Demystifying the Cinderella Syndrome

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

My father has affectionately called me his Cinderella for as long as I can remember. But my story, unlike the fairy-tale Cinderella, is not a tale of servant girl eventually living happily ever after with her prince. Rather it is a tale of experiencing brokenness to redemption, and living out the reality of being redeemed.

I don’t do it perfectly, or as Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12 NIV). I long to do the same, to live out my relationship with Jesus before the rest of the world.

Reflecting redemption can be challenging with the kind of noise that has been deafening as of late. It was really hard to not jump in and join the rants and raves on social media about the recent election. I read, listened, watched and prayed. Such division and hostility. It makes me sick and sad all at the same time.

Today was a fresh reminder of that as we had our windows worked on by two repairmen.  One had an accent, and I asked him where he was from. He hesitated and said he was originally from Mexico. As we began to talk, he shared with me how he loved his job, but recently he was sensing hate and fear from various clients. Lawns were littered with signs of campaign supporters that he knew were reproachful about his heritage. I sadly assured him that in my home, he was welcome to express his thoughts and opinions.

God is in the process of redeeming us even in the face of the noise and madness of our world. It is a manifestation of just how patient He really is. I actually struggle with God’s patience at times. And yet, I know it is a part of the narrative that is being written on His plan of redemption for the world.

I ask you, can we walk as redeemed people and practice the humility that Jesus lived? Can we, in our bantering back and forth, carefully choose to state our opinions with courage, and yet sprinkle them with kindness?

There is a line in the recent remake of Cinderella at the end of the story when the prince discovers his mystery princess and asks, “Who are you?”

She steps forward and says, “I am Cinderella, I’m no princess. I have no carriage, no parents, no dowry, and I don’t even know if that beautiful slipper will fit. But if it does, will you take me as I am?”

As I watched this scene, I envisioned presenting myself to the Prince of Heaven: Will you take me, as I am, each and every day?

He whispered in my soul throughout the rest of that day:

You are my treasure…Exodus 19:5, I rejoice over you with singing…Zephaniah 3:17. As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart…Isaiah 40:11. One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes…Revelation 21:3-4

This is the redemption God gives us through His son Jesus. We can offer nothing to Him but flaws and failings. He redeems us and creates in us a new life. We only have to be willing to admit our need. Our redemption then comes full circle as we wake up each day with confidence, believing that our lives matter and can make a difference to all we encounter. It really is a Cinderella story.

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When we turn to Jesus our Cinderella story always leads to happily-ever-after – @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: Do you have a favorite verse that speaks of God’s love for you?

Overcoming Fear at Christmas

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

It’s a demanding season. A season with lots of room for failure. I worry that my preparations for the holiday will be insufficient. Will I give the right gifts? Decorate the house well enough? Make the kind of goodies my family will appreciate? It’s so easy to fall into a people-pleasing trap.

Believe it or not, potential for fear is a big part of the Christmas story. Remember the reaction of the shepherds on that dark hillside when the angel suddenly appeared? (One we can completely understand, given the extraordinary event!) But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10 NIV).

God addressed their fear first before giving them the news. He told them they didn’t need to be afraid because what they were about to hear would bring them great joy. They needed to calm down before they could hear what the angel had to say.

In the same way, God wants to address our fear this Christmas.

Of course, we first have to acknowledge that we are afraid. That may take slowing down long enough to fully recognize it. Once you do, grab a piece of paper and start writing. What are you afraid of this December?

Ask God to help. Because if we let fear drive us, our need to control will take over like a run-away train, and we will be miserable. Take it from me; I’ve done it so many times, and I’ve made not only myself miserable but my family, too!

We can’t miss the second part of the announcement. The angels told them what they could discover once they let go of their fear. “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savoir, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12 NIV).

What waited for them was the tiny Messiah. They would recognize Him right away, because of His humble surroundings, sleeping in a crude manger. Immanuel, God with us.

When the angels had left them and the dark and quiet had returned, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (Luke 2:15 NIV ). The next verse tells us that they hurried to see Jesus.

My fear this Christmas is that I won’t have enough time to get everything done, no matter how I rush around and frantically plan. It’s all so exhausting. The only kind of hurrying I really want to do is to hurry to see Jesus, as the shepherds did that night. Because He is the greatest reason for joy.

So in order to make sure that fear doesn’t dominate my Christmas, I am purposely choosing to simplify a few things this year. And allow myself the joy of being in His presence.

Let’s name our fears together, then let them go, and hurry as the shepherds did to spend a few moments with Jesus. I believe that in that process, that our joy for the season will be recaptured.

… ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. John 16:24 NASB

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At Christmas, take your cue from the shepherds and spend a few moment with Jesus – @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: What are the fears that bother you during the busy holiday season?

 

Jesus Still Saves

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

Her deep brown-black eyes and dark curly hair caught my attention as I walked by. She was standing alone, holding a book, and as our eyes met, she timidly called out, “Where’s my Nana?”

My friend and I looked around the store and didn’t see any adults close by. We leaned down and assured this sweet little three-year old we would help her find Nana. I offered my hand, and she clung to it instantly, allowing us to lead her to the front of the building. But before we reached the front counter, she saw her Nana and went running. It was a sweet reunion. She was safe in the arms of love once more.

In her darling voice, she said, “Thank you for saving me.” My heart melted, and as we walked away, what her words kept echoing through my head. The store was filled with holiday décor, and I thought about what “saving” could mean for all of us this Christmas season.

Is there something you need saving from as the holiday draws near? Maybe an overly busy schedule and not enough time to get everything done? Financial difficulty? A broken relationship? Are your expectations insanely high for you in the Christmas rush?

As I think on the days ahead, my heart breaks for a few of my dear friends. One recently suddenly lost her husband; two dear friends lost their adult daughters during this past year. I’d love to gather them all up and take away the pain, to save them from the heartache of celebrating memories rather than holding their loved ones close. Others face sickness or financial woes. The holiday season seems like a cruel joke when in the midst of such agony.

And yet, time marches on, no matter what our circumstances may be.

Christmas will come as it does every year, and right on time. We will once again remember the arrival of God in the flesh, in the form of a helpless baby, come to save the world. He may seem distant and even uncaring to us at the present. But His coming was a gift of unfathomable love, leaving heaven to be our Immanuel, God with us. And these two thousand years later, He continues in His desire to be with us, waiting for us to take His outstretched hand, asking us to simply trust Him.

The sweet, lost little girl in the store that day had to take my hand in trust, even though she was afraid, so that she could be saved. Jesus wants us to do the same for us. As we put our hand in His, He saves us. As we acknowledge we can’t do Christmas without Him, He saves us. As we recognize we can’t solve all our family issues, He saves us. And as we try to make Christmas a meaningful time for our families with limited resources, he saves us.

Don’t lose sight of the saving hand of Jesus this busy season. He is still God with us. He can still do what we cannot, all in response to our determination to trust Him even when we are afraid or overwhelmed.

 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23 NASB

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Jesus still saves – holiday inspiration from Cynthia Cavanaugh, @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: From what do you need saving during this Christmas season?

 

When Toxic Thoughts Take Over

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

I am typically not your jump out of bed and greet the morning with a smile kind of person. I am what you might call a slow wake: a put my feet on the ground and get my tea before talking kind of individual. I’ve tried all sorts of things to change that disposition, but my hard wiring works against me. Having children has helped. I have learned that it is only possible to greet them with half a brain if I force myself to get up earlier than them.

Because I am not a morning person, it is a very bad idea to try get my mindset going in the right direction. That can make or break the tone for the day and impact my relationships.  It’s all too easy to allow leftover negative thoughts from the day before to impact a new day. No matter how I try to control them, they continue to plague me.

Lately, I have been working on how to get rid of those persistent negative thoughts. Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Who Switched Off My Brain. advises, “Whatever you think about grows. Don’t focus on what you are going through but what you are going to.” I’ve been relearning a valuable truth: when I continue dwelling on the wrong thing, that focus will grow into bad behaviors and turn into toxic words.

So what can we do when toxic thoughts persist?

There is a reason that the Romans says “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV). In other words, we can change how we think by renewing our thoughts.

When those negative thoughts come calling, we can decide to surrender them to Jesus. A great way to symbolize that decision is to write them down, then tear up the paper on which they are written. Then find a verse in the Bible to specifically counteract what you are struggling not to think, and when they threaten to sneak back, say that Scripture right out loud. The Word of God has the power to stop those nasty thoughts in their tracks.

If we aren’t careful, those toxic thoughts can…

  • Rob our joy – the toxicity can block our seeing the little things in life that can make us smile
  • Poison relationships – those poisonous thoughts can turn into small barbs of unkindness to others
  • Kill productivity – focusing on the negative can block our creativity and stop us from moving forward
  • Allow despair to reign – obsessing over situations that we can’t control keeps us from trusting in God. The enemy is all about disappointment and hopelessness.

I have experienced all of the above when I’ve chewed and chewed on toxic thoughts. It’s a habit that I am working to break with God’s help. There is too much at stake, not just for us, but for those lives we influence.

Will you join me? Let’s make a strategic plan to make sure we reclaim this ground in our mind for good!

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB

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Reclaiming joy when toxic thoughts take over – @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: What kinds of negative thoughts plague you?

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (and Gratitude)

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

The past several months I’ve been working to cultivate gratitude in my life. There were too many negative thoughts swirling around from situations I couldn’t control. And certainly, I wasn’t the designated fixer! Life can be overwhelming, and sometimes my heart just hurts from all the sadness and brokenness in our planet. I realized that I could turn into a Negative Nelly if I wasn’t careful. Ouch! This is who I really don’t want to be AT ALL!

Months ago, cultivating gratitude turned into a nightly ritual.  Being a visual person, I like creative ways to be intentional especially when God has gently prodded me about something I need to change. As I slip under my feather comforter each night, I posture myself to touch each of my five fingers. Moving over each finger on my hand, I name what I am grateful for that day.

As days have turned into weeks and weeks into months a subtle, slow transformation has taken place in a crevice of my soul. Negative Nelly and her thoughts have been shoved out and replaced by a new resident, bringing thoughts of thankfulness rather than despair. I find myself looking at the world differently. Even on a hard day windows of opportunity to be thankful present themselves and gratitude seeps through.

My new ritual is so ingrained, I can’t go to sleep without naming at least one or two things for which to be grateful. It is like taking vitamins for the soul. It keeps us healthy and changes our perspective.

I’ve read about the effects of gratitude, both in physical and emotional health. A grateful perspective has the potential to transform how we approach life. I’ve personally seen it to be a sweet balm to my broken heart. Embracing gratitude to the fullest is the best pathway to wholeness. There was a time several years back that I believed my heart could never be whole again.  It was too bruised, too wounded, too betrayed, and too weary. As I slowly surrendered, Jesus changed my heart and I looked to Him to be my teaching healer on the journey. His ways are perfect and his timing is impeccable.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, my heart is bursting with gratitude. It is surprising how many times it trickles out into the moments of my day. My ritual of gratitude has transformed me. My heart is healing.

I don’t know what circumstances you might be facing right now. Maybe the thought of being thankful is the farthest from your mind. I’ve been there. I pray that there will be a moment this week in between family gatherings or chaotic Black Friday shopping where thankfulness catches and inspires you to want more gratitude in your life. I challenge you: give it a try for 30 days every night. I guarantee that your tired heart will be different at the end of 30 days. Here is some inspiration to get you started:

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1 NIV

 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17 NIV

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6 NIV

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How gratitude is like vitamins for the soul – @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: How do you cultivate gratitude in your heart?