Open the Eyes of My Heart…

I know. I know. It’s an old song. Used and abused. Over-sung and under-appreciated. But if you stop to really think about the meaning behind the words it’s kind of – well, awesome.

As I was driving home this afternoon I was reflecting on the meeting I had just left – our first official Commitment Lunch for the Mission Trip to Guatemala in September.

As my good friend Ryan was starting the meeting, he suggested we go around and introduce ourselves and share what we hoped to “get out of” the trip. Yeah, uh huh…and he did it. He looked straight at me and said, “Cindy, why don’t you start?” (BTW – Ryan, thanks for that!)

Now it’s not like I haven’t thought about what I hope to “get out of” this trip. I’ve thought a great deal about the trip and I’ve formed expectations in my mind (most of which I expect to be totally inaccurate, but that’s what this “planner personality” does. She anticipates.). I’ve looked at pictures and watched videos trying to prepare myself for what I’ll experience. I’ve read articles and blogs and books by people involved in ministering to those living in third world countries in the name of Christianity – most of which honestly tell you that there are no words to describe what you will feel. Well, that’s a big help!

This will actually be my first mission trip, my first time traveling outside the United States and only my third time traveling by airplane (well, 5th and 6th if you count round trips as two flights – I’m such an ignorant traveler still, but I love it!).

I shared with the group that my hope was to see for myself what life outside the U.S. looks like. I know, eloquent, right? Not even a little bit!

I’m much better with words when I’m typing them than when I have to deliver them from my actual lips. What I would have liked to expressed is that in experiencing life outside of the U.S. I would better understand a little of what my purpose is. Why was I chosen to enjoy a life of freedom? Why do I get more opportunities than I could ever take advantage of? Why me? Why now? Why here? And the words from the book of Esther ricocheted through my mind – “For such a time as this…

God gave me what He’s given me for a reason – to bring glory to His name. That’s what I should be about every day, no matter where I am.

So as I anticipate my trip, I thought about what kind of work I would like for God to do in my life. And I came to the conclusion that the eyes of my heart need to be opened to see the whole world the way He sees it. To see the people of Guatemala City not as objects to be pitied, but as God’s beloved and chosen. To see them as individuals who may not have the luxuries you and I take for granted but as “the apple of His eye”, precious and valuable. I expect to learn from them and see the hand of God there, possibly in ways we may never be able to experience in a “First World” setting.

I also expect that the eyes of my heart will see my everyday life a little differently when we return. I have found that a change in perspective is a very powerful thing.

If you would like to be a part of this journey with me, there are several ways to do that. 1) I would love for you to commit to pray for me, the Missions Team, and the ministry of Hope for Guatemala. Please leave a comment below so I know who my Prayer Warriors are. 2)You can contribute to the cost of the travel expenses  and supporting the Ministry by clicking this link and making a secure, tax deductible donation. It is our goal that more than 50% of all funds raised will go straight to Hope for Guatemala. 3) Consider forwarding this message to people you know. This is too important to keep to ourselves. Everyone deserves an invitation to be a part of this great work.

Thank you! I hope to keep you posted here at I Saw God Today throughout our trip. But since I don’t know exactly what to expect, we’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂

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One Word 2011 – Mid-year Update

Okay, so my ONE WORD Mid-Year Update  is slightly late. @gritandglory will just have to take off points from my final grade for turning in late work.

You can read my initial ONE WORD post here. But in the mean time I’ll just tell you what my word is for 2011 – it’s “DO”. And I’ve been DOING quite a bit…well, DOING a lot of DOING but not so much DOING very much writing. I’ve got to find some balance and get all these blog posts floating around in my head out and on “paper” or posted or whatever.

I must be honest and admit that my word has not manifested itself as I expected. I think I was looking for some version of a “bucket list” with many boxes checked off at the end of the year. But that would have only proved one thing – what I was DOING was staying busy. Not exactly the direction I want to take.

Don’t get me wrong. There are lists involved and boxes to check and goals to meet. The difference is the process is the point, not the lovely little check mark. The DOING has not so much been a “DO IT” and move on to the next thing but more of a “DO it today. DO it tomorrow. DO it next week. DO it next month. You get the picture.

Some of my DO IT items so far:

  • Read through the bible in a year (second year) I’m using the YouVersion App and the Chronological Plan for this year.
  • I decided to make my health a priority. Small steps to start, but WOW the difference the last 6 and a half weeks have made. I’m working with a Personal Trainer (remember the Assassin?) who is now nicknamed the Miracle Worker – the patience of Job, I tell ya! I’m also using the treadmill for something other than a clothes rack. (I actually started writing this post in my head while doing my 1.5-mile walk last night.) One other thing I’m DOING is using the LoseIt App (as recommended by Michael Hyatt, Ron Edmonson and others). All this DOING has already netted some pretty significant results. I have tons more energy, I feel better than I have in years, I’ve lost 16 pounds and the other day I found out that after almost 20 years I can actually sit “criss-cross-applesauce” again. Now that may not seem like much of an accomplishment to you, but to these old hip joints, it’s something they never thought they’d be able to DO this side of heaven.
  • I applied for and got my very first passport this past Spring. After finally getting on an airplane last Fall for the first time, I now have a new habit to support. And apparently travel as a hobby is slightly more expensive than reading. Who’da thought?
  • As a result of obtaining the passport, I am now able to DO something else later in the year – I plan to join a team of volunteers from Stonecreek Church to visit our partner ministry in Guatemala City, Hope for Guatemala. I’ll let you know very soon how you may be able to help me with this trip and also support the mission there. (BTW – I’m VERY excited about this!)
  • I’ve given myself the goal of reading 25 books this year. Right now Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas is kicking my rear almost as much as The Assassin – oops, I mean The Miracle Worker – is. It’s a fantastic biography and I plan to do a review here soon. My Kindle tells me I’m almost 75% of the way there.
  • And one last DO IT item for you – I took the challenge to memorize one passage/verse of scripture a week for the year. Now this is one area that I’m having a great deal of trouble with. It seems to be harder to commit anything to memory these days much less words in language that nobody uses every day. But ironically there’s something inside telling me that while it is important to “hide God’s Word in my heart,” it’s the DOING what the Word says that will make a difference.  I’m still working on committing it to memory while also committing it to action.

So at the half-way mark, I’m still DOING. And while it doesn’t necessarily “look” like I thought it would, I’m falling in love with my ONE WORD every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Brush with Eternity…

You know I like to keep my peeps up to date on the occasions when “I See God…”

Get off my back, I know it’s been a while since I posted. Do you want to hear this or not?

Okay. So yesterday I really saw God up close and personal. Practically face to face – when a good friend (hereafter to be referred to as The Assassin – I never noticed how funny that word looks when it’s spelled out – *snicker*) of mine tried to kill me. With friends like that…  Right?

There was the long tunnel, the white light and everything. When I arrived, God said, “Get back down there. This is way too amusing!” You see, I was smack dab in the middle of the toughest 5-hour workout I’ve ever experienced! So it was only 25 minutes. Who’s counting? The fact that my last workout was sometime in the early eighties with Richard Simmons had absolutely nothing to do with anything!

By some great miracle of the God who parted the Red Sea and created the universe – ‘cause He’s the only One with the power to accomplish something of this magnitude – I completed everything that was demanded of me, lived to tell about it, and managed to keep my lunch from making a surprise appearance on my shoes.

When I walked in the door at home, I promptly informed my husband that I would never cook or eat again – it’s just not worth it! Besides how can a person prepare a meal when their arms are about as useful as limp spaghetti noodles and their feet feel like they are wearing shoes made of lead?

Instead I decided to take my “friend”, The Assassin’s, advice and soak in a hot bath. It was heaven. I should have known there was a catch. It was heaven until it was time to get out of the tub! Chalk up an extra 20-minute workout for that! God must have really enjoyed the encore performance…

Then suddenly I remembered I’m now supposed to be keeping an Eating Journal. Oh the joys. It just keeps getting better and better!  I loved how The Assassin smiled (which prior to today was a very pleasant smile, now I know it’s just an evil contortion of her face) when she said, “And you, being a God-fearing woman will certainly be honest about your food intake, right?” Don’t bet on it, sister!

But she must have a heart in there somewhere. She gave me the day off tomorrow – except I’m supposed to walk for 20 minutes. Wonder who’s going to tell my legs. Not me! I’m not even sure I’ll be able to talk them into going to work with me in the morning. I might have to leave them at home to cry all alone. Such a pity, since I think I shall certainly need them to be productive throughout the day. This could get interesting.

All kidding aside, it really wasn’t that bad. The Assassin is a wonderful person, if you like the type…

If you need your backside kicked, I’ve got the person to do it. I can HOOK. YOU. UP. And in case she stumbles upon this blog post – I love you, LB! And I appreciate you and your concern for my health. You’re the GREATEST! But I’d watch my back, if I were you. Just sayin’…

Mail From God?

Have you ever received mail from God? I mean literally – you go to your real, physical mailbox (the one at the end of your driveway, not the one on your computer or phone) and you pull out a card or letter and you knew instantly it was a message from God Himself.

I got one this week…seriously!

Here’s the back-story.

A couple of weeks ago I was praying about what God wanted me to contribute towards a friend’s upcoming mission trip expense. I knew I didn’t have much in the way of extra cash but I was willing to give whatever God lead me to do. As I prayed God reminded me that I had a $100 bill tucked away in my wallet. It was my Christmas gift from my parents (yes, I’ve really kept it since December 25th). I had a feeling when I received this gift it was meant for something special – something more than just a shopping trip to Target. So I tucked it away – waiting for the signal.

Was this the signal? I wasn’t quite clear on that. So I prayed more. At this same time our small group was completing a study that happened to be kicking my spiritual butt! I was struggling with breaking free of some strongholds that have been around much longer than I care to admit. Fear of rejection being at the top of the list.

What does all of this have to do with my $100 bill and a mission trip I wasn’t even going on, you may be asking? Well, I’ll tell you.

As I was talking through my “process” with a friend, out of the blue I was overcome with a strong sense that I was going to be part of a mission trip myself one day. I’ll be totally honest, a mission trip was not exactly at the top of my bucket list. Not that I have a problem with them. I just never saw myself as going on an adventure like that. I saw myself as a “keep-the-home-fires-burning-hold-down-the-fort-while-we’re-gone” type. And I was okay with that.

Suddenly I felt an overwhelming fear rising from the pit of my stomach. It was not a fear of traveling (I discovered a love for that last year). It was not even a fear of being sent to the “deepest, darkest Africa” – it boiled down to the fear of rejection.

You see, I’ve never had a passport. I never expected to have the opportunity to travel outside the United States. I never thought I would need to. Now I began to wonder if that was the real reason. What if I was hiding behind the lame excuse of no passport simply to provide protection for my heart if I was found to be an undesirable addition to a God-ordained, full-fledged Mission Trip? And if by chance I did get an invitation for the trip, could I risk having to ask for donations? What if no one contributed? How horrible would that be?

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I found it hard to even breathe.  I was NOT ready to go to that place…not yet. It was too painful. It was too new and too old at the same time. A wound that has been with me for many, many years but the healing is still in the very early stages.

Was God telling me to take that $100 bill and get a passport? After all, I knew that’s what it would cost. I’ve had my passport application filled out for a year and a half, with no idea how I would pay the fee or why I needed one in the first place. I was afraid to commit but I somehow also knew that I could trust God with my pain and fear. This was a “stake in the ground” moment.

You’d think that would be the end of it, wouldn’t you. Maybe for any normal person it would. But this is me we’re talking about. Not much normal to recognize.

Now came the actual “acting on the decision” part. And the excuses? Their name was Legion!

  • Now where exactly is it I’m supposed to go to submit my application?
  • Are there only certain days and hours I’m allowed to go?
  • What if that doesn’t fit in my schedule? You know there are 3 of us sharing 2 cars for work and such…
  • I have to have my picture made? Yuck! You know how I don’t love that!
  • Where do they make passport photos?
  • But the girl who does my hair is out on maternity and my roots are horrendous!
  • Can this wait until I lose that 50 pounds and find that miracle make-up that removes 20 years?
  • And I will stop here (but trust me, the list is actually endless…)

Now you are up to speed.

I pulled the card from the mailbox. It was a bulk mail postcard addressed to Postal Customer. Of course the words “Passport Team” and “near you” practically jumped off the page. I almost dropped the stinking card on the ground right there!

Yes, God is sending a special team of passport experts to a post office near me to process my application. Wait, that’s not all…they will actually take care of the blessed photo for an additional $15. And it gets even better…the date is exactly one week AFTER my make-up hair appointment! I won’t have to live with horrendous roots in a passport photo for the next ten years!  (No word on the magic diet and make-up yet) And the special day is on a Saturday, so no worrying about work and transportation schedules.

Mr. Legion Excuses, you are defeated! I’m getting my passport! And a little piece of my heart is healing a bit. At this moment I don’t care if nobody wants me to go on a mission trip with them. And I’m not worrying about where the money will come from. This is an act of obedience by trusting God to be my Provider – in every way, everyday.

**Note: Please understand my use of the term “mission trip” is meant in the generally accepted sense. I believe that we are on mission every day we live, wherever we are. However, I also believe especially for Christians in the U.S., we need to experience a reality check of traveling outside our safe little bubble from time to time.**

One Word for 2011

Last year when I considered my “one word” for 2010, I began the process by looking back at what God had done in me during 2009. I felt my 2009 “one word” had been FOUNDATION, so I chose BUILD for my 2010 word. And God did build on the foundation He had created. I read and grew and stretched. But not nearly as much as I know was available to me.

I once read a quote, by whom, I don’t know, but it said that we judge others by their actions while we judge ourselves by our intentions. As I pondered this it became apparent that it was certainly true in my own life. I can only judge what I see others live out (not that I should judge at all) but for myself I know what I’ve considered, thought about and intended to “get around to” and I don’t  feel too bad about it – even when I haven’t followed through with any of it. I mean, if I thought about doing something nice for someone, or calling them to check on them, or taking a meal to a family who needs it, well at least it was on my radar, right? WRONG!

The same way that “…faith without action is dead,” (James 2:26) so is planning and thinking without action worth nothing.  I can think and plan and intend all day long but until I put feet to it it’s not worth a hill of beans (as my grandma would say).

So my “one word” for 2011 is a very simple, yet complicated one…DO. My goal is to DO more this year instead of just intending to DO something. Follow through will be my aim. Fear of failure is not going to hold me back and neither is a perceived lack of time, resources, or talent. I’m gonna be just like the sporting goods company – JUST DO IT!

What about you? Do you have “one word” for 2011?

Global Leadership Summit Announcement

I have some exciting news and an awesome opportunity to share with you! It’s such a deal – you can’t resist…

Stonecreek Church has been given the opportunity to be one of a few select locations to host a private viewing of The 2010 Global Leadership Summit, brought live via satellite to Stonecreek Church from Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.

The individual ticket price for the South Barrington on-site experience is $345, and $265 for official satellite site locations. Through this rare opportunity, we are able to offer the same leadership conference to you for only $99! You will not find this opportunity marketed or promoted outside of Stonecreek Church.

Don’t miss this opportunity! Share this opportunity with your friends and associates and register for this exclusive private-viewing experience today. Learn more about the speaker line-up, event schedule and how to register for this two-day global leadership event  at stonecreekchurch.org

You Can’t Play From the Sidelines…

I’m an observer by nature. Most often you’ll find me on the sidelines watching instead of hanging out in the middle of the action.

I remember one time in sixth grade a classmate was hosting a birthday slumber party. That night eight of the ten girls there decided to go streaking through her neighborhood. (It was quite popular in the early seventies for all you young folks.) Yep, it was me and the chubby girl from class who stood in the shadows out of range of the street lights and guarded their clothes.

Fast forward a few years to High School. I was still living on the sidelines. I was never invited to any of those “wild parties” I heard some kids talking about each Monday morning, but if I had gone, it would be a sure bet who the DD would have been. I did go with a group of friends from church one Halloween night on a TP adventure – (we called it yard-rolling). I sat in the truck to watch for the porch lights. Then my job was to give a short honk on the horn to warn the gang. Never threw the first roll of toilet paper into a tree. I was in the truck imagining my friends running from buck shot or falling 20 feet off a tree limb and breaking a leg or even worse, a neck!

While I probably avoided a great deal of trouble in my life by observing instead of participating, I’m sure I missed some really fun times as well. Since the beginning of this year I have felt God lovingly shutting down my sideline status. He’s pulled me out onto the field several times lately and I have to say I didn’t hate it.

Something else that’s contributed to getting me off the sidelines has been my reading material. In December I started a Through the Bible in a Year plan. I have to tell you when you get into the Word, and the Word gets into you, you are NOT satisfied to just sit and read it. You have to get up and LIVE it!

I also read the book 66 Love Letters, by Dr. Larry Crabb. This is a great companion piece to reading through the Bible. Each chapter covers a book of the Bible in a conversational style between the author and God as He reveals His love letters to humanity from Genesis all the way through Revelation. This book changed my view of God. But it also revealed areas in my life where I need to make sure my walk matches my talk.

Another book on my Reading List was Radical, by Dr. David Platt. My take away from reading this book is that being a disciple of Jesus is not a sideline job. “Following” is an action word. It requires movement and involvement.

And the last book I finished was The Christian Atheist, by Craig Groeschel. Now that’s a title that will get your attention, right? The tag line to this book says a lot: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist. Talk about convicting. This was like a flashing neon sign for moving me off the sideline of my spiritual life.

I might even go so far as to say that if one is only an observer of their spiritual life, there’s not much living going on. So how about it? Want to join me in leaving the sidelines behind?  I’m no longer satisfied being merely an observer of my own life. Let’s get in the game and start actively pursuing life, real life, in Jesus as our greatest passion. Who’s in?