Strong Women Working Together Without Intimidation with Cynthia Tobias

Remembering Marsha Yarberry Harrison

Marsha and her hubby

Our family dedicates today’s blog and podcasts to the life and legacy of our dear friend, Marsha Harrison. Clearly, Marsha epitomized a tender heart and deep faith influencing a whole community. With so many strong friends, her teams were perfect examples of strong women working together, always attracting strong men to their projects, as well. Marsha lived with passion for those she loved and service to all.

Undoubtedly, we miss her. At the same time, I suspect, she’s already helping organize the great celebratory banqueting in heaven. For folks like my parents, who loved her humor and strength while we were together here, Marsha’s joy and presence in heaven is one more reason to praise God. David and I send our deepest condolences to her beloved family.

One Strong Woman’s Influence on Our Culture

Strong Women Working with Cynthia Tobias CathyKrafve.comTired of folks who tell you to simmer down? Does the idea of strong women working together without intimidation seem like an anomaly? Skeptical about whether one strong woman can influence our whole culture? I’ve got great news!

Trusting God in Strength

Fortunately, strong women can work together without intimidation. Truly, one strong woman can impact a whole culture. Mercifully, I can prove it!

God can and often does use one strong woman to change a whole culture when she trusts Him. For example, just look at Cynthia Tobias. However, don’t expect Cynthia to take a bit of credit. Possibly, she might acknowledge learning styles as an idea whose time had come in the 80s, without mentioning her own drive and determination. Also, she might suggest God gave her a gift for making complicated stuff accessible for the rest of us. Again, without taking credit for her passion to help students who suffer in traditional classroom settings.

In fact, she’ll give God all the credit, even for the string of crazy ways she followed her heart as she trusted His leadership. Plus, she talks freely of her own struggles, all while giving us an excuse to laugh. For me personally though, her life inspires confidence. According to Cynthia, God takes what we give back to Him and uses it, even the strongest will.

Then, God uses a person’s strong will to benefit everyone else. And, in Cynthia’s case, I do mean EVERYONE. (For more proof from the Bible about breaking through communication barriers to impact a culture, click here.Obviously, strong women working together without intimidation can affect a whole culture. All it takes is one strong woman to speak up.

Strong Women Working Together Without Intimidation

For instance, if you have kids with any kind of learning differences, you can thank Cynthia for educating three generations of educators about how learning styles affect classroom instruction techniques. With a background in law enforcement and education, she travels the globe speaking to groups as diverse as school districts, police departments, mega-corporations, women’s prayer groups, you name it. (For some hilarious stories from her law enforcement years, click here to find our interview and more podcasts.)

Surprisingly, all those diverse groups share a lot in common. Clearly, they all benefit from Cynthia’s life-long passion of enhancing our strengths. All of us experience a universal human need to work together, unifying around our unique, individual strengths. Therefore, with so many women working, we simply must ask the question how strong women can engage without intimidating or falling for the intimidation of others.

Accountability for Our “Weakness”: the Strong Will

Lately, Cynthia leads the charge to let women everywhere know it’s okay to be strong. Yep, it’s good to be strong women working together, even at church, according to Cynthia. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a giant sigh of relief. 

Thankfully, if you’re surrounded by strong women working together without intimidation, you’ll love Cynthia’s thoughts. Here are a few of the tips Cynthia shared with me about how to maneuver life with a strong sense of passion and determination, without hurting others.

#1 Embrace and Build on Strength

For instance, she advises focusing on knowing our own strengths, while observing and respecting the strengths of others. Conversely, focusing on any difference, even the difference of gender, can create more problems than it solves. Ironic, given the title of my blog today, right?

“If I’m bossy or impatient, I don’t like that in men. I don’t like it in women either,” Cynthia explains, adding often strengths actually unite people, “We focus on strengths instead of looking at the negative and being defensive.” 

By acknowledging strengths in yourself and others, we discover positive ways to build trust.

#2 Seek Accountability

With plenty of college degrees and years of experience training others, Cynthia speaks with confidence about how to handle the strong will, even when it’s our own!

For instance, by making ourselves accountable to trustworthy women friends, we open the door for truthful insight, according to Cynthia. She explains self-awareness is key to keeping our strength under God’s direction.

#3 Seek Self-Awareness

“Awareness is half the battle. We (strong women) don’t intend to be impatient. It’s not meant to be mean or anything, we just have a certain drive,” Cynthia says, “There’s a big difference between a strong-willed woman with God and a strong-willed woman without God.” As we talked, she mentioned how we can trip over other people’s styles without realizing we are guilty of letting our determination make us seem bossy or opinionated, too. Ouch! 

“I don’t like ultimatums; I don’t like people bossing me around,” she chuckles. Adding, “I have to bring myself up short sometimes and realize, if I were getting this direction rather than giving it, how would I take it? I would hate it!” So, how do strong-willed folks learn to engage patiently?

#4 Recognize the Source of True Strength

From her point of view, deliberately choosing to follow Christ’s leadership puts our strong will at the disposal of the One who leads us faithfully. Easier said than done, right? Fortunately, she also describes the process of turning over our strong will to God, without discounting it’s potential.

“God doesn’t take away our strong will; He consecrates it,” Cynthia explains. Thus, tapping into the best source of tender, compassionate strength.

Trail Blazers and Trail Walkers

Using an analogy her sister gave her, Cynthia explains the beauty of mutual respect. Some are trail blazers, others are trail walkers, according to Cynthia. On the one hand, strong willed people tend to blaze trails, often asking tough questions and stirring up change. On the other hand, we all depend on trail walkers to tend the path, carefully keeping the way cleared and marked for future generations. 

Perhaps you do both from time to time. God created each of us with His purpose in mind. Whether you see yourself primarily as a trail blazer or a path tender, all roles in the process are crucial.

“Excuse me, but you can’t change the world, if you like it. God sent us into the world, not to be part of it, but to help transform it. You’re supposed to change it,” she said on an episode of Focus of the Family. In our interview and on the Focus broadcast, Cynthia talks authentically about the ways God led her into alliance with His purpose for her. (To hear the whole Focus broadcast, click here.)

The Surprise of A Lifetime

Raised a “preacher’s kid,” Cynthia dreamed of writing, but switched to education at God’s prompting while in college. After graduation, teaching began a learning process. She spent summers trying to understand her students better by taking odd summer jobs. Through her ongoing summer job experiment, she discovered her love of law enforcement. She served in the police department for six years.

In seeking to understand why some of her students lacked enthusiasm for learning, she discovered a relatively new field of study focused on learning styles. Fortunately for us all, she became so passionate about learning styles, as she studied them for her post-graduate degrees. Along the way, she started giving lectures on the topic.

Imagine, a few years later when Focus on the Family called her out of the blue and asked her to write a book on learning styles. (For more of her life story, go to Focus on the Family’s recent broadcasts.) Somehow, some of her seminar handouts landed at Focus. Coincidence? Not according to Cynthia. Instead, she claims God was simply returning her full circle back to her dream of being a writer, the very purpose He intended for her all along. Plus, she finally knew a topic worth writing about!

“God has such amazing an amazing ways to weave in our backgrounds,” adds Cynthia, encouraging those who wonder if it’s too late to pursue their dreams.

Strong-willed Kids and Adults

From there, Cynthia wrote about teaching (and living with) strong-willed children. Even now, she’s concerned too many smart kids are misdiagnosed with learning disorders simply because of classroom boredom.

“Who gets to decide what’s normal? They can’t all have ADD,” she exclaims. “We’re still looking at kids who get kind of categorized as abnormal even when they’re using their strengths.” What a relief from this expert for moms who see raw potential and talent in their kiddos!

“What I tell parents with strong-willed kids especially; it comes to you raw,” laughs Cynthia. “Usually with most of our kids the things that irritate us the most are indicative of some of their greatest strengths; that they’re going to be most successful with later.”

Multifaceted Impact 

Confession: Reining in a strong will just happens to be my own felt need. However, Cynthia’s impact and life-long teaching is so multifaceted, I hate to mislead by over-focusing on her latest insight about strong women. (If like me, you’ve been told to simmer down, you may also enjoy our interview about Trauma Informed Care with another strong woman making a big culture-wide impact, Judge Carole Clark.)

Cynthia shared much more on our podcasts. (To hear the full interviews, click here.) Above all, I loved the way she laced humor though out all the serious stuff. Happily, she touched on one of my favorite topics, asking good questions. Plus, she mentioned the advantage when strong-willed women pray. I hope you’ll tune into our podcasts for the complete interview. Most of all, I’m thankful for Cynthia’s lifelong, faithful devotion to bringing good ideas to our culture.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, You design each of us with a variety of strengths. We all have a tendency to be self-willed. For those of us with strong wills, sometimes we feel overwhelmed and don’t know 

what on earth to do with all this energy and determination. We really want You to have mercy on those who live with us! For parents raising strong children, we thank You, O Lord. Lovingly, You give them fortitude and a vision for the future. Grant them energy to keep up with strong-willed little ones.

For those of us who must remember daily to turn our will back over to Your leadership, grant us grace and insight. Additionally, give us determination to focus patiently on others’ needs. In all of our design, we praise You, O Lord, the Wonderful Creator! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How has your strong-willed child made you chuckle this week? If you tend the way as a Trail Walker, how do you help the strong willed folks in your life cope more gracefully? As a strong willed woman, what has the work place taught you?

Upcoming Adventures: Fear and Friends

Next up: I’ve committed to writing about fear and anxiety this summer. Please pray. Ironically, I’m kinda scared and anxious about this project! Also, you can further help by sending any stories of times you felt anxious or afraid, to be include in our manuscript.

Finally, joyfully, may I remind you to catch the interview with my new friend, Janet McHenry? You’ll love her as I do already. Don’t miss her prayer-walking stories, along with all her wisdom! 

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts!

If you, too, are a strong woman, we want to encourage you! Joyfully, we’ve interviewed experts. Don’t miss their stories and wisdom, shared just for you on Fireside Talk Radio: Tina Meier, Robyn Boyd, Alise Cortez, Grace English, Sandra Beck, Sandy Bristow, Darlene Marshall, Mary Ottman, B.J. Garrett, and Marina Schroeder, to name just a few more people we find heroic. Don’t forget, Anna is returning soon for more creative fun with kiddos. Or, you can sign up for our blog by clicking here (and we sure hope you do!!!)

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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A Semi-retired Mom, Queen of Fun, and Coffee Cup Philosopher Cathy Krafve pulls in exciting guests from all walks of life who rejoice in deeply spiritual truths.

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