Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pizza on Earth?

O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie …
O morning stars together proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King and peace to men on earth

Tis’ the season to be peaceful? Glaring lights, tinseled ornaments, merchants, advertisers, and profiteering corner salesmen lure the throngs of people to their bargain tables. Driving by a local pizza shop, I sneered at the creative string of blinking of lights above the entrance: PIZZA ON EARTH

Where did this concept of peace during the Christmas season come from? Better yet, where has it gone? The peace the world seeks during Christmas is rooted in tradition, foods, smells, and sights—all temporary fixes. Yet the premise this holiday is based on—the birth of Jesus, historically presumes to bring peace to men on earth.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 NIV)

What did Jesus mean by this? Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest reveals the foundation of true peace,

Thousands of people are happy without God in this world. If I was happy and moral till Jesus came, why did He come? Because that kind of happiness and peace is on a wrong level; Jesus Christ came to send a sword through every peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself. My Utmost for His Highest, December 19

You can have peace during this time. But the discipline of finding it has to gain its momentum from knowing Jesus.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV)

Are you resting in Jesus? If he is your peace, he must be the root of all your festivities. Then, letting go of guilt and generational mandates for the holidays can be the ingredients you add to find true peace.

Pizza on Earth is only for a season. Peace through Jesus is everlasting.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Writers Write About Writing

The reading habits of the average evangelical Christian in the United States, as far as I have been able to observe them, are so wretchedly bad as actually to arrest the spiritual development of the individual believer and block the progress of the faith he professes to hold.

So powerful is the effect of the printed page on human character that the reading of good books is not only a privilege but an obligation, and the habitual reading of poor ones a positive tragedy. A.W. Tozer. The Warfare of the Spirit, Chapter 28; The Decline of Good Reading, Christian Publications. 1993, 125.

That said with cutting expression, Tozer makes a point writers must heed. Bad writing makes bad books. Authors, throughout the span since Gutenberg, learned the work and toil required to publish well written books.

Writers must read voluminously. Ernest Hemingway explains his appetite for the written word:

“I'm always reading books—as many as there are. I ration myself on them so that I'll always be in supply." The words are Hemingway's, but friends and relatives have also testified to the extent of his reading.

"He was always reading. When he wasn't working, he was reading. "He read all the time.” "I think Ernest read just about everything. He was a terrific reader." "He read everything. He would have a whole group of books going at one time, eight or ten... He would put one down and pick up another." "Ernest read everything."

Today’s catalog of Hemingway’s personal library lists 7,700 books; 278 he wrote himself.

Writers have to determine to work hard and not let anything stop them. Read how Joni Eareckson Tada has to prepare to write:

There were plenty of times at Joni and Friends when I had to pull away from the computer and simply lie down to give my body a break. It takes a team of people to not only help me research and type, but to get me sitting up comfortably in my wheelchair and moving forward.

This is no time to write a book.

But I have to try.

It won’t be easy. It may not be wise. Nevertheless, if you are reading these words, it has been accomplished, and the book has been published. God be thanked!

… Incessant pain, as those who have lived in its grip can attest, makes it very difficult to think, work, relate, plan, write. Joni Eareckson Tada. A Place of Healing, David C. Cook, 2010

Let me add some light to the quandary:

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller dabs colorful paint on a canvas to create the picture most think of when they hear writer used as a profession:

Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealously, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch face down and mumble to God to forgive us because we envied another man’s stupid words. And for this, as I said before, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003. 187

What does it take to be a writer?

Hard Work
Lot’s of Reading
A Dose of Humor

Ready, set, go…

Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Cure for Writer's Block - Really

It took Robert Frost 20 years to get his first poem published.

It took me 38 years to get my first book published. Yep, I was ten years old when I sent in my first manuscript. Weeks later, an envelope addressed to me was in the mail. I tore into it with passion. I was a writer.

It was a rejection letter. They rejected a ten year old, sweet, little girl with a love for all things literary.

"Big deal. I'll write another one." Off to my desk to begin again. I was not thwarted, until I was in my forties and still getting rejection letters. You lose the innocence of childhood after writing and bleeding words for decades.

And one of the worst setbacks, primo to rejection letters, is ... writer's block. The dark, blank pain of no words to write, errrr, I mean type. You know it.

I have a variant on this menacing condition; "typist's block."

A writer is:
  • a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., esp. as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.
  • a clerk, scribe, or the like.
  • a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc., to writing: an expert letter writer.
  • a person who writes or is able to write: a writer in script.
"writer." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 02 Oct. 2010. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/writer>.

A typist is:
  • a person who types
"typist." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 02 Oct. 2010. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/typist>.

Which person above can have writer's block? What is writer's block? Hmmm, when a writer can't think of what to write? Or when someone can't continue typing? My motto? Just do it!

I found the cure for writer's block. I absolutely, unequivocally decided to admit I am a writer, not a typist. Do you fit the definition for writer above? Then you are a writer. That's it. Say it, "I am a writer, not a typist." When you agree with yourself that you don't have to reach a particular level to be declared a writer, you are then confirmed in your own mind. Writer's block goes away. 

Don't type--write. You are a writer!

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Hands Free?

Hands free...that's the declaration in most places. Do not use your cell phone, while driving, without a hands free device. Like, do not talk on a cell phone and drive at the same time.

Okay. I get it.

I dislike when someone drives erratic because they are distracted. It angers me. But one day, I pulled out of a medical center's parking lot and had called someone to leave a message. My cell phone was at my ear.

As my vehicle pulled onto the street, a car with a woman driving sped up next to me, making me swerve. She yelled out her window things I cannot repeat, waved her arm at me, and almost ran us both into the curb. After, she held her cell phone out her window--I got it. She thought I was talking and driving.

I was flustered and hung up quickly after completing my message. I put the phone on the seat next to me, mad at her rude, arrogant reaction. But then I thought, maybe she lost a loved one due to a distracted driver. Maybe she was in an accident because of someone talking on a cell and driving. Maybe she was simply someone who wanted the law upheld in any case.

Still, her reaction was inappropriate. People tend to react before thinking. We all do it. But a verse in Psalms tells us to be still and let God take care of everything.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 KJV)

And I want to be still in all things. It's better for everyone and easier on our hearts and minds.

Are you passionate about politics? Laws? Rules? Requirements? Maybe being still and giving people a chance to regroup will help us all live more peacefully.

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." (Psalm 37:7 NIV)

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14 NIV)

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Happens When We Die?

Once all the machines were hooked up, beeping and high-pitched alarms sounded like an out-of-tune marching band. My heart beat furiously and sent a wave of sharp pain into my neck and right arm. Although I was still conscious, I felt like I was slipping away. I didn’t know if it was the medicines being pushed through IV lines or the overwhelming nausea that was paralyzing me.

Slowly, the room became a blur. Screaming sounds from machines and panicky voices from personnel faded. The muted scene became as if I were watching through an old glass pane, wavy and rippled with age. Nurses and doctors raced to work on me.

“She’s coding!” one nurse yelled. “She’s not breathing and we don’t have a pulse!”

Her alarmed look flashed briefly before me.

Although my lifeless body was being assaulted by attempts to start my heart back up, I wasn’t concerned. I was still, placid and unable to do anything. It was like I was outside my body, looking down. Even though a steady calmness held me from fear, one thing was sure to me: I knew I was dying.

Watching from above the exam table was like hovering over a movie set as the actors played out a scripted scene. I was there, but in a mystical way I never had felt before. Because I was weightless and inert, none of the treatments being done had any effect on me. I felt no pain. I felt no fear.

Behind me was a powerful presence of pure white; not simply a bright light, but a pureness beyond feeble words found in any language. I was drawn to this backdrop, wanting to hold onto the motionless entity. It was omnipotent. I knew I was in God’s presence. He was right there behind me, watching as if we were both producers monitoring the actor’s parts.

I spoke to Him, inaudibly to anyone in the room or me. My thoughts were sufficient for both of us to communicate.

“Lord, please don’t let me die here in this ER all alone. Please, Lord, save me.”

Somehow, He assured me it wasn’t time for me to go.

I took a gasp of air and regained consciousness. Harsh sensations of the real world smacked me out of the tranquil visitation. My body wriggled and I felt my arms twist and contort. Cardiac seizures further threatened to take my life.

Alongside the exam table were doctors, nurses, and the hospital chaplain. Something bad must have happened for the chaplain to be standing there with his white collar and prayer stole.

“We thought we were going to lose you, young lady,” one of the nurses chimed at me. She continued to pump medications through the IV lines.

Two doctors worked to calm the seizures and recover a stable heart rate so there would be no more near-death experiences. No one wanted to come that close again.

* * *

A near-death experience and an encounter with God changed my perspective about dying. I always feared how it could happen. Would I drown or suffer a painful, slow death? This phobia made me feel cowardly as a Christian. Shouldn’t I know that God is not going to let me die in a tortuous, painful way? Grabbing on to a concept of total security in the face of death is something I never imagined I could do.

But those few moments I visited with God were unexplainable. I was at peace and felt protected when I transitioned to that altered state. In a way, I wanted to linger and remain where it was safe and repose. Even though I returned to the brutal reality of mortal life, the realization that death had no power over me freed me up to shrug off the dread of tragedy.

Excerpt from Cindy Valenti-Scinto's Book, A Heart Like Mine, Chapter 1, pages 6-7. Want to know more? Order A Heart Like Mine, Finding God's Will for Your Life: Order Here at a Discount and with Author Signing

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking, Ticking...

Lately, I'm receiving a lot of article links, postings, boastings, and advice columns on time management. I like to speculate that time management is not an issue for me. But it is.

I wrote an article for the Mermaids of the Lake, (yes, I am an aspiring Mermaid) and have to follow my own advice this week. http://www.mermaidsofthelake.com/news.asp?id=394

Somehow, things get out of control and I find myself close to a burnout. Like a nitro race car that spins it's tires, shrieks rubber, and blows smoke; when it's done with the quarter mile sprint, maybe 7 seconds later, it's done.

I am determined to get back in the right lane. My husband, a dear, sweet man, (hmmmm...mostly) made a mistake the other day--he mentioned I was a procrastinator. Oh, how dangerous is that? His line stung and I retaliated in my mind. ... I am not a procrastinator ...I just have a lot to do.

The Northwest Christian Author newsletter from January 2010 had a great article on time management written by Agnes C. Lawless:

"#9. Learn to say no - One of the best time-savers is saying no to requests that don’t contribute to your goals. When the persons asking are friends, family members, or close associates, you may find it difficult to decline. But you can say, 'I’m sorry. I’m busy that day,' or 'That won’t fit into my schedule.' You must live by your priorities, not those of other people." The Northwest Christian Author, Volume 21, Issue #7, http://www.nwchristianwriters.org/

This morning I cleaned three items, put things away, planned dinner, and vowed to follow through. Too many friends complain to me about not getting things done. But they say yes to everything that sounds good. JUST SAY NO! And do not offer an explanation. And do not require one from a friend who says no. We tell each other to say no when we have to, but then when we offer a no, it's not accepted or a popular answer.

Don't try to convince someone who says no to change their mind...even if it seems like a great offer to you.

Want to change an area of your life? Plan the time frame to do it, warn family and friends you are not available, then DO IT. Your life will be better and you and everyone around you will benefit.


Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Eases" and "Itis's"

There's a lot to say about "eases" and "itis's" and even "isms."

Diseases, conditions, and ailments always begin with a Latin word equivalent for the part of the body or type of problem, followed by an ending to fit the category.

I have quite a few; diabetes, rheumatism, cardiac disease, hypothyroidism, dermatitis, canceritis, footatitis, kidneyism, brainisms...okay, the last few were silly. But a long history of serious health problems creates a long list of itis's, eases, and isms.

I remember Sunday's Catholic Mass when I was growing up in a large Italian family in New York. When we all repeated this verse: "Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise." (Jeremiah 17:14 KJV) I would repeat the "I shall be healed" part over and over in my head hoping He would heal me of diabetes. But it never happened.

Now, I am almost 50 years old and the list is longer. The itis's, isms, and eases, are multiplying. Has God healed me? Yes, in many ways and of many itis's.

But He hasn't healed me completely of physical isms.


Never ask why.

Instead, ask, "How can I encourage others to trust in a loving God?" Whatever isms, itis's, or eases you have are there for your growth and character. To quote a dear friend, "What is more powerful, a healed physical body or a changed heart?"

Book signing at One For the Books in Cape Coral, Florida

I am on tour for my first book, A Heart Like Mine, Finding God's Will for Your Life. And I plan to be around for the next two books in the Heart Like Mine trilogy. The road is not easy. Keeping my health fine tuned takes a lot of work. But I refuse to sit back and feel sorry for myself. As long as I am breathing, I am going to offer hope and encouragement to everyone I can.

YOU too have a story and message of hope when you know Jesus. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Just move forward, take notes, and keep going the path God's will for your life has taken you on!


PLEASE COMMENT! 8^)Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Friday, June 11, 2010

"X" Your Size!

Exercise? Oh yuck...I really hate to get started.

In fact, me being able to exercise was squashed by an emotional handicap after years of fighting heart disease and diabetes. Take a look at the list of surgery and procedures under "A Note From the Author" from my book: Click here.

After my first heart attack on September 18, 2001, I started back with my normal routine but each time another heart attack or illness would completely stop me. This kept happening on a regular basis: monthly, weekly, bi-monthly...and dozens of times so I stopped keeping track. I kept thinking I would get better but never did.

After so many let downs, I created a "gun-shy" attitude about exercise and thought if my health situation was better and I started an exercise routine, I'd get sick again. It happened too many times. I had to find a way to eliminate the emotional fear and free myself of the dread, but it took a long time.

  1. I look at exercise as another prescription to take each day and convince myself with each pill I swallow that exercise is just as critical.
  2. I threw routines and specific days out and simply exercise when, how, how much, and when I feel like it. No keeping track of days or results.
  3. I make it fun--walk the mall, bike ride, swimming, parking far from a store and power walking, race down the isles when I grocery shop, avoiding people like an obstacle course, running up and down the steps in my house with laundry...you create your own ways.
  4. Envision the GOOD feeling you always have after you exercise. It feels good to be so accomplished and the mental and physical benefits pay off.
Do you need to get rid of the dread?

Exercise = being able to "X" your size as you lose weight and trim your body. The scale may not always reflect that so be patient. Be free to do what works for you. Keep it simple!

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV)

Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

If I Only Had a Heart

Just because I'm presumin' that I could be kind-a-human,
If I only had heart.
I'd be tender - I'd be gentle and awful sentimental
Regarding Love and Art.
I'd be friends with the sparrows ... and the boys who shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart.

I hear a beat...How sweet.
Just to register emotion, jealousy - devotion,
And really feel the part.
I could stay young and chipper and I'd lock it with a zipper, If I only had a heart.

The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz knew what a hollow feeling it was to not have a heart in his chest.

And a young teen--14 years old, also knew what it was like to live without a heart. D'Zhana Simmons said she felt like a "fake person" for 118 days while she had no heart beating in her chest--no heart in her chest at all. "But I know that I really was here," the 14-year-old said, "and I did live without a heart."

IN 2008, D'Zhana needed a heart transplant. Her heart had become dangerously enlarged and could no longer pump enough blood throughout her body. Without a new heart, she would die.

Shortly after traveling from her home in South Carolina, to Holtz Children's Hospital in Miami, she received a life saving heart transplant. But that heart failed her and had to be removed two days later. There is only one heart in each of us, and no backup. D'Zhana would not live without a heart.

Doctors at Holtz Children's Hospital did the unheard of: they replaced the failing, transplanted heart with two pumps, ventricular assist devices, typically used to help a failing heart's chambers circulate blood. VAD's are only used as a bridge to transplant.

A procedure never done before presented new challenges. D'Zhana's doctors had to design replacement heart chambers made of special fabric and then connected to the two pumps.

For more than 100 days, D'Zhana had no heart beating in her chest until she received a second chance at life through one more heart transplant.

Why did D'Zhana feel like a fake person? What makes the heart not only essential to life, but integral to a person's emotional and spiritual state?

There is a higher reason than any scientific explanation for life and creation. Plato said the heart is the center of our being; the I am of who we are.

God speaks of the heart more than 800 times in His Word. And not just as an ethereal concept, but as a life giving, life sustainable part of who we are.

Do you need a new physical heart? Tell me your situation as a comment below, and I will pray for you.

Do you need a new spiritual heart? Post your request below or message me privately on my contact form and I will pray for your need. http://www.cindyscinto.com/contact_me.php

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV)

Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?

How can you stop the sun from shining?

What makes the world go round?

How can you mend this broken man?

How can a loser ever win?

Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.

The Bee Gees recorded this timeless song on January 28, 1971 in London. The Gibb brothers actually wrote the song in 1970 but sharp differences alienated their creative, familial connection until they reconciled and reconvened to record their Trafalgar album.

I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees, And misty memories of days gone by.

Lyric websites list this song in the "sad songs" genre. It is a sad song. "Misty memories of days gone by..." Picture London: rain, misty, gray, wet, cold. But if you look past the gloominess, there is an artistic, historic, beautiful city brimming with cafes, museums, and architecture built by people of extreme prowess.

The Gibb brothers pose several questions as timeless as their song. But the most important one is the first: "How can you mend a broken heart?" and they reaffirm the internal struggle by asking again and associating a broken heart with a hindered life.

Can someone really have a broken heart?

"Time may indeed mend a broken heart, but physical or emotional trauma can trigger an acute cardiac disorder tagged "broken heart syndrome," with symptoms mimicking heart attacks, according to Mayo Clinic researchers.

When the patients experience the stressful situations, the heart reacts to it and it makes the apex of the left ventricle change.

The good news is, it won't cause a very serious condition like permanent heart damage." (summary)

Broken heart syndrome is now recognized as an official diagnosis. How can BHS be treated?

"'Broken hearts' require treatment...

It is important, the doctors stress, to treat the symptoms of broken heart syndrome. Three of the 19 patients temporarily required a special balloon in the aorta to help the heart pump better. Broken heart syndrome usually requires only short-term treatment because the heart normally recovers by itself." http://www.ynhh.org/healthlink/cardiac/cardiac_5_05.html

Broken hearts need rest, support, and a lot of care. Is your heart broken? Has your spiritual heart been broken? Gloominess does not have to cloud your life with a gray, misty outlook.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:3-6 NIV)

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Can't Wait to Grow OLD!

"What do ya think yer doin'? was the question of disgust John heard as he rolled down the window.

"I am here to pick up my wife."

"Well this here is an intersection and ya can't stop in an intersection."

John was patient--but firm.
"I was just picking someone up."

"Well ya should have pulled over there." The scrubby, cranky looking senior citizen pointed towards the driveway for the High School's maintenance entry. He was determined to make his point and reprimand John for momentarily pulling over to the curb to let me in our vehicle. I spent the day--all six periods--speaking to health classes as a volunteer. I loved what I did, but was tired. I used Velcro lips to repress the words ready to hurl anger at the elderly man. Who does he think he is?

We weren't in an intersection and were pulled to the side. I looked at the cobalt blue Parking Meter Enforcement sign on his small vehicle and figured he was retired, bored, and enjoyed his job. Why does he have to be so mean and pushy?

After a long pause, he drove forward as if to make his point by pulling up in front of us. John maneuvered the car around him and we left for home.

A little incident--nothing to give another thought to, bothered me. In the past, other situations with parking or security have been met with a nasty senior citizen delegated to hastily correct people's mistakes. Why?

Why do organizations and companies hire older people who have an angry disposition?

Why do senior citizens take a position where they must interact with the public when they obviously don't like dealing with people?

I have no right to question why someone grows old and becomes angry or miserable. Their life may have led them to the state of mind that molds their later years. But I am saddened to see senior citizens who are angry, unhappy, or mad about the fact that they are old: I want to grow old. A heart transplant in 2005 absolutely shortened my expected life span. I hope to watch God perform a miracle and let me live way beyond medical expectations. But I want to do whatever I can to be kind, gentle, loving, appreciative, and a good example if I get to be a senior citizen.

I expect that if we love the Lord, God, if we do good, and if we love kindness and justice, it is possible to carry these traits into the latter years of our lives.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8

Lord, pierce my heart with your love and mercy and do not let me fall into a state of anger and vindictiveness. Show me the way to live with honor and kindness so that in my last days your love will be sufficient. Amen

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