Words of Encouragement

Cyndi den Otter
  • Cyndi den Otter
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  • Cyndi den Otter
  • Cyndi den Otter
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ALL BECAUSE OF GOD’S AMAZING GRACE

Cyndi den Otter

The idea was hatched long ago in the dining hall of our beloved Camp Shiktehawk. Sandra, one of the camp leaders was cornered. I imagine the conversation went something like this as Dale used all of his powers of persuasion – “could you lead a choir Sandra? If we could get 20 kids together we could have a choir. You are a teacher, you are great on the piano, you could do this.” I bet Sandra’s mind was swirling “twenty kids, every Sunday! That would be a lot of work, I teach full time. Let me pray about it.” Sandra recruited Leonard, a fellow teacher who had music oozing out of every pore. The answer was yes and in 1977, The Carleton Victoria Youth Choir was born. They achieved their goal of 20 teens -

and 20 more

and 20 more

and 20 more

and 20 more

and 20 more

Leonard and Sandra had no idea what saying yes to God would mean. They had no inkling of the plan that God had for a bunch of acne faced, hyperactive, awkward teens, but they were obedient to His call. I am sure they must have been overwhelmed when God multiplied the dream born at Camp Shiktehawk more than anyone could ever have imagined. They soon would learn just what could be accomplished -

all because of God’s amazing grace.

Numbers went as high as 120 and settled in at a steady 80. We came from the country, the villages, and towns over a 155 km stretch of road from Grand Falls to Nackawic. We met every Sunday en masse at big churches and tiny churches. Imagine teen age drivers travelling on back roads laden with moose and critters and in snow storms for a period of 3 years and no serious accidents -

all because of God’s amazing grace.

All were welcome. There were no auditions. Some could sing, and some of us … not so much. Some of us were there because our friends were there, some of us to occupy our time and keep us out of trouble, and most because we loved to sing. God had a plan and placed each of us there for a reason. We practiced, the churches fed us, and in the evening we put on a concert for them. At times we did not fit on the platform and spilled out in front and to the sides. As we practiced the songs proclaiming God’s glory all afternoon Sunday after Sunday, the words worked their way into our hearts and we were forever changed -

all because of God’s amazing grace.

Leonard and Sandra taught us discipline as we spent long hours practicing. They had the gift of making learning fun and they taught us respect. They were wonderful mentors. We learned what it meant to use our gifts for God’s glory and what it meant to serve others. We gained friends, some for life. And in those uncertain days of our teen years, we learned to have confidence. We grew up in those 3 years and were on the edge of adulthood. We had many decisions to make but we had gained friends that would pray for us. As the choir years came to an end, we stepped into our adult lives. Some would go into full time ministry, and many others would serve for decades in their own communities and churches. Life wasn’t perfect or easy and sometimes there was pain. Sometimes we were obedient even though we had no idea what God was up to, but He guided us safely through -

all because of God’s amazing grace.

Thirty four years later God brought us back together again. Some of us were a little grayer, a little balder, and yes a little plumper. We sat in our seats in the right front of the church automatically as we always did and caught up. There was much laughter and tears and of course stories as we remembered our adventures. We lingered and swapped photos of our grand babies. The inevitable happened and we gathered on the platform with a few pieces of yellowed music to sing one more time.   Sandra said “I haven’t played these songs for 34 years, I’ll never remember!” But she did and as her fingers hit the keys, they defied the three and a half decades of time and the music poured out. Leonard said “I can’t stand for long periods of time anymore.” But he did and he stood in front of us in full director mode and we loved it.

As we stood to sing the years fell away and we were teenagers again for a little while. We faltered through some songs and others we remembered well. One special song has deeper meaning for us now. It is a song that summarizes our journey and we have seen the proof of God’s faithfulness and guidance as we grew older. It fell off our lips with a little more wisdom than it did decades ago. We sang in perfect 4 part harmony as if it was just yesterday that we sang it last -

Amazing grace, oh how sweet the sound
That saved a poor sinner like me!
Though once I was lost, yet now I’m found,
Though I was blinded, now I see!

Through disappointment and danger, too,
Through labours and sorrows we’ve come!
But God’s grace has guided safely through,
And it will surely lead us home!

Then with the ransomed around God’s throne
We’ll praise our redeemer and King!
We’ll tell how His mercy for sin did atone,
Through countless ages this song we’ll sing!

It was all because of God’s amazing grace!
Because on Calvary’s mountain He took my place!
And someday, some glorious morning
I shall see Him face to face,
All because of God’s amazing grace!

(song by Stephen Adams)

Copyright 2014 September 15 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission

YOU GOT POWER?

Cyndi den OtterWe Maritimers are accustomed to hurricanes heading up the coast bearing down on us. However, when they reach the cooler waters they often lose power and move out to sea. We are left with the outside swath which brings wind and rain and some minor damage, but miss the fury the hurricane had in the south. Hurricane Arthur was different. It swung further inland and churned up trees by the thousands, washed out roads, and downed power lines. When we tried to leave our cabin to check on our house, our hearts sank when we reached the end of the road and found the power lines like spaghetti. We attempted to go home one way but the road was flooded. The other way home was littered with trees across the road. It quickly became apparent that it would be a long time before we got power.

Suddenly the things that we never gave a second thought became foremost in our minds – how to keep our food cold, water to drink, bathe, and flush the toilet. Phone lines were down and even cell coverage was gone. It was a challenge to think up things to cook up on the BBQ or propane stove. Generators became a hot item and stores sold out. It was a lot of work to do our day to day tasks and all we could do was wait and “make do,”  helpless to do anything about it. We did not appreciate our access to power until it was gone. The process of restoring power was a daunting task as crews worked around the clock to clean up the mess.

When we met up with our neighbours, our usual greeting changed to “you got power?”

I had a lot of time to think in the quietness of our home without the hum of the fridge and the computer silent in the corner. I realized that I had access to power in my own life that I had not tapped into for a long time. When we become Christians and give our lives to Christ, we have access to power at the moment we believe. HIS power. So many times I have gone through storms and ended up feeling helpless and vulnerable, waiting for my life to be restored to normal or else run around in circles desperately thinking of ways to fix things. Relying on ourselves is like scurrying around hooking up things to the generator – first the fridge, then the freezer, then making rounds to other essential household items after the power lines were already repaired. It is the same as bringing buckets of water from the stream to bathe when there is already water gushing from the tap.

Why do we rely on ourselves when God is saying

“Hey, I am right here, I am your source of power, connect to me!”

Why do we go through our lives with the breakers set to OFF?

I am guilty. Are you?

19I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT

God knows our lives are hard. We live in a fallen world but He wants us to stop struggling and trust Him with our lives. He desires to help us in those storms which roll in without warning and create a huge mess. He is the one that can restore us.  The battle has already been won!

7We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.b This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NLT

When we are trying to maintain the balancing act we call life, and start to feel hopeless that we keep failing and can’t keep it all together, put your trust and hope in Jesus your source of power. We no longer have to “make do,”  we can connect to His unlimited resources!

16I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. 17Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. 19May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.20Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:16-21 NLT

So when you are greeted after the storm what is your answer to the question now?

You got power?

 

Copyright 2014 August 15 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission

I LONG

IMG_4714I long to be understood.

I long to serve God with the gifts He has given me.

I long to worship.

I long to be able to say no without fear of rejection.

I long to know God better.

I long for God to be pleased with me.

I long to connect.

 

I long to be free to be passionate about the things God has placed in my heart.

I long to belong.

I long to fulfill my purpose.

I long to have time to rest my mind and body without judging words.

I long for community

I long for my opinion to matter even if it differs from the status quo.

I long to be accepted.

I long to be respected as a woman, emotions and all.

I long to grow in my spiritual walk.

I long to express myself freely without feeling like I am breaking all the rules.

I long to be valued.

I long to be accepted in my Sanguine nature, old jokes, laughing, and all.

I long to be acknowledged in my Melancholy parts because I am capable of more than you think.

I long to feel safe.

I long to be free to be the way God made me.

 
Are my longings wrong? Are they reasonable? Am I asking too much?
If they are, I will ask and allow God to shape them, in His time, in His special way, to help me understand.

What are you longing for?

Zephaniah 3:17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

 

Copyright 2014 May 9 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission

OUR LOVELY DAUGHTER

Lieneke denOtterFashion Weekly

Lieneke den Otter – Fashion Weekly

THE COLOUR OF PAIN

Cyndi den OtterWhat does pain look like? Can you see it? If pain had a colour what would it be?  In my mind it would be black or gray however I think most of the time it comes carefully camouflaged in bright colours, Sunday best , glitter and bling carefully covering the black so that no one can see.

Can you hear pain? Really, you should be able to hear it when your entire being is a train wreck so loud that surely those sitting beside you can hear the clanging in your head.  However often all you hear is a soft moan or an escaped sigh, or glimpse a tear sliding down a cheek that makes no sound at all.

You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.   Psalm 56:8 NLT

I think pain should have a smell so that it could alert us when it exudes from the pores of those around us.  However it is invisible and odourless like a virus that sneaks in and catches you unaware.  It spreads it’s toxins to encompass all of your being and yet remains invisible.

If you could touch pain would it feel cold so that you have to draw your hand back quickly?  Does the cold wrap itself around your heart barely leaving room for it to beat?  Does it linger  in the air like an icy breath on a winter day?

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.  Psalm 34:17 & 18  NLT

Does pain have a taste?  Does it taste bitter in your mouth?  Perhaps it makes your mouth dry so that words cannot escape your parched throat if you finally muster up the courage to reach out. Stretch out your hands.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!   Psalm 34:6-8.  NLT

When life deals out those seasons of pain it’s nice to have someone to talk to, someone to share what is inside, and hear encouraging words, a hug, a

“it will get better”

“I’m praying for you”

“hang on, I’m here for you”

and preferably from someone

who knows just what you are going through

who has experienced it before

someone who gets it

someone who really cares. 

I think about the time Jesus spent on earth.  He knew pain.  Everywhere He went crowds gathered with every imaginable kind of pain.  He is the King of Kings but He walked with us and chose to spend time with those who were hurting. He heard their pain as they cried out for Him to heal them.  He saw their pain and they pressed close to Him hoping that He would see them and touch them.  As they stretched out their hands to Him, He healed them.  After that they killed him. He embodied our pain when He was rejected and put on a cross to die for sins He did not commit. He knew physical pain.

The colour of His pain was bright red for the blood He shed for us.

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  By his wounds you are healed.  1 Peter 2:24  NLT

If there is anyone who gets it, it is Jesus.  He heard, tasted, smelled, touched, and saw pain in every colour.  He knows what we are going through. Imagine taking your pain to Jesus the one who can touch your pain and heal you.  Stretch out your hands.  He is saying

“it will get better”

“I hear your prayers”

“hang on, I’m here for you”

because He knows what you are going through.

He understands what you are experiencing 

He gets it and

He really cares. 

Stretch out your hands.

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.  1 Peter 5:10 NLT

Copyright 2013 December 14 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission

LEGO IN THE PEWS

Cyndi den OtterI remember trying to get to church with four little kids like it was yesterday.  Three little dresses, three pairs of tights (more often than not on backwards) and one in a diaper.

Toys packed – check.

Snacks – check.

Diaper bag – check.

4 hats, 4 coats, 8 mittens, 4 pairs of boots  on – check.

4 hats, 4 coats, 7 mittens, 4 pairs of boots off because I forgot to take them to the potty – check.

4 hats, 4 coats, 5 mittens (nobody knows where they went) 4 pairs of boots back on – check.

By the time we arrived at the church we were frazzled and wondered if it was worth the bother.  However when we stepped inside there were many loving arms reaching out to help with our little brood, hands to help with their coats, hands to wipe noses, arms to catch the “runners” before they ran out through the parking lot, and arms to help us settle in.

We did not get to relax very long before one child, naming no names – (Rianna) would crawl under the pews like a greased pig, fast as lightening all the way to the front before someone could catch her by the feet before she got to the pulpit and hand her back row by row to until she got back to us.  Another child of ours which we cannot disclose – (Lieneke) would “visit.”  She would toddle to a face she knew and stay with them and “visit” for the entire service looking back to us from time to time with a look that said “see, I’m being good.”  Aneke and her cousin Devin would be at our feet and colour and the smell of crayon wafted over the back pews.  We thought they were not aware of anything going on in the service until Devin would call out an answer to one of the pastor’s questions.  Arjen would build Lego towers (which by the way are very dangerous for high heels).  Don’t ask me how I know this.

If you ask me now, was it worth it, I would say indeed it was!

Today I get a warm fuzzy when I see little ones in church.  I love the little one who dances in the aisle lost in the music unaware of all the people around her.  We could take some worship lessons from her.
Welcome little one.  Are you our future worship leader?

Occasionally a little one gets carried out, protesting all the way.  When this happens there are smiles on the faces of the older Moms.  It is a “knowing” smile.  It is a “I remember those days” look.
It’s okay  little protester.  You are welcome here.

One Dad and Mom got their kids settled in the nursery and Junior church then promptly nodded off during the service.  No one woke them because we remember all too well those sleepless nights with teething babies, the night owl toddlers, and feverish kids.  We knew it was probably the first moment of quiet the entire week.  We appreciate your efforts Dads and Moms. Don’t give up.
Tired, frazzled, sleep deprived parents are welcome here.

Those of you who have been through these days don’t forget to extend those “hands” to encourage all of the parents who make the effort to bring their children.  Enjoy all the sights and sounds of little people. Crying and cooing babies, chattering toddlers and preschoolers, excited grade school kids, and even the misbehaving ones are all a special music to our ears.  It is a precious sound, the music of our future church.  Without their song our church will die.

Hello next generation church.  Pleased to meet you next generation leaders.  You are our future and you are welcome here!

And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.  Matthew 18:5  NIV

Copyright 2013 November 3 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission

HE CONQUERED

The following is a rap for my beloved Camp Shiktehawk.  This is the camp that I attended as a child and the camp where I trusted Jesus as my personal Saviour in a top bunk in cabin 11 1/2.  A sign hangs in the dining hall which reads “Where He Conquered” because it is said that is what the meaning of the word Shiktehawk is.  I remember another sign that hung by the fireplace in the old lodge which read “Jesus Never Fails.”  As the camp faces the challenges of some major repairs we know that indeed HE has never failed us. We have tested it and find it to be true indeed  and I know that HE will conquer any challenge if we give it to Him.  HE comes through every time!

Cyndi den Otter

Just look up there and see that sign

Where He conquered is the theme of my rhyme

Don’t grieve it

Just leave it

Believe it

Receive it

‘Cause He has conquered and we’ll be fine

 

Fixed the foundation in Warner Hall

Poured the concrete and built the wall

Repairs done

Y’all come

Visit some

Have some fun

Now it’s solid and it won’t fall

 

How ‘bout you is your foundation broke

The uglies of life flow in and soak

In a mess

Feelin’ stress

No Success

SOS

To the One who fixes human folk

 

The  flood waters came and the ice it jammed

And broke the bridge down from its span

So up we rose

To face those blows

The gap was closed

By all of those

Who cancelled Satan’s nasty plan

 

You too can swim when you’re going down

In the storms of life that make you drown

So look to Him

When life is grim

He’ll help you swim

And you will win

And you will get a golden crown

 

We know the crick it needs repair

But history tells us don’t despair

Not frantic

Nor panicked

Nor heartsick

Nor up the crick

God is the one who will get us there

 

God said we’d have trouble from time to time

Where He conquered is the theme of my rhyme

Don’t grieve it

Just leave it

Believe it

Receive it

‘Cause He has conquered and we’ll be fine

 

Don’t grieve it …

Just leave it …

Believe it …

Receive it!

Copyright 2013 October 26 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission

PRAYER PROMISES

Cyndi den OtterThe last six months of my life have been quite intense, nothing out of the ordinary mind you.  There have been things going on in my life that happen in everyone’s lives at one time or another.  In May and June we had much needed renovations in our home and all the noise and dust and temporary displacement that go with that.  I wonder if it is okay to ask someone to pray for us during renovations.  Is that important enough?

In July was our third daughter’s wedding and all the running, planning, preparation, and endless tasks that are part of that.  Every night after work there were lists of things to do.  It seemed that for every one thing I completed on the list, two more things replaced it.  In the end our friends came to our rescue and helped us complete the enormous task of decorating the church and the clean up afterwards.  I could sense they were praying for us.

In August our firstborn daughter and her husband had a baby girl and after much anticipation, excitement, and the joy that all you Grandmas can understand, we welcomed tiny Jubilee into our family.  She was an answer to prayer and we are in love.  Thank you for your prayers.

In September we moved the remainder of our son’s belongings to his new apartment in another city with three other roommates as he started his third year university.  I worried like all Moms do, would they get along, would he do okay in his studies, and would he eat properly?  Will you pray for them?

Also in September our third daughter moved and all of her belongings and wedding gifts were carefully packed into a U-Haul and we delivered her to her waiting husband who had already started Med School in another province 1280 kilometres away.  We helped them settle in, hang pictures, and put things away for a few days, but then it was time to go.  My throat was tight and my heart had sunk to my feet as we bid them good-bye and headed home.  I know you were praying just like you promised.  I could tell.

When we walked into our empty house, I could hear the hum of the fridge and the ticking of the clock.  I had never noticed them before; the silence was overwhelming.  Even though we had been empty nesters for a couple years already, our nest never felt as empty as that day.  My arms and legs were like lead and a feeling of fatigue descended on my body.  The feeling was familiar.  I felt like this after each of my children moved out.  Can you relate?  Yes I know you can.  Could you pray for us?

Does this sound familiar?  Is this your life too?  This season of my life summarizes the day to day things that we all face. In fact, I know that most of you can relate to at least one of those things that occurred in our lives these past few months.  It is a comfort for me to know that I have friends who will pray for me in my ordinary days for all of the things that happen.  I can feel the strength of their prayers amidst the routine of my life.  I feel secure that they will not forget me when prayer time comes.

There is rarely a week that goes by that someone does not ask me to pray for them.  I always answer an emphatic “indeed I will!”   Not one of us would ever say:

“No, I will probably forget about it in five minutes.”

“Nah that does not seem important enough to pray about.”

“Really, you want me to pray for that, get a grip, seriously!”

“Yes, I may remember to pray once but not tomorrow or the next day.”

“No, I feel tired, I think I’ll just go straight to bed tonight and not pray for you.”

“No, you are on your own baby doll.”

But seriously …

have you,

did you,

will you,

FORGET?

Yes, I admit from time to time I have, I did, and I will, forget my promise and I am so sorry I let you down.  I have committed to be serious about praying for all of you in the busy times, difficult times, decision times, those crippling seasons of pain, and even in your every day ordinary things.  Our God cares about EVERY season in our life and has His hands outstretched to help and HE will never forget His promises!

Do you have someone to pray for you?  Will you keep your promise to pray for others when they ask?  Do you believe God indeed hears your prayers and is waiting to help?

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 NLT

The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17 NLT

Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. Psalm 50:15 NLT

Copyright 2013 September 22 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission

JUBILEE

Today we rejoice with yet another beautiful addition to our family!  Love being an Oma!Cyndi den Otter

MY DAUGHTER’S WEDDING

This is why I have not written a post recently.  I’ve been kinda busy.  My daughter got married!  Here is a picture of her and her new husband.  I am a little biased but I think they are beautiful!

Cyndi den Otter

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