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Don’t Numb Out!

Hey Friends —

How are you doing these days, friend?

Really?

dietI shared last week I made the decision to stop numbing out with Diet Coke.

addictionPartly because I want to run only to God when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed, and partly because

I want to be reminded of the power and lure of addiction.

You see, a few weeks ago I met two beautiful and winsome women at a Women’s Event.

On Friday night, one of the women said, “I’m an alcohol addict. But I’m clean today.”

The other sweet woman said, “I’m a heroin addict, but I’ve been clean three weeks.”

Don’t you love their honesty and authenticity?

I’ve been marked by their bravery.

Y’all they are living out their freedom and sobriety one choice at a time.

Every time I want a nice, cold, fizzy beverage on my throat, or my dog is driving me nuts, or the pressure is piling up — first, I remind myself nothing satisfies like Jesus does.

No soda, no glass of wine, no hit, no website, no trip to the mall.

As Beth Moore says, “There is no high like the Most High.”

And then I stop and pray God would infuse my sweet friends with His power, strength, and grace. As I’ve shared before, willpower alone isn’t enough to break the chains of addiction. But Jesus is. (Recap here)

Have you experienced this to be true in your life, friend?

Late Wednesday night the beautiful woman struggling with a heroin addiction called me needing help.

She shared, “Cindy, I feel like I’m at a fork in the road and I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.  Tell me WHAT TO DO.

What a brave and honest phone call. I want to live completely and authentically just like her.

Truth be told, don’t we all find ourselves at crossroads. We know we should take steps towards health, freedom, wholeness, new life….. BUT it’s tempting to follow the path of convenience, comfort, and ease. When was the last time you found yourself at a fork in the road?

  • You’ve committed to spending time in the Word each day, but it’s easier to get up an turn first to FB, your emails, and To DO list. (Am I the only one?)
  • You’ve set personal goals towards your physical health, but when it’s time to hop on the treadmill you declare, “I’ll start my exercise plan tomorrow.”
  • You recognize that unforgiveness is causing relationship challenges, but you’re not ready to let go of hurts and betrayals from the past.
  • You’ve decided to cut back on the nightly glass (or two) of wine, but now the kids are in bed and you find yourself saying, “It’s only a glass of wine. What’s the big deal. It’s been an exhausting day.”

What do you do when you are at a fork in the road and you don’t know what to do?

I’d love to hear from you, friend.

And what do I do when I’m at a fork in the road and I don’t know what to do?

I’ll share more tomorrow —

Thanks for stopping by, sweet friend!

Have a joy-filled weekend!

Sweet blessings,  

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P.S. West Michigan friends, I’m super excited to share a new Christmas message at Ada Bible Church on Tuesday, December 2 & Friday, December 5th. If your schedule allows, I’d love to see you there! Click  HERE for more information.

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How to Quit Diet Coke

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 Hey Friends —

Can I just tell you…I did not expect my Diet Coke addiction post to receive such a huge response! Your sweet notes have made me both laugh and cry!

A note of thanks to Patty for forwarding to me a “Dear John” letter to Diet Coke from the nutritional blog Pantry Medicine. Here’s a sampling…..

My Dearest Soda:

DC darling it is only after many sleepless nights and much consternation, I write to you this letter. I feel there is no way for us to go on. I can’t continue on the way we have been for years. I yearn for you when I wake. I love your sweet whisper and cold kiss when you open up to me in the morning. You make me feel I am the only one for you. But the truth is I have seen you around town with everyone; I know all my friends have known you DC. You take from me my hydration. You cripple me, weaken my bones, stealing from me needed minerals. I feel sad for how much you have changed my palate.  You make it hard for me to take care of myself, instead leading me back to you with insatiable cravings. It’s true. My doctor told me that my relationship with you actually makes me more likely to gain weight…..

You can read the rest of the letter here.

Can anyone relate? I know I can! I guess I’m not the only one out there who enjoys used to enjoy something nice and bubbly on my throat!

I also received a private FB message from a sweet friend who asked —

Cindy,

Hi there! I hope you are well! I also am addicted to diet coke, and would love to hear how you quit! I am worried about the headaches etc.

I’ve been pondering her question all day. Here is my response —

Sweet friend,

You are not alone! Thanks for reaching out to me. Whereas I don’t have all the answers, I do believe God can do ALL things, and if He can deliver me from a drug and alcohol addiction, He can set me from soda cravings — and YOU TOO!

There are 3 things that were important for me on my freedom journey from Diet Coke.

  • Motivation
  • Accountability
  • Prayer

I have tried off and on a bzillion times, but without these three elements, my best plans lasted only a day or two (if that long!).

1. Motivation

Figure out your “why.” Why do you want to stop? It must be personal to YOU! Get to the “root” and then write out your “why” and put sticky notes with your “why” everywhere.

Personally, this time, it’s because I want to join others on their journey to freedom.  Last week I was so tempted to just buy one Diet Coke real quick (“What’s the big deal?” I told myself) and then I thought about a sweet young friend who is trying day by day to break free from heroin. Instead of running in the gas station, I stopped and prayed for her. Knowing my “why” is making all the difference!

2. Accountability

I’ve found having an accountability partner to be super helpful! Want to know my best accountability partner? My college-aged son Jake. In the past, I’d make a bet with him for three months or so to go pop free. If we drank pop, we had to pay $300. Jake will gladly take my money, and I don’t have any money to give him — so that helps my motivation!

As much as I like Diet Coke, it wasn’t worth $300. Except, one time. Oops! Remember this?

Y’all are my accountability partners this time! You know I’m serious about being Diet Coke free when I blog about it! I see y’all out and about too much for me to go back on my word now!

3. Prayer 

I love the Max Lucado quote, “When men work, men work. When men pray, God works!” I believe this to be true with all my heart! I ask God daily to protect me from temptation, replace my cravings with His satisfaction and peace, and to fill my heart and mind with His Truth.

It’s true that Diet Coke tastes good on my throat, but the TRUTH is that only Jesus truly satisfies.

I also prayed that God would help me with any nasty side effects when I quit cold turkey.  To be honest, I didn’t really have super bad headaches. I still drink coffee, so I have not gone completely caffeine free.  Some people suggest weaning off of Diet Coke if you’ve been drinking it for a long time, but I have such an all or nothing personality, I needed to be done.

This article may help with ideas about the physical aspects of going Diet Coke free (here)

A couple of other little tips which have helped —

  • Whereas I do not drink any soda anymore, I do treat myself to an occasional sparkling water, Propel, flavored water, etc..  I know that is not the healthiest choice, but during this season of transition, cold sparkling fruit-flavored water has helped. (Don’t judge. :) )
  • I’m careful with my surroundings. My biggest temptation: Mexican food. How can I eat chips and salsa with water? So for the past few Sunday’s, we’ve skipped our normal Sunday Mexican food lunch. In the long run, staying home from Qdoba is probably not a bad thing —except for our two sets of friends who went there to see us today, and we weren’t there. Sorry, friends!

Friend, no matter what is getting in the way of our freedom — Diet Coke, food, porn, gossip, chocolate, too much nightly wine — it is time to let it go! We can do ALL THINGS through Christ who gives us strength. You are not alone! You can do this!

Cheering you on!

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P.S. Bloggy friends, do you have anything else you would share with my friend? I’d love to hear from you!

P.P.S. If you want additional information on Overcoming Addiction, check out my series of blog posts starting here.

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My Secret Addiction

secretHey Friends —

It’s time I come clean.

I have a confession to make.

dcI am addicted to Diet Coke.

To me, there’s nothing like something cold and bubbly on my throat after a long stressful day, or after speaking at an event, or well, anytime, really.

I could drink Diet Coke all day long.

It wouldn’t surprise you then to learn I’ve been known to consume Diet Coke in excessive amounts.

Let’s just say, when you drive through the party stores’ drive through window to pick up a cold 2 liter, you’re at the “danger zone.”

Or last winter, while I was traveling with my good friend.  At the end of our time together, I asked for water on the plane instead of my typical soda (I must have already had a Diet Coke with me.)  My friend leaned over and whispered, “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen you turn down a Diet Coke.”  Ugh.  Is my obsession that obvious?

Not that Diet Coke is a bad thing (well, unless you watch those crazy videos or hang around friends who tell you about all the chemicals in Diet Coke.)

Maybe I should rephrase it — it’s not that Diet Coke is an illegal thing.

Which is exactly what has helped fuel my addiction.

After wrestling with alcohol and drug addiction for many years, I appease myself by saying, “After everything you’ve been through in your life, for crying out loud Cindy, drink the Diet Coke.

And so I do.

Or, I should say, I did.

Until last month.

In mid-October, I spent the weekend teaching a beautiful group of ladies near Petoskey, MI.  Many of these women came to “do the thing” — not just sit around and “play church” — but these women were desperate for God to show up big and intervene in their life.

We spent an amazing, Truth-filled weekend together  — which did include heavy consumption of Diet Coke on my part. In fact, one sweet woman even brought me a nice cold Diet Coke on our last day. Instead of bringing an apple for the teacher, she brought me Diet Coke.

And yes, I drank it.

But no more, friends.

I shared this on FB soon after my eye-opening weekend retreat —

Diet Coke

 

Y’all, I’m here to say today is Day 21 and I’m still walking in freedom. Woo hoo!

Not that it’s been easy.

Not that I haven’t desperately wanted a cold Diet Coke.

Not that I haven’t tried to rationalize why it’s not that big of a deal, who cares, just drink the Diet Coke.

But friends, it is a big deal.

You know why?

Jesus Christ came so we can live FREE!!!

And if there is anything we are clinging to more than Jesus, it’s time for it to go.

I love Psalm 61: 1-2

My soul finds rest in (Diet Coke, NO!) God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress,
I will never be shaken. 

Here’s how another sweet friend is walking out her freedom. Such wisdom she shares —

diet coke response

Aren’t Jennifer’s words awesome? I love where she says, “Jesus is the living water. When I thirst, I will thirst for Him, and symbolically drink water….” Love it!

Y’all, I’ll end where I started, with a confession to make.

am was addicted to Diet Coke  — but Jesus has set me free!

How about for you?

What’s getting in the way of your freedom, sweet friend?

Maybe for you it’s not Diet Coke, but instead —

  • alcohol
  • cigarettes
  • the Internet
  • ice cream
  • control
  • TV
  • excessive exercise
  • pornography
  • an eating disorder
  • drugs
  • perfectionism

You name it, I’ve heard it, friend.

You are not the only one.

But let’s declare today another #FREEDOM FRIDAY! It’s time for us to live FREE!

If there is anything that is getting in the way of the full, abundant, power-filled life that is yours in Christ, may today be the day you declare, “no more!”

I’d be happy to pray for you on your freedom journey. Leave a comment or private message me, sweet friend. Let’s ask God to cut every tie with any lesser thing that is standing in the way of your victory!

Also, may I ask you pray for the two friends I mentioned in my FB post? One friend has relapsed, and is really struggling. Will you please pray for freedom and victory for these two women, and anyone else you know who is struggling with addiction?

Addiction is big, but Jesus is bigger!

Let’s ask Him to break every chain and set ALL the captives free! Woo Hoo!

Thanks so much for stopping by *She Sparkles*!

God’s richest blessings to you!

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P.S. Here’s what I’m praying for all my dear blog friends today —

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Teaching Your Child Compassion and Kindness — Operation Christmas Child

Hey Friends -

Have you ever expereinced a life-changing moment when you knew you’d never again be the same?!

That’s exactly what happened to me when I had the chance to distribute Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

Here’s the story —

In 2003, I was invited to serve at an Egyptian church and spend time with my friend Maha and her family.

One of the many highlights of the trip was being able to pass out Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes to the children of Garbage City.

Here I am (on the left) being escorted to the area where the children were waiting. And yes, that’s raw sewage running down the middle of the street.

When we arrived in the church and I saw all of the beautiful children, I was quickly moved to tears.

I asked one of our interpreters, “How do you say ‘Jesus loves you’ in Arabic?”

She responded “Jesus be hebec” (my spelling…not sure how you really spell it….)

And that afternoon, as I knelt down in the dirt in 110 degree heat in a sweaty room jam-packed with kids  —I should mention I was 4 1/2 months pregnant! — and passed out the OCC shoeboxes…. I shared with each and every beautiful, precious child “Jesus be hebec, Jesus be hebec.”

With thick wet tears streaming down my face, I knew at that moment that this was what I was created for! I would surrender my life to share with anyone and everyone — no matter where God would take me — all about Jesus and His great love.

It is a defining moment in my life I will never forget. :)

In the picture below, I am helping show the children what to do with the various items from the shoebox — sometimes challenging when we could only use our actions, and not words because of the language barrier.

This little girl was given powder, but had no idea what to do with it!!

Pic below passing out OCC shoeboxes in an Egyptian hospital for kids with cancer…


I also had the opportunity to pass out OCC shoeboxes at the Sawarahi Refuge Camp in North West Africa.

Both at the refuge camp and in Egypt, I experienced first hand the impact that these simple, inexpensives showboxes have on children (and their families) around the world.

This holiday season the Bultema’s will be once again be packing OCC shoeboxes. I’ve found this is one of the easiest, most fun opportunities to put our “Red Hot Faith” in action, while teaching compassion, kindness, and generosity.

I’m super excited to pack our shoeboxes, and hope you and your family will join us too!

This holiday season please join us and build a box with your family to teach kindness, compassion, and generosity.

How your family can get involved with Operation Christmas Child:

1. Pack a shoe box! Get the kids involved in choosing gifts to give to another child.
2. Pack a virtual shoe box online through Build A Shoebox Online.
3. Drop your completed box at an OCC drop-off location close to you (find one here) 

Does your family participate with Operation Christmas Child? What’s your favorite thing to put in a shoebox? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks so much for stopping by *She Sparkles*!

God’s richest blessings to you!

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Day 31: Fire Up You Faith! Woo Hoo! (& personal video message)

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Hey Friends –

Welcome! You made it to the 31 Day Fire Up Your Faith finish line! Woo Hoo!

If this is your first visit — hello, friend!  You can begin the 31 Days to Fire Up Your Faith here. As many of have requested, the 31 Days will be posted on my blog forevermore.  Join anytime!

Chili pepperLet’s start with an apology. I’m so sorry for the delay in getting this last post up. To be honest, I hate goodbyes. How can I best wrap up this amazing journey we’ve been on? I’ve loved every moment of hearing and seeing how God has used this series to reignite your faith lives! Woo Hoo!

In fact, one dear sister said her faith life increased from a “3” to an “8” on the chili pepper scale during our 31 days. Yippee!

But after all of your hard work, I couldn’t let our 31 Days end without an official ending — and a little bit of confetti!

Here’s a personal message just for you, 31 Day-ers :)

The confetti wand didn’t cooperate under the pressure of a camera. Here’s how a confetti wand is supposed to work:

(You may want to turn on the sound in the bottom right corner to get the full celebratory effect!)

Thanks to my dear friends JJ Landis, Jen Ferguson, and Julie Sanders for joining me for the official confetti wand demonstration!

Sweet friends, may I pray for you —

Dear God, thank You for my dear sister and the humble privilege of participating in this Fire Up Your Faith adventure together. Oh Lord, how I ask that You would remind her in the deepest places of her heart and mind that she is lavishly loved by You. Please open her eyes to the purpose, plan, and meaning that You have for her life. Help her to let go of anything she is holding on to that is getting in the way of the full, abundant life that You desire for her. Sprinkle my sweet sister’s path with tokens of encouragement, and surround her with women to be voices of truth and grace. And Lord, as You fill up my sister each day, please use her to bring healing and refreshment to others each day. We love You, Lord, and we bless Your powerful and holy Name. In the life-changing, delivering name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Today’s Challenge: Day 31 of our 31 Days.

1. Grab your Fire Up My Faith notebook and head to “your chair.” Jot down today’s date and spend time in prayer. Ask God to…

  • Seal the lessons you have learned from this 31 Day journey.
  • Empower you to live as His dearly loved daughter.
  • Fill you afresh each day with a fired up faith!
  • Use your life to show the world how loving and compassionate He is.

hebrews 121-22. In the video I shared Hebrews 12:1-2. Write it on an index card, and commit to memorizing it this week. What are the “everythings” that hinder your faith life, and/or the sin that entangles and gets in the way of all God has for you?

3.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Spend time confessing anything getting in the way of your faith relationship, and thank God for the gift of a “clean slate” in Christ.

4. Review and print off the Lukewarm Checklist. What stood out to you from this exercise?

What is one thing you can do today to leave lukewarm living behind and pursue a fired up faith?

Share with us in the comments section please!

sharable-redhotfaith-pepperIt has been a joy to journey with you, sweet sister! Remember, lukewarm should not be our norm. Let’s live a life of Red Hot Faith!Sweet blessings
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blog header backgroundP.S. If you would like to learn more about living with a Fired Up Faith, you may want to check out my Bible study Red Hot Faith: Lessons from a Lukewarm Church. You can learn more here and it is on sale now! Woo Hoo!

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