I'm excited to welcome Cindy Sproles, Executive Editor and co-founder of ChristianDevotions.us. She has a new devotional out, New Sheets: Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be.
Cindy, Tell us about your new release, New Sheets – Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be
New Sheets is a thirty-day devotional/inspirational book. In the beginning the title was longer (if you can believe that). It was Thirty Years in Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. The reason…well, it took thirty years for God to refine me into the woman I knew I could be. And by the way, I’m still being refined.
When I went through a divorce and moved back to my home, I came back with more than I left. I returned to Tennessee with two boys under the age of three and a broken heart. It took years to look through the rough times and find the good. But I came at it with the mindset, “God has a plan. I’m gonna learn.”
New Sheets were the flames of the fire I walked through. It was the defining and refining moments when God taught me.
I hope New Sheets will be one of those books women lay next to their bed and refer back to through their lives. If one woman can step over my broken rung because of the book, then its done its job.
Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks? I’m still learning.
New Sheets is unique. Tell our readers the story behind the book.
I’m excited about New Sheets. It was a project I’d thought of years ago. Every time I picked up a pen to write it, I found I wasn’t “seasoned enough.” By that I mean, aged enough. (Oh boy, that sounds like a cheese). Let me try again…I hadn’t matured enough…to write it with authority and hindsight.
I came up with the idea for New Sheets in 1984. I’d gone through a divorce, moved back to Tennessee with two babies under the age of three to start over. The moving van unloaded the boy’s bedroom furniture, toys, my piano and my bed. There were seven boxes filled with clothes, 3 plates, 3 cups, 3 glasses…you get the jest. We had only what we could move in a 6 ft. section of a semi. I had no car, no money and no job. But we (the boys and I) had one another and once we got to Tennessee, we had my family.
I kept a journal for a while just to help me through the rough spots of divorce then one night I turned down the comforter to crawl into bed and realized, I was still sleeping with the man who’d divorced me…or at least sleeping with his memories on the same bed sheets I’d had while we were married. No wonder I cried every night and worse, I couldn’t sleep.
It was time for something new. A new start. I couldn’t afford a shopping spree. I could barely buy groceries, but I literally saved quarters in a mason jar until I had enough money to go to Wal-Mart and buy a set of sheets.
It’s scary at the ugly sheets in the bottom of the sale bin at Wal-Mart. Brown and pink paisley…but they were new. Crisp. Wrinkle-free. And when I put them on the bed it was like a new page in my life. They were cheap sheets, muslin. Kinda scratchy but to me, they were silk. So after that, every new turn in my life brought a new set of sheets. I’d throw out the worn ones and turn the corner with a set of new ones. To this day, I send new sheets to friends who’ve gone through major devastating life changes.
Each set of new sheets marked a time in my lift where God stoked the fire under me, hung me over the flame and refined me like silver. By the time I hit my 50’s I could look over the prior thirty years and say with confidence…”I’ve matured. Refined. Learned.” Hence the book.
We know a little about Christian Devotions. Tell us why your and your ministry partner have dedicated so much time to new authors.
Christian Devotions is really the brainchild of my ministry partner, Eddie Jones. Eddie and I met at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, sat through the same class Alton Gansky taught and well, wrote down the same thoughts. Thing was, we didn’t know it. But God brought together two acquaintances to form a well-oiled ministry.
The long and short of it was God impressed ChristianDevotions.com on Eddie’s heart, but Eddie being the procrastinator, said okay then put it off. God nudged him again and this time he paid attention. We tried to purchase the ChristianDevotions.com domain but it was taken so he purchased ChristianDevotions.us. God’s timing is perfect because the .us is what we are…all our writers, editors, designers, hosts are us. Not Eddie and Cindy but us as in a family. So it was perfect.
Eddie contacted me since I was already writing devotions and asked me to populate the site with devotions. I did for a while until I realized, Eddie wasn’t writing on his own site. I pitched He Said, She Said devotions to him and those devotions actually launched the readership of the site.
We stepped out on faith, started attending conferences and inviting writers to have their first shot at publication. We’d been on the receiving end of rejection letters and we’d sat at conferences and read through some of the awesome material that was rejected. So we took it to God and asked, “Can we make a difference? Can we have the opportunity to let others shine…those looked over?” God said yes and Christian Devotions began to flourish.
The goal in the beginning was for this not to be about Eddie and Cindy, but about those who felt God had called them into the ministry of writing. In the middle of the economy crashing, we said yes when God called us to open a traditional publishing company. Publishers at conferences stood toe- to-toe with us and called us “CRAZY.” But we believed when times are hard, God doesn’t tell His people to retreat. He tells us to ADVANCE. So that became our battle cry.
We wanted writers who felt they were called to have an outlet for their ministry. The more we help, the more God allows us to help. If the church today would re-evaluate their calling and commands from Christ they’d see the importance in advancing and not in retreating.
It’s a joy to publish their devotions and now their books. Our reward is in seeing those authors come to us and thank us. We always reply, “Don’t thank us…thank God. We’re just the vessel.” Christian Devotions is a 501c3 non-profit. We tithe a portion of every dollar given to the ministry because it is what God calls us to do.
You are published in newpapers and also in a couple of compilations, and you and Eddie Jones have the He Said, She Said book but New Sheets is your first solo book. How does that feel?
Honestly, I feel like a giddy six-year-old in a 54 year old body. I’m excited. It’s been a long time in the coming, but not because of learning to write…because of God teaching me about the rough spots in life, so I could teach others. When I saw the book cover, I was…well…brought to tears.
From the time I was in elementary school I took second place in everything. When I got to high school, my track coach nick-named me Consistently Second Cindy and it stuck. So for me to have a solo book is like crossing the finish line for the first time…as a winner.
Any closing advice?Well, Dear Abby I ain’t. But if I had words of wisdom to offer it would be simply to live the words of Paul. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Rejoice in all things.” All of us occasionally hit the river and bounce like a skipping rock. The bounces hurt but we manage through them and when skid comes – what a ride. Learning to rejoice in every situation takes skill and faith. That’s where God refines us. Those are my words of wisdom. And this: Buy yourself a set of new sheets when the storm is over. It’s a fresh start, new, crisp, and comfortable. New Sheets…new day…new start.
You can visit Cindy at her blog, CindySproles.com.