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When Christmas is Messy (& new video teaching)

ada Christmas 2014Hey Friends —

If you were going to pick one word to describe your Christmas season thus far, what would it be?

  • hopeful
  • peace-filled
  • fun

Or if your December has looked like mine, the word you might pick would be more like…

  • messy
  • different-than-expected (trying to make it into one word – smile)
  • chaotic

I won’t bore you with all the details, but life is pretty messy at my place these days.

We’re in the midst of a roof project (and four of our bedroom windows are currently boarded over while they work on the roof. Lovely).  The furnace man said yesterday our furnace pipes are rusted and need to be replaced — for only $1800. Oh, and did I mention someone ransacked through my car the other night, and I still have a fall flag hanging on the porch.  My email inbox is like a overgrown, weed infested garden, and I’m in the middle of a huge writing project that is due before the new year. And my firstborn Jake is going to be in Vietnam this Christmas. :(

But the good news, friends. I have peace. A whole lotta peace.

And you can too.

You see, if we look back at the first Christmas, it was not “Pinterest perfect.”

The first Christmas was lonely, stinky, disappointing, dirty, messy—and our lives will be too.

But the really good news—God is with us in our mess.

Christmas mess

Will you go back and read that out loud?

Good news, right friend?!

I had the joy of sharing a message this season about keeping our peace this Christmas season. You can watch my teaching in its entirety here —

 

Ada Bibe Church 2014 Christmas Message by Cindy Bultema

 

Friends, are you faced with a mess today?

Are there parts of your life that are lonely, stinky, disappointing, or dirty?

Do you need a reminder that God is absolutely Trustworthy and True? I’d be humbled to pray for you. And what if we both committed to –

A – Always starting our day with Jesus

B – Breathing in peace, and breathing out our frustrations, disappointments, and unrealistic expectations

C – Choosing Peace

Despite our circumstances, let’s allow Peace to rule and reign our thoughts and lives.

I’m willing if you are!

How have you experienced peace in your messy moments? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks so much for stopping by *She Sparkles* dear friend!

May your weekend be filled with oodles of peace, joy and  life-giving moments!

Merry, messy Christmas!

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Expecting the Unexpected

Cindy & Julie Sanders

Cindy & Julie Sanders

I’m thrilled to host my dear friend Julie Sanders as my guest today. The following post is based on her new book “Expectant,” a devotional book for expecting Moms. Enjoy!

Expectant_FlatforeBooksBy the time the news came, she had long since laid her expectations to rest.

For so many years, she hoped with hesitation turned to heaviness. Elizabeth waited to feel her womb full with a child long enough for other women to conceive, grow, give birth, and raise their beloveds to families of their own. But her womb and her arms were empty.

And then her husband Zechariah went to serve in the temple. As if to begin to sweep away their shared expectations, an angel of the Lord met him beside the altar. Their prayers had been heard. The messenger brought news that God would do more than they had asked. He would defy their age and destroy what everyone expected, giving them a son. The aged mom-to-be secretly said, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me,” (Luke 1:25a).

Whether a woman embarks on the mothering journey at a traditional time in a typical way, or at a surprising time in singular way, God is revealed. Children are given under the watchful eye of the most tender heavenly Father.

God knows our longings and our limitations, and He sees that every mother’s heart is expectant.

As the angel foretold, Elizabeth conceived, though her husband waited wordlessly for his lack of faith. He believed in the power of his expectations, instead of the One who exceeds our hopes. Together, the aged man and wife became the humbled father and mother, for becoming a parent has a way of exposing our weakness and sending us to our knees. The elderly first-time mother surely wondered if she could manage an infant in her season of life, but as I share in EXPECTANT, “If He has given you a child to nurture, He can give you the energy and wisdom and desire to raise that child well.”

After most of a lifetime spent waiting and wondering, God did more than Elizabeth could ask or imagine.

Her son became John the Baptist, born just before Jesus and sent to announce the coming of the Prince of Peace. At the perfect time, in the perfect way, He exceeded her expectations.

Could it be that God wants to do more than what you expect in your life and in the lives of your family members?  Mothers have the chance to see God do more than a mom’s heart can ever hope.

 Father God,

It’s easy to fall into expecting the normal pathway of motherhood and family. When it looks different, I find myself struggling to have faith. Help me to trust You to know and do what’s best. Would you lead me in my journey as a woman and maybe as a mom, and would you go beyond my small expectations and do more?

***********

mum7croppedJulie lives where tea is sweet and grits are cheesy. She and her husband of 25 years have two nearly grown kids. EXPECTANT: 40 Devotions for New and Expectant Moms was born when God brought a group of young couples into their lives, just as they began to long to grow their families. Julie loves to teach God’s word to women in her hometown and across the globe; she is passionate about fighting human trafficking and helping women of all tribes and tongues find God’s peace for life. Check out Julie’s blog home Come Have a Peace  (www.juliesanders.org) and Marriage Mondays to find reasons for peace and information about her ministry. EXPECTANT is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

 

Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart with us, Julie!

Sweet friend, do you find yourself in a season of waiting and wondering? How can we pray for you?

Share with us please!

With an expectant heart,

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TobyMac’s : EYE’M ALL MIXED UP (Remixes) & giveaway!

Toby Mac concert

Toby Mac concert

Hey Friends -

Y’all know how much my family loves TobyMac, right?!

A few years ago, we had the best time seeing TobyMac in concert! He was one of the nicest, kindest men I’ve ever met (and remember how my kids said I was mom of the year when they learned I won backstage passes/tickets for them?!)

Not only is TobyMac’s music powerful ~ I especially appreciate the Truth-filled words he shares. I love when he sings — “It’s never been my dream to see my face in magazines, it’s always been about the music, hoping God would use it to set some people free.”

tobymac2b0201Of course, being escorted backstage by TobyMac’s Tour Manager and getting some personal time with TobyMac is definitely at the top of my girls’ dream-come-true list.

Yay, God!

Imagine my delight when I learned TobyMac has a brand new CD coming out, and his team wondered if I’d like to share his music with my blog readers.

Um, YES PLEASE!

eyemallmixedupIntroducing TobyMac’s brand new CD — EYE’M ALL MIXED UP!

Five-time GRAMMY® winner TobyMac recently debuted his latest remix project  – EYE’M ALL MIXED UP (REMIXES). The project is his first release since his history-making studio album EYE ON IT, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, only the third Christian album to accomplish this feat at the time of its release. EYE’M ALL MIXED UP (REMIXES) features reworked tracks off EYE ON IT by remixers Capital Kings, Telemitry, Soul Glow Activatur of Family Force 5 and more.

EYE ON IT debuted to unprecedented critical acclaim, nabbing the GRAMMY® Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album, and media outlets are embracing the remix project with the same enthusiasm:

“TobyMac fans will love the new energy breathed into these songs by an elite group of producers. This album should be an essential for every dance party across the nation.”
-NewReleaseTuesday.com

“All of the songs here are excellently crafted and some of them are even improvements of the originals.”
-Jesus Freak Hideout

Here’s the amazing playlist —

EYE’M ALL MIXED UP (REMIXES) Tracklist
1. EYE ON IT (Phenomenon Remix by Soul Glow Activatur)
2. FORGIVENESS (Feat. Lecrae) (Neon Feather Remix)
3. SPEAK LIFE (Telemitry Remix)
4. ME WITHOUT YOU (Capital Kings Remix)
5. STEAL MY SHOW (Jack Shocklee Remix)
6. UnSTOPPABLE (Feat. Blanca) (Phenomenon Remix by Soul Glow Activatur)
7. LOSE MYSELF (Capital Kings Remix)
8. EYE ON IT (Kaveman Remix)
9. THANKFUL FOR YOU (Thunderbird Remix)
10. MAC DADDY (Tru’s Reality) (Telemitry Remix)
11. ME WITHOUT YOU (Telemitry Remix)

The kids and I went for a drive tonight to listen to the songs and pick our favorite. Bottom line: we loved them all!

Now are you ready for an awesome Toby Mac giveaway?! (drumroll please….)

THREE dear friends will win —

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll close with a quote from  TobyMac….

“What is it like to live a life of faith? It doesn’t look perfect, I can promise you that,” Toby admits. “We’re all struggling. We’re struggling to mend relationships, to love people well, and to love God. But the gift of walking this life of faith is that you can make it right each day. You can turn and start over, determined, with your eye on it.”

Amen, TobyMac, Amen!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles.* Have a wonderful, faith-filled, empowered day!!

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P.S. Here’s how to get connected with Toby Mac –

 

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When the Holidays are Hard

charliebrowntreeHey friends —

Who do you know who is experiencing a less-than-jolly Christmas this year?

May I encourage you to sit down and prayerfully consider anyone you know who has lost a loved one this year, or is going through a season of change, transition, health crisis or loss. Also, ask God to bring to mind anyone who may be alone over the holiday season.

Here are some ideas of how you might come alongside and help —

When the Holidays are Hard

1. Do Something.

Don’t say, “if you need something, call me” — do something!

When someone is grieving, it’s hard to think of what you need, and even harder to reach out for help.

  • Make a meal.
  • Send a gift card.
  • Shovel their driveway.
  • Bring postage stamps.
  • Do something!

2. Offer to help decorate for the holidays.

Trust me, when you are grieving, the thought of putting up Christmas decorations can be overwhelming (but if you have kids, you feel like you should). If you know someone struggling this season, offer to come and decorate their house for them.

True story…the first Christmas after David’s death, I couldn’t face putting up holiday decorations.

A friend from church (named John) couldn’t imagine me and Jake not having a Christmas tree — and took Jake out to cut one (Jake’s first time cutting down a tree below).

Aren’t they cute? 14 years later, John’s still cutting down Christmas trees for me and Jake! :)

3. Say Something.

A simple, “I’m sorry for your loss. You are in my prayers” …or “I’m sorry this is a hard season. How are you doing, really?”

Rather than ignoring the pain/loss, say something.

(My friend Shauna wrote an awesome chapter on this in her book Bittersweet. I’d highly recommend it!)

4. Listen

If your friend wants to talk about the deceased love one and/or feelings associated with the loss, LISTEN.

Active listening from others is an important step to healing. Don’t worry about being conversational or having “the right thing to say”…. just listen.

5. Cry with them.

If tears flow, don’t feel you have to “be the strong one.” Tears are cleansing and an important part of the healing journey. Just be sure to bring lots of Kleenex!

6. Be Flexible.

Be flexible and supportive of the way the person chooses to handle the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to change things up. There is no right way or wrong way to make it through the holiday season.

When David died just 2 weeks before Christmas, I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do on Christmas eve or Christmas day. Every hour was beyond painful and unbelievably hard to get through. My parents and friends were super supportive, and their flexibility was just what I needed during an extremely difficult time.

7. Be Available.

If you say, “Call me anytime” ~ mean it. Be there!

One cold winter day I was having a hard time. I called a girlfriend and left a message. When she heard my phone message, she immediately hopped in her car and drove right over. She showed up in less than 10 minutes with a barefoot 2 year old. Talk about a true friend! :)

Being available makes a huge difference. Grief can come in waves…be available for when the wave hits!

8. Extend Invitations

When you are going through loss, nothing is worse than feeling all alone.

If you know someone grieving, extend an invitation to your holiday gatherings. Leave it open ended (i.e. We’ll be getting together on Thursday night. If you would like to come, we would love to have you. No need to bring anything, you can just show up anytime between 5 -10. Stay as long as you’d like. If it doesn’t work, it’s ok. Just know we’d love to see you.”)

Sometimes just having different options without the pressure of committing to anything can be very helpful.

9. Offer to Take their Kids.

If you know someone struggling (or a single mom), call and offer to take their kids. Let them get some rest, time to think and/or pray, or just have a break.

You could even say, “Could I come and play with your kids while you stretch out/do some laundry/etc…” Big help ~ trust me!

10. Pray.

Keep your friend in your prayers. Lift them before the Lord, and ask God to reveal Himself to them in very personal, specific ways during their difficult time.

Can I share one more true story?! :)

Two days after David’s death, I went to Calvary Church (my church at the time). My pastor asked me to come on stage. Friends layed hands on me, while my pastor, Ed Dobson and others prayed over me and lifted David’s family in prayer.

When I listen to the tape of that church service now, would you know that God answered EVERY SINGLE PRAYER?!

Prayer works, friends, of this I am sure! :)

Whew! There’s my list! Again, I’m not a trained professional ~ just an ordinary girl who has been redeemed, healed, and transformed by an extraordinary God. :)

What did I miss? What would you add to the list of how to help others when the holidays are hard. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Sweet blessings to you!

 

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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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