Pinnacle Moments {Cynthia}

Welcome to the first edition of our Pinnacle Moments series! Each Wednesday, I’ll be hosting a series of posts where we share transcendental moments in our lives: moments in which the paths of our lives changed, we made important decisions, had epiphanies, or experienced a defining point in a relationship with a loved one. Starting us off is a Pinnacle Moment shared by Cynthia from Running With Letters, and I truly could not imagine a more perfect beginning to our series. Please join us in sharing these Pinnacle Moments, and we hope that you might wish to share one of yours too.

 

From Cynthia:

I had no way of knowing that a reflective moment lying on my bedroom floor at the end of a random fall day would become the opening scene in a 16-year long chapter in my life. All I knew was that I wanted to make a difference, but  I had no idea I was making a decision that would not only bring me joy, but also inspire me to pursue of a lifelong dream.

See, I was a late bloomer, of sorts.  A caution-to-the-wind kind of girl with a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for impulsive road trips during school hours. My teenage self was interested in present tense fun, with little regard for future consequences. It was a minor miracle, then, for me to have landed safely on the carpet of the townhouse I shared with my first and only husband and our baby daughter. A husband who responded to my third date announcement that, I “just wanted to be friends,” with, “Well, what would you like to do tomorrow?” –a pattern he stuck with until we were planning a wedding.  When asked why he persisted, he said, “I decided that if what we were was friends, I’d be lucky to have you.”

But as I lay in the darkness thinking of all the ways my life could have turned out differently, I knew who the lucky one was.  I also knew that I felt a sense of responsibility to extend a road map of sorts to my younger sisters—a guide marking the best stepping stones around life’s tough neighborhoods.  That night, I resolved to make it happen.

At the time, I was not involved with teenagers in any capacity, but soon, my husband and I started volunteering with our church youth group.  It would still be a couple years and a move to our own house, though, before I hit upon a winning recipe: Tuesday Night, Open Invitation Meetings in my living room, around a warm pan of gooey brownies.

When I first came up with the idea for a teen girls’ Bible study, even my husband, who has been a constant source of encouragement in endeavors ranging from international travel to the ill-advised adoptions of numerous strays, was skeptical.

“It’s a great idea,” he said.  “But I’m not sure if you’ll get anyone to come.  I don’t want you to be disappointed.”

But come they did—sometimes in trickles, others times in droves.  And our group quickly expanded as the girls brought their friends.  Soon teens from all over the community began showing up at my door each week for a dose of scripture, a listening ear, and, of course, a brownie.

Not every girl that came to Bible study was involved in church–in fact there were girls who would never have felt comfortable sitting on a pew.  Some were youth group girls who seemed perfect, yet hid inner hurts and even outward scars inflicted by their own hand.  Others were vivacious and self assured.  Most just needed encouragement through the everyday ups and downs of growing out of childhood and coming into their own.  But every single one of the teens who came through my door was a beautiful person who was worthy of having a place where they could be themselves for two hours each week, free from pressure of judgment.

To the best of my knowledge, the advice I gave to every question poised came straight out of the Bible but was applied to each girl’s specific situation.  Not that every teen accepted my perspective, but every single one of them respected it.

Along the way, we prayed over lost loves, sick pets, and plummeting grades. We had sleepovers and holiday parties, and, as time passed, older girls would come back from college or married life and get to know the new members, creating a continuous thread. Friendships formed on Tuesday Nights led to introductions that resulted in two marriages.  I’ve been in two other weddings, and attended a couple baby showers.  And once, we sat and cried together at a funeral, too.

I keep a few trophies—but not the kind you have to polish.  My favorite is a little Ziploc baggie full of “contraband” a couple of girls unexpectedly gave me one night at the end of a study.  Not even 24’s Jack Bauer could get me to divulge the contents of the bag, but I promise you, it was worth way more than every chocolate chip I’ve ever had to buy and every hour that stretched beyond our usual two.

And that lifelong dream I mentioned?  My experiences with the girls actually gave me the nudge I needed to jumpstart my frustrated writing ambitions.  It began as a chapter-a-week online saga featuring a protagonist who, as one girl put it, “is a little bit of all of us.”  The experiment grew into two young adult novels that have opened doors for me to talk with girls who would never have the opportunity to walk through my door on a Tuesday night.

Those who come usually hit the door with a single question: “Are there brownies tonight?”  They claim my super-chocolaty recipe has “ruined” ordinary brownies for them. I understand.  A brownie isn’t just a brownie for me anymore, either.  It’s a warm, gooey celebration of enduring friendship and the unexpected joys that can come from a moment of clarity and gratitude on an otherwise random day.

That's Cynthia, second from the left.

If you wish to share your own Pinnacle Moment, just leave me a comment or send an email, and I’ll send you the details. Thank you so much for joining us! See you next Wednesday!
 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Pinnacle Moments {Cynthia}

  1. Oh, this was wonderful! I became a Christian after attending youth group at a local church, and my youth pastor and his wife always had an open door for the teenagers in the community. They provided so much of what you mention here, Cynthia: a safe haven to laugh and share and be blessed by love and acceptance.

    And I really love that the girls weren't the only ones to benefit; that you went on to fulfill a dream (and continue helping others!) Great Pinnacle Moment!

  2. This is so inspiring!! I love, love, love it. This is one of my fondest dreams, to have that kind of open, comforting home.

    And now I really want some brownies! :)

  3. I am so excited to participate in this series, and appreciate the above comments…Lucy, if you'd like the brownie recipe, I'd be happy to send it along to you, just let me know…it really is exceptional, if I do say so myself ;)

  4. I am crying over here, reading this, soaking in the goodness of the love and life you poured into girls who needed that kind of involvement to become the women they are today … so beautiful. And so inspiring. This has been one of my heart dreams for years. You are a beautiful writer, a wonderfully vivid story teller! Thanks for hosting Cynthia, Jade!

  5. What a beautiful story! What a wonderful way to share your heart by opening your door. The ripple you created by allowing the girls a place to feel safe will stretch beyond measure, I'm sure. Thank you Cynthia!

    Thank you Jade for starting this can't wait for next Wednesday!

  6. Thats me in the photo! Love you Cindy! And for those that wonder if maybe she embelished a little I would say NO WAY! Cindy had a tremendous influence on all of us and after I grew out of the Bible Study years she has remained a good friend. I believe the main reason it always worked and was effective was not the brownies – though I think almost every girl who attended still makes those brownies – it was Cindy's genuine love and openness with all of us. We all felt loved, accepted, but knew that we would be challenged if we were making poor decisions. She was like a counselor, friend, mother, sister all rolled into one. I love her and cherish those memories.