Sunday, December 27, 2009


'Twas two days after Christmas and all through the house
No one could walk through, not even a mouse!
The toys that were scattered one end to the other
Kept stubbing the toes of this poor old grandmother!

I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love having my children and grandchildren here, and I’ll take the clutter and noise that comes along with them any time! Our house is pretty empty and quiet when they’re not here, so it is a rare treat to feel like we are living in Grand Central Station!

I’m not kidding about my poor toes, though! I’ve been hobbling for over a month now. I broke one of my toes three days before I left for Ecuador when I tripped over a suitcase. Not good timing! Since then I have had the same toe stepped on by a heelie (tennis shoe with a wheel built into the heel – ouch!!!) and had a vacuum cleaner slammed into it and the toe next to it, so I have two purple toes now! And all this week I cannot count the number of times I have tripped over suitcases left lying in dark hallways or in front of my closet, stepped on bits and pieces of toys, or stubbed the other eight toes on this or that. I’m getting really paranoid about my feet and trying to keep them tucked out of the way of anyone walking past me or sitting close!

But I digress… It’s been a wonderful week and all too quickly it is coming to an end. Julie and David and the kids leave the day after tomorrow and we will be back to our quiet, empty house again. The year 2009 is winding to a close and I will wind down along with it as I try to catch my breath after the last few hectic months. The year, as usual, has had its ups and downs, blessings and joys, trials and tears. One thing has remained constant throughout, though, and that is that God is ever faithful and loving. I feel like I have grown in Him this year and drawn closer to Him, which is how it should be. I am so thankful for my life, my family, and the future that I know He is preparing for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT) I’m looking forward to what He has in store for us in 2010!

I printed “Sundays with Cindy 2009” and bound it in book form for my daughters, mom and sister as Christmas gifts. There were 45 entries and about 150 pages. I hope reading it this year has been as much a blessing to you, as it has been to me in writing it. As I look back and see the things the Lord has been teaching me, and what He has done in our lives, I just count myself so blessed to have been able to share with you. Thank you for the comments and ways you have shared with me, here and through your e-mails. You have been a blessing to me, too! May the New Year find us all growing in Him and loving Him and one another even more, and may He bless you and your family abundantly in 2010!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Ahhh – the sights…the sounds…the smells of Christmas!
I walked into my mother’s home last night and it smelled soooo good! Cookies! Before her heart attack, Mom had mixed up the dry ingredients for six or seven kinds of cookies, put them in bags, and labeled them. My sister had baked a couple of batches before I got there, and the evidence still hung in the air. It brought me back to my childhood. One of my favorite childhood memories is of running all the way home from school and finding the house smelling deliciously of home-baked cookies. Mom always made double and triple batches of twelve or thirteen different kinds of cookies for Christmas – enough that she could give platters away to friends and still have plenty left for us! My brother teased her last week when she had her heart attack that, although she had to take it easy, the doctor had said her heart was still in fine shape for making Jumbo Raisin Nut Cookies. Thank goodness, my favorites, the kolachys, were already made!
And Christmas music – each year I have to restrain myself from starting in too early singing, playing and listening to my favorite Christmas carols and songs. By the first of October I usually cave. I start playing them on my harmonica – for Robbie, of course. “We have to practice so we’ll be ready by Christmas,” I tell him. He beams, perfectly willing to go along with Mom’s eccentricities. Some of his favorite songs are Christmas songs, too. I love them all – old and new, secular and sacred. I sing and whistle around the house all year long, but it’s a continual concert for Bob and Robbie when this time of year comes around! Aren’t they lucky? And for every regular CD I have, I probably have five Christmas ones. I just cannot resist.
Then there are the Christmas lights… Oh, how I love Christmas lights! To drive down the streets and see the neighborhood transformed into something pretty and sparkly on a frosty winter night, and main streets and malls ablaze with color and light… To watch the lights on my own tree twinkle and shine in all their multi-colored splendor… To bask in the warm glow of cozy firelight or candles… I love Christmas decorations, but if they’re lit up, all the better!
My Christmas tree cannot have too many lights. Bob and I go through that discussion every year. “You don’t need more lights,” he says. “Yes, I do!” I insist. This year I got back from Ecuador to find that he had put the tree up for me and put on the lights. It’s pre-lit – but not enough for me. I add several more strings. Last year it had almost 1000 lights. Bless his heart. He was doing something really special and sweet for me – but to my shock and dismay I discovered he had put three strings on that didn’t even work! He forgot to test them first. I took them off and went out to buy some more lights on December 8th, and to my further shock and dismay, discovered Target and WalMart were totally out of lights and weren’t getting any more this year! I got the one box I could find and had to settle for that, but next year I’ll be out in October buying more lights!
I love light. I’m one of those people whose mood is affected by dark, gloomy days. I wish my living room got more sunshine. One of the things I loved most about living in Colorado was the 300 days a year of bright, sunshiney weather and its big, clear blue sky. I love sparkly things – the Electric Parade at Disney World; fireworks; stars as you drive down a dark highway at midnight; sunlight as it glints of the surface of a lake; gaudy sweaters… What is it about light that we all like so much? As I thought about the lights of Christmas, I realized that there are several things that lights do that relate to us – we who are to let our lights so shine in this world that they might glorify our Father who is in Heaven.
John 1:9 says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” He also tells us in Matthew 5:14a, 16, “Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
The first thing I realized light does is attract. You know how a porch light in summer attracts moths and other creepy, flying little critters. That’s why merchants use neon signs and spotlights and begin putting up their Christmas lights and decorations in October – to attract shoppers and their money. As lights in this dark world, our lives ought to attract others to ourselves, and ultimately to the Lord. They should see something in us that they want in their own lives. A Christian who is living her life for the Lord will stand out. Her compassion and kindness will attract and bring opportunities to tell others about the love of the Lord.
Secondly, light illuminates. Candles are a beautiful symbol Light of the World who came at Christmas to pierce the darkness of this world. If you were to go into a deep, dark cave and light just one little candle, you would be amazed at how that one small flame would illuminate and brighten the blackness of that space. Light reveals what the darkness hides. Have you ever tried to put on your makeup in fluorescent light? Yikes! It reveals every flaw, every spot and wrinkle! The glory of the one, true Light of Christmas revealed to sinful men His perfection and their own sin and shortcomings. To some it brought conviction and repentance. To others it brought hatred and the desire to extinguish that Light. We are not perfect like He was, but the light of our lives as we strive to live holy, separated lives unto Him will bring conviction to those around us. Not everyone will love us. Some will scorn us, but deep in their hearts they will be convicted of their own sinfulness.
The third thing that light does is provide warmth. How wonderful to snuggle close with a loved one in the flickering light of a crackling fire! To draw close to the fireplace, or a bonfire and warm you hands and toes and backside at the fire – ummm! The light of our lives should provide warmth also for those around us. Our love is the fire that will provide comfort and encouragement and warm the hearts of those attracted to our lights. Jesus called us lights, but He also said they will know us by our love. Do others feel the warmth of your love and compassion?
Of course, the most obvious thing we notice about the lights of Christmas is how they beautify. I enjoy driving around and looking at the lights. What a difference they can make! They can turn an old, run-down neighborhood into a beautiful fairyland of twinkling, sparkling beauty. I can never decide which I like best – the elegance of all white lights, or the gaiety of multi-colored lights. They’re both beautiful to me. Our everyday, ordinary living room is transformed each year when we bring out the decorations and tree with all its special ornaments and twinkling lights. The lights are turned on from the moment I wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night. There is nothing sadder-looking to me than an unlit tree. And when the lights are reflected in windows and mirrors, it’s even more beautiful! That’s how the light of our lives should be – reflecting His light, brightening and beautifying this world. Do you remember the old chorus, “Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me”? I pray His beauty and light is reflected in my life.
As we think of the lights of Christmas, we cannot forget the Star -- the star that appeared as a sign to the wise men, announcing the birth of the King of kings… the star that led them mile after mile, month after month directly to the house where the young child lay. That light was a sign and a guide, and so ought our lives to be – lights that point the way to the one true light of Christmas, Jesus Christ.
This is the one time of year when the world looks in our windows and sees our lights. This is the one time of year when perhaps they are more receptive to hearing about spiritual things. And yet we have the Light, the Truth, the best Gift of all – Jesus – all through the year. Let’s not be guilty of dragging out the boxes of lights, dusting off the old heirlooms and traditions and putting them on display once a year. Our lights ought to shine brightly all year long, reflecting the true light of Christmas that attracts and illuminates, warms and beautifies, and guides lost ones to an eternal and personal relationship with Him.

The Lights of Christmas

The night is bright with moon aglow,
Reflecting off new-fallen snow,
And up and down the street I see
The twinkling lights on homes and trees,
And in the windows candles burn.
It seems that everywhere I turn
The lights of Christmas brightly shine,
Reminding of that ancient sign –
A star.

A star whose brilliance pierced the night,
Whose glory was a wondrous sight.
A star which eastern wise men saw,
And filled their seeking hearts with awe.
A star which left a blazing trail
That led to a King so small and frail.
And yet the babe they found that night
He is the one true Christmas Light.
The Light.

In Him was life and light of men
To shine in a world made dark by sin.
His glory far out shone the star
And reached down to men who’d wandered far.
For like the star the Light had come
To show lost man the way back home.
The true Light of Christmas – Praise His name!
The Light of Christmas, Jesus, came!

C S Griffith -- 1995

Sunday, December 13, 2009


No, I didn’t misspell “potpourri.” That is the Spanish translation, and since I have so much to talk about this week, mostly about my trip to Ecuador, I thought I’d do a little of this and a little of that.

I’ll start with my mother, though, first of all. Back in June, when Bob first told me he had planned this trip for me, he suggested I invite my mother to go with me. I jumped at the idea. Mom is so close to Laurie and her family and misses them a great deal, but also Mom has always loved missions and she has been a big supporter of the Naranjos’ ministry and others there in Ecuador. I knew she would love to go and that it would be the trip of a lifetime for her. She was sorely tempted, but the more she prayed about it, the more the Lord seemed to be telling her “no.” Finally she decided she’d better listen to the Lord, and though we were both disappointed, we had peace in the decision.

Throughout the trip and during my time in Cuenca I thought of Mom a million times. With each new sight or experience I would think, “Oh, Mom would love to see this! I wish she was here!” In almost the same heartbeat, though, I would think, “I’m so glad she didn’t come! She could never handle this physically!” The travel, although it went smoothly, was grueling. Our time there, although it was fantastic and I loved every moment of it, was hectic and exhausting. And never, ever in a million years could she have handled driving through Ecuador! She hates mountain driving, and she hates city driving, and multiply the “scare-factor” by about a thousand times to any driving she’s ever experienced in the good ol’ USA and that’s how the driving is in Ecuador. She would not have seen a single sight because her eyes would have been closed!

I called her every day, though, and tried to describe everything to her as it was happening so she could live it vicariously. She was excited and happy each time we called, so although there were regrets, we knew she had made the right choice.

The Lord reinforced that this week. Mom had a heart attack on Thursday night, just a few days after my return. She’d been having little transient signs all week that something was going on. All day Friday, as we sat in the hospital and waited for the diagnosis and angioplasty, it kept going through my mind how Mom most certainly would have had the heart attack in Ecuador, and it most probably would have been a lot worse and maybe even have killed her. We were at high altitude – sometimes extremely high altitudes. Perhaps we would have done things differently if she had been with us, but still I am sure it would have been too much for a heart that was laboring just sitting there at home in her condo. I kept thinking that if she had gone and something happened to her, I would have lived with guilt for the rest of my life for asking her to go along.

I am so glad the Lord told her no. And I am so glad she listened and obeyed, even though her own human desires were to do the opposite. I’m so glad I didn’t try to persuade her to change her mind. And I am so glad we have had this opportunity to chalk it up to a “lesson learned” and that it did not have to be the hard way. Mom is doing fine. It was a mild heart attack, with mild damage, and she is going home from the hospital today. The blockage was taken care of with a stent rather than open-heart surgery again – praise the Lord!

The lesson learned? When that still, small voice of the Lord says “no,” listen, trust and obey! Don’t try to force the door open or simply ignore it. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man [or woman] are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” God chooses the path that is best for us. We must choose to stay on that path.

The two weeks I was in Ecuador were a kaleidoscope of wonderful experiences. Just being with Laurie and Fernando and my beautiful grandchildren was the greatest joy of all and we treasured every moment. The weeks were filled with celebrations (my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas), family events (Fernando’s family welcomed me with open arms and the warmest hospitality), sight-seeing (I saw so much more of Ecuador – coast and Andes Mountains – this time than I did on my first trip), making new friends (some whom I will never forget), learning more of their different culture and language (yes, I did my best to converse in my broken Spanish) and most exciting to me, being able to minister in my own small way in love to the people there.

Ten years ago, on my first trip to Ecuador, the Lord had opened my eyes to the need of the very, very poor people in this third-world country. I had vowed if I could ever return, I wanted to do something for the children. I spent weeks before I left on this trip gathering and preparing for the little opportunities the Lord had opened for me to minister. One of the things I really wanted to do was to take some sort of treat to the Indian children out in the country who had nothing. No one helps them. They are forgotten, pretty much, by the outside world. Just to take some goodies and a few little toys would mean the world to them.

Several people in my church helped with the expenses to buy the goodies. I bought the bags and some of the little toys here in the States. The bags were huge! I had ordered them from a catalog and liked the cute Nativity picture on them and didn’t pay attention to the size. It would take a lot to fill those bags even halfway! I bought 25 kilos of animal cookies (I think that is close to fifty pounds) and candy after I got there, and Laurie had more toys to donate for them.

The Naranjo girls and I formed an assembly line one day to fill and tie them. All the girls enjoyed it, but little Katie especially was beside herself with joy! She loved putting her three or four pieces into the bags and passing them down the line to Melissa, and then on down the line to Sara and Gabi. Besides the five big handfuls of cookies, and the candy we put in each bag, there were also six or seven small toys, a children’s Gospel tract that told the plan of salvation in Spanish and also a children’s tract that told the Christmas story.

“Will they be able to read these tracts?” I asked Laurie. I knew some of them spoke their own Indian dialect or perhaps did not read at all. “If they can’t read it, they’ll find someone who will,” she assured me. “The adults will be reached with these tracts, too.”

We tied each bag with brightly-colored ribbon and planned to give each child – boy, girl or baby – another larger toy with their bag. We ere all tickled with the 87 bags we had filled. “These are probably the nicest bags that have ever been passed out here!” Laurie pronounced.

The day we passed them out was beautiful. We drove out of the city and past two or three villages. When the Naranjos had first started doing goodie bags eight or nine years ago, no one else was doing them. In the years since, though, several other groups were doing it within the city and those villages that were nearby. We drove further out – way up, up, up in the mountains and out into the country. We passed Indian women out in the fields on the steep mountainside trying to plow with a pair of oxen and a wooden plow. Others were hoeing their gardens with wooden hoes. Tiny old women walked along the road bent nearly double with huge burdens on their backs, or led a cow or goat by a rope. Women walked by with babies on their backs. The houses we passed were tiny shacks, often pieced together from bits of scrap wood, tin and whatever they could find to fill in a hole. We could see in the open doors that there was next to nothing inside.

At first we saw no children, but gradually we began to see them out in the fields or near their houses. “Feliz Navidad!” we would call out, and hold the goodie bags out the window. You should have seen them come running with huge grins on their faces, running so fast down the mountainsides I was afraid they would break their necks! Parents would come running with their little ones, calling to others to bring their children, as well. Some of them had little snotty noses and chapped cheeks. Most of them looked poorly clothed. All of them looked happy! “Thank you, thank you!” they exclaimed. “Please come back,” they implored. “Please don’t forget us!” I had all I could do to fight back the tears many times. Tears of sorrow for these poor, poor people, and tears of joy that the Lord had allowed me this tiny bit of ministry.

“Are you having fun?” I asked my grandchildren at one point. It was a dream-come-true to be able to do this with my grandchildren. I wanted them to have a love for helping others, too. “YES!” they answered from the heart. All except for two-year-old Matthew. He had fallen asleep in his car seat and woke up just in time to see one of his toys go out the window. “My toy!” he exclaimed in dismay. “That boy – my toy!” He may not have understood, but he got over it when we offered him a little Happy Meal toy he had never seen before.

I thought of Jesus as my heart was moved with compassion for these poor people. Mark 6:34 says, “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd.” May we always have such tender hearts that we not only weep and feel for those in need before us, but we reach out with whatever we have within our power to help.

My other opportunity to minister came with the women in Laurie’s church. I was asked to speak to them at a special ladies meeting they had while I was there and for weeks I prayed that God would show me what to say and how to say it. It was as I wrote this blog the last time back in November that the Lord finally showed me exactly the message He wanted me to bring, and I want to share it with you here. (Some of the verses may be a repeat of what I wrote in “Gracias a Dios” on November 15th,, so please forgive the repetition.)

Let me say a couple things here before I share that message. I took with me thirty-two cards from women in my church and among my friends and family. These were notes of encouragement and friendship to the ladies in the Naranjos’ church from their sisters in the Lord. You cannot imagine the joy and blessing it was to those women to realize that women in the United States cared about them and were praying for them! Many of them wept as they read their cards. They treasured them and somehow they wanted to thank the women who had thought of them and sent these little tokens of love and Christian sisterhood.

Those were not the only tears that were shed. I almost immediately began to cry as I spoke to them. I was just so thrilled to be with them, having the opportunity to share with them from my heart the message I truly felt was from the Lord Himself. I managed to compose myself, but as I shared with them the riches that we have together as daughters of the King and sisters in the Lord, many of them began to weep, as well. What a blessing and a privilege it was for me to be there among them that day! How I am looking forward to seeing them again in heaven someday, if not again on this earth!

Here is that message. In the weeks to come, perhaps I will share more of what happened in Ecuador. It was life-changing for me. I hope as I share with you, it will be a blessing to you, as well.

Daughters of the King

I feel very blessed to be with you today! You are my sisters in the Lord and it is so exciting to me to be able to meet you in person at last. I have been praying for you! I have been praying for your church! It is a blessing to hear how the Lord has been working in your church and in your lives.

I bring you greetings from the ladies in my church in the United States! They, too, are excited that I could come and meet you and they have, in fact, sent you each personal greetings! I have here cards with little notes from sister to sister in the Lord. They wrote these notes to encourage and bless you and to let you know that they are thinking of you and praying for you. Your sisters in the United States love you in the Lord!

(I passed out the cards here and let them open and read them.)

As I was thinking about being with you today I thought about how wonderful it is that we truly are sisters in the family of God because of the fellowship we have in Jesus Christ when we have trusted Him for our salvation. We stand before Him, different in our cultures, in our language, in our lifestyles, in appearance, in our circumstances and yet equal before the Father as his daughters. In God’s eyes there are no differences among His children in class or economic status or importance. Galatians 3: 28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” We were all filthy sinners before God until the blood of Jesus washed us clean and He clothed us in His righteousness and made us His children and joint heirs with Christ. In the eyes of the world there are differences – in God’s eyes there are none.

Americans celebrated a holiday this week called Thanksgiving. It is a day when we remember the Pilgrims who came to our land in 1620 in search of religious freedom and a home in the New World. That first winter they faced starvation and many of them did die, but the next spring the native Indians came to their rescue and taught them how to grow food and hunt in their new land. At harvest time, to show their gratitude to their new friends, the Pilgrims invited the Indians to a feast, and for three days they celebrated their friendship and God’s bountiful blessings. Now, at Thanksgiving we remember not only the Pilgrims, but we especially give thanks to God for His blessings in our lives. When we think of God’s blessings at Thanksgiving, we often tend to think of the earthly blessings we receive from Him – our food, our homes, our health, our families, His protection, and so on.

Our Father, the King of all Creation, has also given us each of us spiritual, eternal blessings that are of far greater value than anything we could receive here on earth. Today, as we are all daughters of the King, I would like to reflect with you on some of those great spiritual riches that He has given to us equally, and have a day of Thanksgiving with you for them!

Before the world began God had a plan for me – Isn’t it wonderful that before he even created the world He was thinking of you and had a plan for your life? II Timothy 1:9 says - Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

He loved me enough to die for me even though I was a sinner – There is no greater love! While we were still enemies with Him, he loved us so much that he died for us. We are rich in His love! Romans 5:8 says, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The King has made me His daughter. – When I accepted Christ as my Savior, His Father made me a joint heir with Jesus, and His child, with all the riches of Heaven as part of my inheritance. He did the same for you if you have accepted His salvation, too! Psalm 45:13 - The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.

He guides and instructs me. – After He makes me His child He does not leave me to flounder around helplessly but leads me in His path and teaches me. Psalm 16:7a - I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel…

He gives me hope and joy. - As a daughter of the King I now have hope and joy that the world does not know! Psalm 16:9 - Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

When I was in trouble, God heard my cries for help. I can go to my Father the King at any time and He will hear me. - Psalm 18:6 - In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. He is merciful and kind to me. – Psalm 100:5; 117:2 - For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations... For his merciful kindness is great toward us…

He does not stay angry with me or give up on me. - Even when I fail Him, he is a loving Father to me. Psalm 30:5 - For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

He blesses me daily. - Every day my life is filled with the blessings of God. Psalm 68:19 - Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.

God is faithful and will never leave me or forsake me. - I am never alone for my Father the King walks with me. Lamentations 3:22-23 - It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Hebrews 13:5 for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

He gives me strength and confidence. - I am the daughter of the King! What is there to fear? Psalm 56:4 - In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

He listens to my prayers and answers them. - My Father loves it when I talk to Him and He will always listen to me. Psalm 28:6 - Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.

He speaks to me in His Word. - He meets my every need through His Word. Psalm 119:103, 105, 114 - How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

His promises to me are true and He always keeps them. - I can trust my Father for He is always true. Psalm 117:2 - For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD. II Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

He is always thinking of me. - I am so important to my Father the King that He never stops thinking of me! Psalm 139:17-18 - How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Look at the riches of God that we have in Him as His daughters! Are we not rich in spiritual blessings? These are riches for all eternity! These are riches that cannot be lost or stolen or corrupted! The world may look at me as unimportant. I may be poor in the material things of the world. I may never be rich or famous or powerful or important in this world, but for all eternity I am a daughter of the King and rich in His great blessings and love! And if you know Jesus as your Savior, so are you!

Someday in Heaven we will meet again and we will share in a feast to celebrate all that He has done for us. We will sit together at the banquet table as sisters in the Lord, and daughters of the King. What a day of rejoicing when all the nations and tribes of earth gather at His throne and we will sing praises to Him in one voice and one tongue! I am thrilled to be here with you today! Can you imagine our joy when we meet again and we can speak together heart to heart?

I wanted to do a little craft with you that will remind you of all the riches we have as daughters of the King, so we are going to make these little bags and fill them up with some of the blessings we spoke of today. The next time you are feeling very poor, or distressed or lonely, I want you to take out these little slips of paper one by one that will remind you of the riches and privileges you have as a child of God and know that in his eyes you are His beloved daughter and heir with Jesus Christ. May you have joy and comfort and feel His great love!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Thank you, God. Simple words. Easy for us to say, right? I know you, like I, sincerely say those words every day from hearts overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for all His blessings in our lives. We know that we have much more than we need or even deserve. We know that we have more than most of the world. We know that it all comes from Him. Thanksgiving Day is coming up, but I am ever-mindful of God’s blessings upon our lives and try to live as if every day was Thanksgiving Day! This year I know my eyes will be open even more to how truly blessed I am for I will be celebrating Thanksgiving in a third-world country.
I will be in Ecuador by this time next week. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe how I am feeling right now! I finished the last book I was writing, most of the shopping is done, and I’ve actually started the packing. One by one, many of the things on my lists are being crossed off. There is still one thing on my lists, though, with which I am struggling.
While I am in Ecuador, I will be speaking to the ladies at Laurie’s church. I have been giving some thought to that for weeks now, and asking the Lord to give me the right words to say. Two things have been going through my mind to bring to them. One is that we are sisters in the Lord, and that I, as well as the women in my church and family who have been praying for their church, truly love them as sisters because of the fellowship we have in Jesus. The second thing is to speak about giving thanks to God, referring to our American holiday of Thanksgiving. Somehow, I want to intertwine the two into a message that will be relevant and a blessing to each of them.
The thing I am struggling with is something that is common to all American missionaries, I am sure, who are trying to reach beyond the cultural and economic divisions to speak to the heart of people who are so different, so much poorer and who often have no hope of anything better in this life. How do I speak about being thankful for the homes God has given us, for example, when many of them live in nothing more than a tiny shack and wash their clothes in the river? How do I speak about being thankful for the way God provides for us when I (obviously) have too much to eat, and they are lucky to live on rice and beans and little else day after day and year after year? How do I speak about being thankful for family when many of them live with husbands who beat them, or who have no husband because he walked out on them and their children many years before, leaving them destitute and struggling? How do I speak about being thankful for religious freedom when for centuries they have lived under the oppression of a church who has ruled with an iron fist of fear and persecution for those who stray from her shadow, and who even now see their government, as well, slowly but surely turning towards communism and the eventual persecution of Christians?
Are not God’s promises as true for them as they are for me? Of course, they are. He promises to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19) He promises that just as He cares for the flowers of the fields and birds of the air, He will care for us. (Matthew 6:25-31) He promises that the vary hairs on our heads are numbered (12:7); that He knows us each by name better than we know ourselves. (Psalm 139:17) The differences in how the Lord provides for us as Americans compared to most of the rest of the world is vast, and in some ways is a mystery to me when I know that His promises are the same to all believers regardless of where or when they live.
All I can think is that we are blessed in earthly abundance far beyond what our actual needs are. Perhaps it is because of the way this nation was founded on the premise that we would follow after God and His principles. Perhaps it is because this nation always has blessed Israel and He promises to bless those who bless Israel. Whatever the reasons for God’s outpouring of earthly blessings upon us, when so many of his children in other countries suffer, we know that He is just and loving and we simply need to trust that He is in control and knows what is best for each of us. And who is to say if all our earthly abundance is the best thing in the long run? Are we as strong spiritually as we would be if we had to suffer for our faith as many do around the world? Are we more, or less dependent on Him alone in our abundance here in America?
You can see my dilemma, I think. I almost feel I will be ashamed to stand before them and speak on giving thanks when I have so much more than they when it comes to earthly blessings. Praise God, though, He has blessed us all with far more than these temporal things! Here is just a partial list of all the things for which we can thank the Lord:
That before the world began He had a plan for me - II Timothy 1:9 - Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
He loved me enough to die for me even though I was a sinner - Romans 5:8 -
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
That I am a daughter of the King – Psam 45:13
- The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
God's righteousness and holiness - Psalm 7:17
- I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
All God's marvelous works - Psalm 9:1
- I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
My body - Psalm 139:14-16
- I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
God's guidance and instruction to me - Psalm 16:7a
- I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel…
The hope God has given me - Psalm 16:9
- Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Salvation - Psalm 16:11 - Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
God is great and worthy of praise - Psalm 48:1
- Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
When I was in trouble, God heard my cries for help - Psalm 18:6
- In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Deliverance – Psalm 54:7a- For he hath delivered me out of all trouble…
Mercy and kindness – Psalm 100:5 - For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
For not staying angry
with us and not giving up on us - Psalm 30:5 - For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
God's blessings and benefits - Psalm 68:19
- Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.
God's power - Psalm 21:13
- Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.
His faithfulness – Lamentations
3:22-23 - It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
For the strength and confidence God gives me – Psalm 56:4
- In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
For listening to my prayers -
Psalm 28:6 - Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.
God's Word
– Psalm 119:105 - Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
For being truthful – Psalm 117:2
- For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
For filling the earth with His love and goodness -
Psalm 33:5 - He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
He is always thinking of me - Psalm 139:17-18
- How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
God’s spiritual blessings far outweigh His earthly ones, don’t they, and they are eternal! Those women in Cuenca, Ecuador are just as much the daughters of the King as I am and every bit as rich in spiritual blessings! My earthly blessings could disappear in an instant, but these far greater spiritual riches are the true things for which we should be praising God this Thanksgiving. They are not all about us – my provisions, my protection, my health, my needs –- but many of them are all about who and what HE is!
And one of the special spiritual blessings for which I will be praising and thanking God this year is the fellowship we have within the body of Christ as one family, brothers and sisters in the Lord for all eternity. I am looking forward to worshipping with my Ecuadorian sisters in the next couple weeks. Can you imagine the joy when we are gathered from every tribe on earth into His presence to worship the Lamb who was slain for our salvation – together as one family for all eternity?
That is the message I want to bring to my sisters in the Lord. Thank you, Father, for making me your child, a joint heir to all the riches of heaven through Jesus Christ, and a part of Your family for all eternity! You can’t get any richer than that! Gracias a Dios!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Last Tuesday would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. Robbie and I started the day off right. Before I even got him up, we lay there singing and playing on the harmonica some of Grandpa’s favorite songs, as well as “Happy Birthday” which is Robbie’s least favorite song. He tolerated it, anyway, for Grandpa’s sake. I showed him Grandpa’s picture and we talked about some of the funny things Grandpa used to say to Robbie. I asked him, “Do you remember that, Robbie? Do you remember Grandpa?” Robbie didn’t answer, of course, but he grinned from ear to ear! I know he remembers his grandpa.
Later that morning my mom, Corinne and I went out to the cemetery. We stood by my father’s grave, and oh, how we laughed! We reminisced about some of the funny things Dad would say or do, and brought out some of our favorite memories. We talked about Heaven and how Dad must be enjoying it and waiting for us to join him so that he can show us around and introduce us to the twins and others who have gone before us. It was a comforting, peaceful, happy time for we know where Dad is and that he is better and happier than he ever was here on earth.
Heaven’s been on my mind all week. A friend of ours is living her last few days right now, and the doctors say she will be gone in less than a week. Her family has asked Bob to preach the funeral when the time comes. She knows, and is prepared. She trusted Christ as her Savior many years ago, and has faithfully served Him all these years. She is looking forward to Heaven and seeing Jesus and her husband, as well, who preceded her to eternity many years ago.
It’s been a busy week in many ways. I started packing for my trip to Ecuador which is now 12 days, 19 hours and 37 minutes away. Just packing is a big job in itself, for I am taking much more than my own clothes and toiletries. Laurie and Fernando had a shopping list for me; others have given me things to take for the family; there are supplies for the ministry; and Christmas gifts and little surprises for the kids. Anything that is new must be removed from its packaging and have the tags cut off. I need to have all the receipts handy, though, in case they try to charge me duty so that I can prove what I paid and not be over-charged. The hand-me-down clothes for Matthew must be put in space bags and condensed so that they don’t take up so much room. I need to distribute things evenly in my suitcases as far as weight, and also so that the seven dozen of each of the goodie bag “goodies” I am taking to give out to poor Indian children as gifts don’t look like things being imported to sell.
Packing is complicated, and as I look over the stacks of “stuff” I am taking, my mind whirls. I can’t help worrying about the weight limitations. I’m pretty sure I’ll have room for everything, but surely I’m not going to go over the 140 pounds I am allowed – am I? I ponder which things I can leave behind if I have to, and how I can eliminate even more weight. I plan to have my bags packed several days in advance so that Bob can take them somewhere and have them weighed. I don’t want any nasty surprises at the airport!
It’s hard enough packing for two weeks in another country. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about packing for an eternity in Heaven! the thought occurs to me one day. We came into this world with nothing; we will leave it with nothing, as well.
I’m trying to keep my clothes to a minimum, figuring I can wash down there. But still, I need a variety of outfits – and shoes – for a variety of activities. There is only so much cutting down that a girl can do!
No need to pack clothes for Heaven. Christ has already clothed me in His righteousness and when I get to Heaven He will furnish a white robe for me. ”After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9)
Can’t forget my prescriptions and diabetic supplies, all in their labeled bottles and meeting air transportation requirements. Oh – I need my glasses and contact lens supplies, too!
No need for any medications or contacts in Eternity! How glorious to have a perfect body with no illness, defects -- or fat! “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God… Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18, 19, 21) I Corinthians 15:51-54 also tells us, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
I have to think about what I will eat on the journey. I will be traveling from six in the morning until ten-thirty at night. Being diabetic, I need to think ahead and plan what and when I will be able to eat and how I will take my insulin. Only one meal is furnished by the airline. I will have to either pack a lunch with me, or be prepared to buy food in the airports or on the plane.
No need to worry about food in Heaven! Jesus is preparing a feast for us upon our arrival – the marriage supper of the Lamb. “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb…” (Revelation 19:9) And for all eternity, our every need shall be supplied. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
Checking off everything on all my lists… Preparing everything to go into the suitcases… Arranging and re-arranging to try to get it all in, in the most efficient and organized way… Hoping and praying I can take it ALL!
No need to pack a THING for an eternity in Heaven! There is only one thing that I need and that is my TICKET. My ticket, which I cannot hold in my hand or pack in my carry-on, but which is already bought and paid for with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold… But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Peter 1:18,19”
I may not have finished packing for Ecuador yet, but I’m all packed and ready to go whenever the Lord calls me Home for eternity! My bags are packed with nothing – nothing but my faith in what Christ did on the cross for my salvation! No need to add a thing to that – no good works, no membership in the right church, no correct upbringing or heritage, no wealth, fame, popularity or earthly success.
Jesus has already done it all and my ticket is stamped "Paid In Full."

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Bob lost his job this week. The company went through another round of lay-offs and this time Bob was caught in the crossfire. It did not come as a huge shock. Bob had been warning me for almost two months that it still could happen, but still, when he gave me a heads-up a few days earlier, I have to admit, a prickle of fear went down my spine and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Tuesday he called and said it had indeed happened, and he was on his way home.
By that time, I took it pretty well. Oh, I got a little teary-eyed when I called a couple people to tell them, and they, of course, were very sympathetic. That tone of voice does it to me every time! We live by faith, however, and it was time to put my money (or lack of it, I should say!) where my mouth is. Besides, when my husband leads the way and proclaims, from his heart, that he is excited and looking with expectancy to see what God is going to do next in our lives – where He will lead us, how He will provide – then, it is an encouragement to me to just let go, and let God work.
It wasn’t three hours later when the Lord had something wonderful to say to me! The mail came, and as is usual at this time of year, there was yet another catalog in the mail. How I ever got on so many mailing lists I’ll never know, because I almost never order from catalogs. I enjoy looking at them, but when it comes to actually parting with my money and – horror of horrors! – paying shipping and handling, I can never quite bring myself to do it. But here was a new catalog – one I had never seen before.
Hmm, this looks different, I thought as I sat down to take a quick peek at it. “Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog.” They must be selling things made by people around the world to help support themselves. I wonder what neat little trinkets are in this catalog.
That’s not what that catalog was about at all. As I thumbed through the pages I began to see that it was not filled with things that I could buy for myself, or my friends and family. Rather, its pages featured things like a dozen baby chicks, emergency medicine, Bibles, a fishing boat, dairy animals, a month of Bible training for a future national preacher, water filters, blankets, mosquito netting, fruit trees, food to feed a family for a month, milk to help a baby for a week, and so on… Forty-eight different things I could “buy” to make a difference in someone else’s life, physically and/or spiritually, who has nothing by this world’s standards.
I began to bawl like a baby as I looked at that catalog. The Lord was saying to me, “You see – you have so much compared to the rest of the world, Cindy! You have a warm roof over your head. You have food on your table – too much food. You have clean water. You have health care available to you. Even without a job now, you and Bob have help available to you and you will get through this. You have the love and support of family, friends and your brothers and sisters in the Lord. You have My Word freely and abundantly available to you! And greatest gift of all – you are My child through the salvation freely given in Jesus Christ! Do you see how rich you are? Do you see how I have blessed you?
There is not a day that goes by for many years now that I have not praised the Lord for how He has blessed us, and realized that by the standards of most of the rest of the world, we are very rich, indeed. On this day, though, when the temptation was great to be fearful and worry about how we would pay the bills, I really needed that visual message to take the focus off of our problems and to just praise the Lord for His blessings in our lives. That little catalog brought comfort to me that day.
It also brought conviction. My first inclination was to regretfully think, Oh, I wish I could “buy” some of these things! But with Bob losing his job today, we just can’t. Of all the days for this catalog to come! We will have to be careful with our money now. We already support two missionaries as well as our church, and we are determined that their support will not suffer. Whatever the Lord brings in, we will give from that, even if it is just the “widow’s mite.”
The Lord had something more to say to me, though.
Give to these who have nothing EVER. NOTHING day after day, for year after year. Give out of gratitude for all that you have even in your poorest moments.
Give out of faith that I will provide your needs and even many of your wants for as long as it takes. Depend on Me – not job security.
Give because you love Me and I have commanded you to give to those in need so that they may see My love in their lives, as well.
Give beyond what you are giving now. Give and watch Me give back – watch with excitement and expectancy! You cannot out-give Me!
And so we will pick something, or several somethings, from this little catalog to give to someone who has nothing.
I do not share this looking for praise for ourselves, but as a praise to the Lord, and as a reminder to all of us to take the focus off our own problems and seeming “lacks,” and rather remember how truly blessed we are and that out of our abundance, we can surely give a little more.
Some of the Scriptures I found in the “best catalog ever:”
But you see the trouble and grief…The helpless put their trust in You. You defend the orphans. Psalm 10:14
Help Him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy. Psalm 72:4a
He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him; He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. Psalm 72:12
For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9
But You are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. Isaiah 25:4a
He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:18
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
It’s been a great week! Within hours of Bob losing his job, we began to see how the Lord would provide for our needs. We’ve been praising the Lord! We have actually been worry-free. Wow! Who would have “thunk it!” We ask for your prayers, though, for we know we are human and the seeds of doubt and worry could start creeping in, but we pray we will just keep trusting the Lord and living by faith day by day, not in word only, but truly in deed.
And just in case you would like to take a look at this “best catalog ever,” you can receive a copy by calling Samaritan’s Purse at 1-800-353-5957, or you can download it at

Sunday, October 25, 2009


In less than four weeks now I will be on a plane to Ecuador! I check the countdown clock on my computer every day – sometimes several times a day – and the little Naranjo girls call or e-mail all the time asking, “What’s the countdown now, Grandma?” As of this very moment it says, 26 days, 21hours, 50 minutes and 13…12…11…seconds until I leave on that bus for the airport.
I am excited, and at the same time a little scared. Can I possibly get everything done before I go that must be done? I’ve already accomplished two of the biggest things. In the last few weeks I wrote “The End” on two of the three books I needed to finish before I leave. Gabi, Melissa and Katie are expecting new books from Grandma when she comes and I could not bear to disappoint them. Melissa’s and Katie’s books are done. Whew! I seriously asked the Lord to help me with Gabi’s – to give me good ideas, ease of writing, fewer interruptions and so on. It is coming along very well, and I know it is because the Lord is helping me. I now feel that I will finish it in time, but the question is, will I have the time left over to cross off everything else on my list of things to do?
Or should I say lists? I have a list of lists! There is the “Writing Projects to Finish” list, which includes not only the three books, but a message for the ladies in Laurie’s church, a skit for a seniors’ Christmas luncheon at our church, printing and binding the books and a couple other things, my weekly blog, etc.
Then there are the shopping lists – and I have a list of shopping lists, in itself! “Laurie’s List of Things to Buy and Bring with Me;” my “Christmas Shopping List for the Naranjos;” the “Supplies for the Ministry Outreach Projects I Want to Do in Ecuador” list; a few things for myself; necessities for Bob and Robbie while I am gone; etc. Of course, then I have to get everything into a carry-on and two fifty pound suitcases so I have a Packing List – my personal clothes, hand-me-down clothes for Matthew (which I still have to go through and compact into space bags), toiletries, prescriptions, gifts, supplies, books, passport, tickets, money and on and on…
Another list of lists is the “Things to Do to Keep the Homefires Burning List” which includes “Meals to Prepare Ahead of Time for Bob;” the “Suggestions of What Bob Can Fix for Himself” list; the “Bills to Write Out” list; “Prescriptions to Call In” list; and the “Things to Do to Get this House Back in Shape After being Sorely Neglected While I Wrote My Fingers To the Bone and Did Everything Else on the Lists” list. That one may not be accomplished, I fear. It is at the very end of my list of “Priorities” and I pray if it does not, that Bob will not only forgive me, but take mercy on me and clean it himself while he has two weeks off to stay home with Robbie! Sure would be wonderful to come home to a nice clean house!
To round things off, there is my “Project List for Pastor.” Most of the things that were on that have been crossed off, praise the Lord! Missions Month is over, the International Dinner is over and the few upcoming things (that I know of – there may be more to come for Christmas) have been pushed back until January. All that remains on this list are the Powerpoint presentations for Pastor’s messages for the next few weeks.
Do you know how much time it takes just to write these lists? I suppose it is time well spent, though, since these days my memory is shot and if I didn’t have them I would probably forget half the things on my lists. Oh, that reminds me – I need to write a “Things to Remember” list so that I don’t forget to confirm and print my boarding passes 24 hours prior to my flights, transfer money to different accounts, program the DVR to tape my shows, show Bob how to use Skype so he can webcam with us -- what am I forgetting?
Those are just the lists that I need to fulfill before the trip. I also have a shopping list for while I am in Ecuador – small Christmas presents to bring home with me, a few souvenirs for people back home, a few gifts for people down there, and so on. Laurie and the girls and I have our list of things to do while I am there, too. It includes a tea party for my birthday with all the Naranjo women and girls; a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner with the entire Naranjo family so they can see how it’s done in the USA; speaking to the ladies in their church; passing out goodie bags and tracts to the very poor Indian children and their mothers out in the mountain villages; going up to Paccha (Fernando’s family getaway in the country); visiting the Inca ruins and other sightseeing spots; and lastly, but most importantly – just spending time with my kids and grandkids – shopping with the girls, reading books and playing games together, celebrating an early Christmas and so on. The two weeks I will be there will disappear in a flash! I hope we can squeeze it all in!
Then when I get home, it is time to get ready for Christmas and the Sanchez family’s visit here! More lists to come, I am sure!
All this preparation! It is good to work towards a goal. The Bible commends the ants who work hard in preparing for the winter. “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” (Proverbs 30:24, 25) “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:” (Proverbs 6:6) A big part of my preparation in working toward a goal is in making lists and being organized. The lists do no good, though, unless they are followed up on and accomplished. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than to see, one by one, each of the things on my list crossed off! This often takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and determination.
Proverbs 31:10-31 gives us the account of the Virtuous Woman. What a hard worker she was! She was prepared and thought ahead and she worked hard to accomplish the goals she had set for herself and her family. There is no mention of list-making in this passage, but you can definitely see her organizational skills here as she moves through her tasks wisely and with strength and purpose.
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to
****her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the ****needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
I would not begin to compare myself with the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31 and all that she seemed to accomplish, and yet there are principles and characteristics here that I think we modern women can glean from her example. She abounds with qualities like wisdom, strength, kindness, endurance, perseverance, preparedness, faithfulness, willingness, industriousness, good self-esteem, charity, fearlessness, honor, and trustworthiness. How many of those same qualities can we say we share?
Making lists is only one tool that helps me accomplish the things the things I need to do. Other people may have different ways of doing things that work equally well for them. The important thing to remember is to work hard and do the best we can in all things to the best of our ability. This brings honor to God and blesses all those around us. It also brings us a feeling of satisfaction in our own souls when we know we are doing what is right and good.
One final thing – having said all that, my lists are not set in stone. Who knows what a day will bring forth? All my big plans and little details may not be on God’s agenda. He is in control of my life and my day, and I can make all the lists I want to, but in the end, it is He who enables me to accomplish them – or changes the path I was set upon. Lists are great, but being flexible and willing to accept God’s will should it be different than our own, is far more important. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:31-34)
My countdown clock now stands at 26 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes. My lists are written and I have my work cut out for me! Will I finish everything on time? The Lord knows and it is in His hands. Now if I can just remember that and try not to stress…

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Please forgive me – I won’t be doing a “Sundays with Cindy” this week. Today is World Missions Sunday at our church and we are having an International Dinner tonight. Pastor asked me to head it up and I have spent the last few weeks working hard at planning and preparing for it. One of the things we did was ask our missionaries from around the world to send us recipes that we could use for our dinner, so instead of writing my blog this morning I will be in the kitchen making “Chicken Yassa” from the Gambia in West African, and a dessert from Ecuador called “Dulce de Leche.” I am a little nervous about making two totally foreign dishes to me that I have never prepared before, or even tasted, and then having to take it to share at church. But as I’ve been saying to the other nervous women who have been calling me all week about their recipes, who’s going to know the difference if it isn’t exactly the way they do it in Africa or Ecuador or Thailand or Norway?

Speaking of Norway – I’m just glad I didn’t get the recipe for Elk Stew. I have had elk in my freezer before, but I don’t happen to have any this year. Of course the recipe did say if you don’t have any elk, you can substitute reindeer. Hmm, I’m fresh out of reindeer, too!

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in this recipe Laurie sent us from Ecuador. I copied it just as she wrote it.

DESSERT -- Dulce de Leche [Literally “Sweet from Milk”]
(serves approx. 20 people)

This is kind of a gooey topping that is usually spread on little breads (like small pan rolls) or crackers, like Ritz crackers. It reminds me a lot of the frosting for a German chocolate cake but without the pecans.


4 liters of milk (approx. 1 gallon)
4 tsp. cinnamon
5 cloves
5 cups sugar
2 lb. coconut
1 Tbsp. butter
1 egg, beaten
small breads or rolls or crackers for serving

Simmer milk with cinnamon and cloves for 15 minutes. Remove cloves. Add sugar and keep simmering for 10 more minutes. Add coconut and simmer about 15 more minutes until mixture gets thick and the spoon leaves a "trail" as you stir it. (Also, the mixture might start to pop and jump when it's about ready.) Add butter and egg (already beaten) to the mix and stir. Remove from heat immediately.

Spread on small breads or crackers to serve.
[I’m using the Ritz crackers. I thought the combination of sweet ‘n’ salty sounded good!]

And just a bit of spiritual dulce de leche for thought:

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6:35

"The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." Psalm 19:9, 10

"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." I Peter 2:2,3

Okay, I think I just did a "Sundays with Cindy," after all! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I went to a concert last night – the first I had been to in a couple years. It was at the church I grew up in, Hessville Baptist Church in Hammond, IN. The church is celebrating its 75th anniversary this weekend – a wonderful achievement in this day when so many churches have closed their doors or become watered-down versions of what they had once been. Anyone at Hessville Baptist would tell you that the glory and praise for that goes to God. Sure, the numbers are not what they once were, but He has brought them through some pretty tough trials. They’ve struggled over the years to stay above water in a declining area, but still, praise the Lord, the doors are open and the Gospel is being preached.
Our family has been a part of Hessville Baptist Church for nearly 55 of its 75 years. I was three years old when my mother first took me. We rode the Sunday School bus for several years until my dad was saved when I was nine years old, and then he took us himself. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior at the age of six and was baptized in that church. My siblings were all saved there, too. The strong foundations of my biblical training and growth began at Hessville Baptist Church.
Bob and I met and began dating through a church activity and he accepted Christ as his Savior there, as well. We were married there and started serving the Lord together in that church. When our children came along, they too were saved and baptized at Hessville Baptist Church. Bob was an associate pastor of youth and music, and I taught preschool in its Christian school. Later it was one of the first churches to support us as home missionaries.
God has used the people and ministry of Hessville Baptist Church to play an important and very special part in our lives and to help make us the people we are today. And if that were not enough, for all of those 55 years, we have known that we are loved there. We have been so blessed by God in our lives, and one of His greatest blessings has been in making us a part of the Hessville Baptist Church family.
This is the story of the impact this faithful church has had on just one family. You can multiply that by many hundreds of families, many thousands of lives over the last 75 years. It is wonderful to have a reunion this weekend of many who have come back to recognize and celebrate this special anniversary, but can you imagine the reunion someday in Eternity when the Lord may actually show us exactly how great an impact the testimony and ministry of Hessville Baptist Church has had in Hammond and around the world?
The name of the group who sang at the concert last night was “Sacred Heritage” – very fitting, I think, for the legacy that Hessville Baptist Church has left behind. I have thought often, the last few years, of the spiritual legacy that I am leaving to my children and grandchildren and all the descendants who will come behind. I pray that I will be found faithful, and that my godly example will influence and inspire young lives to follow after Him as I have followed. In the same manner, there have been and will continue to be generations whose lives have been touched for the Lord by Hessville Baptist Church. Praise the Lord for its faithfulness. Eternity will tell the true tale of its legacy.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:3-6

Sunday, October 4, 2009


October is Missions Month in our church. We will have special missionary speakers throughout the month and October 18th will be World Missions Sunday. I am looking forward to that day when we will have four missionary families with us. Two mission agencies, Compassion International and Gideons, will also be represented during the conference. Among the other activities and special services that day, we will have an International Dinner. I have been working on several of the special projects for this missions conference for over a month now and it is exciting to see our hard work coming to fruition. Missions has always been near and dear to my heart, so my prayer is that this special emphasis in our church will be used by God to stir hearts to be laborers in His harvest fields, whether here or abroad, and to really care and pray for those who go.
The theme for Missions Month is “The Gospel – Our Passport to the World.” Pastor asked me to design little passports to hand out to everyone, with pages featuring the missionaries and agencies we will have with us, and places where they can be “stamped” by the missionaries, etc. I was also asked to write a short skit for World Missions Sunday along that theme. I had just renewed my passport this year in preparation for my upcoming trip to Ecuador, and I can assure you, I probably have the best read passport in the USA after using it for my inspiration in these projects!
I would like to share that skit here with you today as just a little food for thought:


Passport to the World

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Setting: A missionary (older man) is standing next to his display shaking hands with people as they leave the church. Two or three people come through, quickly shake hands and move on. A young couple comes up to display and stops to look at it.

Missionary Whitman: (Smiling and reaching out to shake hands.) Hi, there!

Pete: Good morning, Mr. Whitman. Really enjoyed your message this morning. Thanks so much for sharing your ministry with us today.

Whitman: You’re welcome. It’s great to be here! (To young wife) Do you see anything that interests you, young lady?

Meg: (She smiles, picking up a curio to look at it more closely.) It all interests me!

Pete: Oh, excuse me! I guess we should introduce ourselves. My name is Pete Jenkins and this is my wife, Meg.

Whitman: Good to meet you both!

Pete: To tell you the truth, Mr. Whitman, we are very interested in missions. Every time we have one of these missions conferences, or a missionary comes to speak, we just feel like maybe the Lord is calling us somehow into missions. And now, we can’t seem to shake that feeling, even in between hearing missionaries speak here in our church.

Meg: We don’t know, though… We have so many questions! How do we know for sure if God is really calling us, and it’s not just our own feelings leading us? Where in the world would He have us to go if He is calling us? Our hearts feel burdened every time we see a missionary presentation. And really, we don’t even know if we’re strong enough to do something like this—all that preparation, I mean, and then to leave family and home behind… (She shrugs her shoulders and looks doubtful.)

Pete: (Earnestly) Yes, how can we know if we really are called and if we have what it takes to be a missionary?

Whitman: (Laughs.) Hold on! To really answer all those questions would take hours. I encourage you to speak with your pastor and share your questions with him. Let me just share a couple simple things with you right now, though… You remember how I spoke on The Great Commission this morning? Matthew 28:19 and 20 says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” The call has been given to all Christians right there. It is the last thing Christ said on this earth before He returned to Heaven. The call has been given. God is just waiting for us to answer.

Pete: So God has already called us…

Whitman: Look. (He picks up a passport from the display table.) This is my old passport. The United States government issued it to me, and all the authority of the United States of America stands behind it in allowing me to travel throughout the world. (He holds up his Bible.) The Gospel is my authority from the Lord Himself. The Great Commission is a commandment, or a mandate to His followers that we are to go in His name—in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost—and take the Gospel throughout the world so that others may hear of Him and be saved.

Meg: So it’s not just a call, but a commandment?

Whitman: (He nods.) With all of God’s authority behind it. And not only that, but it is a commission that is personal to each one of us! (Holds up passport again.) This passport was issued to me and to me alone. (Turns pages) It says right here on page five that it is unlawful for anyone else to use it! The Great Commission is personal as well! If we are saved, we are individually to take part in the Great Commission in some way—whether it be here or abroad; whether it be through praying, giving or actually sharing the Good News of the Gospel ourselves. Our salvation is very personal thing, isn’t it? When Jesus says “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden,” that is very personal isn’t it? Well, someone has said, ‘Go ye' is as much a part of Christ's Gospel as 'Come unto Me.'

Pete: So we need to take “Go ye” personally.

Meg: (Thoughtfully) I don’t think I ever thought of it that way before. I mean, I guess I just thought it was the church’s responsibility to do something about missions… I’m still kind of scared, though. It seems like such a huge thing!

Whitman: (Holds up passport.) This passport not only tells me that I have the authority of the US government behind me, but I also have its assistance if I run into trouble in a foreign country or have an emergency. I just have to contact the nearest US embassy or consulate. (Holds up Bible.) Matthew 28:20 says, “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Christ promises right here in this passage to be with us always, no matter where we are in this world, when we are obeying His Great Commission. The authority and assistance of the US government is great, but how far greater is God’s authority and help! He protects and equips us for whatever He has called us to do!

Pete: There is no reason, then, to be afraid if we have a mandate from God and His promise to go with us.

Whitman: That’s right! And here’s something else. On the very first page of my passport the United States government requests that other countries allow me to enter. When I enter another country my passport is stamped. Each of these stamps inside my passport represents a nation. And each of these nations represents millions of lost souls. The Gospel is my passport to reach those lost souls, my passport to a world of lost souls! And Pete and Meg, let us never forget that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected for our salvation, is the passport to Heaven for each of those precious souls who believes in Him and accepts Him as their personal Savior.

Pete: Amen, Brother Whitman, amen. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us this morning. (They shake hands and then Pete looks at Meg.) Well, Honey, we have a lot to think about. Let’s go home and pray that the Lord will show us what He wants our part to be in the Great Commission. And I think we’d better apply for our passports—just in case! (He puts his arm around her shoulder and they walk away.)

The End


Whether we are called to go into all the world, into our own neighborhoods, or to our own families and friends; whether we are called to preach or teach, testify, build, give or pray – if we are truly Christians we are called to be a part of the Great Commission. Those who are called to stay behind and support through prayer and finances are just as responsible to do their part as those who are called to go, and will partake of the rewards equally, as well. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China in the late 1800’s said, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” May we each prayerfully consider if we are doing our part to reach the world for Christ.*

Finally, a few more thoughts to ponder from great men and women of God who had true hearts for missions:

"God isn't looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him"
-- Hudson Taylor

"If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a
Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" -- David Livingstone

"The Bible is not the basis of missions; missions is the basis of the Bible" – Ralph Winter

"The mission of the church is missions" -- Oswald J. Smith

"We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God." –
John Stott

"The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity." -- Mike

"In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God's work, especially
the work of world evangelism, as in intercessory prayer."
-- Dick Eastman

"Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work." -- A.B. Simpson

"'Go ye' is as much a part of Christ's Gospel as 'Come unto Me.' -- J. Stuart Holden

"I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize
all the yet unreached tribes of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who
will not respond!" -- Isobel Kuhn

"The Christian is not obedient unless he is doing all in his power to send the Gospel to
the heathen world." -- A B Simpson

"We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first." -- Oswald J.

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God" -- William Carey

"Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us." -- Keith Wright

"If you found a cure for cancer, wouldn't it be inconceivable to hide it from the rest of
mankind? How much more inconceivable to keep silent the cure from the eternal
wages of death." -- Dave Davidson