Monday, November 29, 2010

1 in 200 vs 1 in 40

In Spain, according to several sites on the Internet

1 out every 200 Spaniards considers themself an evangelical christian
1 out of every 40 Spaniards considers themself a Muslim.

Put differently - I attended church yesterday with approximately 600 people (all 3 services combined)

If this was a general population in Spain, 3 of us would have been evangelical Christians and 15 would be Muslim582 would be considered a variety of things - Catholic (to be Spanish is to be Catholic, does not mean they actually have a relationship with Christ), Mormon (the 2nd fastest growing religion in Spain), Jehovah Witness, Buddhist, nothing, and so on.

Please continue to pray for us as we prepare for a transition to Spain.  Pray for new financial partners (and pray about becoming one) as well as for the spiritual preparation we need to live there.  Pray for the Christians that already live there - both the native Spaniard and the missionaries - as they try to share the love of Christ.  Pray for the lost - that their hearts will become tender to the true story of Christmas.  Pray that your heart will be broken for the lost - in your own back yard and across the ocean.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Heart Broken

Over the next couple of posts I am going to try to share what is going through my mind, heart, and soul.  I want you to weep with me.  Not because it is a sad story, but because the Lord Jesus Christ who loves you enough to have died for your sins is weeping.

Today, in a casual conversation on facebook with a friend, she mentioned that one of the largest mosques in Europe is in Madrid.  Sounds just like one of the many statistics I have been quoting for months, right?  Unfortunately she didn't quit chatting there.  She then shared that her cousin had just two weeks ago converted to Islam.  Her mother is the only Christian in her family.  (Her cousin doesn't live in Spain)

What does this have to do with me?  What does it have to do with you?  I don't know, but I do know that it is time for me to wake up.  It is time to quit living in my safe little environment and realize that the Lord is weeping over the lost while I sit in my comfortable little life and pretend that all is OK.

Just two weeks ago I delivered meals to people who live right here in Greensboro that practice Buddhism and Islam.  People who feared for their lives and gave up everything and yet still today have no hope for tomorrow.  When will my heart be as broken as Christ's? 

(while I am writing this Hannah and I are watching the movie To Save A Life, a story of teenage suicide and pregnancy - one more picture of a hopeless population - however, this movie is a picture of what the love of Jesus can do - check it out)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#23 - Heating Pads, Ice Packs and Tylenol

Yesterday I returned to the gym to meet with my trainer (yes, I paid extra for this privilege) after not stepping foot in there for two weeks.  Oh my!  Today I am not sure which I regret more - skipping for two weeks or returning, but I am definitely thankful for heating pads, ice packs and Tylenol.  Just not sure which place hurts the most to put the heating pad on.

#22 - Kitchen Surprises

I was out of town all day Friday and Saturday and then worked a 13 hour day yesterday.  Needless to say, my kitchen was a disaster.  I left this morning early for the gym and didn't have time to do anything about it before work.  I then stopped at the grocery store and cleaners on the way home and walked in ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle the kitchen - but it was already clean!  Zach had cleaned the kitchen and started the dishwasher.  What a gracious gift!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

#21 - Operation Christmas Child

I am just sitting down after helping at our local collection center.  I have no idea how many boxes go through that center, but our church did 926 shoe boxes.  It is so very heart touching to think that 926 children will not only hear about the love of Christ, they will experience it, perhaps for the first time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

#20 - Moments that can only be comforted by Christ

This morning I find myself in a dark hotel room trying to be quiet for a little while longer (Hannah and I are doing two college visits and she, like any good teenager, is sound asleep and I am wide awake).  My normal routine is to begin my morning with prayer, before my feet even hit the floor.  (don't put me on a pedestal for that behavior - many days that prayer is just a desperate cry to get me out of bed and through the day)   This morning as I was praying a name and a situation began to weigh heavily on my heart.

It had nothing to do with today.  It was someone I needed to talk with later this week, but my busy brain had not even begun to think through that.  Yet, I couldn't shake it from my thoughts.  I prayed for the person and I prayed for the situation.  I even prayed for my reaction without knowing I was going to need to allow God to be my reaction.  I then got up and turned on the computer.

The first thing I saw was an email relating to the situation.  It was sent at nearly midnight last night and was not what I was expecting (or even wanting) in regards to the situation.  I really wasn't even expecting anything to be said about it until middle of next week.  Yet there it was.

And yet immediately, even though there was hurt and disappointment, frustration and even a little anger - the presence of Christ was here.  He prepared me before I walked into this situation and He was present as I read the e-mail.  I felt Him.  And as I process the disappointment I know that Christ, who walked before me, will continue to be my comforter. 

This is just a little thing, yet it has reminded me this morning that God does give me glimpses of His character so very often.  He is the Great Comforter.   And this morning, as in many other moments of this journey, He is the only one capable of comforting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

#16 - Eye Opening Experiences

It would be so easy to live in a little bubble and never travel outside not only my comfort zone, but my "world."  Last night our family, along with another family, was blessed with the opportunity to deliver Thanksgiving meals to 20 refugee families.  The majority were Burmese, but a few were from Vietnam and the Congo.   They did not know we were coming and they spoke very little English. 

Thank goodness a friend who works with a ministry to them accompanied us because we would have been lost (it was dark and we didn't have apartment addresses) and probably uncomfortable.  But she knew every name, knocked on the door, and soon we found ourselves inside being introduced as her "christian friends" and listening to her try to explain to the only one who spoke English in the house (usually a young child) about thawing the turkey before you cook it and how to fix it.

I have lived in this area for a total of 16 years.  I knew there were some refugees in Greensboro, but I had no clue how many.  I never stopped and thought of why they were here.  I lumped them all into the same category - people who moved from other countries to find a job. 

These people are here because they fear for their life.  God broke my heart for these people as our friend shared pieces of information and stories.  As we were leaving she shared one final story, one I'd like you to consider.

There are three children living alone - ages 17, 18, and 19.  They fled here on student visas because they are faster to get than refugee status and they did not have time to wait.  Their father was a medical doctor and was killed first.  Their mother was then killed.  Their two older brothers have disappeared and are believed to have been killed.  It was declared the entire family would be killed.  They have no source of income here (student visas prevent them from working).  They have no source of transportation.  They speak very little English.  Their visas are only good for one year.  And, they do not know Jesus. 

All night I had to ponder what would Jesus do?  And if I know the answer to that question, then what will Cindy do?  And if you are reading this, the question goes a little further, what will you do?

No longer is "ignorance bliss" allowed once God allows these experiences.  So, what will we do?

(We talked with our friend last night about opportunities to minister.  If you want to know more, send me a note)

Today I am thankful that God often steps into my life and allows eye opening experiences.  May I never be the same afterwards.

Monday, November 15, 2010

#15 - Modern Medicine

(decided I'd let #14 just speak for itself)

Today we will celebrate Alex's 12th birthday.  What fun today will hold!

Alex was due on Christmas day - so you do the math, he was just a little early.  I had a fabulous doctor who trusted his "gut instinct" instead of science and kept me in the hospital for observation.  Things quickly changed (my placenta had begun to rupture) and if we had gone home (20+ minutes away) we may never have held Alex.  He was then born via emergency c-section and taken immediately to NICU where he spent two weeks. 

His first year of life was filled with visits to emergency rooms (where even one nurse got to know us by name) and lots of visits to specialists, but today he is a healthy, growing boy who you would have never imagined came home from the hospital weighing less than 4 pounds.

Thank you God for gifting us with Alex and for providing us the care that was needed to enjoy him here on earth. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Deep Fried Oreos

OK - after my post about my favorite breakfast foods and the responses I have gotten, I have to share with you that today I sampled a fabulous southern delicacy that I loved.... DEEP FRIED OREOS!  They were fabulous!  Sprinkled with a little powdered sugar - definitely a piece of southern heaven!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

#13 - Diet Coke and Chocolate Chip Cookies

A perfect breakfast, unless of course a chocolate chip cookie dough pop tart is available or white chocolate covered oreos.

Friday, November 12, 2010

#12 A Day Away From it All

Today I am thankful that I can just walk away from it all and enjoy a time of sweet fellowship and refershment.  Today is a "stick my head in the sand" kind of day. 

Today and tomorrow I am attending the Women of Faith conference here in Greensboro.  That last Women of Faith conference I attended was in Charlotte two weeks before Alex was born (he'll be 12 next week).  All I remember is laughing so hard I was afraid I'd go into premature labor (he wasn't due until December 25) and then tears flowing so easily as the speakers so "lightly" would pounce on my toes. 

This year's speakers include:
  • Marilyn Meberg
  • Patsy Clairmont
  • Lisa Welchel
  • Anita Renfroe and
  • Sandi Patty
and the music is by STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN!

I cannot wait because today I can use a little laughter and refreshment.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sharing the Journey

Tonight we are sharing the story of our journey and how God is working with Gospel Baptist Church.  We are excited make new friends and to see how God is using a church "in the middle of nowhere"to reach the world.  We are also excited that we will be able to reunite with some friends of the past who have made this church their new home.

Pray that tonight God will use our words to share of the great need in Spain.  Pray that the people will hear God's heart and not our words. Pray for our children as they are all in different directions tonight.  Pray for the ministries here at Cornerstone to flow smoothly in my absence.

Thank you for your partnership of prayer!

#10 - Coupons

We are trying hard to watch every penny we spend.  Stick to a budget like we never have before and tighten the budget on top of it.  100% debt free is our goal (and requirement before we can go to Spain).

I had a coupon for buy one get one free at Mimi's that expires Friday so Scott and I dropped Alex off to school and headed to Mimi's for a date this morning.  YUM!  Pumpkin pancakes with the company of my husband.  What a perfect way to start the day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

#9 - Intercessory Prayer

Most will look at this item and say "I too am thankful for those who pray for me," but I am actually thankful for the ministry of intercessory prayer for others.  The Holy Spirit has prompted me to pray for several friends recently and have found out later there was a great need at that time.  But what I realized over the last several days how much the Holy Spirit ministers to me when he prompts me to pray for others.  Something incredible and indescribable happens when we pray for others.  What an amazing God I serve!

Monday, November 8, 2010

#8 - Cameras

I know that cameras may seem like a crazy thing to be thankful for, but a camera allowed me to relate to my kids this weekend.  They all went on a youth fall retreat and came home with 100s of pictures.  Through those pictures stories were told with emotion and vision.  What a treat!

Also includes video cameras.  If I can figure out a way to get the video of Hannah and Becky doing their skit guys video on the blog, I will.  It will make you laugh until you cry and then cry because of it moves you. 

I am so very thankful for cameras today!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day #7 - Freedom of Religion, I think

(edited version)
Running late this morning, so you'll have to wait until this evening to answer the question I know this title
created.  Why does she think she is thankful for freedom of religion?  Shouldn't she be ecstatic about it?

Great morning at church with two families heading to the mission field - one is heading to Madagascar, one is heading to a place where it is illegal to be a Christian.  Made me ponder just a little more my thankful topic for today.

I am grateful for religious freedom.  I am grateful that I can bow my head in prayer or raise my voice in praise and not risk being put in prison or worse.  I am grateful that I have the freedom to believe in whatever religion I desire, and very grateful that I know the one true God.

But, I think that freedom sometimes prevents me from really experiencing God.  I think that freedom may even be a part of why we Americans are not seeing a great change in the christian community. 

This is a great map of the status of the evangelism of people groups of the world.  Look at countries where persecution of Christians occurs.  The colors are changing.  Christianity is growing.  Someone recently said me to me that Christianity almost always flourishes when they are persecuted for their beliefs.  I'm not sure I agree with the "almost always" but it did make me think.  Wonder why that might be true?  The answer - you can't be a lukewarm christian under persecution.  Either you believe with everything you are and are willing to risk it all for what you believe, or yo don't. 

So perhaps, this freedom of religion that I have keeps me (and maybe you) from experiencing Christ for all He is.  Perhaps, just maybe, this freedom of religion allows me to be a baby christian for way too long.

Just something to think about today.

Thanksgiving Update

This week has been crazy and I have fallen behind on being thankful.  But tonight I want to share my thankful thought.

Wednesday, November 3, Day #3 - Thankful for Friends
Today was a hard day.  We learned some news on Wednesday that Satan so wanted to claim as a victory.  I struggled all day long to focus on Christ, the true victor.  It didn't take much to bring me to tears or to focus on the "what ifs."  I spent more time quoting scripture and listening to praise music this day than I have in a long time.  I was determined to not give in, but as my body grew tired, it became so much easier to dabble in the doubts than to claim victory with my Savior.  And yet, at the end of the day as the tears flowed, a dear friend wrapped her arms around me and instead of wallowing in my issue, she quoted powerful scripture and allowed me to cry.  She held me up when I was struggling.  I am very thankful not only for this one friend, but for friends in general.  Life is hard at times and friends are definitely a gift from God (especially those who point me to God and stand in the gap for me when I just struggle to stand).

Thursday, November 4, Day #4  - Thankful for Internet
Maybe Internet seems like a crazy thing to make it on the list as #4, but this morning I opened my email to find three notes from friends who knew of my struggle yesterday.  At 6:30 in the morning friends had been able to reach through the Internet lines and minister immediately.  Back when I was a child, it would have taken three days to have received their notes of encouragement and prayer.  I know that as we reach Spain sometime next year, I will become even more thankful for the ability to connect across the many miles.

Friday, November 5, Day #5 - Thankful for Chocolate
Those of you who know me are probably wondering why it took so long for me to list chocolate.  I truly believe it is a major food group and a great gift from God.  My favorite way to relax is to curl up in my over sized chair with a diet coke and a Reese cup. 

Saturday, November 6, Day #6 - Thankful for Daylight Savings Time
I so need the extra hour of sleep tonight.  Thursday night I was at church until 10:00 as I was responsible for the local association's annual meeting. It was great, but it was late.  Friday I spent the whole day getting ready for the big yard sale that was held today, and today was the yard sale.  My throat hurts and my eyes burn so I know a cold is on the way too  Tomorrow is Sunday and is a long day for someone who works on a church staff, so tonight I thank God for the gift of an extra hour of sleep.

What about you?  Are you keeping your list up to date?  Is it getting harder to come up with something you are greatful for or are you struggling to keep tomorrow's item to yourself?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quick Note

Yesterday was crazy, today is even crazier, and I haven't a clue what tomorrow will be, but I promise to come back and elaborate on my thanksgiving list.  Maybe on my lunch hour today?  Oh wait, do I really get a lunch hour?

What about your list?  What four things are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thankfulness, Day 2 - My Family

As much as they drive me crazy at times, I am thankful for my family.  They are more than I could have ever asked for.  They are just perfect for me.

There's Scott - who has overcome many obstacles in his life to become the man he is today.  His desire to be a Godly husband, outweighs any of his shortfalls.  There is nothing more powerful than a husband who will pray, out loud, with his wife.

Then Zach, my first born.  Oh how I remember when I was pregnant with him.  We had already lost three babies before they were born and twelve weeks of bed rest with him at the beginning of the pregnancy stole much of the joy that comes from being pregnant, yet God answered that prayer and Zach arrived.  He dreams big and has always known what he wanted to be when he grew up.  And although growing up has not always been easy, he knows whose he is and I am confident that on the other side of "growing up" is a strong, christian man.  He is a hard worker and has a huge servant heart.

And four years later came Hannah.  She is so much like me that we often think for each other.  She was the only child who waited on her due date to come and actually proceeded to wait two more weeks.  Maybe that is why she still likes to sleep late today.  Driven and focused, she is learning to relax and enjoy the moment.  She has an innate ability to reach the "castaways" in life and see them for their God given strengths, and not just look at what the world sees. 

And four years later God gave us Alex.  Born way too early, He came into the world fighting for life.  To this day he still fights to live life to its fullest.  Impossible to punish because the world is his playground, and if you take away one part, he'll find another.  He has taught me to live and laugh.  He keeps me young.  God has given him that personality that lights up a room.  It is impossible to stay down very long when you are around him.

God has been good to me - what a wonderful family!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Season of Thanksgiving

I am learning new things about blogging and enjoying every moment.  I have joined a challenge of thanksgiving and invite you to also join the challenge.

Can you name something everyday you are thankful.  Some may be serious, some may be fun.  But for a month list something you are thankful for.  Sounds easy, but if it is so easy why do gripe so much more than we express our thanks?

Today - I am thankful for God, who in his great mercy and love, saved me from an eternal separation from my creator and source of peace, hope, joy, and love.

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