Category Archives: faith

Faith for Real Life

Over and Next

At age 93, when asked what his best thinking was about life, TV legend Norman Lear replied, “It can be summed up in two words: Over and Next. If there were a hammock hung between those two words, that would be living in the moment.”

His words were a gift to me. I write and speak often about embracing the season we are in and not trying to rush too quickly to the next season. I’ve compared us to Hobby Lobby the way we start decorating for Fourth of July before Easter even thought about arriving, especially in our real life seasons.

Norman Lear gave me a new concept to think about though. It is equally important, when a season of life is done, to let it be Over. This applies to Empty Nests, Career Changes, Some Relationships, Closet Cleaning and a few hundred other things.

Piece of clothing, too small jeans you have served me well and now your time with me is Over. Season of rearing children in the home: Over. I can miss it. I can want it back. I can look fondly at what was with nostalgia and maybe regret but mostly I need to say, “This is over.” Only then, can I see what is Next.

The prophet Isaiah, tells the people on behalf of God, Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? Isaiah 16:18-20 The Message 

I’ve let go of a few relationships along the way, either by choice or by circumstances: Over. I have new people in my life to treasure: Next.  I used to be 20, now I’m not: Over. I’m wiser, have laugh lines and cry lines and a wealth of treasured memories: Next.

Much of Next, we cannot and probably should not know. That’s why that part about the hammock hung in the middle of Over and Next is so delicious. Living in the moment. Noticing. Being present.

This morning, as I walked, I noticed creation’s new green color mixed with purple, pink and yellow. I noticed everything fresh from last night’s rain. The air smelled clean. I saw the longest earthworm I’ve ever seen. I saw a daffodil growing alone in the brown crunchy leaves of winter. The caption was clearly, “Over and Next.”

I wonder what it is for you? What needs to be pronounced Over? What might be Next? And how about that hammock in the middle?

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor, walker and embracer of seasons.  


Watch Where You Put Yourself

It’s just a simple wisp of an idea; one gentle thought. Author Cheryl Strayed brought it to my mind in a little book of her own quotes, Brave Enough. Put yourself in the way of beauty, she writes. That’s it. She gives a whole page surrounded by white space to those seven words.

It reminds me of another quote by Elsie de Wolfe that I have on a shelf by my kitchen sink in that place I always find myself standing. I’m going to make everything around me beautiful-that will be my life.

Those two quotes connect with the new job description I have assigned myself of being a noticer. I want to notice beauty and pain. I want to notice better what I’m feeling in my body and what my dreams are telling me. I want to notice people, especially the ones right in front of me. I want to see with spiritual eyes and hear with spiritual ears what God is whispering.

Three days in a row a tree in full white bloom has been right in my way on my morning walk. Three days in a row I took a picture of it because I did not know what else to do with that kind of beauty in my way. Three days in a row I noticed a little more springtime edging forth from the winter landscape. For three days, it has reminded me of God’s resurrection promise written on every leaf of springtime. (Martin Luther)

Put yourself in the way of beauty. I can do that.

Quietly, another thought saddled up along side that one. Toss some beauty into someone else’s way as well. I can do that too. And for today, that will be enough.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor and noticer.  

The Counter Pose

I’ve now been practicing yoga for one year. This new year I even added another class each week. I’m hooked. I pictured that one year out, I would have a really lean, healthy yoga body but as these things go, I still have my same body which can now do yoga.

I’ve mentioned before that one thing I love in addition to the stretching, balancing, core strengthening and deep relaxing are the teachings. Every time I practice yoga,I learn something that applies to life.

I’ve discovered the art of the counter pose.  Yoga is about balance, alignment and focus. Our teacher leads us through a pose and then a counter pose, the opposite of what we’ve just done. Picture bending forward arms down, rounding the back, then leaning back with arms extended, arching the back-that is a counter pose.

I’m learning to honor the counter pose. I spent a majority of my life not doing this. A busy, overfilled day was followed by an equally full night and then another overfilled day and on and on. When vacation time came, I was running on fumes, never really winding down. You know how it goes.

We were created to counter pose. The wisdom literature of scripture reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3, There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. The text even spells out activities and counter poses, “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot….” Fourteen different poses and counter poses are listed for us. The writer of Ecclesiastes knew we needed it spelled out I guess.

It seems so simple like pure common sense. Thirst, then quenching thirst. Work, then rest. Winter, then spring. Feasting, then fasting. Lent, then Easter. Pose, counter pose.

We just don’t seem to be that good at honoring the counter pose. We push. We ignore our season. We seldom stop to ask ourselves what do I need for balance? Is it time to stretch the other direction now?

Jesus had the counter pose perfected. He worked, then rested. He took naps. He ate. He drank. He immersed himself in crowds and then intentionally pulled away. He saw people’s pain and heard their cries and then separated from it. In one particularly stressful time, he withdrew only a little bit (a stone’s throw way) to gather his thoughts, counter pose and pray. Luke 22:41-44.

Where are you right now? Which way have you been bending and stretching lately? What counter pose do you need in order to honor your body, your life or your season? There is a time for everything….

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, a breast cancer survivor and yoga novice. She especially enjoys wearing yoga clothes when not wearing yoga.

Heartache and Light

Seven years ago today I suddenly, unexpectedly lost a friend, a colleague, my boss, the senior pastor of our church. In that one day, many things changed for many of us. For me, it began a seven year journey of challenges that are best described as a series of gut punches.

As today dawned, I remembered. Some things you do not forget. Some hurts stay etched on your soul.

I reached out to those I know who are hurting more and remembering today too. That helped a little.

In my journal, I noted that my feelings surprise me. In seven years,  it seems I would be more healed from that loss. But, today I can feel an actual physical pain in the same broken place in my heart where this grief lives. It feels gently healed but ever-so-tender, like new pink skin is growing there, very thin and delicate. It feels like I should shield it.

I don’t know what to do on a gray and achy day like this except to honor my feelings. To name them. To bathe them in prayer and in God’s Light. To say, “Yes, that happened and it really hurt, really mattered and really changed me.” A mentor once told me that our tears baptize our feelings. Today, my tears are at work in the Holy act of baptizing this loss once again.

God is a God of healing and so much healing has happened in these seven years. I celebrate that. I see it. I live it every day.

The entry in Jesus Calling today, February 19, says, You need to remember who I am in all my Power and Glory.  What a Word this is. Even before this loss, God’s Glory has of course been on display. In the midst of it and in the years since, God has continued to shine.

Creation shows us this all the time: Pure darkness, then the first light of dawn. Heavy, angry storm clouds then a rainbow. Moonlight, starlight on a previously black night. God saying, Yes, you’ve had darkness but remember who I am in all my Power and Glory.

Today, I remember. I remember my friend. I recall the deep loss. I revisit the tender ache of it. And, most of all, I remember who God is.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, a wife, a mother of three, friend and colleague of Dr. Ken Diehm, breast cancer survivor, Mimosa to Keller. 


It’s Valentines Week, the time of year when we become Love focused for a bit. Some people feel sad during this time if romance isn’t in the picture. That’s unfortunate and it seems far more productive to focus on just upping our love game in general.

Lately I’ve been writing and speaking about the art of noticing.  I’ve declared that in my new life part of my job description now is be a noticer.

I started with creation. I noted that the sun rises and sets daily and maybe I should just watch and notice that more.

Then I realized all of creation is filled with beautiful and stunning things worth noting. I read somewhere that when we pause notice any part of creation it is as if we are worshipping God.

In a devotional reading this week, Oswald Chambers wrote The prophet Isaiah made people look up at the heavens in order to use their imagination properly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades. My Utmost for His Highest

Spiritual people are called to see with imagination what cannot quite be seen.  What if nature is infused with God’s unseen presence and signs? What if our job was simply to notice?

I imagine the call to notice extends to other living creatures as well. When my dog wants a pet she rolls onto her back, hoping I’ll notice. People crave being noticed and seen. Jesus was particularly good at seeing people.

Maya Angelou once said, Your eyes should light up when your child enters the room. I wonder what would happen if our eyes lit up when anyone entered the room?

I see you sunrise, sky, flower and tree.  I see you daughter, son, spouse and grandchild. I see you, dog needing a pet and hungry family struggling to make ends meet.

I see you person sitting alone or clenching your teeth in the grocery store line.  I see you person with hands and plate full.

Love doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It begins with noticing.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor and noticer.

J.T.’s Footwear

I enjoyed last night’s Super Bowl but was distracted by Justin Timberlake’s footwear. I like Justin Timberlake and believe he is a very gifted true artist. I’ve watched him grow up from his Mickey Mouse Club days to N Sync to his very cool current status. I especially love it when he performs with Chris Stapleton.

J.T. wore a nice pair of comfy white tennis shoes and they distracted me because I was picturing all the female artists who do all the same moves on 5 inch heels. As long as men get to wear shoes like that while women don’t, I’m going to claim that the world is not yet just.

Men get to wear comfortable undergarments, boxer type swimsuits and flat shoes. For some reason, they have no make up expectations, very few hair worries and only have to shave their faces.  The only thing I can see that might cause them discomfort is a necktie and they have control over how that feels. They don’t wear Spanx that I know of.

A couple of weeks ago, while shopping for a black tie event, I saw that they now have Spanx for arms. I nearly collapsed in despair right there in front of the display. A very rich woman named Sara invented Spanx and I have bought plenty and been quite grateful for their power to spare people of my lumps and bumps. But arm Spanx? No.

Is it not enough that we are smashing our thighs, tummies and rear ends into submission? Now, our arms too?

I can just picture us in all our Spanx, falling off our 5 inch heels, our carcasses exploding out of our Spanx like busted cans of Southern Style biscuits, while we lay there mumbling, “This is not the look I was going for.”

So today, I say no. If J.T. gets to wear comfy tennis shoes while dancing, so do we.

When my baby grandson was born, I had a ringside seat. I am freshly aware that he came into this world shoeless, Spanx-less, perfect, 100% fearfully and wonderfully made.

Scripture reminds us that we are created in God’s image, all of us, male and female. (Genesis 1:27)

We are enough just as we are. We are good. We reflect the divine. Maybe it is time to dress like we believe it.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, writer, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and breast cancer survivor. Today she is wearing comfy tennis shoes and no Spanx. You can hear her speak this week at The Well event for women on Thursday evening, February 8 at First UMC, Grapevine, Texas. Meal tickets are sold out but program-only tickets are available for $15 all week at              


I never knew why older people cried at weddings. It seemed obvious to me that it was  a happy time. I didn’t get it.

I met Julie when I was an 18-year-old freshman at Texas A&M. We decided to be roommates the next year and have been close friends since then.

I’ll never forget the day I picked her up from her workplace for lunch. My newly married friend got in my car as pale as the palest ghost. I said, “What is wrong with you?” She swallowed her nausea and managed the word “pregnant.” We were both stunned. We’d never done pregnancy before.

Five babies, many milestones, lots of life, challenging jobs, countless lunches and shopping sprees later, the baby she was pregnant with thirty years ago got married, this past Saturday night.

Suddenly, I’m the person in the congregation crying because, oh my goodness…life!  Her baby boy looked the same as he always had except now he was the groom. My friend looked gorgeous as the glowing groom’s mom.

Our weekend was filled with celebrations and people we had not seen for years. The entire time I’m asking myself how this happened. How did the college girls get to be moms of adults?

When I was younger older people used to whisper to me the secrets of life. I was moving too fast to listen. It seemed like they were telling me something about babies growing fast and time flying.

Now, I’m the one whispering and crying happy tears in the pew because, to me, a wedding is so much more than two people marrying. It is a lifetime of moments, relationships, parenting, angst and friendship all squeezed into a few sacred Holy moments where love and hope once again emerge.

When all that awareness hits you at once, it’s bound to seep out in joy-filled tears.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, writer, mom, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor and tearful wedding guest. She is speaking at The Well women’s event at First UMC Grapevine, Texas on February 8, 2018. Some tickets are still available at