Follow Their Lead

When we’ve lost our way and can’t seem to find it again we just need to find someone to copy.

Can’t seem to lose weight or get healthy, find someone who is healthy and do what they do.

Trouble at work perhaps, find someone who manages to work through problems and do what they do.

Relationships never working out, find someone who has a sixth sense about these things and do what they do.

If we can’t unlock the theory we must first just copy the behaviours of other more successful people.

There are clues and keys to everything all around us. Some of these clues we are aware of. Some the these keys we have. Others we don’t.

Therefore, find the ones who have the pieces you don’t have and follow their lead.

One day others will be following your lead and you will be privileged to pass on some keys of your own.

Stepping Out then In to Christmas

Some dozen or so years ago Christmas was a much embellished affair at my house. I’d always loved decorating and wrapping gifts just so (this is an understatement). But as the years went by and as the demands grew I found myself increasingly dissatisfied with what Christmas was becoming and my bondage to it.

The straw that broke the camels back was the year my ex and I took our five kids to the dollar store. Each child had their gift list of some 20plus family members that they were going to get a gift for, and then their friends on top of this.

Now, I must say that teaching our kids to give gifts instead of focussing on receiving them was one of the really great things we did. For many years the children rarely thought or voiced what Christmas might bring them, rather it was always about their gifts to other people.

So the year that we realized that the dollar store could facilitate this gift giving in a fairly economical way was a bit of a eureka. And I still have fond memories of children with a basket in hand trying to shop for their siblings and parents while all in the same store at the same time.

It was later at home that it all unravelled for me. The next day or so and just in time for Christmas I found myself helping five children over the course of some six hours wrap and keep straight 300 gifts!

This on top of all the food preparations for our Christmas Eve dinners. On top of the shopping for our own five children, “Oh I found another gift for so and so, and now we have to find one more gift for the others so that they are all equal…” And so on brought me to a ‘no more’ in my spirit.

I just couldn’t do it any longer. Christmas had become way out of control and I just wasn’t enjoying myself any longer.

To confound the difficulty my ex was making decisions that then required me to carry the brunt of the work (of those decisions) and I was toppling under the loads.

So I began extricating myself. The camels back was broken.

Needless to say I began dialling back on what I was willing to do and be part of. It was a slow process. And a hurtful process for my ex. He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t in agreement anymore to some of the things we had most been about at Christmas.

But I just couldn’t do it any longer. And so I began to make Christmas what I wanted it to be, what I could be glad for and what didn’t kill me each year.

And in that process I learned that it needn’t all be done. I learned in fact that nothing need be done at Christmas. I learned that Christmas happens first and foremost in my heart and that all the rest is simply expression and worship.

Since then till now, for some years to this point, early in December I find a deep peace and quiet and worship descending into my inner being. My soul is bathed in holiness as the Lord presses in close. This to me is the heart of Christmas and sets the table for whatever else the season may hold.

As I’ve refused the craziness peace floods in.

I decided that what I really wanted to do was to buy one gift for each of my children. Instead of keeping tabs on numbers and dollars spent between them all, I would instead take a leisurely afternoon shopping and find one gift for each one that I wanted to give them.

No more shopping lists that makes me feel like I’m at the grocery store. No more requests filled out like I am a vending machine. Don’t tell me what you want, I want to surprise you!

So, for Christmas each year I’m simply in charge of making the 20 lbs of mashed potatoes for our family dinner. One year I took scads of pictures.

I might buy a few gifts (but even these last two years I’ve not had the funds to even do this). I put up a small tree.

And I might do some Christmas cards, every three years or so perhaps.

And guess what. My children still know I love them. Family is still there to hang with. We still eat just fine.

Christmas is now a true expression of the freedom and grace that Jesus Christ came to give. No longer is it wrung through with ought and should and exhaustion.

Instead there is freedom for my children to come and go throughout the day. There is peace and comfort in just being. We always have a great meal that is spread between all of us in the making.

It simply works.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Thoughts

thoughts.coverThoughts – Taking One Day at a Time

My latest book takes you through your year with solid thinking, one day at a time.

Like a coach in your back pocket, each day’s small encouragement and challenge will harness your best, taking you forward in strength.

With 365 Days of thoughts, you will be encouraged and challenged to refine, focus, consider, explore  what it is that brings out the best in life.

We cannot grow at great rates of speed – smallest is best, and in this volume of small daily wisdoms you will find validation and peace woven into the ways you go after life.

At $20 each this book is the perfect thing to take your 2014 forward. It is also the perfect thing for Christmas Gifts and more. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, 365 days a year.

To get your copy Let Me Know or find them on Amazon

“The first time I met Cyndy I knew there was something special about her; she has a graceful presence that emanates her love of God and humanity.   Every morning for the past year I have eagerly checked my email to be inspired by the “thought of the day” and I am simply delighted that they are available for all in print form.

This book is an outpouring of what is close to her heart: not just a collection of her daily thoughts but a series of careful meditations within the soul. Each page presents an encouraging and insightful glimpse into Cyndy’s personal journey of discovery. Many of these ideas are forward-thinking and challenge the very nature of our lifestyle. With life’s ever increasing speed, these thoughts act as a gentle prompt for us to dedicate time just to think. It is in these rare moments of processing that we often realize what matters most to us, and then recognize that we’ve been completely preoccupied with something less important.

I have known Cyndy for a few years now, and every time we meet she just makes me want to be a better person. After reading this book, I’m sure you will feel the same.”

Lynn Matson,  Consultant

Contact ME for Your Copy Today

Heart, Will, & Risk

To any successful project there are three key ingredients: heart, will, risk.

HEART is the desire and the enthusiasm for something. It is the initial ‘yes’ that comes from our gut. When we have heart for a project we are motivated and inspired to come alongside. We recognize something in the project that blesses us, and we want to see how we might bless the project.

WILL is where, after heart, we begin to put some effort in. Will is all about prioritizing and giving space in our lives for what our heart is wanting. We make decisions differently when we have the will for something. Our choices reflect our will.

Sometimes our Heart and Will do not line up. When this is the case, we default to our will. Will wins the day. We might have heart for something, but without will, we actually don’t have anything. Will proves our heart.

Then comes RISK. To go the second mile with anything, requires risk. Period. To go after something demands that we put some part of our life aside, that we risk. Going after the unknown demands that we let go of at least a small part, of the known. And this takes risk.

When we combine heart, will & risk we come up with an unstoppable combination. There is not much that can undo such a tri-fold braid.

Heart is easy. There are so many things to get excited about. But heart won’t get us through the hard spots, and it won’t even keep us focused through the required tasks that any project entails.

Will is not so hard to come up with. We all have it after all. The hardest part of will is determining if we are focusing our will towards the right project. It is way to easy to put good effort into the wrong thing.

Heart and will are sealed in risk. Make a hard choice or two, go after that thing you’ve been thinking about for awhile, put something at risk for becoming better – and you just might have something that you can follow, and that others can follow as well.

Lead the way, lead your own life, with heart, will, and risk. Go ahead, inspire us.

Messes

I’ve lived through five teenagers, so I know what it’s like to enter a kitchen where ‘no one has done anything’ but the evidence suggests otherwise.

And I’ve been a teenager myself. In fact, I think it took well into my twenties before I realized I might help out at big family dinners.

When we are young we tend to see what’s right in front of our nose and nothing else.

The difficulty with this is that we leave messes everywhere we go. Thinking we live in a world unto-ourselves has us believing we are helping, when in fact we are not.

Now, as a Mom of five I went from screeching about the messes to quietly cleaning them up – regardless of who made them.

The older I get the less I want to expend precious energy in ramming kitchen justice down anyone’s throat.

Today, as I enter my kitchen and find myself cleaning up after others, I wonder about God and this world, our relationships and everything else about our lives, and I wonder how many messes we are leaving behind without even realizing it.

You see, in order for a teenager to mature and learn to help in the kitchen, to see beyond the ends of their own noses, they typically have to leave home and start taking care of their own kitchen.

With no one to blame every dish and glass and spoon and crumb and oil smear suddenly and glaringly becomes their own. If nothing else, it is good for us to live alone for a time, simply that we might find our responsibility muscle.

Too many people and no one is taking responsibility. And so it is with our world.

It is far too easy to blame everyone else for what is wrong. Unable to look beyond the ends of our noses we never look up and we never take responsibility.

But God is not like this. In fact, God has been cleaning up our messes for eons.

Quietly and patiently sweeping the floors and wiping the counters of our lives, our communities and our nations.

More than we will ever realize.

And as followers of God it is our opportunity and privilege to mirror our Lord. We can step up to the plate, take it on as though it was ours to begin with, and begin to set things right.

With patience, in quietness, we get on with the work at hand. For as an old mentor of mine once said, “A mess just requires a bit of work to set it straight.”

Yes and amen I say. Let’s all grow up and take on something around us, that may not be ours, but that can be transformed by our participation.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be making more messes, I’d like to be cleaning them up.

 

Disease of Self-Pity

In service to the Body of Christ it is easy to sink into self-pity. We work hard, extending ourselves in long hours and in sacrifice that is rarely recognized.

This is all okay of course, until it isn’t. Self-pity is a silent disease that sneaks up on the best of us. It takes over limbs and thoughts and voice – and we barely realize something is wrong.

But there are a few tell-tale signs of self-pity.

1.Pressure for People to Grow

We put more pressure on those we are serving to ‘get it together’. Maybe, so our subconscious thinking goes, if they are proving my efforts then it will all be okay.

But this never works. It simply makes for strained relationships in the midst of what is to be joyful service one to another. Demanding that fruit grow doesn’t grow any fruit.

2. Growth spurts that don’t last. 

If there is growth coming from our subtle increased pressure on others, it won’t last. For what comes of a spurt of either panic or good-will may appear great but it has no lasting roots.

Ministering to others does not necessitate that they respond in wild maturity or deep character or profound passion for God. While ministers set the stage for growth, we do not establish it. That is God’s work.

3. We’ve lost sight of the real work.

Self-pity blinds us. There are all sorts of solutions and resources right in front of us, and yet we cannot see them because we have this filter of self-pity over our eyesight.

While it is never easy to identify the ‘real work’ in ministry, it is next to impossible when self-pity is involved.

Because self-pity is all about what isn’t going right, the results we are not seeing, the responses we are not getting, our focus gets off the mark. All of a sudden our service is polluted with results and responses and the tangibles that are not the work, merely a byproduct of the real work being done.

Ministers, more than anyone, must get off the treadmill of demanding things go our way. In case we have forgotten, ministry is not about us.

The deepest growth, the longest lasting fruit, the results of Christ in a life that will not undo at some later date, all take time to grow. Ministers are called to the long haul.

Self-pity enters us into a short-haul mentality.

If this resonates with you, I suggest you confess your self-pity today. Renounce it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remove the smeared frames that are over your eyesight, and commit once more to the long-haul, and to trusting God with the results of your work.

You, after all, are simply called to minister to the hearts and lives of the people where they are at. Meet them there, knowing that growth comes one step at a time.

Recommit for the long haul.

Work Matters

What are the spaces of time and energy and atmosphere in which you do your best work?

Another way of asking the same thing, what are the things that get in the way of you doing your best work?

For myself I have a hard time writing (fifty percent of my work) when there is upset and conflict in my home.

Knowing this I have a few choices and options.

I can determine the kinds of conflict I engage. I can decide to enter into conflict or not.

Secondly, what are the sources of conflict in my home, and what might I do to shift those touch-points to ensure a better result for all of us?

The work you do is important. In many cases your own life and the lives of others depends on the best you bring to the table.

Without our best we are just going through the motions, and that never really blessed anyone.

Therefore, take your work as important and scribe the rest of your life around it. The rest of your life will be better too.