Thursday, January 17, 2013

A QUOTE-WORTHY QUOTE

"Somewhere I heard a story about Michelangelo's pushing a huge piece of rock down a street. A curious neighbor sitting lazily on the porch of his house called to him and inquired why he labored so over an old piece of stone.
 
Michelangelo is reported to have answered,
"Because there is an angel in that rock that wants to come out."
 
Every person has the task of releasing angels by shaping and transfiguring the raw materials that lie about [us]....
 
How we do this...is determined by the discovery and the use of our gifts."
--Elizabeth O'Connor, Journey Inward, Journey Outward

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

CREATING QUIET SPACES: Dream Dreams



CREATING QUIET SPACES:
"Dream Dreams"
~by Cindy Stiverson

The Lord provided the theme "Dream Dreams" for our Quiet Retreat this year. Acts 2:17-19 was the inspiration behind it:
"In the last days," God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters;  your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. When the time comes, I'll pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women both, and they'll prophesy...And whoever calls out for help to me, God, will be saved."
It's true: we gathered there to "call out for help to God". We came to Him with our specifics. But He made clear that His desire was, and is, to open our eyes to the bigger picture. God doesn't want us to get so caught up in the small details of our lives that we miss the grander scheme of a life lived for Him: the life made available on the Day of Pentecost, the day when these words in Acts were spoken.

God's answer is BIGGER than our specifics.

It reminds me of a walk on the beach. I get so deep in thought that I find myself walking with my head down, staring at grains of sand and broken seashells. Waves are crashing within inches of my feet. Yet, I have to literally awaken myself and redirect my vision to the vast beauty of this immense ocean that I so love. In that moment I am always caught by surprise that I could ignore something so grand and so beautiful, the very purpose of my walk in the first place. I realize that I am so caught up in each step that I am missing the big picture!
 
God wants to open our eyes to the BIG picture.
 
There is an overarching God-response that addresses every need. It happened on the Day of Pentecost. Prior to that day, only individuals hand-selected by God and called by God had direct access to Him through the Holy Spirit. God shared His dreams, imparted visions through His prophets, priests, partriarchs, kings. But 50 days after the resurrection of Christ, God implanted the Holy Spirit into the soul of every believer in Jesus Christ. The results? Prophecy, visions, dreams, salvation made available from God to "every kind of people".
 
God wants to open our minds to DREAM DREAMS that are BIGGER than what we can accomplish on our own.
 
We go through our daily grind day after day after day. We can't wait until the weekend or Spring break or vacation. But we don't look any further ahead than that. We limit our vision. We become nearsighted. We live each day focused on the grains of sand slipping through the hourglass, watching the clock and wishing the day away.
 
It breaks God's heart when we settle for the beach and sand and broken shells. He wants to show us the beach, the sand, the ocean, and beyond.  
 
Do you have a DREAM, a VISION, a GOD-SIZED PLAN for your life? I have been amazed how few women actually have dreams for their future. It's never too late to adjust your focus. God would just love to show you the BIGGER PICTURE He has in mind for YOU!
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive what God has prepared for those who love him--but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” I Cor 2:9-10  

_________________________________________

I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
 
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author/activist Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.

Loving the Lord with all my heart and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

WEAVINGS: Be A Friend



WEAVINGS: Be A Friend
by Cindy Stiverson

I still remember the day I walked into my daughter's second grade classroom to meet her teacher, Miss Mary. I scanned the room, determining what type of person she was and if this was a place where my daughter would be safe. My eyes landed on a poster that looked much like the image above. Soft fluffy kittens sweetly nuzzled amongst the limbs of a precious puppy and boasted a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE A FRIEND IS TO BE ONE
 
For me, this was God's handwritten-answer-in-the-sky-style of response to my prayers. I was a lonely woman. And, for those of you who know me, it's probably very hard to believe but I felt friendless and hopeless.
 
I prayed that God would send a friend.
 
Though it was 1988, the impact of those words are fresh in my mind. My marriage was all-consuming. My husband at that time was controlling, abusive, predictably unpredictable. I had to account for every minute of my time. He managed, manipulated, isolated me from friends and family. Being the people person that I am, I was dying a slow death. A pale, weak imitation of myself, the blood was slowly dripping from my body. I was in need of a transfusion.
 
I prayed that God would send a friend. Instead, He told me to be a friend.
 
This rattled my world, awakened my senses.  I turned the words over and over in my head. It seemed I was in second grade again, this seemed beyond my level of comprehension. Was it really that simple? Was it actually my fault?
 
I began to put this equation to the test. It helped regain a sense of control over my life, to take responsibility for allowing others to rob me of my independence. I stepped outside my comfort zone and extended friendship to others. A smile. A hello. An introduction. Small talk. Baby steps. All the while, carefully treading the eggshells in my home.

By the end of the school year, Miss Mary predicted that my daughter was destined to become High School Homecoming Queen. Her prophecy was fulfilled, but that was such a small speck on her spectrum of accomplishments. And her mother who modeled how to be a friend? By middle school, I was President of the PTO, slowly breaking free from the chains that controlled me.
 
In the virtual world, Facebook, Google+, Blogspot, Twitter...everyone is begging for friendship. But virtual and reality are two totally different worlds. Virtual is only a selfish, simulated, hypothetical copy.
In the real world, there are so many women praying that God would simply send a flesh-and-blood selfless type of friend. Are you that woman? Will you BE a friend?

"A friend loves at all times" ~Proverbs 17:17


_________________________________________


I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.

Loving the Lord with all my heart and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life!

Monday, January 7, 2013

WEAVINGS: The Gift of Innocence



WEAVINGS: The Gift of Innocence
by Dr. Morven Baker

For several wonderful days this past week, I was blessed to hear “Nana” when a wee one woke in the middle of the night, knowing my name was safe in her mouth. Her grandpa and I just grinned at each other in the dark when she & her big sister found their way to our bed at the beach cottage, and snuggled in for giggles and whispers before the sun got up. Both of us were recipients of spontaneous hugs from fat little arms being wrapped around our necks, and we just drank in all the sweet little kisses & “I love you’s” …. our little ones felt safe and we treasured their innocence.

It would be so pleasant to live in a bubble, believing that all little ones felt safe with their family members, that their innocence would be fiercely protected by those that they trusted. As one of our little ones got her first taste of a wave coming in towards her, she ran to us for rescue. At that second I was made aware of too many little ones who have no one to run to for rescue, because the one that should be their hero is the one who is causing their fear. Life is not safe, and a little one’s heart can be broken in seconds, and for thousands of precious poppets every day is a living hell.

Be kind today to the snarly teenager bagging your groceries, or his sullen colleague with piercings in multiple places on her beautiful face, to the raging driver in the other lane who cuts you off, to the neighbor who swears at your dog as you walk by … yes, they might all just be having a bad day, but they might also have been precious little ones who were locked in dark closets, beaten in alcoholic rages or sexually violated by grown ups whose job it was to protect them. Their emotional development may have frozen at that moment in time, and their wee hearts were shattered. We can’t go back & change their stories, but perhaps our smile, a genuine “thank you” or “good morning, Sam” might melt one of the bricks in their walls this morning.
 
__________________________________________________

It is a genuine pleasure to introduce Morven to you today. This beautiful woman is woven into the very threads of my life. Piece by intricate piece, she has been God's seamstress for me and many many others.
Thank you Morven, for your expertise and loving kindness! ~Cindy

Dr. Morven R. Baker, D.Min, PCC-S, NCC, has been in practice for over twenty years in both institutional and private practice settings. She founded the Ashland Women's Counseling Center, where she deals with a range of issues faced by women, especially those arising from sexual abuse and domestic abuse. A published author, Dr. Baker is a popular speaker and teacher, having taught classes and delivered lectures and workshops in the U.S.A and abroad.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

WEAVINGS: Creating Quiet Spaces

 
WEAVINGS: Creating Quiet Spaces
by Cindy Stiverson

 
"I wish I could get some peace and quiet around here!"
 
I often recall (and resonnate with) my mother's remark when she grew weary of her five children (me included!). It does sound pretty good, doesn't it? If you are wishing for some peace & quiet, you may want to reserve a room at our upcoming CREATING QUIET SPACES: A 24-hour Directed Spiritual Retreat, Friday, January 11-Saturday, January 12, 2013.
 
Feeling adrift? Longing to hear from God, but can't get past the clutter on your desk, on your calendar, in your own mind?
 
Does your spiritual life lack the intimacy that your heart longs for and God's word promises?
 
God is calling you to come away with Him. He wants to clear the clutter, adjust your agenda, quiet your soul. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Here's what you can expect:
Check-in Friday beginning at 4pm. Join me for dinner at 6pm. After dinner, your Spiritual Director (that would be me) will provide an intro to the 24 hours of retreat, including spiritual direction and devotion, a tour of Sts. Peter & Paul Retreat Center, and a prayerful entry into quiet time.

When we depart to our private rooms, our "quiet time" continues until about 3:30pm on Saturday. Experiential exercises will be available in various locations to help you connect with God through prayer, meditation, scripture, and reflection during your quiet time. You are free to roam the 500 acres, but there is also plenty of space for an indoor get-away including a chapel, solarium, library, parlor, and dining room. I will also be available for one-on-one appointments in spiritual direction and prayer.
 
Saturday afternoon we gather again to share and pray before departing at 5pm.


Intimidated by silence?
You are not alone in that fear. After all, the God and Creator of the universe should be a bit intimidating! But, the flip side is this: the Father-God who created me wants to spend time? alone? with Me?! Ummm...let me check my calendar. I think I can pencil Him in!!

As we come together on Friday night, the women are usually a bit curious as to what they will do with all this "quiet" time. When we close on Saturday, they are longing for more!
 
Cost is $75 for a private room, retreat materials, and dinner Friday. The food is excellent. (We have our own chef!) Breakfast and lunch are also available at an added (low)cost. You may prefer to fast on Saturday or bring your own snacks. A microwave and refrigerator are available for our use.
 
These are some testimonies from previous retreats:

~"I so needed that time to pray, to journal, to reflect, but mostly to be still. The quiet time restored in me the love that the Lord has for me—what a great confirmation! Laying all my struggles at the feet of Jesus was what I did in those hours of quiet. I have such a peace now—not answers—but peace…"
~"Many people are fearful of silence, but I assure you of this, you will be amazed at what you don't hear and truly more amazed at what you do hear. 24 hours goes by very quickly because the Lord keeps you busy praying, reading His word and whispering in your ears to teach and bring peace and comfort to your heart."
~"I loved the experiential exercises. I got so excited that I could hardly wait to go to the next station."
~"The time with God was glorious and it was like I could not devour enough of God’s word. I was like a little girl at the candy store, ”I wanted to gobble up (soak in) as much of God as I could. Although I love to eat, it was like my heart was grieving when I broke away to feed my physical body!” …REALLY! Break Away.."
 


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WEAVINGS: A Blessed Blessing

WEAVINGS: A Blessed Blessing
by Cindy Stiverson


"Dear Jesus, Thank you for LIFE!"

I am still reflecting on this blessing pronounced over our Christmas dinner. Our 4-year-old Jude asked if he could pray for my made-from-scratch-spaghetti-and-meatballs that I had lovingly prepared for our table of six. We were astonished when he confidently announced these few words with such profundity!
 
Momma, Daddy, Grammy, and Grampy: our faces lit up like fireflies around the table. Even little Isaac, just two, was wide-eyed with wonder. Our mouths poured forth praise for this perfect prayer. Yet, before we even responded, Jude seemed totally aware that his prayer was a special one. His face was bright, his eyes shining, as though he was about to deliver the most precious gift.
 
"Well, that pretty much covers it all!" I recall one of us responding.
 
How often do we truly appreciate and acknowledge the simplest, yet most profound gift that God has given?
 
LIFE! That pretty much says it all!
 
 
"For God So loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish
 but have eternal life."
John 3:16
 
Abba Father,
Thank you for this gift of Jesus. His birth, His death, both intent on one purpose: to give us LIFE!
Forgive us for taking LIFE for granted. Forgive us for being unsatisfied with our lives, for coveting the lives of others. No matter what we face in this New Year, we pray that you will continually remind us that LIFE itself is a precious gift that was given to us at the expense of the death of Jesus Christ.
 
We praise you for the gift of LIFE here and LIFE everlasting. We appreciate the sacrifice you made so that we could truly live! We can't imagine living life without you, dear Jesus. Thank you for LIFE!
Amen.
 
 
 


_________________________________________


I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.

Loving the Lord with all my heart and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

WEAVINGS: Happy New Year to YOU!

 
WEAVINGS: Happy New Year to YOU!
 
It’s an honor to bestow this expression of JOY & PEACE upon you today. I am grateful for you and every single Woven Woman that God has brought into my life. You’ve made a difference in who I am and what I aspire to be and to do. So, thank you!

As I watched my 2 and 4 year old grandsons unwrap their Christmas gifts, their innocent faces were genuinely in awe of what was hidden inside. Listening to their “Wow” and “Whoa” the moment they got a peek at the present was a joy to my heart. My prayer for our Woven groups this year is that we could all regain that sense of awe and wonder in the vast and perfect gifts of God. Just the fact that we are surrounded by His glory and knee-deep in His creation should keep us in a state of awe every moment for the rest of our lives. “Wow!”

January Woven Women: Newark Naz
With the holidays, some of our Woven groups will be delayed a week. Tues-Wed-Thurs groups will be meeting the 8th-9th-10th of January. Be sure to check your dates! Postcards are on their way to you.

Creating Quiet Spaces: Directed Spiritual Retreat
This quiet retreat is such a great way to begin a new year. Get focused, rested, refreshed, and allow God to transform you—and your agenda—from the inside out. I will be your Spiritual Director for this 24 hours with God.  The retreat is Friday evening, 5pm through Saturday, 5pm, January 11-12th at Sts. Peter & Paul Retreat Center in Newark. You can be sure: He will meet us there!

DEADLINE: Please reserve by Sunday, January 6th. $75 includes private room/bath and dinner. Breakfast and lunch: add $13. Make checks payable to Cindy Stiverson. If you attend Newark Naz, you can place it in my church mailbox in the copy room, top right corner slot. If I have a firm commitment from you, you can pay upon arrival. Listen to your heart: is God calling you to come? Contact me.

Woven Weekend 2013
Mark your calendar for Friday evening and Saturday, March 1-2. This year will be an entirely different format and we will be hosting this retreat at The Firehouse, Newark, Ohio. Stay tuned for more details!

New York City and Mt. Vernon, Ohio
Woven groups have been established at The Lamb's Church of the Nazarene in NYC. Contact Person is Dustee Hullinger.
Woven groups are also being led through First Church of the Nazarene in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
I'm certain both locations would welcome more ladies into their groups!

Thank you so much for being a part of my life. I’m so grateful for the blessing of YOU!
 
We Are Woven together in His love,
Cindy