Wow. My Cup Runneth Over.

Wow. I am hugely touched by all of you! So many of you reached out to me, letting me know that yesterday’s blog post spoke to you. You shared some of your truthful things with me, and one beautiful woman sent me her list of 7. I will always cherish that.

Here’s what I want to say to all of you: I love you. So very deeply.

Funny how that works, right?

We try so hard to be perfect, or at least, keep our flaws in check. We try to make sure no one finds out we’re crazy. (That’s my #8, truly terrified that I’m certifiably crazy.) Why? So, we’ll be loved.

But, life is one big dichotomy. We hoard our secrets close, and all that accomplishes is keeping people at arm’s distance. But, we tell our deepest fears, the things we don’t really like about ourselves, and it brings people closer. They lean in to hear us, because they hear themselves in our words. They have a list of 7 too.

But here’s what I’m not going to do.

I’m not going to say you’re wrong.

I’m not going to tell you that you’re brave when you said you were scared.

Instead, I’m going to honor what’s in your heart, and tell you that I’m afraid too.

But, let’s keep swimming. (Yeah, I love Finding Nemo.) I’ll swim with you. I’ll do the journey with you. And, I promise to be honest along the way, if you promise to be honest too. Because somehow, knowing I am not the only one with a list of 7 makes me feel stronger, a bit more sure, a little less crazy. It makes me think this life is do-able, after all. So thank you for that.

And here’s what else I promise you:

1. I promise not to pretend I have it all together.

2. I promise to be honest about my fears. (Like now, I’m almost 55, will I accomplish ANYTHING before I die. Does it even matter?)

3. I promise to encourage you, and please encourage me. Life is hard. Faith is hard. Sometimes, I hear a song about giving it all to Jesus (that Mandisa song), and all I can think is, exactly what does that look like? Will someone please tell me what that looks like? I just want to call her up and say, “Mandisa, what does that look like?” (And btw, Mandisa, you look fabulous with the weight loss. Really. Way to go, girl.)

4. Lastly, I promise to be your friend no matter what is on your list of 7.

I love you all. You are powerful, wonderful, devoted, godly women, who are living life fully. May I be like each of you. My cup runneth over.

PS I’d love to publish some of the lists of 7s (anonymously). If you’re up for it, send them to me. (It doesn’t have to be 7, it can be 2 or even 1). I think it would be great to see how similar we all are, how flawed and beautiful at the same time. You can send them to me privately,, or do the hashtag thing, #listof7. and tweet it or instagram it, or whatever you do. (@CinthiaMilner)

Spare the Rod Grandma, Spare the Rod!!

So, we’re in church on Christmas Day, and what to my wandering eye did appear–well, not Santa’s reindeer. No, I was treated to domestic violence.  I exaggerate. Somewhat.

Listen I spanked my children. Yes I did. And, not because Scripture speaks to it:

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. Proverbs 13:24

But, because I found it to be the most effective means of discipline for the BIG STUFF. I know, not everyone agrees with spanking. These days, you’d be hard pressed to speak out on the issue if you do use that form of discipline for fear of someone calling DSS, but what I witnessed in church Christmas morning was not a spanking. In fact, it was not discipline at all.

Picture this: 10 a.m. Christmas morning, the church bells have rung, the pews are filled, hymns announcing the Christ child’s birth are joyfully being sung, when whack!, a GRANDMOTHER, not the mother, backhands a 3-4 year old boy for making typical toddler noise. It startled my sons and I, sitting two pews back from her with the in-between pew empty, so much so, that my youngest son instinctively put his arm around me, as if to protect me.

What transpired after that is actually difficult to write, so I won’t elaborate, but I actually wondered if we were secretly on that show, What Would You Do? 

And, as much as you might want to do something, it isn’t always in the best interest of the child for you to do so. Its possible the parent, or grandparent, will take their embarrassment out on the child later at home.

But really, HOW DARE SHE? 

I thought of my own toddler munchkin, who’d stayed at home with mom. What if someone dared backhand my two-year-old granddaughter for making normal two-year-old noise? My heart breaks.

Here’s what I wanted to say to the other grandma in church on Christmas: Spare the rod, Grandma! Spare the Rod! That’s one of the actual rights of a grandmother. We get to spare the rod, and spoil the heck out of the child. My sweetie will yell, “YaYa come get me,” when put down for sleep. And, I go get her. I know, drives the parents nuts, but as the saying goes,  The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy. (Sam Levenson)

But really, what was killing me too, was the fact that this child stands a huge chance of growing up to hate Jesus, hate church, hate her. There’s the sadness. That he won’t remember singing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” he’ll remember dreading the whole church ordeal for fear of repercussions from Grandma–what big teeth she has!!

That’s what made me want to scream at her. But, I prayed instead, and not because I’m all spiritual, but because when I feel helpless, that’s where I head–to God. He knows what is needed far more than I do–for that sweet, little boy, for the daughter, who could not stand up to her mother, and yes, for the grandmother, who needed his grace all the more. I could only wonder, who had backhanded her? Who did not spare the rod on her? Grace, grace, grace.

When my children were little, I would pray before disciplining them. Lord, I would ask, what do they need? Grace or law? I couldn’t see into their little boy hearts, so I asked my heavenly Father, who loved them even more than I, the rod or the cross? Rarely, rarely was it ever the rod. The Cross, Cinthia. Show them the cross.

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin. (Julia H. Johnston)





Puking on Christmas

There was this one Christmas.

My oldest son standing at the top of the stairs throwing up. His younger brother could sleep Christmas morning away, reasoning that he had all day, and all school vacation to tear open and play with Santa’s loot, but not him. My oldest rarely fell asleep on that hallowed eve. He pestered his little brother until the youngest one conceded, and CAME DOWNSTAIRS BECAUSE SANTA HAS COME. My oldest couldn’t bear to close his eyes in anticipation of what the upcoming day would bring–Santa, family, celebration, church, joy–a day when the ordinary becomes extraordinary. He couldn’t bear for the day to have a flaw in it, and there he was, doubled over puking, unable to walk down the stairs. 

I could not fix it. I always thought I was supposed too. But, in less than 24 hours I’d have my head over a toilet while he played with his Christmas toys, sipping ginger ale. The day is sometimes just too much. It can be filled with so much anticipation that it rarely meets the expectation.

My oldest son now celebrates Christmas with his two year old, and wife. The two year old, my little Miss Priss, is more like her mother than her father, she takes the hits of life with a little thicker skin.

Miss Priss Decorating Her Tree

Miss Priss Decorating Her Tree

This year, on our way home from Christmas morning church service, I told the oldest, “I’m glad we go to church.” He didn’t respond because me being glad about being in church is not news to him. “Otherwise the day would be anti-climatic,” I said.  “After all the anticipation, and then the Christmas morning madness, if there was no church service to remind us that Jesus has come, well, it’s a let-down. But church does reminds us, and so its okay if the day isn’t perfect.”

My oldest thought about that for a second, reminding me of his father as he shifted gears, and made a right turn. He even bites his lip like his father does. He responded, “Agreed.”

I thought, I fixed it. I fixed that Christmas morning when he was puking, I fixed it for all of us. Or perhaps I should say, Jesus did.

Darkness Invades from the Land of Mordor and a Merry Christmas to All

Carly Christmas Tree

Donning the tree with my granddaughter

I wake up in the pitch dark.

Blinds drawn tightly to give privacy, I cannot see the light of the new-fallen day. It could be 5 a.m. It could be 10 a.m. Heck, it could be noon. If I want to see daylight I must tear open the shutters and throw up the sash, or check the snazzy clock beside my bed. A present from the 19-year-old last Christmas. (Okay, enough of Clement Clarke Moore’s timeless classic. But, I do hope you plan to read it this Christmas Eve. I will be reading it to my granddaughter. The words of it are already running through my head, obviously.)

But, to continue.

Light invades the darkness of my room the minute I turn on my bedside lamp, or my IPhone 5c (blue, if you’re wondering) flashlight. Here’s what always amazes me. Darkness can never, NEVER, win. Darkness cannot overcome light. Think about it, one tiny match lit and a whole room is seen. The light invades the darkness and darkness cannot stop it. I know, you already know that it only-takes-a-spark-to-get-a-fire-going. Well, me too, but light/darkness is one of nature’s dichotomies that never stops fascinating me.

I also wake up to the pitch darkness of my soul. Yes, a bit melodramatic. I agree. Stop rolling your eyes, because, really, don’t we all? Aren’t we all waking up to the pitch darkness of our souls, and asking a crucial question, do I matter?

Do I matter?

Do I matter to myself, to anyone, to the world?

Do I matter to my family, my friends, my spouse, my children, the girl/boy across the room, my employer, my dog (you always matter to your dog, btw), the universe?

Okay, so maybe none of ya’ll are waking up with that question buried deep in your souls, and you’re thinking no wonder she writes a blog. She has a LOT TO WORK OUT.

Well, yeah, I do. Here’s the deal. I always knew there was a very important question lurking in my soul, one I had never asked myself, or even bothered to find out what it was. But, it wasn’t until I started waking up in this dark room alone that the question presented itself. Spouse gone, kids gone, home gone, friends gone. The little empire I had built for myself gone, and just me left (not literally in one sense, but in another sense, yes, literally)  And there in the darkness, right before I turn on my light, is the question. Do I matter? That’s my question anyway, maybe you have a different one.

If you’re my mom, you’re going to comment on this post, with a yes, honey you do matter, but the question goes beyond the grasp of a mother’s love (which in this world is the closest we come to infinity). The question takes you to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, and drops you off (guess what movie I saw Monday night). There, the Dark Lord Sauron would like you to think that darkness wins. That he could actually overtake Gandalf the Grey’s light, and destroy him. Please. We all know the ending to that story, but still, Gandalf has to face the darkness.

And so do I, IPhone flashlight in hand. And, so do you.

That’s the truth in Tolkien’s books. The darkness is coming, and it will invade your land. And, you will awake in pitch darkness. And, you will have questions, deep, soul piercing questions. This is a true statement. Your darkness is coming. You don’t get to avoid it anymore than I do, even if you manage to outrun it for a bit, or keep yourself very busy with your empire while in denial.

So, that’s a happy Christmas thought, eh? Maybe.

Maybe it is exactly the Christmas thought we need.

If darkness is going to overtake our lands, (I’m talking personal here, lets not take the Mordor thing too far), then we need a light to help us see, and to penetrate that darkness. For what is the world if not a dark and often scary place?

That’s what Christmas is. The announcement that the Light that has come into the World. Jesus.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John1:1-5

Jesus is not a metaphor for light. He is light. He is the light that lights your journey. He is the light that outshines the darkness. He is the light of life. HE IS THE LIGHT OF LIFE. Meditate on that. If the world finally implodes on itself, and the sun is no more, there will still be light, because Jesus is, quite literally, light. He radiates it. We are transformed by it. Jesus isn’t a self-help theology, he is the light of the world. Creator of all things. Creator of me. I matter.

If I lie still in my dark room just a bit longer, and allow my question to be spoken in the dark (Do I matter?), if I  allow my fears to rise up before I jump up, if I do that, and don’t turn on my bedside light or tear open the shutters to see the light of day, if I can just be patient one fraction of a second longer, then the miraculous happens. Or maybe it is not so miraculous that the Creator comes to the created to speak, to reveal, but he does. Jesus’ light comes into my darkness, and answers my question. Creator of the universe, beacon of light, speaks. You matter. All is well. Merry Christmas.

Sleeping the Winter Away; Sorting Through Life; Testimonies and Issues

Platypus in Repose

Its that time of year again. I am going to bed. I mean that in the most literal sense. I am two weeks away from putting on the pjs, and curling up under my covers to sleep the winter away. When spring rolls around, well, somebody wake me up. But, not until the last possible cold snap is past.

I actually get to do exactly that because of my job. I don’t work Jan-March. I sleep. Horticultural is a great career, but it’s seasonal, at least where I live. As hard as that is on the finances, its not a bad way to live. Everyone should take the winter off and sleep. No catching up on projects or starting an exercise regime, just sleep. We’re all sleep deprived anyway, according to the Huffington Post. (Seriously, every other article is on sleep deprivation, check it out.)

I will also sort. When not dreaming through the wintry days, I will sort. First, through all the papers that were stacked carelessly on my desk while I worked, and then through boxes of who knows what, and finally my life. Every now and then I have to still myself and put my life in chronological order. I have to place the events of my life into a time-space continuum, or I get lost in my own life. I can only run on auto-pilot for so long, before I start to fear that I am living my life without living my life. Do you know what I mean?

I’ve already started sorting and sleeping (lots of naps of late) though two weeks of work are still ahead of me. Tonight, I ate my wild-rice/chicken soup (made in my new red crock pot, no less) for dinner while reading last November’s journal.

Two things stood out:

1. Everything has changed.

2. Everything has stayed the same.

My surroundings may be very different now, but it seems my issues are still well, my ISSUES, hence point number two. (I realize this is not breaking news for some of you.)

I was very unhappy about point number 2, kicking myself under the table (ha), and wondering when in the heck? But then, I remembered this pastor at my old church. He was young and fresh out of school. He was hired as like an assistant pastor. Nobody liked him because he fumbled over his words, forgot what was next, and generally stumbled through worship services. I thought he was awesome. A kindred spirit. Someone who messed up as much as I did. Anyway, I remember once he talked about how if your testimony about Christ was only about how you’ve changed, i.e. you’re such a better person now, you’re on the right track now, you’re so over all your addictions now, your marriage is awesome now, your kids perfect now, and so forth, that perhaps you’d missed the whole point. The point being Christ, of course, the perfect loveliness and holiness of Christ. No one liked that sermon but it made tremendous sense to me, even though I instantly forgot it until tonight.

So, I’m eating my soup, and wondering, am I trying for perfection? Is that why my issues are still my issues? Am I trying to be that person whose testimony is all so sanctimonious? Am I trying to have a testimony for Cinthia or for Christ? Well, that thought was a spoon stopper.

What if my issues are for the glory of God? Like the guy in John 9 who was born blind and the disciples asked Jesus if was blind because his parents had sinned or he had. Jesus told them he was that way for the glory of God. Now, there’s a thought. What if my issues somehow bring glory to God? My weakness revealing his strength?

This is not a way out of bettering myself, but it might be a way of placing my issues at the cross, where God is free to free me of them, or use them for his purposes. I am getting sort of mystical and hardly understand myself here, but in some far off way, it makes sense to me.

The good thing is, I have the winter to sleep on it and sort it out.

A Bit of Random (its hard living in my head)

So, today I stopped at the big, new grocery store about 20 minutes from my house. Same grocery store, Ingles, that I shop at in my small town, but they had a bigger field (old farm) to build this one on, and so they maxed it out. I found it terribly confusing, and I had a hard time deciding whether to ditch the carb diet and go for a sub at the Boar’s Head Subway-like counter, or stick with my Starbucks tea. I went for with tea. It was $4.22.Wanna bet they’d charge me $4.22 every time? Cause they are snazzy? They had tvs everywhere, and families were eating their dinner in the cute cafe-like spot next to the Starbucks. They even had big, coffee shop overstuffed chairs near the Starbucks.

But, they had the produce and the dairy together.

I don’t like that.

So nix on them until I forgo the carb diet, and then I’ll splurge on a Boar’s Head sub, but get my tea at my Starbucks. My Starbucks charged me $3.12 yesterday. Cha-ching.

Then, I spent a ton of time on-line killing time. Or not. Depending on whether you consider it career enhancement. That’s what I’m calling it (as opposed to stalking or laziness, take your pick). Check this place out. Flora Grubb’s Garden Shop in San Francisco. The chick’s name is actually Flora Grubb.

Why did my parent’s not have the foresight to give me a cool name like that? Surely they not knew I’d end up a horticulturalist with a huge passion for anything called a plant. Because you know her stuff is that cool because her name is that cool. She got the design gene the minute her parents said, “Its Flora, Flora Grubb.”

I want to work for her, but what would I say? My name is Cinthia Milner? I can’t bring myself.

I have a friend whose husband did the 50 year old thing on a massive scale. Grew out his hair, hangs with the yogis and changed his name. Changed it to, are you ready for this? LL Peace (the LLs stand for Light and Love). I so wish I was kidding.  Every once in awhile I get on his facebook to see what ole LL Peace is up too. Now, that is simply stalking. I also take it a bit personally because I adore LL Cool J, and I think he stole his moniker. His ex-wife moved to England. Who can blame the woman? I am considering a visit, although I don’t know her all that well, so again, it would be, “Hi, its Cinthia. Cinthia Milner?”

My name gets me no where.

It was 68 and rainy today, and all day I kept thinking, I should be wearing my Wellingtons. Yes, I bought Wellingtons. I work outside in a rain forest. What’d you expect? And, yes, they were a lot of money. (150 if you’re wondering.)

For some reason that last sentence came out with a bold font. I have no idea why.

And, grocery store is highlighted to Wikipedia in the first sentence. Again, not a clue. WordPress just sometimes does its own thing. Which frankly, is disturbing.

My neighbors on one side of me have awesome landscaping.

My neighbors on the other side of me do not.

Since I’m in the middle, I’m waffling.

Today, I went along with this conversation that made me uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable because since I came to know Jesus (almost 30 years ago), everything about me has changed. But now, I am working again for the first time in 20+ years.  And, work is very different now. People feel free to talk about things that, well, are a bit on the vulgar side. I didn’t say anything during the conversation, i.e. I didn’t contribute, but I also didn’t stop it or walk away. I just stood there feeling strange and embarrassed and sad because shouldn’t I be a better Christian by now? 

I think so.

Apple Gentleness the fruit of surrender

God’s Will in Our Lives

Kindness begins toward God. It is that attitude of the spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.

In Galatians 5:22, gentleness is listed as one of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit. It is from the Greek word, prautes, and is defined in the NIV Key Word Study Bible as “meek…but not in a man’s outward behavior only, nor in his relations to his fellow men, or his mere disposition, but in an in wrought grace of the soul expressed primarily toward God.

How much of life is spent disputing God? Not that he is God, but his dealings with us?

The opposite of resisting is submitting, and who wants to do that? Whether in regard to other people–submitting to their needs first–or to God? Submission is complete surrender. It is letting go of your right to decide and putting your life into God’s hands. Many say, “If I knew God’s will for my life, I would submit to it.” The fact that we’e searching for God’s will is evidenced by the extraordinary number of Bible studies exploring this very topic. Walk into any Christian bookstore and some variant of “Discovering God’s Will for Your Life” is front and center.

Back up a minute. Submit to his will first and then know his will? That’s confusing. 

Before we begin seeking God’s will in our lives, we need to first submit to God’s will in our lives. If we don’t, we’re only playing games with ourselves and with God, because what we’re really saying is, you tell me what you will for my life is first, then I’ll you if I will submit (or resist).

The NIV commentary goes on to say, “Prautes is the acceptance of God’s dealings with us, considering them as good, considering that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.” In other words, God is first seeking a relationship with us, one built on trust and submission, before we get down to any business of what His will is or is not.

Let’s be honest: when we say we’re looking for His will, generally we’re either looking for a way out or a way in. We want into, or out of—a marriage, a job, a ministry, a neighborhood, a house. It’s all about solving our immediate problems, but God’s Word says, “Seek me first and all this will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

There should come a time in every believer’s life when we finally understand that God is good and His dealings with us–even when we cannot understand them and they bring us to our knees sobbing–are good. Disputing this with Him assumes your thought processes are either like His or better than His, and your reasoning skills and understanding are like His.

Isaiah 55:9 clearly states that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours. Sometimes you will not understand why He allowed something to happen. You don’t need to understand to submit. You only need to trust.

Trust is a big scary word, especially when it means releasing control. We are fallible, fearful human beings, and we don’t trust easily. The Lord knows that. Our lives are precious and deserving of our best in living them out. Let’s not cast our pearls before swine, instead be cautious in a world where there are so many ways to spend a life. In seeking the Lord and relating to Him and letting Him relate to us through His Word, we begin to trust Him enough to submit to Him. It’s a process. It’s a relationship.

As he designs our circumstances to give us an opportunity to trust him–to show us He is faithful–do we resist him because it is too hard? Too scary? Do we dispute Him? Or do we draw near and submit?

Let us yearn to be like Peter, saying, “Lord, to whom else shall we go?” (John 6:68)

People, to whom else shall we go?

We look for peace, we ask for joy, we desire understanding, and we yearn for purpose. We believe all these things are wrapped up in some mystery called God’s will for our lives. We believe that if we could unravel it, our lives would be good, not understanding that the mystery is in God alone. We find joy, peace, purpose and understanding not in jobs to be done or questions answered, but in the “attitude of spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.” We will find it in complete surrender and gentle submission to our Lord.


Indulge, Repent, Repeat

Indulge, repent, repeat. I saw these three words on a t-shirt today and found it rather humorous, if a bit close to home. It was a t-shirt advertising mustard, of all things. Of course, I want one. And, of course, I want to wear it to church. But, of course, I won’t.  We Christians aren’t very good at laughing at ourselves. I blame Paul. He wrote all those letters and never included even the hint of humor. Come on, Paul. Not even one joke?

Of course, repentance is not a laughing matter, and Biblically speaking, it is not something we can even do ourselves. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We cannot drum up repentance no matter how much we flog ourselves. But, the advertisers weren’t talking about that kind of repentance. They were talking about the sort of thing we promise ourselves we will start doing tomorrow but never do, hence the repeat part.

Here’s my list of what I promise myself I will stop indulging in, and repent of beginning tomorrow.

1. Eating.

2. Shopping.

3. Finances (refer to number 2, please)

4. Starbucks (refer to number 3 please).

5. Keeping vampire hours.

6. Rising early to have time for a healthy breakfast (refer to number 1 and 5 please).

7. Exercise. (Who am I kidding?)

8. Call my mother. (There is no reference for this one, I just need to do it.)

And, that is the superficial stuff (except for Mom). If I included a list of major things, well then, true repentance would be needed. For instance, who can take care of my bitter heart, or judgmental thoughts? Will a half-hearted promise to myself before drifting off to sleep change my sharp tongue? Or is determination enough to forgive what I believe is unforgivable?

The clever t-shirt not-withstanding, the dilemma, whether superficial or deep, is that we need Jesus either way. We can’t repent and not indulge without his help. He is the willpower or determination we need. Oh, I know. It is not cool to say that. It is okay to say God, but nobody likes it when you bring Jesus into the dialogue, because honestly, that is where repentance rears its head in the truest definition of the word. That is the place where the conviction of the Holy Spirit shows up, and each time we deny Jesus his rightful place, we feel the dishonesty in that. Repentance is turning away from our rejection of Christ, and acknowledging him as Lord of all, even ourselves.

Repentance over all the little things in life, yes, but repentance over thinking we’re our own god and rejecting Jesus as God, well, start there. The rest will come, including calling your mother. I know because I called mine tonight.

Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic

As a Christian, I was never taught it, but somehow I came to believe that God would never ask certain things of me. I assumed the Lord and I had an agreement worked out. For instance, I felt I could handle losing all my money, so if there was going to be a trial in my life, then the Lord knew that was a good one for me. It was a little game I had going with him. Lord, this trial is okay, but never THIS ONE (fill in the blank with your greatest fear).

Because of my assumed agreement with the Lord, when trial did come, as much as I should have seen it coming, I refused to believe the Lord would allow it to happen. I believed He would swoop in at some point and save the day. And He is certainly capable of that. So, as my ship was sinking, well, I was rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

I am assuming that I’m not alone here, Christian or not. I am assuming that most of us, whether we trust Jesus as Savior, or believe that humanity’s collective consciousness is God, we all are pretty much going to do the same when suffering comes knocking–duck our heads into the sand until we are forced to accept the circumstances.

Every step of my trial was one where I prayed that God would step in and change the outcome. He did not. And, here’s what I tell people now. I don’t want another trial, but I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world.

Here’s why.

1. I found out that God is faithful to get you through it, even if he chooses not to get you out of it.

2. I found out that while the ship is sinking, God is so very present in your life its as though you could touch him physically.

3. I found out that God will help you rearrange the deck chairs if that is what you need.

All the things I was taught as a Christian, that God is faithful to us, that he never abandons us, and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, well, I found out that all of that is true.

Once, in the middle of my big mess, my oldest son was home for Christmas. We had just picked him up at the airport, and he was expecting the holiday traditions he loved. We were going to decorate the tree first thing to get the festivities going, and I had everything ready to do it, but we couldn’t find my husband. When I did find him, he was in his office emailing his girlfriend, who he would later leave me for. I went into the bathroom, shut the door, and sat down. I said, “Lord, you promised you’d be here. Period. In your word, you promise you will be with us in every situation. I need you here now.”

No bright light shone into the bathroom. I didn’t see the Lord visibly (though many have). My husband didn’t end his conversation with his girlfriend or she with him. He eventually left for her and she left her husband for him. But, I came out of that bathroom able to cope, to make Christmas what it is, a celebration of Jesus’ birth. I came out filled with joy that Christ was born.

What grace.

I no longer assume that I am exempt from any trial. Instead, I know that when trial comes the Lord will be there helping me to rearrange my deck chairs until I am ready to let the ship go down.


Sometimes All You Can Do Is Lay On The Floor (epic failure)

I work hard, as in I never stop working. Literally. I work 7 days a week, and I start at 7 a.m. and finish up around midnight.

There are several reasons for that.

1. I can. I have no family or husband or lots of friends (I just moved) or a church or any organization I belong to. I truly have no other requirement of my time. So, work gets it.

2. I am on a steep learning curve. At 54 (that’s me) most people are pros at their jobs. They’re now the consultants. I am just starting my career as a horticulturalist and so, the learning curve is large. I have a lot of catching up to do.

3. It feels good. It gives me something to do. When I come home in the evening, I come home to an empty house. I could watch tv or work. I work. (Side note: the tv is currently broken so that makes the decision to work even more obvious.)

4. I am terrified I won’t be able to work in five years, or ten years or however many years. I know 60 is the new 40, and I am in good shape (well, all things considered), but I do know that 50 hit hard and it hasn’t stopped hitting. I don’t know if I’ll be able to work five years from now. Who knows what state of health I’ll be in? I know that sounds all grim, and like I have no control over my health, but seriously, aging is not for sissies, and you do gain a new respect for what your body can and cannot do. With that knowledge, I work hard now.

5. Money is a necessity for all of us and I am no exception.

But there is also this:

I want to succeed at something. I have had some epic fails in my life and honestly, I hate that word, but it fits here. (The hashtag phenomena has ruined some perfectly good words.) So, now I have this over-arching desire to succeed at ANYTHING. But mostly, I want to look back at my career and say, I did good.

Okay. So, no big news there. People want to succeed in life. But here’s the clincher.

I want to succeed to make up for the epic fails. Oh, that takes a turn, doesn’t it? Let’s follow that path and see where we get.

Here’s how I learned this tidbit about myself. This morning I did on-line church. The Pastor’s sermon was about finishing the race strong (the journey of faith in Christ, he meant, for my non-believing beloveds). My reaction to his sermon was an over-reaction in the biggest (can I say epic?) way. I wanted to call the man up, and scream at him, “What the heck do you think I’m doing over here?” I wanted to murder the man. I wanted him hung in the town square and spit on by passersby. It seemed he was saying, “Cinthia, you aren’t doing enough.” I jumped up, off my couch, and screamed at my IPAD, “For pete’s sake, what else do you want me to do?”

Then, I laid flat out on the floor because for me, my posture before God helps me to hear God better when I pray. I told God, “That man is MEAN. Strike him down hard, Lord. He is hateful and MEAN.” (I can be bossy with my prayers.)

And, here’s what God said. Nothing.

And, here’s what happened. My soul was restored, renewed, comforted, and quieted. And, in that quiet Sunday space, I realized why I was really working so hard. I was ashamed of the epic failures.

In my quest to succeed at the next thing I was doing (work vs. marriage and family), I hadn’t dealt with the failures. Or rather, I hadn’t taken them to God to deal with. Sometimes, all you can do is lay on the floor, and scream. And, that’s a good thing.

Final side note: I did apologize to God about the mean preacher man. 🙂