• ~Psalm 46:4-5~

    There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
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asking for “mowh”

The other day Bridoodle and I were eating lunch together, while Officer Hubster was out chasing drug dealers and writing traffic tickets. We were at home in our jammies. I’d whipped up some boxed mac ‘n cheese (with a handful of cheddar added in for extra yumminess) and we were happily munching on plates of steaming cheesy goodness. It was a beautiful mommy-daughter moment. Bri was examining each bite with a “Yummy!” and an “Mmmmm” thrown in frequently for good measure.

As I neared the end of my plate, Bri stopped and looked up at me. “Want mowh.” She waved her fork over her macaroni.

I smiled but upon closer inspection realized that she still had four or five bites left on her plate. “Sweetie, you have plenty. You don’t need any more. Eat the bites on your plate.” It was heart warming that she liked my cooking. (Don’t laugh at me for calling Kraft mac n’ cheese cooking.)

However, a tiny familiar voice piped up inside me. “That’s just like you, Cindy. Aren’t you always asking for more when you already have plenty? Didn’t you just ask God for more money, more time and more funness?”

I listened to the still small voice. I held the thought close to my heart for a few days. It reminded me that I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. That I have an awesome family and plenty of toys. That my job lets me stay home when one of us is sick and then I still get to spend all summer by the pool. That I get to explore the world of photography almost unhindered except for my own habit of spending money too quickly. I really have no reason to ask for more.

I’d almost forgotten about the incident until tonight. We sat down as a family for a simple dinner of buttered noodles and green beans. We had crescent rolls set aside with local honey for a semi-dessert. Bridoodle got a surprise glass of chocolate milk, much to her delight.

She happily ate her noodles and her green beans. We both held our breath watching our picky eater chow down on a GREEN vegetable. (Usually she turns her nose up.) She chattered away between bites. “Daddy eat beans. Mommy eat beans. Bri eat beans.” After eating about half of the green beans she looked up at Hubster. “Want mowh. Want mowh beans.”

I quickly counted up the beans left on her plate. “There’s still …” A movement across the table distracted me.

Hubster picked up the bowl and looked at me grinning. “What kind of father would I be if I denied my little girl more green beans?” He doled out another spoonful onto her plate.

The message slammed into my heart like a baseball bat connecting with a ball. Tears welled up in my eyes. Hubster’s grin fell off his face and he stared at me like I was crazy. “Are you okay, Cindy?”

I squeezed my eyes closed and bowed my head a little, for just a second. I figured my husband could chalk it up to PMS. Father, my prayer was silent, please help me to ask for more green beans and not more macaroni and cheese. Forgive me for seeking things out of selfish desires. I want to ask for the things that will help me grow spiritually. Help me see the green beans that You’re eager to give me. Thank you for this message. Amen.

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! ~ Matthew 7: 8-11

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the best way to learn is to teach

Once a week I spend an evening discipling a group of girls from the church youth group. And by disciple I mean, I stutter and stammer over a lesson that pierces me to the core. It seems that every Sunday I’m slammed over the head with a concept that I haven’t mastered myself. And most of the time the message that I bring to the group seems to fall on deaf ears. Time and time again, I’ve asked the Lord why He’s called me to lead these girls. I feel like the most unsuited person for this task.

These teenagers live a completely different life than I lived growing up. Where I was the ugly duckling, these girls are painfully beautiful. Where I was the band geek who worked part time at the library, these girls are practically a sorority unto themselves. My high school self had one thing in common with these girls: an extroverted love for the spotlight.

Yet despite our differences, I cannot help but love them.

As I reach into their world of insecurities and melodrama, I find myself convicted of the petty grudges that I’ve been holding in my own life. I find myself mortified about my own flippancy regarding my faith. When I hold Jesus up as a mirror for these girls, I realize that my own soul is covered with grime and cobwebs. Rather than setting a shining example for them, I feel like an epic FAIL.

It’s discouraging to have these revelations. I’m used to being the self-righteous one. The goody-two-shoe. The girl that has her act together. I usually enjoy looking into the church mirror the way a straight-A student looks forward to taking a test. It’s been a decade or so since I sat through a Bible study without secretly thinking that I could probably teach the lesson better than the teacher. I’m that kind of judgemental.

When it comes down to walking and talking like a Christian, I’ve got it down, babe. Or at least that’s what I thought. Turns out that I have a whole lot more sin inside myself than I realized. Now I feel pretty stupid for my holier-than-thou attitude. I’ve seen some pretty horrible thoughts and attitudes lurking beneath that shallow Sunday layer that I put on. I think that I was too busy judging other people to really focus on myself.

Now that I’m leading this discipleship group, I’m suddenly feeling very introspective. Those superficial layers are being stripped away. It’s painful to see myself as defiled and hypocritical, but in some ways it’s actually refreshing. It feels good to be honest with myself again. I don’t like the conceited person that I had become.

You know that feeling where you realize that you’re disgustingly dirty and all you want to do is take a shower to make the smell go away? That’s where I am spiritually. I’m filthy. I stink. I seriously need my Savior. And despite my mountain of sin, His grace is enough for me. He doesn’t treat me the way that I deserve to be treated.

He loves me despite my filthy sin and His grace is the spiritual shower that washes me clean.

The Spanish Inquisition

A few weeks ago, Bethany Actually posted a little Q&A meme that I really enjoyed. The origins of the meme came from The Immoral Matriarch who offered to interview a limited number of commenting bloggers as long as they would agree to do the same for their readers, and so forth and so on. When Bethany posted her meme, I jumped at the chance to be interviewed myself!

airplane pilot wannabe

1. You decided becoming a doctor wasn’t for you, and now you are a high-school Biology teacher. If being a high-school teacher wasn’t an option, what career do you think you’d have?
That’s just a cruel question. Teaching is the only job I’ve really ever loved. I can’t even imagine what I would do without it. If I had lots of money, then I’d be a stay-at-home-mom. Although, I might go insane.

If I didn’t have lots of money, then maybe I’d fly airplanes. I think I could be a pilot. I imagine that I’d probably be terrified of landing the plane though. Maybe I could outsource that part of the job? One of my friends from high school has inspired me with a secret ambition to fly one day.

Does teaching at the college level count? Because teaching really makes me happy. It’s the best job ever! And the best part is that I get to stay home during the summers, too. (Which is by far, the best time of year to be at home!)
desks

2. Ocean or mountains? Why?
Definitely the ocean. Whenever I get to go to the beach, I try to slip away to be by the sea for some alone time with God. There’s nothing more amazing than watching the sun set or rise over the ocean. I also love to sing into the crashing waves. I love the fact that no one can hear me except the Lord. Walking along the beach just makes my heart happy.
ocean view

3. What was your first “real” job? Did you like it? Why or why not?
The first job where I received a W-2 was my highschool job as a library paige. I cleaned the books and reshelved them. Occasionally, I helped the children’s librarian with projects that she was working on. Most of the time I ended up reading the books instead of working. The job itself was pure torture for me. I was like a fat kid working in a candy shop. The books would call to me and I would always seem to be reading the most climactic paragraph when someone would shout at me that I needed to, “GET BACK TO WORK!”
4. What’s your guilty TV pleasure?
Seriously? Unplugging the TV is my secret guilty pleasure. It drives me nuts when Bri finds the remote and turns it on. Hubster likes to watch it in the evenings and I’ve grown accustomed to that, but I cannot stand to watch it when the sun is out. It drives me nuts! Ironically, I absolutely adore watching movies. Our DVD library is overflowing, and I’ve arranged them by content.

DVD arrangement

5. Tell me one of your favorite Bible verses. Just one? My life verse, and the inspiration for my blog name, comes from Psalm 46:4-5, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” It reminds me that my goal in life is to please God. If I want to be famous at all, I want to be famous in His city. I want to be the kind of woman where people know that “God is in the midst” of me. I want to stand firm in my faith without wavering. And I want to trust that even in the darkest of nights, my God will help me. The morning will dawn.

holding hands

So now, I’d love to ask you some questions! If you’d like a turn to play (keep in mind – you’re also going to have to interview others on your blog), just leave a comment below and I’ll e-mail you five personalized questions. I will guarantee the first five commenters that they will be interviewed within a week. After that, I will try to respond to everyone, but it may take awhile.

Also, I’m looking for new blogistas for my Featuring You section. Fill it out at your leisure and e-mail me your responses!

Sunday Linkage Love

Annie Blogs about a miracle shower curtain. It’s a post that reminds me of the sovreignty of our God and His amazing attention to detail. Something to smile about!

Does God want my First or my Best? This post from Amber really resonated with me this week. Spending time with God has become more and more of a struggle as I’ve grown older. It seems like my time is in constant demand these days. How do I decide which part to give to God?

This little story made me laugh and then it made me think. Ann Kroeker posts about how we should continue our spiritual education as we mature in our faith.

I’ve been saving this fabulous post by Whitaker Woman. She is so stinkin’ creative. Each week she has a family night complete with a theme and games for her kids. You have to at least look at these pictures. I want to be like this when I grow up!

On a non-spiritual note, this fabulous bow-making tutorial from Nicol has inspired me to work on Bridoodle’s hairbow collection. It’s definitely on my crafty to-do list. However, the list has become quite long over the past few months. It might be awhile!

A Walk Through Bethlehem

Tonight we took Bridoodle to a local Methodist church’s walk through Bethlehem. We had so much fun! Initially, we walked into the church and were seated in the sanctuary to wait. Every fifteen minutes they escorted two pews worth of people around to the beginning of the show.

While we waited we met some really nice people. There was a two year old who befriended Bri and her brother and sister enjoyed chatting with us. We shared crayons and coloring pages. Bri started to get antsy so I took her to an empty part of the sanctuary and let her toddle around for a little while. Finally, it was our turn to go on the tour.

We strapped Bri into her stroller as a man in a bathrobe explained to our group that we needed to be quiet. There were a lot of rules. No cameras. No cell phones. Anyone who disrupts the peace will be handed over to the Roman guards. There were thirty four people in our group. Everyone looked a little nervous.

Then the tour began. First we saw the angel explaining things to Mary. Then we caught up with Mary and Joseph on the way to Bethlehem. There was a live donkey! Then we saw King Herod acting like a jerk to his royal servants. At the city gates, a soldier on horseback told us that if we stole anything they’d chop our heads off.

And then we finally entered the city of Bethlehem. The census taker stopped us first and got really excited at the idea of taking taxes from 34 people. There were probably fifteen booths set up with various vendors. Lots of children were playing and helping their parents. Everyone was dressed in costume. It was really fun! There was a blacksmith banging on a red hot piece of iron. He even had a crude air pump rigged out of wood and canvas. There was a candle maker and her little girls were so cute. They called out to our group to stop and buy candles. We saw all kinds of things. Rug makers kept urging us to buy something to sleep on because the inn was full. There was a booth selling clay pots and another booth selling fresh bread. At the bread booth we stopped and they gave a few of the kids free samples.

Then we arrived at the inn. The innkeeper’s wife saw our guide and called her over. “You won’t believe what my husband did yesterday,” she said. “He turned a pregnant woman away. Rumor has it that she gave birth last night in the stable! Ack!” Her husband stood behind her looking sheepish. She pointed her thumb at him and said, “All he cares about is denari.” Esther, our guide turned away wide-eyed and started to lead us to the edge of town, towards the stable. As Hubs and I passed by the innkeeper and his wife, I looked her in the eye and said, “If it was my husband, I’d make him sleep in the stable!” I thought they would laugh, but they just stared at me. The guy muttered, “Move along, move along.” Hubster was mortified. We weren’t supposed to speak to the actors.

The rest of the tour was pretty much what I expected. We saw a real live camel and a few sheep. They had a big spotlight turned towards the sky to represent the star. The wise men seemed a little strange. Three eccentric men sharing one tent. But I kept my thoughts to myself. I didn’t want to rock the boat again.

All in all, we had a lovely time. Bri loved the sights and sounds. She was enamored by the shops of Bethlehem. We’ll definitely take her back when she’s a little older.

Let love be genuine.

Let love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection.

Outdo one another in showing honor.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Romans 12: 9-13

(ESV)

My friend… the comedian

A friend of mine recently posted his very own John Piper impersonation. It made me laugh until my eyes teared up. Since there are quite a few Piper fans that visit my blog, I thought I’d share. Feel free to head over to Juxtapositions to give my friend your feedback.

His performance does not mock Piper. He perfectly matches the pastor’s voice, and he also pulls out a really nice spiritual analogy.