Heaven Bound

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I don’t know remember when my thoughts of heaven began.  Perhaps the cartoons of chubby, cherubs strumming harps on fluffy, white clouds, was the beginning.  Then surely, Bible stories from Sunday school, with felt figures filled my mind.

It wasn’t until someone very dear to me passed away that my thoughts of heaven ran deeper.  My belief in God, running deeper still, was never questioned but was heaven a place I wanted to spend eternally?

Scriptures about heaven are found all throughout the Bible.  Revelations illustrates a hard to imagine place. “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Yes! I definitely longed for such a life!

Then questions about how can I be sure, I will live eternity in heaven arose?

By then I was learning that Scripture was my most reliable source.

Romans 10:9 held my answer, “’If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”’ 

There is a declaration—I testify, agree, affirm, proclaim and announce that Jesus is my Lord.  Lord over my life.  The way I live is in obedience to the Word of God.

There is a belief—I believe in Jesus, God’s only Son, our Lord. That He was crucified, died and was buried.  That on the third day He rose again!

There is a saving

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2: 8 & 9

In this Truth, I realized that I could stop living to earn my salvation.  That I could stop striving in my own efforts to be ‘good enough.’

Accepting the gift, I look forward to living in such an eternal way.

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement. James 2:12 & 13

It’s easy to detect; like a loud alarm that we can’t shut off.

Every time we think of that person; hear their name; or see them, those overwhelming feelings bring on the noise.

Our peace, quietness, wellness is gone.

Replaced by anger, disappointment and fierce justification.

As the noise rallies on and we bring on others in our protest, we march on in righteous demonstration.

I’ve been on the receiving end of such a rally.  Publicly flogged. Privately mocked.

Forced humiliation and condemnation.

For me, only hurt, a deeper sense of insecurity, and a feeling of shame covered me.

A vicious cycle that tornadoes into a miry pit.

Stuck.

We can all relate, can’t we?  Especially in this culture of all things social.

Just the other day, I fell short.  I did not meet a responsibility.

I toiled and feared and worried about the response.  The person had every right to press into me.  To ensure the assignment was completed.

Instead, I was met with GRACE and understanding.  And my self-worth was relieved and confirmed.

In turn, I did the same for another.  Receiving such MERCY; it overflows, into understanding and a letting go.

The tether that binds, loosens and the noise stops.  Peace rises.

Judgement is left to Another and Love restores.

Happy MERCY giving.

You May Never Know…

Written by: Cindy Morrone

In a recent conversation with a dear friend diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatments, she shared something that forever altered my perception and will never leave me.

Waiting her turn to receive her treatment, she noticed the others sitting around her. Many including her looked far removed from such a diagnosis. On the outside they appeared ‘normal’; healthy. And yet, on the inside they were fighting a life battle.

In waiting rooms, hospital elevators, church pews, grocery store lines, bus stops, the next home,….your own kitchen table may be someone fighting their own battle. On their exterior their plastered smile, quick responses and avoidant postures easily mask their physical, emotional and spiritual pain.

It’s only when we reach out beyond the, “How are you?” led by a genuine care, concern and love for another that brings us to the front lines with them.

Let’s not be misled by abrasive responses fired by pain, grief, sadness and hopelessness when so much is at stake.

Let’s not take for granted when another shares their burden with us. What an honour and privilege to come alongside.

Let’s not be afraid to be inconvenienced, go out of our way or get messy.

Let’s remember we need not know how to solve, fix, take away, or cure but there are things we can do like share our concern, time, a listening ear.

Jesus shares a story with us about the Good Samaritan found in the gospel of Luke; someone who took mercy on another. There was a man robbed, stripped, beaten and left for half dead. Two others noticed this poor man’s condition but passed him by. But one man didn’t.

“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Luke 10:34 & 35

And Jesus’ instructions to us are the same, …….”Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37

Thank you my dear friend, for sharing your insight and your recent journey. I am so thankful for you and our friendship.

We Choose JOY: Jennifer Cesario

 

Written by: Cindy Morrone

February 5, 1963-August 20, 2017

Our first interview in our new video series, We Choose JOY!! is different than any other.  It’s a memoire of someone very dear to me, who suddenly passed away last year.

She was everyone’s best friend.  You only needed to spend a moment in her presence before you knew you were loved, and cherished.  A true reflection of Jesus!!

And her laugh!!!  Was contagious!! And the silly things she did, made you laugh even harder! She exemplified JOY in her every day!!

Love you Jennifer.  Thank you for leaving a wake of JOY!!

Thank you to Karen Greener, who so graciously created this video for us!!  Here’s a little about this incredibly gifted lady;

“My name is Karen Greener, I’m originally from Livonia MI…I moved up to the Oxford area in 1992 and first met Jennifer on our church’s softball league where she showed up for the first game wearing 2inch open toed sandals and doing cartwheels in right field signing “Thriller” at the top of her lungs! I knew then that our friendship would be one of non-stop laughter and adventures…but it didn’t take long to learn that Jen’s passion was serving her Lord and His people in ministry, which she did faithfully for the rest of her life!

Family and friends, did you spot yourself in this video?

Watch Video HERE!

 

Take Care

Written by: Cindy Morrone

If we could sit across from one another, sipping our favourite beverages, the first thing I’d like to ask you is, “How are you?”

I would expect a curt answer at first.  My prayer would be that as our drinks dwindled and our conversation deepened, we could share more honestly.

If you’d let me, I would be honoured to listen to your heart.

And I’d pray again, that you’d be willing to hear mine, without judgement or condemnation.

As I shared with you how I can become burdened in the everyday, how I worry about my loved ones, how lonely I am sometimes and how I just can’t meal plan, I’d so appreciate you earnestly encouraging me to take care.

We’d remember the importance of the analogy drawn from the flight attendant’s instruction, in case of emergency, of first putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

And we’d wonder out loud why we don’t do that as we should and then find ourselves depleted, worn-out and without joy.

We’d lament about how long it’s been since we’d laughed, read a book, tobogganed, danced in the kitchen with our precious ones, or dated our husbands.

Together, it would slowly dawn on us, because we both know the Word and are attuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, that we’ve tried to do it all on our own; in our own way and in our own strength….  Like we could.

We haven’t taken care.

Like a confirmation explosion, we’d recall, Jesus’ second commandment with the first being loving our God with all we got, found in Mark 12:31, “The second is this, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Love……yourself.

With empty cups, our disclosing would end with each encouraging the other to take care and we’d set our next coffee date, knowing full well that such a friendship is part of loving oneself.

Dangers Revealed!!

Written by: Cindy Morrone

There I was face-down and sprawled out all over the snow-covered road.  I have fallen twice in my 20+ years of running. The first time was years ago, from pure exhaustion while training for a ½ marathon.  And this second time was just a couple of weeks ago with the reason a complete mystery to me.

It’s like my left foot dug deep into the asphalt and the right, in attempts to compensate, dug even deeper, catapulting the rest of me forward and down.  Like two peg legs in the sand.  My water bottle flew out of my hand and slid through the slush and grime.

Picking myself up, I looked around to see if anyone saw what had just happened.  No one appeared.  (Thank You, Jesus for small mercies!! Lol!!)

With only road rash, I ran the rest of the way home in bewilderment.  What had just happened?  How did I just end up sprawled all over the road?

The next week, running that same route, I found my answer.  The melted snow revealed a pot hole.

In much the same way, we are finding this teenager parenting thing tricky and terrifying!!

It seems like this…..my husband and I watching, cheering, directing and warning from the sidelines competing against the thousands of others doing the same.  No longer can we keep them close and re-direct them physically or simply tell them, ‘no.’

Their playing field is wide open with their own wills, thoughts, opinions and beliefs emerging.

And there have been times when none of us knew the danger that they were heading into.  The plans seemed innocent enough but something told my husband and I that our precious ones may not overcome the peril.

Prayer in parenting has never been so important to us.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”  Romans 8:26

We are so thankful for His ever-presence and are beginning to trust that this time for our daughters is necessary for their own faith evolution.

We are not alone, as Christians, the Holy Spirit, our Helper cautions, advises, informs and counsels us.

Shaking Foundations

Written by: Cindy Morrone

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

There were reports all over social media.  Was that an earthquake? My windows and house were shaking! We saw a bright light; like a fireball.  There was something falling from the sky!

Just last week a meteor fell from the sky very close to our area.  A 2.0 earthquake was registered.  On the Richter magnitude scale this is considered minor but it stirred up enough people that it was noticed.

There was no warning that time.

Our homes’ foundations can be shaking right underneath us and oftentimes we don’t notice the warnings until its too late.

And in the business of life, we can easily put aside the shaking, bright lights and fireballs until our skies fall.

It’s been a really different season for our family and we found ourselves in our Pastor’s office looking for guidance.  This was so unlike us.  We were so accustomed to ministry involvement and leadership positions.  But it seemed like, if we continued to serve in this capacity, we’d be doing so only like a deflated balloon.  Spent in only our own strength.

With less outside focus, we started to notice cracks in our foundation. We started to feel the shaking and see the bright lights.

We were spending less time as a family, the time we did spend together was mostly in discipline and correction; not in sharing and laughing.  Quick and rote prayers were said instead of ones from elicited concerns. Hello and good-bye kisses were replaced with waves.  It became more about doing and rushing here and there instead of enjoying the journey.

It is time for us to hone home.  And God knew this.  He saw the cracks and has directed us away from faults before our foundation hit a 9.0.

So, in this season, you’ll find us at home continuing to build our family on the Rock, until God directs us otherwise.

Deficient Love

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I know this doesn’t happen in your home but frequently it does in ours.  Here’s how it goes.  One daughter tells on another and as soon as I get the first few words of discipline out, my words are cut off.  Ultimately the accused rebuttals and then the accuser retaliates and all of my teaching is lost in the mess of it all.

Similarly, I am noticing that this can happen with us adults too.  We, by our deficiencies, can interrupt God’s teachings in others.

Have you ever had the honour of sharing in someone else’s mess?

Just yesterday after several disappointments, I reached out to a mentor and new-found friend in my life.  She was immediately available; sacrificially laying aside for me.  She listened attentively and related where she could.  She responded in a way that encouraged me, lifted me up and drew me closer to our Jesus.  She prayed over the phone with me, reciting Scripture to feed me Truth.  She didn’t pry or appear to have all the answers but she directed me to the One that does.

I don’t always respond that way especially in my marriage.

Laced in my own fears, doubts and insecurities, I can respond in a way that distracts from God’s will in his life. I set the focus on me and us and not Him.  I have said out loud, “I can not be what you need.”

And therein lies the truth.  I do not have what it takes.  And if I keep delving out deficient love then derailment is eminent.

I need to go get Love.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  1 John 4:7&8

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  Romans 5:5

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22

And it’s when my own fears, doubts and insecurities meet with the profound knowing of God’s love for me that the filling overflows onto those I am most in love with.

 

 

The Difference One Word Makes

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Why would He require a young pregnant woman to travel miles and miles away from her family and all that was secure and familiar to her?

It doesn’t make sense.

Why would He ask a righteous man to allow his integrity to be questioned for another’s problem?

It’s inconceivable to ask one to take such a personal risk.

And I ask time and time again of Him, to answer, similar questions.  Why as we attempt to live in obedience to Him is there such uncomfortableness, unfamiliarity, risk and sacrifice?

I think a lot.  Too much.  I am thankful for how I am wired; created, but what can be one of my greatest assets, can also be one of my greatest obstacles.

I often joke that I could never work in an emergency room.  There just isn’t enough time to research and ask the world-renowned experts for just the right solution in such a crisis situation!

And my questions go unanswered.  Instead, a knowing transpires.

To just ‘stand’ and not ‘understand.’  Dropping one word makes all the difference.  Standing on faith alone makes all the difference.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Hebrews 11:6

Believing in a higher power rather than in myself; is just that.

Have you ever read the book of Job?

It is in the last few chapters where God answers Job.  Not directly but by asking this blameless and upright faithful servant, a series of questions that no human could possibly answer.  And in response Job replies, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”  Job 42: 2&3

It is in the unknowing that a Saviour was born and eternal life defeated death.

It is in the unknowing that the impossible is made possible, miracles happen, restoration and healing occur and hope is renewed.

Dear Heavenly and Gracious Father, help us to let go of a need to understand and fully trust in You rooted in a knowing of your deep love for us.

Christianity Like Bull Riding

Written by: Cindy Morrone

It happens, right close to my home town a real live rodeo!!  We went to go and see it one year.  It was fantastic!

There was barrel and steer racing, tiedown roping and clowns!! Rodeo clowns!! It didn’t take long to notice that these colourfully dressed, silly acting men were needed beyond entertainment.  They were protection experts to those in the ring.

Right at the end of the evening there was major hype!  For a rookie like me, I didn’t know what was going to happen but knew it was extremely dangerous by the tone of the announcer’s voice and lighting.  It was time for the bull riding!!

Out of the bucking shoot storms a massive bull, jumping and bucking with all its might to rid the rider on top of it.

I don’t pretend to know the first thing about bull riding except for what I saw.

What I noticed and the image that has stuck with me is the bull rider’s hand hold.  One hand holds onto a rope while the other is free.

It was the contradiction of the rider’s hand placement that has caught my attention.

Oftentimes, when I am wrestling with gigantic obstacles, all I can do is hold on with white knuckles. I hold onto the promises and truths to me, written throughout the Bible clutching them and not letting go.

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29: 12 & 13

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:37-39

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

Simultaneously, I need to let go of all those things that are not in my control and lift my hand in freedom and in submission; asking for God’s help.  I can’t fix them, I can’t change them, I can’t try harder; work harder.  I can’t figure out or understand or solve my way out of.  Like the 1500-pound bull, many problems are just too immense for me to handle.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

It is only when I do these two paradoxical resolutions at the same time that my time with the beast ends; the terrifying ride is over and the war is won for me in victory!

No, you will never find me on top of a bull.  Never.

But you will find me trying to follow a bull rider’s hand hold.  Clutching with white knuckles to my Jesus while letting go of those things not meant for me to hold onto and letting God!!