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As the busyness increases this time of year it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, isn’t it?

You and I have so much to do. So many places to be. So much on our minds.

And yet, in the midst of the chaos, He quietly whispers to our hearts — “Come away with me to a quiet place….”

I’ve been longing for that “quiet place” lately…the time and perfect place to get quiet with Him…to catch up in our relationship…to recapture a heart for only Him. But I realize that “quiet place” is not found in a change of location, but in a change of lifestyle. And that’s a good thing because it’s often not possible for us to pack our things and get away to a quiet place. Yet, you and I can create a “change of location” by going away with Him in our hearts and making room for Him there this Christmas.

My friend, God would rather have us be with Him than do a bunch of things for Him. So, right now, wherever you are, whatever is on your mind, would you join me in going away with Him in your heart?

  1. Relax your shoulders, let out a deep breath and say softly aloud “Lord, I release my anxieties, my expectations, my worries and my plans to You.”
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly and as you do, say “Lord, I receive Your peace, Your wisdom, Your rest, knowing You have everything under control. Remind me that You are my greatest gain and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
  3. Read Psalm 121 with a heart of praise to the One who never slumbers nor sleeps, but invites you to rest peacefully in His arms.

Go away with Him in your heart this holiday season and experience His peace and rest.

lovequoteDec2014Do you have lofty expectations this Christmas?

I hear from many women who fear the family won’t get along or their husband won’t be as romantic as they had hoped, or the day will turn out a mess.

Our Christmas expectations can be muddled….or they can be met. Let me tenderly encourage your heart with this unexpected — and heart-warming —  story I received from a reader this past summer.

A woman called in to a radio show I was on and shared with me that all she wanted for Christmas was for her emotionally inattentive husband to read a book she handed him on how to connect emotionally with his wife. When Christmas came and he gave her gifts…read more

Blog quote 11As Thanksgiving nears, I am reminded of my blessings. And you, my readers, immediately come to mind.

I am remembering you, and praying for your heart to be encouraged for the many ways you have blessed me throughout this past year:

  • You have asked great, thought-provoking questions that have forced me to go to God’s Word to find adequate biblical answers for you.
  • You have left encouraging comments on my blog and through emails that have kept me going on days when I wondered if what I write really makes a difference in anyone’s lives.
  • You have talked up my books and are the reason so many of them are still in print, and more are still being written.

Now, I’d love to know how I can encourage you. 

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blogquote_gratitudeHow healthy are you going into this holiday season?

While you can try to steer clear of germs, pump up the antioxidants, and even get your flu shots, three of the healthiest things you can do have nothing to do with germs and everything to do with attitude. That’s right. Numerous studies exist that show a direct relationship between improved health and a positive, happy attitude toward life.

So here are three things you can start doing now to ensure you have a happier, healthier holiday season:

1. Cultivate a Grateful Heart

I’m sure God had our physical, as well as spiritual, health in mind when He inspired the Apostle Paul to write: “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Did you catch that? In everything give thanks. In the good times, as well as the bad. In the pleasantries of life, as well as in the pain. During difficult times, trying times, and frustrating times, too. When we’re thanking God, we’re focused on our blessings, rather than the bitterness of whatever else might be going on. And that keeps us positive.

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These are hard times. thankful

I’m reminded of it every time I have to put gas in my car, or the grocery bill was more than I expected, or the promised check in the mail didn’t come.

Yet on any given day of the week, I hear of families who are experiencing more difficult times than I am. I still have a roof over my head, a car that runs (actually, our family has three of them!), and I’ve never known the pangs of starvation. In addition, Scripture says I have some spiritual blessings that will blow my mind if I really think about them.

I got to thinking about those “spiritual blessings” today and it changed my perspective on these ‘hard times’ I’m living in:

  1. I have a home. Not only do I have shelter and a place to lay my head at night, but I have an eternal home waiting for me someday. Jesus called it a mansion…apparently a place big enough to blow away any type of dwelling I could afford or acquire here on earth (John 14:20, NKJV).
  2. I have a family. Not only do I have a husband and daughter, and parents and siblings, all of whom are still living, but I have a spiritual family as well. The church (both local and corporate) is made up of believers that, at times, can be closer than family. What a blessing that, even if you don’t feel you have family around, if you are connected with other believers, you have family.
  3. I  have a husband. In a day and age when divorce claims 1 in 2 marriages, and adultery, abandonment and abuse run rampant, I have much to be grateful for that my husband is  still honoring his commitment to be faithful to me in every way. Maybe you are not in a position to say the same. Yet you can. Scripture tells us in Isaiah 54:5: “For your husband is your Maker, the Lord God of hosts.” When you are trusting in His Son, Jesus, for your eternal life, He has committed Himself to never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He husbands you in a way that no earthly man ever could.read more

I’ve never had more of a potential for stress than this holiday season. Since I put off my November 1st book deadline to focus on some Fall speaking engagements, my back is now up against the wall to complete my next book,  When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter. I’ve been given a deadline extension — Dec. 27 — just two days after Christmas. And I still have a ways to go before the manuscript is complete.

Yet this gives me a great opportunity to practice what I’ve been preaching the past month about having a stress-free holiday season. read more

It’s natural for us to feel like we’re running on empty as the holidays approach.

I remember waking up one morning, about this time of year, and thinking “I don’t feel like facing this day. I don’t feel like doing everything on my to-do list. I feel like I’m running on empty.”

It was then that I turned to the Psalms in Scripture. read more

As the holidays approach, you might already be feeling like a woman on the edge. We can feel edgy because there’s much to do and it seems like there are few to help. We can feel stressed out because we need a lot and there are few to step in and meet us where we are hurting. Statistics also show that there are more people depressed at Christmastime than at any other time of the year. If you are finding yourself feeling this way, then I want you to focus, this week on Principle No. 2 for a Stress-Free Christmas:  Rely on God for your emotional support.

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Blog quote -restAre you one of those women who gets stressed out at Christmastime? If so, you’re not alone.

But regardless of the reasons we might dread the approaching holidays, I want to help you see this time of year as an extra special time of making memories with your Maker.

Over the next four weeks, I want to help you plan for a stress-free Christmas. I want to help you refocus your heart and mind so that you will anticipate the holidays with a quiet heart, and get through them feeling recharged, refreshed and refueled.

The first step to a stress-free Christmas is to refocus on rest.

Rather than thinking of all you have to do this season, can you consciously slow down long enough to remember why (if there is a reason) everything needs to get done? Christmas was never meant to be a time of busyness, stress, long lines, packed to-do lists and running around like crazy trying to get it all done. Rather, it is a time to slow down and reflect on the greatest gift that we have received — the gift of a Savior, to a world that was previously without hope.

The Bible instructs us in Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” That verse, in context, was a reminder to God’s people that in the true knowledge of God and His deliverance there is peace, in contrast to the troubled nations that didn’t know God or His deliverance. If you and I know God — and His deliverance through His Son, Jesus — we can know peace in a way that the rest of the world can’t imagine. And that peace is a quiet confidence that whether or not things get done, God is in control. Whether or not a situation turns out the way I want, God is in control.

In the New American Standard Bible, that verse reads “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

Can you and I “cease striving” to do all we think we must do and remember that simply knowing God (and the fact that He has delivered us from the punishment of our sin) amounts to peace and rest? To rest is to trust Him in all things. And to trust Him in all things is to rest.

You can live differently this holiday season if you truly know the Source of Peace.

Enter the month of December with a quiet heart that slows down to remember what matters the most. And in doing so, you will be showing others what it means to trust — and to rest.

I got to thinking about how Thanksgiving might be much more meaningful this year if I focused on thanking God for the things He rarely hears thanks for. What if I thanked Him, not just for the food on the table and the “blessings for this past year,” but for all the ways He has not performed according to my liking. For all the times He has said “no” and for all the ways He has worked in and through my life, perhaps without my even knowing it.

Will you try it with me this year?

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