* Paying the Toll

If you travel at all, you are very familiar with paying tolls to use a certain road. Usually access to this road provides you with a more efficient way to get to your destination. In many places these days, you don’t even have to go through a toll booth. A camera takes a picture of your license plate as you enter the road and a few weeks later, you get the bill or you have an EZPass mounted to your cars’ front window and the toll is instantly paid. The point is, that either way, you have to pay the toll.

Life is very much like that as well. To get to where you want to be in life, there are tolls that must be paid from time to time. To qualify for the job you want, sometimes you have to go to college. To have a relationship with people, you may possibly have to compromise. In order to understand what wellness looks like, you might have to deal with sickness, either firsthand or through someone you love. To receive forgiveness, you have to say you’re sorry.

Let’s face it, no one likes to pay a toll!  So how do we make tolls work to our benefit? Accept that they are a part of life, pay them and move on.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Who Am I?

I have always loved to read biographies. When I was a child, I think I read every single one in our elementary school library. The lives of other people fascinated me, especially when I learned about many of the issues they had to overcome in order to accomplish great things in life.

In Viola Davis’s autobiography Finding Me, she tells the story of actor Will Smith asking her who she was? She answered by telling him he knew her work as an actor but he persisted and asked again, “But who are you?” That’s when she realized she was still that scared little kid who grew up in poverty. Reading that brought me to tears with my own realization of who I really am. When things scare me and I don’t know what to do, I’m still the little chubby girl in elementary school who no one wanted on their kickball team. That’s where I go when I am unsure of myself. That little girl still lives inside me and until I accept her and deal with her fears, I’ll always go back there.

I need to let that little girl know that she is okay and that she’s a lot stronger than she thinks! She may not have been one of the popular kids, but she was smart and she was a survivor for enduring all that hurt. That survivor instinct has helped her become a cancer thriver who pushes on in spite of the pain and hurt.

As we begin a new year today, stop and ask yourself, who am I? Don’t focus on who you were, decide who you are and go be that person for today and the future.

Happy New Year! Cindy J

* Christmas Joy

One of my sweet “daughters-in-love” gifted me a book of devotions to ponder this Christmas season and told me that she also had a copy she would be reading. The title is Emmanuel: An Invitation to Prepare Him Room at Christmas and Always by Ruth Chou Simons. The funny part of this story is that unbeknownst to her, my other “daughter-in-love” asked for this book for her birthday. So, all three of us are reading the same devotions each day which I think is a very neat thing for our families. (*Note- I call my daughter-in-law’s “in-loves” because I want them to know just how deeply loved they are as my son’s wives.) Already, the daily ponderings have been such a blessing to me.

My expectations for Christmas can sometimes disappoint me when they don’t come to fruition but I am already learning through this book that what I think is not important. It’s what I do and give to others that matters. I need to focus more on “the good portion” which is loving Jesus than worrying about the busyness of Christmas. Being generous with my time and resources is the best way I can honor God’s generosity to us. I can also honor him through prayer and thanksgiving for the joy of God’s gift through his only Son, Jesus.

I pray this holiday season that you can indeed find your Christmas joy and focus on the beauty of our Savior’s birth. God made us on purpose for His purpose.

Merry Christmas! Cindy J.

“No man ever errs on the side of giving too much honor to God the Son.” -J.C. Ryle

* Another Surgery

As I write this post, I am still recovering from yet another surgery I’ve had related to issues caused by my cancer treatments. It seems each time that the surgery gets a little more complicated and the recovery process is much longer. This particular time has been a doozy! I have always said that cancer is the gift that keeps on giving; at least for me it has been. Everything that was done to save my life (and don’t misunderstand me, I am so grateful for these lifesaving treatments) has also caused lasting damage to my body in other ways. This time the issues were caused by radiation. Post cancer life is not pretty.

I think back on all the surgeries I have been through since my initial cancer surgery and it is mind boggling. My body has been through a lot and yet each time, somehow, I have recovered. Not necessarily better than before but at least not dealing with the problem anymore. Will this be the last one? I certainly hope so but if not, I pray I’ll be able to gather the strength once more to handle it.

Do I go it alone? Absolutely not! My husband has become my chief cheerleader and caregiver. I have a wonderful group of friends & family that encourage and look out for me plus I have an amazing church family that prays like you wouldn’t believe. So, I’ll just keep staying the course until another surgery comes along or God gives me a completely new, healed body in heaven. Either way, I am one lucky girl.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Super Hero Cindy

If I were a superhero, I would want my name to be “Book Girl”. Why? Because I feel there is great power in books. I have seen how the words found in books can change peoples’ lives; especially children. I would definitely wear a cape; a purple one with a gold lining. Inside the lining would have silhouettes of books on it. My power would be giving books to those who need them and helping children who struggle to read find the joy in words.

Everyone has at least one book or story they can relate to that sets them on the path to being a reader. I may not look like a superhero or wear a cape but for many years as an elementary school librarian I witnessed children whose lives were transformed by the power of reading. And just because I’m retired doesn’t mean I have to stop doing what I love most; sharing books! I’ve found a way by sponsoring a Little Free Library in a neighborhood full of children who don’t have regular access to books. I don’t wear a cape when I’m filling it up but I sure do feel powerful when I’m done. Guess what? You can be a superhero, too. Find your passion and go do it!

*NOTE:  Super Hero Cindy’s favorite book; the Bible. Now there’s a book that can transform lives!

Blessings, Cindy J

* Strength in Numbers

Groups are an important part of people’s lives. They can be your family, church, sports team, special interest club, etc. Each group has its’ own reason for being and we join because we have a common interest with the other people in the group. Well, except for families. We are born into those but we are still part of that group whether we like it or not. And the truth is, we need them.

For groups that we join, it is because we want to be a part of something and spend time with people who share our interests. Having others to learn from, do community service with, worship with at church or to cheer with for a favorite sports team at a ballgame are enjoyable. We could do these things alone but it’s so much better when there are other people involved. They encourage and lift us up.

My Zodiac sign is Cancer the Crab whose characteristic involves being a loner and I am very guilty of doing just that. When things get overwhelming, he crawls back up into his shell to hide and avoid the chaos. A little bit of that is okay from time to time but ultimately you have to come out of the shell and deal with life. That’s a great time to find strength and support in numbers; your people, your group.

Cancer patients and survivors learn very early the importance of the strength found in numbers. That’s why support groups and team approaches to care are so important. Even the infusion room is designed to create community by having all the chairs out in the open so you can talk to each other during treatment. It shows you that you aren’t and don’t have to go it alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that “two are better than one” and “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. Whatever you are going through, find a place you can belong with people who will care for you and walk through the valley with you. Indeed, there is strength in numbers.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Across the Pond

I just took a trip across “the pond” for the second time in my life. The first was to visit London when my son was spending a semester there studying abroad. This last flight was my bucket list trip; a visit to Italy. Everyone has asked if the trip met my expectations. My reply has been, “it far exceeded them”. This truly was the trip of a lifetime. Both of my sons had the opportunity to visit Italy when they were in college and came home talking about how beautiful the country was. My oldest loved it so much, he took his bride there on their honeymoon. This time, it was my turn.

There’s way too much to share in one little blog post about all the things I saw, tasted and experienced while on our trip. Both pizza and caprese salad will never taste the same in the USA again; I’ve been spoiled. The people were very friendly and accommodated us English speakers much better than we accommodate people who come to our country to visit. And the views…oh, the views. Both the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany are incredible.  

The reason I wanted to share my trip with you is that so many of us talk about doing things later, when we have time. Or later when things slow down. There are always excuses. I’m glad we didn’t wait. If you’re able, NOW is the time to go. Enjoy the beautiful places and cultures this world has to offer even if it’s just in your own city or state. Go. Do. Don’t wait.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Dandelions

My husband loves a nice yard and he works very hard to make sure ours looks just right. He mows, waters, fertilizes and puts out weed and feed so that only the good grass will grow. He despises a dandelion. Dandelions have a habit of popping up in random places and before you know it, they can take over the whole lawn. When my boys were little, they could only blow on a dandelion if they were far away from our yard. As you know, when you blow on one, lots of seeds are released into the air and they fly everywhere. It looks really cool to watch all those little feathery wisps take off on their journey. You don’t know where they’ll end up or if they’ll land to grow again. All you know is that they have been set free.

Life is like that; we grow up and leave our parents not knowing where we will end up. Not every child lands on the right path. Some find a path where they flourish. Parents watch, pray and hope but it’s the child’s journey to make. Just like those dandelion wisps, all we can do is watch.

There are other journeys our life must make as well. Sometimes it’s a cancer journey and our health feels like those little dandelion seeds, blowing about in the wind. We try to land back on the path of wellness but that is not always the case.  It could be a grief journey, job loss, divorce, etc.

The point is, our lives are constantly in motion. We can either cling to the plant and stay in the same spot we are in or we can let go and experience what life has to offer. There’s good and there’s bad but in the end it’s the letting go that keeps us alive and allows us to grow.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Thanks Captain America

Captain America, the first Avenger. He was confident yet humble; hardworking and willing to serve his country. One of his favorite quotes was, “I could do this all day”, meaning he never gave up.  No matter what came his way, he met the challenge with everything he had to give.

There aren’t many things I feel like I could do all day except maybe spending time with my husband, children and grandchildren, reading, walking on the beach and writing in my journal which I then use to create my blog posts. Actually, that’s not a bad list. Captain America was passionate about the work he did as an Avenger and it showed. I, too, am passionate about the things on this list. I hope it shows.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Beach Music

Beach Music

One day last summer while sitting on the beach and doing a little journaling, I decided to write down words associated with the beach that started with the letter B. I looked, I listened and then I closed my eyes and felt. Here’s my list….

Blissful                                   Besties                    Bathing Beauties

Breakers                               Beautiful                   Boats

Books                                     Blue                        Beneficial

Breeze                                   Beach Bags              Bounty

Blankets                                Basking                    Birds  

Breathtaking

This list might not mean a lot to you but when I read these words I am taken to a place, an oasis of sorts, where I let everything go and focus on the here and now. In our busy lives these days, that’s not something that happens very often.

So, I have a very important assignment for you. Go to your place where you let go with journal in hand. Yes, it has to be a journal because once you do this, you’re going to want to do it again! Look. Listen. Feel. Write it all down and come back to it when you need to feel grounded. Learning to just be is the greatest gift you can give yourself. It also helps you to be a better person for those around you. Today, I’ll just listen to my beach music.

Blessings, Cindy J