How blessed we are to have friends who lift us up, who speak truth to us, who listen, give advice, encouragement and their constant prayers. This is richness; this is true treasure to have such wonderful women in your life.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey, Magic Mike and The Horse Whisperer

Last year I began reading a novel I found in a box of books given to my mom.  The book was The Horse Whisperer.  I did not know much about the book except that Robert Redford had played the lead in the movie (I had such a crush on Robert in the 70s:), and that the movie was based on Buck Brannaman, the subject of the documentary movie "Buck," which I had viewed and found interesting.  Though I had never watched the theatrical movie, I was drawn to the book because of "Buck," and so I began to read.  Here's the main plot:  A young girl has been in a horrific accident while riding her horse.  Her mother and father are trying to find a way to get her some healing both physically and emotionally.  The horse she was riding is also traumatized by the accident and seems beyond help.  Mom feels if she can get help for the horse and get her daughter riding, all will be well.  Enter the "Horse Whisperer" a handsome, no nonsense cowboy, who has the ability to "heal" just about any horse.  So mother, daughter and crazy horse all end up at the "Horse Whisperer's" Ranch.

I was immediately drawn into the opening drama and found myself looking forward to the evening when I could sit down and dive into the novel.  The two main characters were the seemingly happily married mother of the girl and, of course, the "Horse Whisperer."  As I read on, there were a couple of risqué moments I encountered but thought I was a "big girl" now and could handle those scenes.  Then one moment while reading I was appalled at my own inner thoughts.  I found myself hoping...really hoping as I turned the page that the main characters would finally have time alone so they could be "together"...if you understand my drift.  

I literally dropped the book into my lap.  When had my thinking gone so far from who I really was and what I truly believed?  I honestly could not remember the moment.  But it had.  Along the the pages of the book, I had been manipulated to feel what the author wanted me to feel.  Honestly, as an English teacher, I can tell you that is exactly what an author to feel what they are to be swayed by their words.  Incredible power.  But power that can be used for good or for evil.  Evil.  That is a loaded word isn't it?  Evil.  We can be manipulated to think evil.  I was.  There was nothing good about wanting to really, when you honestly think about it, participate in an adulterous affair.  I was an onlooker.  This affair had an audience and everyone was rooting for its consummation...even me.  

I had to throw the book a way.  The temptation it had on me to "find out what happened" was too great to take the risk.  I felt that the Holy Spirit in me had given me the chance to make a better choice and, Girls, I am so tired of living a half-hearted, kind of obedient, sort of close, sometimes passionate life for Him.  He deserves more from me and truly I deserve more than what this world and its ruler want to give.  

Alrighty then...let's talk about the most recent "Horse Whisperers" out there in media land...the novel Fifty Shades of Grey and the movie Magic Mike.  I read the synopsis of the book a couple of weeks ago after seeing it mentioned over and over by the ladies on my Facebook page.  Girls, I am trying to figure out how in the world you can make anything edifying or decent out of the sexual deviancy described in just the few paragraphs I read:  This novel " notable for its explicitly erotic scenes involving BDSM."  And "Magic Mike," you can't miss what that is all about because they have played scenes over and over on the TV...male strippers.  Women who would never be involved with sexual bondage, sadism, domination, or the world of male strippers are being pulled in the same way I was pulled into the world of adulterous affairs...we are being cunningly manipulated.  Here is the scary part...and this was written by a reviewer:  "Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever." 

It is true...God has given us these incredible minds that have the ability to store images, whether seen with our imaginations or with our eyes...once in...there they it or not.  It seems this reviewer knows this as well.  Although there is one truth he does not know...Our Savior redeems...EVERYTHING.  No matter what!  So some things do not have to "stay with you forever."  Can I just shout HALLELUJAH on this page for that?!!:)  

It all comes down to well-loved verses from Philippians:  "Finally, [sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--If anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."  Philippians 4:8

Love you dearly,


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Showing Our True Colors

I went to Trader Joe's this week to do some shopping.  Being the considerate wife that I am, I decided to buy Peter the snacks he enjoys but I seldom buy because they do not fall into the "fruit and vegetable" category:)  I kind of went crazy and bought him the sourdough pretzels he loves, black pepper potato chips along with some crackers and sharp cheddar cheese.  I was pretty pleased with myself at my generosity and thoughtfulness.  I came through the door with my bags and my dear husband without really knowing what was in the bags said, "Is that all you got???!!!"  Granted the pantry and frig were  pretty low on the food lately, but I had also told him I would be going to Costco on Monday (I am not a weekend Costco shopper).  I won't go into the gory details, but the conversation ended with me telling my husband of thirty-seven years what I really wanted to do at that moment was take his stinking pepper potato chips, stomp them to bits and pour the entire hydrogenated, oily mess over his head like a mini, greasy, peppered potato chip blizzard!  I nearly did it.  The bag was in my hands.  The only thing that stopped me was the presence of my youngest daughter, who, I am sure, thought we were both nuts. For some reason, every once in awhile, Peter and I,  have to visit temporary insanity.

Here's the problem:  I was being a REALLY NICE WIFE and I was SURE he would appreciate the amazing blessedness of being the husband of me, so when he didn't react with the loving gratitude I envisioned, I had a reaction that was very much akin to spontaneous human combustion.    I was disappointed, hurt and angry.  I did not really think in that moment...I did not pray....I did not  meditate on my memory verses...I did leave the room and that was the one smart thing I DID do.

Kay Warren, in this week's chapter mentions that when moments come like this one, we can be thankful our Lord is giving us "an accurate report of where we need to grow and change."  That is so true.  I remember in one of our Beth Moore studies Beth said she was glad God was always teaching her, showing her more, growing her up.  Yes, indeed, I will not be bored in this life of mine with Jesus because He gets to work on so much with me!  I'm ok with that because I want my "true colors" to be the vibrant colors that say something about HIM.  My little moment of junk food kindness toward my husband was sadly really more about me than Peter.  If it had been more about him, I wouldn't have been so easily devastated about his casual comment.

Angela Thomas in her book Choosing Joy wrote she believes we can "joyfully sing with our lives."  What a thought.  Our lives can be lived in such a way that we can BE a song of God's goodness.  "Singing" about our own goodness so often ends in some pretty discordant I so aptly proved. I thought about how often it is my own family members who get the most off key songs in my life.  Kay says we need to remember "our faith life is on display" and might I add...especially to our families.   I needed that reminder.

I could have handled that disappointing moment with grace and even humor.  It was HOW I told him I wanted to wear his potato chips rather than eat them.  Had I used a different tone of voice (not one dripping with "I hope some of it gets in your eyes") it would had  diffused the situation in an instant.

I am definitely a work in progress, but I am determined to live a life that sings!

Love to you girls!


"They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness."  Psalm 145:7

Monday, June 18, 2012

Banish all "Joy Suckers"!!!!

Have you ever known a "joy sucker"?  You of those people who, no matter how excited you are, with just one sentence or even one word, can suck the joy right out of your spirit?  I have, and truth be told...sometimes...I am one.  More often than people being "joy suckers" in my life, circumstances are the vampires that sweep in and drain my joy leaving a sad, black cloud hovering over my head.  

Kay Warren asked at the end of Chapter 1, "What do you allow to hold you back from living a life of joy?"  I thought about the question for a moment and wrote, "Circumstances and even possible circumstances...fear of 'what if?' and what other people in my life say or do or (get this) what they don't say or do."  In Galatians Paul asks:  "What has happened to all your joy?"  Think about this question for a moment and who is asking it...Paul, who had all kinds of very UNJOYFUL things happen to him!  If anyone had multiple reasons to have a complete lack of was this man.  And yet, it is this man, who admitted to having a "thorn in the flesh," who poses the question to us.  I think this was brilliant of God!  

So, I simply repeat Paul's question to you, girls..."What has happened to all your joy?"  Angela Thomas in her devotional "Choosing Joy" asks the question this way:  What is distracting you from joy?  She mentions that the Galatians were distracted by their obsession with keeping the laws.  This is for sure:  In my life, it is not "rule-keeping" that is the distraction...nothing as "noble sounding" as that.  Instead for me it is STUFF...all kinds of stuff.  Like the house next door that is in say it distracts me from joy is an understatement.  Angela asks her reader to quickly write down five things that are a distraction to the joy in their life...I wrote "the house next door" twice.  Once in the beginning of the list and once at the end.  My own personal MEGA joy-sucker right next door!  

I can't wait for life to "calm down" or "work itself out" or any of those other platitudes that give me permission to sit in a joyless place.  Life is slipping by at lightning speed, if I keep waiting for life circumstances worthy of joy, I will waste it...this precious life given to me on joyless moments that turn into joyless days and even joyless months and years for some of us.  Angela says beautifully the truth in my heart and, most likely,  my dear sisters, in yours as well:

"I want His joy!  To pursue his joy.  to be filled with joy.  To respond and react in joy. To discover joy in my regular, old life.  To give joy and multiply joy in the lives of my children.  To teach about joy.  To serve with greater joy.  To love from a deep well of joy."

Me too.

I realized this week that one huge obstacle to God releasing joy in my life is discontentment.  I am not content where I am.  And that, my friends, I know is sin.  My continual mind-set of "wanting to get out" of where God has me is completely distracting me from the joy God has ready to pour out. 

This week I was in a friends office and I saw in her bookshelves copies of the 70s Bibles Reach Out and The Way.  Anybody who came to know Jesus during the "Jesus Movement" of the 70s knows the Bibles I am talking about...

Reach Out: The Living New TestamentThe Way: The Living Bible Illustrated

I know...pretty awesomely boss and cool:)  Seeing those Bibles took me right back to my 15 year old, newly come to Jesus self.  I can't help but smile as I type...I recently got my "The Way" back.  I had no idea what had happened to it over the past 40 years until a friend called and said, "I have something for you."  l was completely surprised when she handed over that well-worn book.  She told me I had given her the Bible after she had come to the Lord, and she had kept it all these years hoping someday to be give it back.  There was a sweet joy holding this dear book once again in my hands.  In those days, I was OBNOXIOUSLY joyful about Jesus and His Word ("I LOVE JESUS!!!! is written on the outside edge of the pages:)  You cannot manufacture this kind of joy.  At fifteen I was living in an 1100 square foot house with my family of seven. I worked in the family firewood business (which at 15 was no longer as fun and cool as it was when I was 9).  We drove around in a beat-up station wagon, clothes were bought at the thrift stores (decidedly NOT cool in the 70s) and ate whatever we could buy in bulk for a large family on a tight budget.  My circumstances were not exceptional but my joy back then was the "pressed down, overflowing, running into your lap, over the top" kind of joy!

Since that day in my friend's office, the words from a of David's songs...keep ringing through my head:  "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me...Restore unto me the Joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me."

I cannot make myself joyful.  I cannot "wish" it back into my heart, but I can ask God to restore it.  I can ask God to "renew a right spirit within me" so that joy can reside there once again...the real kind of joy.  I am still praying for things to change next door, but more than that, I am praying for God to restore in me the joy of the salvation He has given through His Son, so when good happens in my life, it simply ADDS to my already abundant JOY!  I know that joy is not dependent on circumstances...the fifteen year old Cherri knows that very well!

Joy to you, my friends!!!!


Monday, June 11, 2012

The Change Me Completely Kind of Joy!

Good morning, Girls!

I just had to share one of those wonderful, happy "accidents" the Lord so LOVES to pop into our lives every once in awhile simply to let us know He is watching and completely involved.  Don't you just love Him for that sweet kind of intimacy????:)  A couple of months ago I was getting ready for the summer blog and it was suggested that we use the book Choose Joy.  I went right online to Amazon and bought the book; well, I thought I had bought the book.  What I ended up buying was a book by Angela Thomas called Choosing Joy which is a 52 week devotional.  I had not thought about this book or even picked it up until today.  Wow!  It is a great little devotional, and, of course, right where we are in our focus for this blog.  I did five days in one sitting this morning:)  and I have to share this one quote from Angela...

Choosing joy in your everyday life means more than just knowing the right things to think.  The correct passages to quote. The theological doctrines of joy.

Choosing joy is a radical decision to honor God by experiencing the depths of God's promises to us.  It's desiring Him above all else, rejoicing in His character, and living joyfully, according to His Word.

Radical joy is sin-destroying, world-changing, wound-heaing, other-centered, and mission-minded.  Radical joy creates a God-glorifying life.  This year, may we choose radical, sold-out joy.  Come alive joy.  Passionate joy.  Change-me-competely kind of joy.

I'll be honest with you girls and admit that I thought "choosing joy" would be just that: a choice to THINK joyfully when unjoyful situations came into my life and then BOOM! joy will hit my brain and somehow trickle down to my heart and feeling joy would be a reality.  Even at the very beginning of this study, I am realizing this joy the Word talks about is not what I had in my mind at all!  It is a lifestyle lived out because of what I believe as a Christ lover and follower.  

Circumstances in my life affect my joy...sometimes they douse my brightly dancing flame of joy with a cold bucket of an instant I can go from delighted to depressed.  This isn't the biblical joy that we are being introduced to in this study or in the devotional of Angela's.  I don't use the word "introduce" lightly in this context.  This "Jesus joy" is something completely different.  It is a part of us like our faith and actually because of our faith.  Here is the eye opener for me today:  In this world circumstances affect my joy, but in my walk with God and believing He is exactly who He says He is, my joy in Him should affect my circumstances!!!  

Sometimes I have situations I am just not looking forward to AT ALL.  I dread them like the plague...go over the scenes in my mind a thousand times and have anything but peace and joy.  But what if I believed truly that my Lord was in control...that this situation would be used for my good and His glory if I simply walked it out in faith?  What if I truly believed God had my ultimate good in mind in every situation and I could trust Him to guide, direct and strengthen me?  What if I believed wholeheartedly that my Savior redeems all...even the most broken situations in my life and I can trust Him completely?  Couldn't this heart change bring deep, reassuring joy?  

I loved Angela's definition of radical joy:  As I thought about these words in context with those situations that tend to "steal" joy from me, I could clearly see how radical joy could accomplish all this...that is power, my friends.  

I was reminded again today how grateful I am that my sweet Lord refuses to allow me to stand still much in my walk with Him. He does allow a rest from time to time between "lessons" but then it's "OK, let's get at it again, Cherri"... and, in a moment,  I feel the excitement of this new adventure: the "change-me-completley" kind of joy!  

Have a joy-filled day!

Love to you....


Friday, June 8, 2012

Let's Begin to Choose Joy!!!!!!

Hello there, my sweet summer blogging friends!!!!

I thought we would spend next week introducing ourselves and talking about Kay's intro and first chapter. 

In the intro, Kay writes something I believe is exactly why blogging on this book this summer will be so fruitful for us:  

"There's one promise I want to give you as we start:  I will be honest with you about my life and my search for joy--maybe more honest than you will find comfortable.  I will not gloss over my doubts, failures, and sins, and I will admit to you and to myself my sweaty, middle-of-the-night wrestling with God over issues of faith.  I will let you into the internal workings of my faith in process because I find my own faith bolstered when I know someone else is struggling and sometimes succeeding in letting Christ be formed in her.  Spiritual growth does not happen automatically and is rarely pretty; we will all be 'under construction' until the day we die and we finally take hold of the 'life that is truly life' (1 Tim 6:9)."

Isn't that the truth?  Aren't there moments when you are sharing something gut honest and all you want to hear is one person say:  "I have been there and come through.  You'll make it.  You won't always feel like this or be like this"?  Ten years ago during my deepest pit yet, I know that is what I wanted to hear.  I praise God there were those around me who told me just those precious words:  "You will get better.  You will get out of this sad place.  Here is the first step and I will walk it with you."  At that moment in my life, I had no idea that "choosing joy"  simply meant getting out of bed and folding clothes or going to my sister in law's house for dinner or a quick walk around the block.  Now I see that those were my first steps toward joy, but back felt like battling through a stifling, oppressive black cloud of fear and doubt.   

In her first chapter on page 31, Kay gives her wonderful definition of joy:

  "Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things."  

At the end of the first chapter Kay asks these two questions:

1.  What do you allow to hold you back from living a life  of joy?

2. Reflect on the definition of joy for a few minutes .  Which words are easiest for you to accept into your life?  Which are the hardest words to access?

Please feel free to share your thoughts on these questions or anything else you would like to bring up from the into or first chapter.  Hopefully, all the bugs have been worked out so that you will be able to post without problem.  If you do have problems please email me at  And remember to introduce yourself in your first post!

I'm Cherri and I will be facilitating the blog for the summer.  I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Peter, who has lovingly put up with me for over 36 years...God bless him:)  I have 6 children: 2 boys and 4 girls, 5 are married.  I have 7 grandchildren, 2 more to be added to the merry group this little sweet girl any day now and a "cute as a button" Korean grandson who will be going us soon!  All in all, the grand total will be 6 granddaughters and 3 grandsons.  I used to teach English and was a  librarian, but now I help out at the church with the women's ministry and teaching parenting classes with a little lay counseling on the side.  I love spending time with family, working with young moms and parents, reading, hiking and gardening.  My dearest joy is spending time in the Word and with a Savior who has become more real to me than my own skin.  His precious presence in my life is a high I just cannot get enough of!

I hope to hear from you all soon!

Love and blessing to you,