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Branded for life

As I write this, I am at a women’s retreat where we are all dressed up in western wear. Cowboy hats, boots and denim by the miles. Handkerchiefs, stick horses and rodeos complete the festivities. But there is a clear message here too. The title is “Branded In Christ”. The comparison to animals that are branded, we can carry a brand for Christ or a brand for the enemy. It’s more like the enemy puts the brand on us, like it or not. He takes that ol’ hot branding iron and seers us for all to know who owns us. You know the ones… the branding of shame, addiction, depression, unworthy, betrayed, forgotten, abused, unloved, not needed, the list goes on.

My heart is heavy with the knowledge that I’ve been branded with each and every one of these. I watched women all around the room stand with the admission that they had been branded as well with some or all of these and others.  I felt some of these brandings like they had been reburned after a long while of not feeling them. This is just what the enemy wants. For us to open old wounds, to feel the burn of his branding iron all over again. He wants to heat that brander hotter than ever and make us feel that burn as he tries to brand us for ownership once more. I feel that branding iron of blindness when people have to wait for me, do something for me, help me get where I am going, get my food in a buffet line, and on and on. I feel it when people tell me “good job” for doing simple tasks on my own such as walking up or down the stairs on my own like a child doing that for the very first time all by themselves. These people mean no offense in saying this, it’s what I feel and I’m trying to get beyond that particular hurdle. “You’ll never be like them” the devil whispers to me. “You’ll never do things as efficiently or as good as someone who can see better then you”, he whispers again. That branding iron burns a little deeper each time trying to make a mark that can never be healed.

See, while Satan wants to cause us pain to belong to him, Jesus wants to bear our pain to belong to Him. When the enemy wants to brand you, Jesus put His hand in front of that iron and took the marks and the pain for YOU and for me. When Satan whispers “shame,” Jesus shouts “shine”. When Satan whispers “addicted,” Jesus shouts “free”. When Satan whispers “depressed” Jesus shouts “joyful!” When Satan whispers “unworthy,” Jesus shouts “priceless!” When Satan whispers “betrayed,” Jesus shouts “beloved!” When Satan whispers “forgotten,” Jesus shouts “forgiven!” When Satan whispers “blindness,” Jesus shouts “grace!”

For every whisper of the devil, Jesus has a shout of redemption. Jesus took the marks so we didn’t have to, and we still don’t have to! Jesus healed blindness in the bible and He will heal me too, if He waits until I am with Him to heal it… He will still heal it. Friends, Jesus is longing to remove the brands that the enemy tries to mark us with, He wants to only have you marked with His love and acceptance. Galatians 6:17 says “Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bare branded on my body the marks of Jesus.” Let Jesus mark you as His so no one can brand you with anything else ever again!

Hey we need to talk. Are you alone?

I want to talk about this feeling that so many of us feel far to often. We can feel so very alone sometimes. Like no one sees us, no one hears us. When I was in school and I was the only one who was legally blind, I felt alone. When I was in college and no one knew how to teach a legally blind person to use the computer so they just threw up their hands and pushed me through anyway, I felt alone. When My friends were getting careers and moving ahead in life but I was getting left behind for not knowing computer advancements, I felt alone. When it seemed like no man could look past my disability and see who I really was, I felt alone. When I came to the conclusion that God had made me this way and now I was to figure out why on my own, I felt alone.

If we allow everyone else’s negativity influence how we feel, that can make us feel very alone. We hear people telling us how we need to do things in our lives or what we need to say to someone who has hurt us, or even how to raise our kids. That leaves us with thoughts of “they just don’t get it.” So, if no one “get’s it” then no one can relate to how we feel, resulting in aloneness. Whether we battle depression, anxiety, rejection, anger, betrayal, disability, or anything in between, it can feel like an uphill journey that we have to make alone. Let’s face it… even if someone has gone through the same situation, they only know how they felt going through it. Much the same way that we know how we felt going through it. We can empathize with them and they with us, but ultimately, we only know absolutely how WE feel. I have a friend who has very similar vision to mine. We’ve often thought we might have the same eye disease but since they cannot diagnose me, we can’t say for sure. Even though we have a lot of the same challenges and struggles, we react differently and move past it at different times based on our ability to do so. Something might be harder for me to deal with than it is for her, even though we both have some difficulty with the same thing. I also have a friend who is totally deaf without her hearing aids and though we both can share our frustrations and obstacles, we can only claim that we know something of how the other one feels.

However, we are not alone! We have a savior who has battled all these feelings too. He was not accepted in His own home town of Nazareth. Everyone thought they knew Him so they assumed this couldn’t be the Messiah. They just couldn’t believe that someone they knew personally was the savior of the world. Jesus then felt alone (Matthew 13;57). When He asked His disciples to pray for Him the night before His crucifixion but they couldn’t stay awake to do so, Jesus had to face what was to come…alone (Matthew 26:40). When He came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10), but people mocked Him and rejected Him, He felt alone. When He was bruised for my transgression (Isaiah 53:5) and hung on a tree with a torn back and people spit on Him as He carried that cross, He felt alone. Jesus knows the heartbreak of feeling alone. But guess what? He also knows what it feels like to have His Heavenly Father comfort Him and assure Him that He is NOT alone. God desires us to lean into and onto Him in those times of loneliness. He can fill that empty void. Like a puzzle piece, God is the perfect size and shape to place in that hole that is in your heart.

When we are going through something that no one can understand… God can! He is the all-knowing and the all-powerful God. Friends if we come to Him, heart-burdened, he will make a heart restored. Jesus has already walked this road and knows it’s twists and turns. Let Him lead you on the journey of knowing that no matter how alone we feel, He is right there to fill your empty cup.

 

Facing My Demons

I’m not a big fan of Halloween anymore since giving my life to the Lord. However, when I was younger, I used to love to go to haunted houses and corn mazes and all the community events celebrating Halloween. Just a couple years into our marriage, my husband and I went to said haunted house one year with some friends of ours. They were about the same age as we were and REALLY got into all the festivities. Their house was decorated for Halloween like most people decorate for Christmas. Even their dog had a costume.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed off to be scared half to death. We drove about forty-five minutes to “the scariest haunted house in the state” and waited in the long line to get in. It was an old hotel style building with four or five floors to go through. Complete with a shaky and rattling elevator. Let me add here that I am in real life scared to death of elevators, or rather getting stuck in one. So, of course, as planned, the elevator stops and a big “CHANG” sound is heard. Oh my! Well in order for the lines to keep moving, it was a short-lived prank… thankfully. Moving on we entered a room with people in scary masks and make-up at the far side of the room. I couldn’t see them very well so that part was told to me and as long as they stayed on the far side, I was fine. That was not to be. All in one big blur, I found myself on the same side of the room as the monsters and I was kind of trapped in a corner. I was covering my face, crouched on the floor, and screaming my fool head off. I remember peaking my eyes open for just a moment and one of the monsters was right in my face. Demonic eyes, black stringy hair, and the evilest smile I’ve ever imagined. Returning my hands over my eyes and screaming even louder (if that were possible) I remained crouched and helpless. Just then I felt the floor pivot and the wall I was against spin to the side. All was quiet. I removed my hands from my face and could see nothing… total darkness. I put my hands out to feel anything in front of me. I discovered by feeling along the walls that I was in a little pie shaped room. I only had to lean forward to touch the other side of the room so it was pretty small in there. I will mention that I am claustrophobic. Not knowing what was going on and being in a tiny room was… well… challenging for me to say the least.

Meanwhile, my husband was back on the other side of the wall where I had been and yelling to the workers that I was blind and there was no way I was going to find my way out. His fear grew when no one seemed to hear him. I began pounding on the wall so someone knew I was there. I didn’t think this was part of the plan because nothing was happening. It was silent. No monsters, no scary music, nothing. I was alone with my fear and darkness. Isn’t that where the devil would like us to be? Afraid and seemingly alone? No one to hear us cry for help, no one to rescue us or even know that we are trapped behind a wall. A wall of depression, a wall of hurt, a wall of betrayal, a wall of anxiety, a wall of defeat, a wall of disability. We can feel like no one hears us. Oddly enough, I only have two friends with any sort of disability. One of them is completely independent and the other has vision loss like I do. But it can feel very lonely when most of the people you spend time with are not disabled in any way. It can feel like you are behind a wall and can’t get out from behind it. The devil does not want us to call on God for anything, he would rather you feel completely alone and helpless.

I pounded and pounded on the walls and no one heard, when I finally said Lord please help me, the wall next to me opened with just a small section of light and probably a one foot opening for me to get out. A worker finally heard my husband and came to rescue me. I cried out to the Lord as my husband cried out for help for me. The opening didn’t have to be huge for me to escape the darkness. I still couldn’t see that well where he was leading me but I took his arm and he lead me to safety. We don’t have to see the end result of where God is leading us, just take His arm and let Him lead you out of the darkness. Even if it doesn’t seem like it’s a big enough opening, God will get you through it when you take His arm and trust. Jerimiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’”. God desires to have us come out of the dark places we are trapped in, call on Him, call on Him and believe that He will rescue you from the claustrophobic spaces that we get stuck in. Imagine stepping out of a very small room into fresh air, light and an open space. This is what it means to give those fears and hurts over to God. Let Him pull you out from behind the wall.

 

Greetings from Cyndi… Again!

I want to welcome you to my table once again. I want each and every one of you here to feel like a family member with a specific space at the table. When my family and I sit down to dinner at our dining room table, no one asks where each person is sitting. In fact, if for some reason one of my kids sits in another chair, the other one will say “why aren’t you sitting in your own chair?”

There is a place for everyone at our table and I want you to feel that you have a place at my table too. We all live life and we all have struggles. We all have trials and we all have victories. Let’s share them around the table and do life together. I love to have people in my physical home at my physical table just as I do here at this table.

This is a place to pray, vent, laugh, cry, learn, grow, and everything in between. Some people don’t have that place to sit and talk or share feelings or just listen to other people’s situations to learn from. I want this to be that place. Invite other people to join us here. My table is big enough for all of us. I want you to look forward to joining me each week (and sometimes more often then that) because I look so forward to greeting you all here.

When my husband comes home from work, the one thing he loves is for me to greet him at the door with a smile and a kiss and a welcome home hug. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen but I try to do it frequently. It says to him that I’ve looked forward to him coming home and he is always happier when I can do that. Everyone feels more welcomed and valued when they are greeted at the door. I am here now to greet you at my virtual door. I truly want you to know that I value you and appreciate you stopping by. I wish I could literally offer you some tea or coffee and a delicious blueberry muffin (or whatever is your favorite) and we could actually sit around the table and chat. But I’m so pleased you took the time to sit at my virtual table.

I read Romans chapter 16 today and ya know what I discovered? A majority of the chapter was filled with greetings. Paul wanted several of his friends and helpers in the faith to be greeted. He wanted them to feel valued. I never really picked up on that before. I often see the greeters at church and give them a friendly hello, it’s good to see you, and go on in for church. But after reading this chapter I realize just how important greeting people is. When we are greeted anywhere, even at a restaurant, it makes us feel more included. How many times have you been to a restaurant and no one greeted you when you walked in? Didn’t you feel a little like “Hello, does anyone see us?” I definitely have. I’ve left a restaurant for such an encounter.

So go and greet someone today. It doesn’t have to be a grand opening type greeting, just let your loved ones or your neighbor know you see them and it’s good to see them. It sure is good to see all of you here at my table. I have a standing “bring a guest policy” so feel free to invite a loved one, friend or anyone you think might enjoy sitting with us around the table! Thanks again for stopping by and it’s good to see you.

Lord fill my empty cup

For so many years I have gone under the radar of being picked for something. You know, like when I was in junior high and I was the last to be picked for the kick-ball team, last to be picked for volleyball, last to be picked for field hockey. Then came high school and no one wanted the girl with the weird eye thing to be a cheerleader and no guy would be caught dead going to prom with said eye thing girl. No one wants to have to always be the one to drive when we go out so let’s just not invite her. A lifetime of not being chosen for things can leave some pretty ugly scars. Then when you are pursued by a young man who chose you out of any other girl he might meet that isn’t legally blind, well, it’s only natural to cling to him no matter what… right? Then you quickly learn that you were simply easier to manipulate with all the pretty words that don’t mean anything after the bruises and life altering injuries.

With so much rejection and questions of value, it’s not to hard to imagine and empty love cup. I mean the kind of empty that is like dusty, crumpled up, smashed and trashed, blowing in the wind kind of empty. This is how many people can feel over and over again throughout their lifetime. I certainly have. Words like “chosen” or “valued” or “cherished” can seem like a language in which we’re not affluent. We long to hear these words, we long to know that someone feels those things about us. Oh friends, I long to hear those words and believe that they could be felt about me. God has me on a journey of discovering that He feels that way about me. I’m chasing a dream of bringing God’s truth of endless and abounding love for all who want it… I need to understand it’s for me too.

I often feel as though I need to make things happen because God wants to use me so I need to jump in and do the work He wants me to do. But ya know what? A builder doesn’t send his tools to a job and expect them to do the work. The builder has to use the tools. The builder holds onto the tools and guides them in what to do. My husband is a master carpenter, I can honestly say that if he told me he was sending his tools down to the job while he took the day off… I’m pretty sure I’d be making an appointment with the doctor.

So why do I feel so driven to run ahead of God and try to make things happen? I guess it’s like a plant thirsting for water, you can’t give it a dropper full and expect it will spring back to life. However, you can’t flood it either because it will be drowned. Just the right amount has to be given in the right amount of time. I’m thirsting to be accepted in this life by people whose love can be conditional, when my heavenly Father is trying to give me a steady drink of living water of which I will be filled and never thirst for anything else again. He is trying to pick up my dusty broken love cup and restore it, then fill it with His love that can never run dry. Oh, Father help me to know that the cup You drank from was so You could keep my cup filled. Friends, whatever emptiness you may be feeling, let God fill your cup with His word. John 4:14 says “but whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again, the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

If we let God fill our cups, they will remain full. If we count on Facebook likes or followers to fill our cups, they will need filling over and over and over again. I am learning this lesson and God has so much for me to learn, understand and accept. I want to drink from His cup and nothing else. Don’t you?

 

Why date nights aren’t that special to me

I’m sitting here typing this post while awaiting a much-needed date night with my hubby tonight. We are also on a much-needed vacation on the beach. He is a very hard worker and a very awesome husband and Dad. However, like most married couples today, it’s difficult to get quality time together. Our kids are both in their upper teens so there aren’t the diaper changes, bottle prep or babysitters to get anymore. But somehow life hasn’t slowed down yet. We seem to be coming and going even more then when our kids were in the pre-driving days. I must add here that I am so grateful that the days are upon us that both my kids are driving. My daughter is still in the permit phase, but she’s almost legal. Since I don’t drive, it’s been a journey along the growing up years. Always asking for drivers for my kids, being limited on the activities they can do… But that’s another post all together.

Back to date night… Here we are on this get-away and I’m not looking forward to this evening like a normal wife would. You see, in unfamiliar areas I get a bit clumsy. If someone leaves a chair out or worse yet, is sitting in said pulled out chair, I could run into it. I can’t read the menu so here we sit, two adults, and my husband is reading me the menu like I’m a preschooler. (He does not in any way talk to me in that way, it’s just how I feel)

A lot of wives love to sit across from their groom so they can gaze longingly into each other’s eyes… I can’t see his eyes. I have to have him walk me to the ladies’ room, help me to my chair, put dressing on my salad, the list goes on. So I don’t enjoy date nights like I should.

But then there is another side for me to look at. My husband doesn’t have any qualms about taking me out on a date even though he can’t do a lot of those things with me either. He can’t tell me he loves me with his eyes. He can’t sit and enjoy his meal while I head off to the restroom. It takes him twice as long to order because of having to read the menu to me. But ya know what? That’s exactly how he loves me. By being my eyes. He plays music that he knows I like to tell me he loves me without words. He only reads me the choices on the menu that he knows I would choose from because he knows me that well. He walks me to the ladies’ room to be sure I don’t get lost or hurt, he protects me. None of the things that make me insecure as a wife phase him at all. These are the very tools he uses to love me with. It’s the same with our heavenly Father. He uses the very things in our lives that we struggle with to draw closer to Him.

As we pray for God to guide and direct our steps, we follow in those steps, thus He is loving us. Just as I trust my husband and take his arm for guidance, we are to take our Lord’s arm and let Him guide us. This is the very way He shows His love for us. He reads us the menu of our lives through His word. He gazes lovingly at us even if we can’t see it. My husband will say to me to just take his arm and follow him. My Father in heaven will tell me the same. In the four gospels, Jesus makes the request to follow Him eleven times. My reluctance and fear of getting hurt forces my husband to say that eleven times a date! I imagine he gets a little bothered by the fact that I pull back on his arm sometimes, fearful that I will trip or run face first into a wall or post (That has happened), just as I’m sure Jesus gets a little bothered when He is leading me but I’m still fearful of the journey. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” When we cannot see our path because of darkness, we want a light…Jesus is that light. Jesus is the guide we need to be our eyes and show us where to go. Won’t you trust Him with being your eyes? Even if you have 20/20 vision, His vision is better.