Christianity Is Not About, “You Scratch my Back and I’ll Scratch Yours.”

Written by: Cindy Morrone

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 & 14

There have been significant times in my life, when I have experienced such love and it has changed me.

My single Mama shouldering the care of her family.

My love asking me to marry him.

A young, nephew (prompted by his loving Mother) calling to wish his barren Aunt a Happy Mother’s Day.

A Pastor with his 8-month pregnant wife meeting us foreigners for dinner in a time of deep angst.

Unsolicited prayers from dear friends.

Coffee times with my bestie sharing in trust.

It takes risk, vulnerability, transparency, sacrifice, and a willingness to lay down one’s own needs to meet others.

And yet, despite the cost, they did and I am different because of their acts of love.

I could never repay them.

Words were not sufficient to say, thank you. There was not a gift valuable enough to give. And no favour could be done in return.

Thank you all for showing me such love. I am different because you did!!

 

Why I Find Seasons of Rest Difficult

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I ran a ½ marathon once. 21.1 km or 13.1 miles. Years ago. BC. Before children.
I didn’t do amazing but I finished.

Once I crossed the finish line, I had only enough in me to take a shower and eat a pasta dinner.

Then, what I assume rigor mortis felt like, started to set in.

I had only enough to complete the race, then rest and recuperation was necessary.
My spiritual marathons have ended the same.

Elijah, an Old Testament Prophet’s experiences were similar. 1 Kings Chapter 19 tells us that Elijah, after two significant spiritual victories found himself in the wilderness, under a tree asking the Lord to take his life. ‘“…I have had enough, LORD, “ he said. “Take my life;..’ I Kings 19:4

Miraculously the Bible tells us that an angel appeared to Elijah not once but twice and gave him exactly what he needed. Food, drink and rest.

‘The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”’ I Kings 19:7
…….for the journey is too much for you…….

There is an essential element missing in my necessary seasons of rest. A degree of empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It’s back to basics, breathing, eating and sleeping.
So, like a deflated balloon, I wait until the next marathon.

It’s in this deflated position that I must remember three important Truths while I rest, eat and drink.

1)It was never about me. In those times when I am smack dab in the middle of my God calling, and things are going well, that it is not because I have done all the right things. I often look back on those times and truly wonder how I did it. It’s not about me and how well I can do things; it’s about how perfectly God has empowered me to love and serve others.

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:11

2)It is not about me. Deflated and lifeless; seemingly purposeless as I rest, I need to recall it’s not about me. The Spirit gives what is needed and when. It’s not time to be inflated.

“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:11

3)It will not be about me. Like Elijah there will come another spiritual marathon; God’s purposes and plans for me are not over. And when He calls me again, He will equip me as He has so faithfully done in the past.

“…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,” Colossians 1:9-11

Duped

Written by: Cindy Morrone

On a day trip, we went back to my alma mater.

As we entered the university gates, I could see the many buildings that I once sat in to study for my degree.

We crossed the bridge over the river that ran through this beautiful campus and climbed the rolling hill. It was then that the memories flooded into my thirsty identity causing turbulence.

Back then who I was; was all wrapped up in my education, career and making a great income. There seemed to be a confidence and an assurance that I was successful. I worked hard and was rewarded with tangible payments. A degree. A paycheck. A new car. A paid vacation.

It wasn’t about the degree or career getting (I believe that was part of the Master plan), it is about the wrappings of my self-worth.

I have never had less to my name than I do today.

I have never been more satisfied about who I have been created to be than now.

And I continue to try to make sense of it all.

Not too long ago, I was asked the question, “What motivates you?”

Over the years, the answer to this question has changed much for me.

The difference has been an ever progression to letting go of the tangible and pursuing God’s kingdom purposes for my life.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

God Grit

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I have an enemy. In this season of change, loss and grief, he constantly tells me, my callings are worthless; I am worthless.

For our summer vacation, we visit the Outer Banks, North Carolina. After our long, 2-day drive, once parked at our beach house, we RUN to see who can make it to the ocean first.

I deeply inhale the salty air, take in the vast horizon and with eyes closed hear the crashing waves. The ocean welcomes me like a long-time friend and a part of me is once, again home, even for a short time.

On the shoreline, is where our love-relationship ends though. I let my feet and legs soak but to go past the ever-changing few metres of waves reaching towards me takes real commitment.

I know what it’s like to battle them. I’ve gotten caught in their relentlessness.

Few times I have been brave enough to plunge through them. Conquer wave after wave; either jumping over them or swimming underneath them.

The ocean rests calm on the other side of this turbulence.

‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ 1 Peter 5:8

During this season, I am weak and weary. And it takes alertness to realize the battle I am in.
Unlike, fighting the waves in my own strength and power, this battle will not be won in my own effort.

It will take grit but not my own.

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9

The victory is had by choosing to believe differently. That change when lead by God is and will be awe-inspiring. That loss and grief is because we love so well.

It’s only in Him, that I am strong! And as He carries me through the turbulence, I rest in His ever-calming Presence.

Christmas in July?…No, thanks!

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I don’t appreciate the attempts to celebrate a holiday in the hot of the summer, which takes place in the blistery, winter months. My apologies to those who would love to celebrate Christmas all year long.

A Christmas tradition in our home is to wake up early and together come down our stairs to the adorned Christmas tree standing tall in our front, living room window. The natural fireplace, pre-lit by the man of the house, sends dancing flames to reflect off the many presents under the tree just awaiting their opening. We cannot access our downstairs without passing by this magnificence.

In this season of grieving for me, this scene was impressed upon my attention. I thought about Christmas in July. I remembered those presents under the tree and how on Christmas morning, I cannot help but pass by the gifts just waiting to surprise, delight, provide and bring joy.

And I realized that gifts are waiting for me every day and I am passing them by.

So focused on what is lost, I am forgetting all that’s found.

So I start to look all around me and notice…..the everyday magnificent.

Gratitude and thanksgiving then remind me of God’s goodness; His faithfulness. How His blessings towards us are rich in abundance and pour onto us constantly.

And as I remember and my gaze is upon Him, I am drawn nearer in His Presence and then I am wrapped up in His abundant joy and peace.

Opening these presents all throughout the day, I experience better than Christmas all year long!

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4 & 5

Inch by inch

Written by: Cindy Morrone

It was early morning and we needed to leave for swimming lessons. I had left myself enough time to be in the water punctually. And to have 3 precious ones in the van, on time, any time in the morning is a small miracle!

With all our gear on, we strapped ourselves in and I pressed the garage door opener in faith. It started to go up and then stopped. I pressed it down again and it proceeded back to its starting place. Again, I pressed the button expecting the glitch had vanished. Nope, once again it stopped a foot from the ground. And time continued to tick….

I released the door manually and pushed it with all my might and it still didn’t budge beyond its sticking point. The prayers started to come and I thought, “What in the world am I going to do?” I decided to try to get my forward facing van out the other garage door! It seemed the only option at that point. My daughters on board, started to help me move all the bikes, wagons, and toys out of the way, and out onto our lawn. With each daughter on each side of the van, I started to go forward and back up and go forward and back up. It looked like I was going to do this and then with my van only a fraction out the other door, I started to panic! I had done all this; only to be stuck and in a worse predicament than when we started. We weren’t going to make swimming lessons; we weren’t going anywhere that day by vehicle.

Then my daughter shouted, “Go, Mama!! Just go! You have enough room!” And sure enough, with more praying, I went and we did it!! And we made it to swimming on time!! Huge miracle!

“Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3)

Once my daughters got back into the van, one asked, “Did you pray Mama?” And as I replied, they both responded, “We did!” “I was praying the whole time!”

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

I am in awe of our Lord, for these everyday lessons and am so thankful that not everything works out, all the time. And that He provides the way when there is no way!

Dear Heavenly and Gracious Father,
Thank You so much for our precious children!! They are such incredible gifts to us! Thank You also for those challenging times, when our children can see how relying on You gives hope! Help us to always cry out to You; may that be our first response. We love You Lord! Amen.

He loves me; He loves me not

Written by: Cindy Morrone

If we take just a minute and quiet all the distractions around us, I know we could all come up with moments of sacredness.

Those occasions that are even better than a hallmark movie.

Those times when we realize there is something beyond ourselves.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

A baby being born. An unexplainable recovery from a dire illness. Freedom from addiction. The return of your prodigal child. A narrow escape from an accident. Provision when the numbers don’t add up. Knowing a love so profound it’s not humanly possible.

I remember a time when one of our daughters was younger and very ill. We had been up all night with her.

It seemed that she was doing better through the night but as soon as my husband left for work in the early morning, her congestion became so much worse and her breathing became labored. I started to panic.

We had earlier called for professional help and they recommended that if her congestion became any worse to bring her into the bathroom with closed doors and run a warm shower.

Taking the medical advice, I brought her into the bathroom and did as recommended.

As the warm vapour enveloped us, my thoughts ran wild. Sitting with her in my arms, feeling her every breath, I willed her breathing to regulate. I prayed desperately.

In that moment, I couldn’t imagine loving her more. I was overcome by my love for her.

And in that moment God spoke to me,……..me! He didn’t speak to me in an audible voice but it was an impression; a thought that didn’t come from me.

As much as you love your daughter, I love you more. For me, this was a sacred moment. I caught a glimpse of God’s love for us; it’s unimaginable; incomprehensible.

Writing a Father’s Day post is most difficult for me. I know this is for many reasons but the crucial reason is because I truly don’t ‘get’ how much God loves me; me.

My notion of how much He loves me is tainted by earthly experiences of being loved and giving love as sin-filled others. A broken promise, hurtful words, selfish motives, unmet expectations to name a few.

On this Father’s Day beloved, may we know with ever increasing realization God’s love for us. May this knowing envelope us and breathe new life into all our areas affected by fatherhood.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close Psalm 27:10 New Living Translation

I Will Not Be Overwhelmed


Written by: Cindy Morrone

They say it can take brief seconds before someone begins to drown. Water is swallowed and the larynx goes into spasm and with not enough oxygen in the bloodstream, the last breath is taken.

Life circumstances can feel like that.

And as we try to tread water in the everyday, we stay close to the shore, never thinking to venture into the deep and vast Ocean.

Whenever I share with someone that we foster, almost every. single. time. the response is something similar to, “I could never do that!” “I could never let them go.” “I don’t know how you do it.”

Let me set the record straight. I am not super human. I do not have a super power that helps us to let our precious ones go without it hurting deeply. Neither do I hold back. I don’t hold back my love for them; only giving them 50% so it won’t hurt so much when they leave for their forever home. Nor do my husband or our two incredible daughters. We love 100%.

Simply, we have responded to the Lord’s calling on our family’s life and trudge everyday into a vast unknown.

Undoubtedly, and amazingly, WE have been blessed (and all this overused word implies) way more than we are a blessing.

I question it too. Don’t get me wrong.

When the time comes for this beautiful one to leave us, I wonder if I am going to make it? If we as a family will sink? If we’ll ever do it again?

A Truth has recently been revealed to me, if God has called me to do this, He will not let me be overwhelmed.

He did not ask us to consider this so we would fail; be overcome or devastated.

So when grief tries to sink me, I feel it. I talk about it. I cover it in prayer and ask others to pray for us. I go to His holy Word and His Scriptures of comfort and His love for me. And I grasp, with white knuckles onto my Life Preserver.

What is your Ocean?

Consider the lie that has anchored you to shore.

Consider that it’s possible for YOU to walk on water; holding Jesus’ hand. Living life abundantly!


“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14: 29-31

Glimpses of Brokenness

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I have forgiven. It wasn’t that hard. I was so blinded by anticipated marital bliss that her comments didn’t offend me.

I haven’t forgotten.

Picking up a few things at the grocery store where my fiancé worked as a teenager, he was catching up with the lady working the cash register. Her beehive hairstyle and dangly earrings gave away her years. The conversation started light and positive as they exchanged the happenings of the times in between.

It was when he introduced her and I and the exciting news that we were about to get married that the conversation turned. The words that then flew out of her mouth couldn’t be stopped. For a moment we couldn’t respond. We couldn’t answer why we would do such a foolish thing and ruin our lives.

“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these define them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Mathew 15:18 & 19

I’ve remembered her reaction.

Now after 22 years as husband and wife, we know full well the hurt and pain that can happen in a marriage. How momentous the fight is to love deeper.

And I am so sorry I didn’t respond better to her. She had given us a glimpse of her brokenness. She was speaking from her shattered heart.

Our response at that time spoke of our own hearts’ condition. Selfish and self-absorbed. Judgmental.
How many times have I been given a glimpse of brokenness and instead of helping to pick up the shattered pieces, I’ve left them in ruins?

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” “Then the righteous will answer him, “’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-40