Making Grief Your Friend

I boarded a plane two days after I learned my mother graduated to heaven.

I had an assignment.

For months, two monumental events were planned that took place this past week. Anchored: Leading Through the Storms was released with a book party at our local bookstore. The Women Of Joy Tour started, and I was heading to Tennessee where my cousin Andrea and I were featured authors with Redemption Press for our new devotional Live Bold, which was also making its debut.

The day after I received the news my Mom had passed, I wondered how I would garner the strength to finish the week. I was already hanging on by a thread. I was emotionally spent and had many restless nights anticipating the news of my Mom’s death. I know God doesn’t make mistakes and it is no accident that all these events converged.

I decided to forge ahead with the plans not because I was ignoring the grief in my heart or trying to be a super saint, but because I believed with everything I am that God was in the center of this storm.

It wasn’t a surprise. He knew before it even took place.

I believe he wasn’t inviting me to lie down in the boat. Rather, he was asking me to trust him with my fragile heart and hang onto the boat’s wheel, and he would help me navigate the wind and the waves of grief.

I chose to go into the weekend with grief as my companion and friend.

My greatest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to contain my emotions and it would impair my ability to function.

I sensed God whispering to me to surrender my roller coaster emotions and trust him. I wrestled with the many what if’s and doubts.

Gently, he reassured me this was his plan, and he would uphold me with his right hand. The songs my Mom loved such as the old hymns, In the Garden and It is Well with My Soul, flooded my mind as the weekend approached.

They gave me comfort and Psalm 11:15, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants was like a warm blanket covering my soul.

The day we left I woke up with a renewed sense of strength. I felt carried close in God’s arms, and I was able to choose joy in the midst of my grief.

I allowed grief to become my friend by not shutting it out.

Grief met me in the songs the worship leader, Babbie Mason sang and reminded me that my Mom is praising Jesus and is whole and free.

Grief led me to see the truth in God’s word as the speakers spoke the truth that Jesus prays for me, loves me, and extends mercy and grace in the midst of grief.

Grief extended love to me through the prayers of strangers and kind words from new friends.

Grief allowed me to empathize and enter into other’s pain and pray for healing and restoration.

Grief leads me to Jesus because he understands every runaway emotion I experience and allows me the space to rest even when I can’t make sense of my thoughts and feelings. (click to tweet)

Grief encourages me to claim Jesus as my anchor because he understands what I can’t fully understand.

I am holding on to everything I know to be true about my God because he is the best captain of the boat in the storm of grief.

Find out more about being anchored in the storm. www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored

The Joy and Sadness of Writing

I’ve been a writer since I was in 3rd grade and wrote my first book Irene and the Big Balloon. I even illustrated it myself. It was a single copy meant to engage an exclusive audience of two…my parents!

They fostered the creativity by buying me a red gold leaf edged diary with a lock and key. I would wander off to my secret place on the side of the wooded hill in the back of our house and write. I dreamed of writing a book someday that would go beyond the confines of my little world to impact others.

I am incredibly grateful that this dream has been realized more than once Anchored: Leading Through the Storms is being released today. It is an exciting time planned with a book launch at my local bookstore and other events over the next weeks and months.

And yet the excitement is mingled with a sense of sadness.

My Mom is moments away from entering into heaven and today is possibly the day.

God isn’t surprised and he knew the contents of this book and the converging of these events.

A few months back when we first learned of my Mom’s cancer, I was rereading the first few chapters of the book before I went to sleep. The tears rolled down my cheeks as God encouraged me through the story of the disciples on the lake with Jesus in Mark 4. I might add, IN MY OWN BOOK!

That’s what happens sometimes, as an author. You write a book not just for an audience of readers, but write it for yourself because it is a part of the big picture story that God is writing in you and me.

I said goodbye to my Mom a little over 10 days ago. I had the chance to read her a few chapters and she encouraged me just as she did in the 3rd grade.

“This is really good, and I can tell it comes from the heart.”

Her words meant everything to me in that moment. I read to her the story of Job and the anchors he placed in his life before his catastrophic storm hit when he lost everything. The anchors held him steadfast as he walked through a valley of immense suffering.

My Mom, like Job has cultivated her strong anchors to face the storm of this insidious illness. She confessed in her suffering that she knows God is present and holding her close. She sang with us her favorites in her weak condition holding onto her assurance of hope that she will soon be pain-free and with her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

I am grateful for the legacy of faith my Mom taught me, that even now as we let her go, I find myself anchored in Jesus in this difficult storm of loss.

One anchor I am holding onto is…

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. 2 Peter 1:3  (click to tweet)

This is what I hope the reader will find between the pages of my new book. Hope and encouragement from God’s Word and anchors to help  stand strong in the midst of a storm.

Find out more about being anchored in the storm.

www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored

Special Purchase on PUB DAY WEEK

https://www.newhopepublishers.com/shop/anchored/

 

 

 

Living in Uncertainty

One of the things I love about being a life coach is helping people clarify their purpose and find their stride. Most of us, if not all of us, find several times throughout our lives of living in uncertainty. Change can be disconcerting and even frightening. But instead of dreading change we can see it as a window of time that provides a chance to see the broader landscape. It is often in these moments God moves us further onto His agenda.

When life is sure, the temptation is to get too comfortable. We are creatures of habit, and we like our routines. It works after all, so why break the cycle?

Living wholly surrendered to God means our lives are not our own. We give the Creator of the universe permission to mix things up and move things around even if it means taking us out of our comfort zones.

The undoing of a leader is thinking uncertainty is the enemy. (click to tweet) Rather I find uncertainty is a God opportunity to help shift us to the next level of leadership and more accurately into the next level of character He is building in us.

Living in uncertainty can be like watching a cyclone off in the distance. We see those winds circling and wonder how they will impact us. We aren’t sure how and where the storm will hit.

It is in the waiting with God where we find peace in the eye and center of the storm.  (click to tweet)

When I work with leaders who are facing transition I often take them through a basic process on purpose. Why? Because it is good to revisit who we are and where we see God in our lives and assess our experiences and abilities. I call it the “What do I know to be true about me?” exercise.

I help them evaluate their values, strengths, and weaknesses and create or revisit their mission statement. Staying true to who you know you are in Jesus helps you not fear the uncertainty of the winds even if they are within striking distance and feel too close for comfort.

There are things that happen as a result of uncertainty.

Sometimes we doubt our calling.

We question whether or not we heard God right.

We wrestle.

We ask questions.

We flip back and forth analyzing our life and experiences.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. Thinking critically in a time of uncertainty and using discernment is wisdom. If you find yourself in a place of uncertainty, ask the hard questions.

Why am I doing what I am doing?

Have I experienced any defining moments of affirmation along the way?

Am I focused on my primary gifts for maximum impact?

Ask others around you; find people in your life who will let you ask the hard questions and not just tell you what you want to hear. (click to tweet)

Other times we see uncertainty as the end of something we thought was good. But change or the end of one assignment doesn’t necessarily mean there is not goodness ahead.

Remember, God is good all of the time, not only when things are going well, ministry is soaring, and you see incredible results.

God is good in the valleys.

God is good in the crisis.

God is good in the uncertainty . . . all of the time. (click to tweet)

I challenge you to think of uncertainty as an opportunity to bring closure to a chapter in a book while anticipating a new chapter ahead.

God is the one writing your story, and he often writes our story in chapters. There is, however, a measure of mystery, as Paul David Tripp writes in his book, New Morning Mercies,

There will always be a mystery in your life. God will always surprise you with what he brings your way. You will always be con-fronted with the unplanned and the unexpected.  All of this is because you don’t rule your life and you don’t write your own story.

Start anticipating. I dare you to embrace uncertainty. Watch for the surprises God has for you and worship in wonder as you wait.

 

Excerpt from Anchored: Leading in the Storms

Find out more about being anchored in the storm.

www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018

Thinking Clearly in a Storm

I am an overachiever, overworker, overperfectionist, and overthinker. These dysfunctions in my life have come as a result of analyzing too much and not taking my thoughts and filtering them through God’s Word and direction.

I’ve had to work hard to retrain my brain so when I am in a storm, I can make a choice to confess my faith in a way that leverages my ability to see God and rise above my circumstances.

It has been a long, arduous journey, but to date, my faith is rooted deeper.

I live in Psalm 1:2–3:

“His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

My prayer is that I will be planted deep in Jesus by the river so when the floodwaters rise I will not only survive, but I will flourish and thrive.

The more I practice detoxing my thinking and focusing on God’s Word the more I can rise above the obstacles. (click to tweet)

I move from being paralyzed, stuck on the riverbank watching the hopelessness of a rushing river, to a place of confident faith.

I have come to understand a few things about my thoughts.

First, my thoughts are real, and they are a result of what I observe, feel, and experience.

I can’t dismiss them and simply wish them away.

I must deal with recurring negative thoughts or they will deal with me.(click to tweet)

I need to, as Dr. Leaf says, “replace it with the correct information.”

Taking the random thought and vetting it through Philippians 4:8 is a good place to start.

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

And we can’t forget verse nine, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Want peace from toxic thoughts? The only way to achieve the God kind of peace in a storm, is to filter our thoughts through his Word.

Excerpt from Anchored: Leading Through the Storms

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018

Find out more about being anchored in the storm.

www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored