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.

 

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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.

The waves made me forget about God

It seems like this happens every year. I go on vacation with my family and we go to the beach where some of God’s most majestic creations are literally right outside my slider door. However, I tend to forget about God when I come here. How is that possible? I mean I watch the sun set over the ocean and think “Oh how beautiful!” then I see the sun rise in the morning on the other side of the ocean and think “Oh how breath taking!” I sit out on the balcony drinking my coffee and think “There is no place I’d rather be right now than looking out over the gorgeous glittering Gulf. But somehow, I forget about the one who created all of that.

I wake up to greet the sunrise and forget to pray because I’m caught up in the show. I stand on the beach with my feet skimming the water’s edge and forget to thank God for the blessing of being here. I sit at an out-door restaurant with my family while we have a picture-perfect view of the golden sunset and I forget to think of the artist that painted this picture with no brushes.

It always amazes me to realize the tools the devil will use to make me forget about God. I can get out of my everyday zone and my routine is off so I don’t do the things I’m used to doing at home. Hmm, is that what my devotional life has become? Part of my routine? The devil will use even God’s own handiwork against us if it works. We get off our schedules and what has been a “I never start my day without prayer” has become “Did I pray or read my bible today?” I want God to be a part of me, like an arm or a leg or a heart. Yes… I want Him to be my heart. I never go anywhere without my heart. I want for my first and last thoughts of the day to belong to God. I want to reflect on Him throughout the day at home and on vacation. I would never go away on a trip and not take money or clothes. I want to take God with me just as I would take those items.

Romans 8;38 says “For I am sure that neither death nor life nor angels nor rulers nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor anything in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Did you see that? Not anything in creation… this has been the very tool that the devil has used to try and separate me from God. I am so drawn to and mesmerized by the beautiful creations that I forget about the Creator. Who in the world would stand and admire a piece from Michelangelo but turn down the opportunity to sit down with him and discuss his work? Why do I turn down the opportunity to sit with the creator of the universe after viewing a portion of His creation all day long? I love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. So, it’s time to put that declaration into practice. Lord help me to bring You with me everywhere I go and in everything I do.

Now I know that when we go on vacation, we are out of our rhythm of things and as humans we are prone to forget what the pattern has been. Therefore, I don’t want you to think I’m being too hard on myself or anyone who falls into this same category. This has been quite an observation for me and just something I want to change. So just like everything else that I think needs tweaking, I’ll ask for my Fathers help with it. This is something we can all do and He will help us. God is not bringing the hammer down on us and saying He won’t remember us just because we didn’t remember Him. Thankfully He is much more forgiving then I can be and simply wraps His arms around me, leads me to a chair and says “There is so much I want to tell you…”

I want to hear what He has to say, don’t you?

Dad can You help me get my zipper unstuck? 

I remember when my kids were little and wintertime would bring snow days off from school. This of course meant they would want to go out in the yard to play in the very thing that gave them a one day reprieve from school. The usual cold day items would need to be pulled out thus beginning the questions of “Where’s my other mitten?” and “I can’t find my hat.” Then we had to locate boots, scarfs, snow pants, and any items needed for a respectable snowball fight. This was the chain of events that took approximately forty-five minutes to complete for them to go out for a half an hour. Oh, they would eventually go back out and the ritual would begin again.

Someone would almost always come back in completely covered in snow and declare that they had to go to the bathroom. Ugh! Don’t we always tell them to go before they get all dressed in the seven layers of clothing? So then the process would go in reverse. Inevitably though, just when they think they can’t hold it another second, the zipper on their coat would get stuck. After yanking on it a couple times the words would come, “Dad could you help me get my zipper unstuck?” Coming to their rescue, my husband would discover the fabric of the coat was jammed into the teeth of the zipper. As the child stood there yelping about how bad they had to go, my husband would say “hang on I have to get the fabric out of the zipper”.

Well just when I thought I would have an accident to clean up, He would say “Ok, got it!” Then he would pull the zipper the rest of the way down and yank the coat off while our child was already trying to take off toward the bathroom. He would be left standing there holding the coat, sleeves inside out in their rush. He would right them and after our youngster would return, he would help them with putting it back on so it wouldn’t get stuck again.

This makes me think of how we can hold onto our past mistakes as some sort of stuck zipper on a guilt coat that we can’t get out of. We want to be free of it but the fabric of the guilt we carry is trapped in the zipper. We tug and pull to try to free ourselves, but just as my child realized after their own attempts, we have to call to our Father to free us. He is the only one who can pull the fabric out and then help us off with that guilt coat. Then we run from it leaving the sleeves inside out. This in my mind is like leaving the guilt exposed so our Father can right them and then help us put on his robe of righteousness. Then He helps us on with it so we don’t get stuck in the guilt again.

Our Father in heaven is a God of forgiveness. We need not carry the guilt because He died so we wouldn’t have to. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” See we need not still carry the guilt or shame after we have confessed it to God and truly repented. God is faithful and just to cleanse us from that shame. Your heavenly Father doesn’t expect or want you or me to carry that weight when He gave His very life to bring freedom of guilt and sin.

Let God help you with the zipper of the guilt coat, then help you back on with His robe instead— He is just waiting for us to come and ask. He will never force His gift or forgiveness on anyone. It is just that, a gift. I’ve never seen a gift bag or wrapped present with a zipper, have you?