His Glory

Solar Eclipse Chicago Trubine

He is the God who made the world and everything in it.  Since He is Lord of Heaven and Earth, He doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve His needs – for He has no needs.  He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need.

Acts 17:24,25 (NLT)

What a paradigm shift!  I serve Christ not because He needs me to – as if He’d die or fail miserably if I do not – but out of love (imperfect as my love is) and gratitude.

I’ve been taught this, I know this, I often – I would hope – serve Christ with this motivation.  But I know it’s not all the time.  Pride nearly always sneaks in there, often in the form of a martyr attitude: “If I don’t do this, no one else will, and God’s name will be blasphemed; God’s glory will be diminished.”  As if His glory can ever be diminished!

What can be diminished, however, is the reflection of His glory in my life.

My given name, Cynthia, can refer to the Greek goddess of the moon.  And, as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so should my life reflect the Light of Christ, the Son of God.

So many facets exist in that analogy.  The moon cycles trough phases.  At full moon, it shines so bright, especially when it’s at perigee!  Then it wanes into the new moon, when Earth does not receive any of its reflected sunlight.  Yet, the moon is closer to the sun.  Then is when the moon’s gravity, in conjunction with the sun’s gravity, draws the tides even higher, closer to the sun.

The new moon can represent times when I’m closer to Christ, but this closeness is not directly visible to others.  Yet the effect may be still drawing others toward Christ, whether that tugging is perceived or not.  Most people don’t pay much attention to the tides, but they still occur and influence life.

After the new moon, the phases wax back to full moon, where it shines bright once again.

There are times when the moon would be expected to shine bright in the new moon phase, yet it does not: a lunar eclipse, when Earth is directly between the sun and the moon, and the moon doesn’t receive light directly from the sun.  I imagine this as those times when I “walk through the shadow of the valley of death.”  The fallenness of creation disrupts my direct line of sight to my Savior.

As with lunar eclipses, people gather and watch for the outcome.  They watch with baited breath, hoping for the moon to reappear, a glorious outcome.  In many cultures, there is great rejoicing when the moon emerges from totality.  So it is when I emerge vicorious from a very difficult season of life.  Others rejoice when the difficulty has finally been overcome.  Christ is once again brightly reflected in my life.

I see the sources of the eclipses in my own life coming from two distinct sources.  The undesirable source would be sin in my life.  Choosing the world and its cares above the glory of Christ.  This eclipse ends when I repent and my direct line of sight to Christ is restored.

The other source of eclipse is the darkness of the enemy, the prince of this world, forcing his way between Christ and me with the express purpose of extinguishing the light of His glory.  How foolish the enemy is!  Does the sun go out during a lunar eclipse?  Of course not!  Its glory is just as bright as ever!  Its reflection off the moon is impeded.  It is similar when the enemy seeks to extinguish the glory of Christ.  His glory never fades, only the reflection of that glory in my life may fade.  Some would call this spiritual oppression.

When this second type of eclipse occurs in my life, it may look the same as an eclipse caused by sin to all those observing it, but the cause is not the same.

When the moon is in total eclipse, it reflects a reddish light – light that has been distorted by the world’s atmosphere, and this light is quite obvious to all those observing the eclipse.

Here is a possible outcome of my struggles:  When I’m walking through the valley of the shadow of death, others may be able to see and comprehend that they have a distorted view of God.  The sun hasn’t changed, the moon hasn’t changed, but the perspective of those observing the eclipse has been altered.  Maybe it’s during the times when my life is hard that others get a glimpse of their own misperceptions and afterwards choose to bask in the undistorted Light of Christ themselves.  This makes the struggle worth it.

There are also solar eclipses.  The moon is in its new moon phase, directly between the sun and Earth.  These eclipses are far more glorious than lunar eclipses.

As a solar eclipse progresses, the observers experience a darkening of the skies, as if night is coming.  It gets darker and darker.  The disk of the moon can be seen moving further and further over the disk of the sun.  Then it happens: Totality!  The corona of the sun can be seen shining ever so brightly, a crown!  The existence of the moon is momentarily forgotten . . . all that exists is the corona, the glorious crown.  What a beautiful sight!

And so, it might be in my life.  Those times when I might be so aligned with Christ, closer to Him than to worldly pleasures, my back turned to everything that is NOT Christ.  Then the crown of His glory shines forth in such brilliance!  And my existence is momentarily forgotten because of the dazzling display of His glory.  THAT is what I live for.



Image from the Chicago Tribune.


Love is Messy

Love is messy

Galatians 1:10 (NLT) – Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Although Paul wrote this in direct reference to preaching the Gospel and exactly what the Gospel is, and relating to the falling away of the church at Galatia, application can still be made to any what which Christ has called me to serve.

We lost any expressed approval/respect we may have had with at least two people dear to me the day we left for Thailand as full-time missionaries.

Then, when Dana’s as-of-yet-undiagnosed dementia took a turn for the worse this past spring, summer, and fall I also lost the expressed approval/respect of three additional people dear to me when I wouldn’t abandon and divorce Dana and pursue my own personal financial well-being.

At this time, I serve God mostly by honoring my marriage vows and serving Dana.

It strikes me odd that, when it was generally believed that Dana was mentally ill, it would have been OK to have thoughts about divorcing or abandoning my spouse, even in Christian circles.  Even one person who expressed the opinion that I was acting in a crazy matter stated, “God forbid, if there really is something wrong with his (physical) brain (i.e., tumor or dementia), I’ll eat my words!”  Now there’s been a diagnosis of non-Alzheimer’s dementia, a dementia that first affects a person’s ability to logically reason. But I’ve not heard one word or read one text, email, or message to that effect.  I don’t even need to hear words of apology; I’d just like to see a change in attitude.

It also strikes me odd that the church cries out against divorce and for honoring marriage vows, yet many in the church approve of and may even encourage abandonment and even divorce in the case of severe illness and in the case of nearly all mental illnesses.

Here’s what I have learned over the past forty-two years of marriage:  Love, marriage, and commitment is not always kittens, sunshine, and skipping through the meadow.  Often it can be quite the opposite: The roaring lion – the enemy – seeking to devour, to tear apart Christian marriages, which are to represent God’s eternal covenant with the church; The valley of the shadow of death, walking through difficult, sometimes even dangerous, passages of our pilgrimages here on Earth, yet fearing no evil because God is with us; Trudging knee-deep through the mud and mire that this life sometimes is, through no fault of our own.

It is in those dark times when we are knee-deep in the messiness of this life, being attacked from every side, that true love can shine forth like a diamond: walking the path together, encouraging and strengthening and wrapping our arms around the other without condemning them in their struggle; Working out in real-time that love, that commitment, to serve the other’s need; Taking upon ourselves a portion of the heavy burden the other is carrying, the burden that is crushing them to the point of annihilation; Holding the other up when they are weary so together we can take one more step forward.  It’s in these times that an example of God’s love for us can be seen and He can be glorified in our lives.

As I walk this journey of dementia with the one I love, my husband of forty-two years, I know I won’t win the approval of many people.  I cannot expect that.  In fact, I expect the disapproval of most, if not everyone.  But that is not the calling of God on my life.  The calling of God on my life right now is to honor Him, to “do” my “I do’s.”


Less is More

I’ve been thinking a lot this past year about when we (finally) get our own place in the States.  What will I need to furnish it appropriate to our needs, both present and future?  I thought I’d go to Pinterest and get a bunch of ideas.  Oh, there are so many wonderful ideas, so much of it expensive and time consuming!

Then on September 24, during my Bible reading, I came across Matthew 6:19-21.  The past two years I’ve been reading a chronological Bible – two years and I’m not yet to the end.  But I regress.  That’s another story for another day.

Anyway, Matthew 6:19-21 in the New Living Translation reads, “Don’t store up treasures here on Earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in Heaven were moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

It seemed to me as if God was whispering (maybe yelling?) the word “minimalism” to me.  The past three months I’ve been focusing on what that means to me, and what it doesn’t mean to me.

By nature, I’m a clutter bug.  If the papers are to be put away, there must be an easy way to accomplish that task.  If the folded and hung laundry is to be put away properly, I need a place to do that, a place which is easily accessible.  You get the idea.  If a task seems overwhelming for whatever reason, I opt out of it.

A great part of minimalism is having what you need, and not a whole lot more.  Remembering that whatever I own will require maintenance, which uses a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere, I asked myself, “How many pairs of slacks do I really need?”  Turns out, it’s not too many.  I figure two pair of nice, well-fitting black slacks should do it.  Same goes for skirts and shorts.  What about jeans?  I upped that to three or four, because they only get washed together because of the possibility of fading.  Then, several blouses to add color, a few sweaters in a variety of colors, and I’m pretty much finished.  My husband gave me a dress and some amazing Thai Silk fabric to sew into a skirt and blouse.  I do have a couple of nice suits, one a slack suit and the other a skirt suit. It should all fit on less than 3 feet of closet rod.  Nearly everything is machine washable too.  Easy to care for with minimal time spent.  Of course, my new tendency toward minimalism can’t be forced on my husband, but I can pursue it for myself.

I got to thinking next about bedding and other linens.  Is it truly necessary to have more than two complete sets of bedding for any bed in the house?  I think not.  What about towels?  Two sets for each person I can sleep in my home seems reasonable to me.  I do love to have LOTS of washcloths though.  Living in the tropics for over a decade had me using a clean cloth for every face wash or shower.  They just got so disgusting, not drying out well between uses.  The same applies to kitchen towels and cloths.  You see, I’m not a total minimalist, just trying to head that way.

Another place that can get overwhelming quite quickly is the kitchen.  How many place settings do I really need?  There are so many types of appliances available!  How about something that does several different jobs?  I like that idea!  I need to remember I don’t need appliances for every task, especially the ones I never do!

I think it’s going to be interesting to get into all the “stuff” we shipped back from Thailand and has been in storage more than nine months now.  What if a bunch of it is just stuff I can’t or won’t use?  I know I really miss some of it: my serge/overlock sewing machine, my keyboard, pictures, my fantastic high-capacity printer, the good vacuum cleaner which has been in storage these past 11 years.  It just might make me sick to see how much “junk” I had shipped over the Pacific Ocean, needing to toss even more as I unpack it all here!

One area I need to work on is my love for crochet thread, yarn, and fabric.  Much of it is used to generate income.  That’s legitimate.  The rest, not so much.  With that, I’ll share part of the prayer I wrote down in my journal on Sunday, 24 September 2017:

Father, guide me as we work to establish a home of our own once again.  Let us be more minimalist.  Keep me away from crochet thread, fabric, and yarn unless I have a specific use for it.  Keep us away from too many clothes, too many kitchen things, too many trinkets.

What are your thoughts on minimalism?




Repatriation, Part 9

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It’s been nearly 4 and a half months since my last entry about our repatriation.  That might provide a lot of information in and of itself.

It’s been a crazy 4 months.  Two days to recover from jet lag.  A funeral; nearly a week spent in Anaheim with family; our children delivering our car to us, and announcing that they took on ¾ of the cost of the car; a trip to the Pacific Northwest to visit family, especially four of our grandchildren; back to Riverside, CA and more resumes being sent out. This was all quite expected.

But then the unexpected happened.  My husband had a bad transition from his Thai medicines to medicines that are available here in the States.  Today marks his 26th day in hospital, with his discharge scheduled for 2 o’clock this afternoon.  He still has some ways to go to be fully “back to himself,” but we know that God is able.

My job hunt has not gone well.  Because I’ve been out of country and out of the school district so long, I cannot get letters of recommendation to apply for a contract position in the public school system here in California.  I do have applications in at two Christian schools in the area.  School opens early next month, and I’ve not heard anything.  Another online teaching opportunity just fell through.  However, I have a couple of kids I’m tutoring in their reading.  I’m in the process of working toward certification in teaching dyslexic kids and adults to read, spell, and write well.  I’d really like to have about 25 hours a week of private tutoring.  That could also include EFL/ESL and even sewing and crochet lessons.  I have my Cindy’s Creative Crafts shop on Facebook, and my husband will help me get the shopping cart stuff working better.  I need to find a better way to market it.  My book about overcoming fear is now available on Kindle via Amazon. I need to find a better way to market it too.  I’ve always had a lot of different interests, and there are a few things I do well.  Now they need to provide a way to provide for our financial needs.  I will probably have at least a brief stint in the retail arena.  Maybe as a clerk or cashier or something along those lines.  Minimum wage job with no benefits, probably multiple little jobs like this. I’ve submitted at least 50, probably closer to 100, online applications to various retailers.  Crickets.

I ask for your prayers in this next season of our lives.  We need a little place of our own, it doesn’t need to be much.  We need to stay in the Riverside area so my husband can complete his recovery here with the medical staff that is already involved in his care.

God has always taken care of us in the past, and I know He’ll continue and provide the perfect resources so we can once again serve with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.


My Online Shop is Up and Running!

13062157_10153639979811849_5165504760692843204_nGo check out what’s up at Cindy’s Creative Gifts! You can search for me on Facebook, and order from the “shop” link on the left side of the page. We won’t call the page “perfect,” but I’m learning a little more about how to do this day by day.  Look for my colorful doily when you search. Global shipping is included!

Cindy’s Creative Gifts



One of the things I'm doing to earn a bit of cash so we can survive until jobs are found, is to sell the crochet things I make.  Check out my Facebook page, Cindy's Creative Gifts.  There's lots of pretty doilies and coasters at a pretty reasonable cost.  LOTS more doilies should be going up Friday and Saturday (the 5th and 6th) as I just need to take pictures and post them.

I've not figured out a shopping cart yet, but if you pm me with your email address and with what products you want, I'll send you a PayPal invoice, and the business day after PayPal tells me you paid I'll get it in the mail.  The price you see is all–inclusive – nothing else is added in 🙂  So, enjoy shopping for Mother's Day, and don't forget your mother-in-law, your daughters, your daughters-in-law who are also moms!

God bless you as you help support us in our repatriation adventure!


A Call to Repentance

25 April 2017

Warning:  This is not my normal type of blog!

God got me up more than an hour before my alarm this morning, having planted an exceptional hunger for His Word in my heart.  I’ve learned over the years to just get up, wash my face, get a cup of coffee, and dig into whatever is next in my Bible reading plan.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been reading through a chronological NLT (New Living Translation) Bible.  This translation seems mostly accurate, at least according to the Bible training I have undergone, and is very story-like and easy to read.  At the end of 16 months, I’ve made it all the way up to June 24.  I decided a while back that the chronology was what I was desiring more than “making it through” the whole Bible in a year.  I want to take my time and catch what God is speaking to my heart rather than rush through and “just gitter-done.”  I write all this to say I believe this is a very important message for me today, and it might be an important message to you, too.  I’ll just give you the (slightly revised – mostly more organized and with names confirmed) notes about what God showed me this morning.

Isaiah 8:5-8      Then the LORD spoke to me again and said, “My care for the people of Judah is like the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, but they have rejected it.  They are rejoicing over what will happen to King Rezin and King Pekah.  Therefore, the Lord will overwhelm them with a mighty flood from the Euphrates River – the King of Assyria and all his glory.  This flood will overthrow all its channels and sweep into Judah until it is chin deep.  It will spread its wings, submerging your land from one end to the other, O Immanuel.”  (NLT)

My personal take-away:  Do NOT rejoice when God brings judgment on evil men and women.

Before I go any farther, let me state a caveat:  I don’t pretend to understand politics and world events, try as I may.  God brought to mind a few events I know of as illustrations, using the few facts I believe are reasonably certain, to apply this Scripture to my life, and to the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

How often do we, God’s children, rejoice when God brings judgment on evil men and women today?  When Saddam Hussein was executed by American forces?  When Osama Ben Laden was assassinated by Seal Team Six?  When President Trump sent the MOAB missiles into Syria, an attack against Syria’s President Assad, just this past month?

By God’s standards, all there of these men are evil men, doing evil things.  It may be possible that God used America to bring about His judgment upon these three men and their political kingdoms, rooted in the same evil.

Yet, I am reminded of a few things:

  1. The title of John Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
  2. 2 Peter 3:9b tells me, “He [God] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT)
  3. “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” (attribution uncertain)

A bit further down in Isaiah 8, verse 11 says, “The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.”  (NLT)  Further down in verse 20, “Look to God’s instructions and teachings!  People who contradict His Word are completely in the dark.”  (NLT)

So, today I will choose to repent, to confess as sin and turn away from doing again, the times I took joy in seeing evil men – and women – brought to justice.  I will choose instead to begin praying for their salvation and their transformation into godly men and women.

Who will join me?