You intended to harm me. People are mean sometimes. Their intentions are to hurt others. And they often do hurt others. Most people who are hurt by and suffer from the hand of another often live as a victim. They can’t seem to push through the pain and instead blame. I have found that healing rarely comes when we blame. Joseph was anything but a victim yet he had every reason to be. He was sold by his brothers as a slave, wrongly accused, imprisoned and was away from his family in a foreign land. Yet he chose to see God’s hand. But God intended it for good. God really does make all things good. He uses the things that devastate us to bring about victory for others. This is the essence of my life. Although Chris didn’t intend to hurt me, he did. And God used it and still uses it. But I had to let Him. When hard things comes into our lives, we have two mindset choices: Victor or victim. We can claim the Word of God and live as a victor or we can deny the Word of God and live as a victim. The choice is ours. I could have stayed in a pit and drowned in my pain. I could have kept my arm outstretched, pointing my finger at him with an ugly glare. Nobody would have blamed me. But, I chose to live as a victor. As brutal as it was, I chose it. Some days were downright deathly. Some days I could hardly breathe, or so it felt. But it was so worth it.
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“Hey Cindy, I think this is your towel,” Kim said very nonchalantly to me at our Bible Study meeting a few weeks ago. My eyes merely saw a worn out and stained piece of cloth but my heart immediately transitioned that sight into an emotional moment. A moment from the past. A moment where I was standing in my old kitchen wiping my hands with said towel. A moment where I laid it out on my granite because I was going to let some dishes dry after hand washing them. A moment before the fire that took our home and every material possession that we owned on that June night in 2013. It was just a towel. Quite frankly, it wasn’t even my favorite towel because it was boring to look at and it just didn’t absorb that well. And who wants a towel like doesn’t absorb? Please. As if. But it was my towel. A towel from the part of our life that can be labeled “pre-fire”. A towel that reminded me of that life. Because it was a good life. The life that housed almost 43 years of my being which included some hard times that transformed me and some amazing ones that made my life richer. And I know that sounds awfully strange to say “that life” because clearly, I am still alive and have my entire family to still love on. But, it’s weird because traumatic events typically do that. They separate your life into sections. And since I have very little from “that life” left physically, it feels like a million miles away. But no matter what events have transpired in my life or in your life, we will overcome. We are MORE than conquerors through Him who loved us. And we are convinced that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Not the death of a loved one, not an abortion, not anger, not infidelity, not a cynical heart, not mental illness, not a haughty spirit, not rejection, not addiction, not a house fire, not selfishness, not envy, not jealousy, not physical pain, not illness or disease, not the loss of a best friend, not one single thing. Because we are overcomers.
Little did I know that when I went to bed on Saturday, June 29, 2013, I’d wake up at midnight on June 30, 2013, some 90 minutes later to see an orange glow on my bedroom windows. But I did. Obviously, that was a pretty big deal in our lives so this has been my explanation, my excuse for many things over the past year. Why aren’t you on social media as much? My house burned down. Why aren’t you blogging anymore? My house burned down. Why aren’t you answering emails faster? My house burned down. I’d say it’s a pretty good excuse, wouldn’t you? I mean, we’ve spent the last 12 months dealing with the trauma that comes with waking up in the night to your house in flames to finding a place to live temporarily to finding a floor plan to rebuild to dealing with insurance claims and adjusters (who were wonderful, by the way) to picking out paint colors and tile to shopping for things every single day for nearly two months and several times a week for months on end to… You get the picture. This past year has been a rebuilding year for our family. Not just in material possessions, but also rebuilding our spirits. This kind of occurrence can take its toll and certainly did emotionally and physically. But, spiritually? No toll taken. It was a rich year for us with Christ as we walked this road that could have turned out differently. He was ever-present during our difficult days, very near to the broken-hearted as Psalm 34:18 promises. He guided us through rocky terrain and made a straight path for us when we couldn’t tell up from down. And He did so much of it through His people. The hands and feet of Jesus. I don’t know how I will ever be able to repay the friends who stayed up with us watching the firefighters battle our home fire. Or the friends that let us stay in their homes until we found another. Or the friends who brought us toiletries, a purse, a wallet, some bags and clothing shortly after the final flames went out. Or the neighbors who cleaned up our pool and got it protected from causing danger to a sightseer. Or the friends who dropped cold, hard cash in our hands and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Or the young man who mowed our yard during our construction for free. I can’t forget about the money that came in from people and churches. Some we knew, some we didn’t know. Or the gift cards to stores that would provide the material items that a family needs to get by. Or the friends who walked through our ashes for weeks on end looking for something meaningful that would take away some of our temporal grief. Or the tech gurus at LifeChurch.tv who salvaged our home videos on a burned hard drive. Or the dozens of other things we received from friends and neighbors. How in the world do you say thank you for all of that? I don’t know except to say the words thank you. So, thank you. We moved into our new home five months ago. It was another dimension of healing for us when we drove back into our neighborhood to stay. And on this one year anniversary of a life-altering event, I am re-entering the blogging world. I plan to write a couple of times per week. Or maybe more. And I’d love for you to come back around these parts when I do.
I was 19 years old when my dad died. I kept a few things of his that were sentimental. Like this old, gray sweatshirt that was so soft because he wore the heck out of it and for the last 24 years, I’ve worn the heck out of it. He also gave my mom a gold, diamond pendant in the shape of a heart that she passed on to me. Those things are lost now. Gone. But probably my most favorite thing that he made was a ceramic Nativity Scene. It was beautiful. Stunning, really. It was a cream color with a darker brown in the creases of each piece. There were camels and wise men and cows and sheep. There was a manger with the baby Jesus, his mom, Mary, and his earthly father, Joseph. And of course there were shepherds. Friend, would you believe that all of the pieces were burned or broken except this shepherd? It’s got some burn marks on it but it’s lovely to me. Isn’t that just like the Lord to show His kids that He is watching over them? The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)
I haven’t shopped this much in the history of ever. I feel like I have purchased so many items over the last two weeks and yet, when we move into another friend’s home next Sunday, we will easily be able to put everything we own into two cars and make the fastest moving trip known to man. Some of the shopping has been enjoyable, like when Natalie and Christi went shopping with me for clothes and dressed me up like a barbie doll and gave me a thumbs up or thumbs down as I modeled each outfit. And thank God they did. Because when you are fashionably challenged and have little to no design talent, shopping can be overwhelming and depressing. Please don’t hear that as a complaint. The fact that my sons are all alive and that I wasn’t planning a funeral two weeks ago has placed an unquenchable desire to offer praise and thanksgiving to God. However, this new reality that I need to replace so many material possessions just to function each day can make one’s head spin. So, I take each day as it comes. When the temptation comes to think about what paint colors to choose in the home we will build or replacing Christmas decorations, I just stop and place that far away from my mind. Like five months away. That is not something I need to “commit to worrying about” as my friend Kim says. I just don’t have the mental capacity to do that. And quite frankly, neither do you. How often do you find yourself going into the future in your mind and take on the concerns and cares of things that may never come? I know you do it. It’s so easy to go there. But allow me to encourage you to not go there. When you start to put together scenarios in your mind about what you think may happen, just stop. Count your blessings in the here and now. Praise God for where you are today and what He is doing in your life. Because He is up to something good, something very good. Even if you can’t see it.