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.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Bow My Words

My daughter, Aimee, has been asking me to take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test for some months.  While I was on vacation this past week, she texted me and once again asked me to take the test.  Exasperated, she typed...IT'S ONLY FOUR QUESTIONS.  Four questions I can do.  So one evening I answered the four questions and found that I was an "ENFP"-Extroverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceiving.  One sentence in the description of "ENFPs" was partly spot on:  "Words are their best friends."  The only thing I would add to that is "and at times their worst enemies."

I have had some of you ask for the internet address for the personality test, so I am editing this post to include these fun links.  Here they are.  Have fun:)
 For a little more fun, you can check out which Disney characters are the different personality types at

This week's chapter, "I Bow My Words," is so underlined and highlighted, the sentences left over feel special:)  Controlling my words has been an ongoing issue with me since as far back as I can remember.  My father used to say that "Cherri can talk a mountain lion out of a tree."  I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that but I do know more than once he wished I would just stop the talking.  

I had a wonderful epiphany this week thanks to Linda.  I had known that spoken words could be used in worship, but I had never in my life considered that NOT talking, in obedience to God, could be worship.  Linda writes...

"When I put a watch over the door of my lips and don't give advice to my husband or adult children, I am worshiping my Father.  When I weigh my words on the scale of wisdom and remain silent, God is well-pleased.  It is far easier to talk than walk my worship.  When the words are bursting to come forth, and I wait for God's timing, my words bow in worship before my God." 

That is an awesome thought to me.  In the past ten years or so, God has been teaching me the beauty of the not spoken word...especially in my dearest relationships.  There are moments when I "hear" Him..."Don't say it, Cherri.  Don't do it.  Wait.  Be patient and let ME work."  It has been a wonder to behold as I have watched the Lord heal broken relationships and hurt feelings, correct wrong paths, give wisdom and guidance all without me speaking a syllable.  I love to think of those times of self-control and obedience as worshiping the Lord!  That part of the chapter made me smile:)

Here are just a few more of my favorite parts of this chapter...

I want the three questions Amy Carmichael asked herself routinely about her own speech to become my own.  Is it kind?  Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Mentally asking myself these questions will probably bring my daily word count down significantly.

Most of us know that our words can be used for good in the lives of others.  We know that we have the power to encourage and motivate people, but I had to think about how often I let opportunities to encourage slip by simply because I am not thinking about using my words to encourage.  It truly is a mindset.  One of her exercises in the back of the book was to write down a list of at least five positive statements that would bless someone else.  That small exercise helped me to remember the next day to speak them out loud.  

This past week I was talking with my mom and she said to me, "Your husband deserves a medal, Cherri."  He had been taking care of my dogs, my plants and all of my responsibilities while I took the granddaughters on a week long trip.  You know, she was right.  It didn't dawn on me until I thought back on my mom's comment that I very rarely encourage the man God has specifically given me to encourage.  We have been together for so long now, I guess I figure he knows.  What a thought...that so often I waste words or use words wrong and even hurtfully and neglect to say the words that need saying.  So one of my tasks this week is to write out a list of "25 Reasons Peter is Great" and give it to him.  It will be good for me to sit down and take some time to really appreciate him.  I thought this idea from the book was flat-out brilliant.  I will probably use it over and over.

So that is what I got from this week's chapter.  How about you girls?

Also I thought you girls might enjoy this great song by Hawk Nelson aptly titled...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Bow My Life

It never fails.  EVER.  It doesn't matter which study is chosen for the Women's Bible study at church, which book ends up as our Bible study book through the summer, what message I listen to at my church or even when visiting another while out of town...EVERY TIME He gets me.  Every time it is something new.  In Hebrews 4:12, the writer explains this phenomenon very well:  "For the Word of God is living and active..."  

I've read Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austin, AT LEAST a dozen times.  I KNOW the storyline...Elizabeth and Darcy will fall in love even though Elizabeth is stubborn, Darcy is stuffy and pompous, her sister, Lydia, makes things look pretty impossible through her ridiculous flirtatious stupidity, and Elizabeth's family is "beneath" the illustrious Darcy; but, in the will conquer all:).  I love this book.  It is so familiar to me I can quote the dialogue.  But never once in all the years I have read this novel has it "changed" me.  Entertained?  Absolutely.  But the same Cherri closes the last page that opened the first.

Not so with this Bible we hold in our is living.  I can read one verse and it can slay me or at the very least slay something in me that needs slaying.  This study is no different...not at all. 

I began this chapter "I Bow My Life" with anticipation.  I love writers like Linda.  She's practical.  I love that fact that she points in a direction and then gives you practical ideas on how to get there.  Nothing is more frustrating than to have a teacher give you profound principles of...whatever...parenting, finances, or Christian living and then drop you like a hot rock.  I can't count how many times I have read a book or listened to a speaker and agreed with their thoughts and was left now what?  How do I get there?  What should I do?  When should I start?  I NEED the practical.  And Linda delivers.  In this chapter it was more than I was anticipating.  

I was blissfully reading along when I came to "Lorraine's story."  Lorraine talks of giving herself 98 percent to God.  She had saved that small 2 percent back.  I mean, really, 98 percent sounds pretty darn good to me.  Many times I was thrilled with a 98 in school.  It looks good on paper...98%...WOW!  Except not in the area of living life for our God. Lorraine mentioned her life "box" of 2 percent.  I, too, have a "box" stuffed to the brim with (at the very least) 2 percent of my worst fears and anxious "what ifs." He had been pealing back the lid on that box before I got into this study, this week He pretty much kicked the lid clean off.  Lorraine's words, "God, I am sick of holding onto this 2 percent.  It's making me miserable.  I give it over to You, Lord. My life is yours, nothing held back. Do with me as You wish," terrified me.  Was I ready for this?  Shouldn't you be ready for this kind of surrender?  What if I'm not ready...then won't I just fail?  Maybe I should wait until I'm ready.  Really?  Was I ready to get married?  to have a baby?  Heaven knows the answer to those questions is a resounding "NO."  If I waited until I was ready, a childless spinster would be writing this post.  And if I wait until I am ready to surrender ALL of me life, I can tell you exactly when it will I take my last breath.  I don't need to be ready; I need to be obedient.

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father and I, too, will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)

What commands are His????

Thank goodness Jesus, Himself, answered this question so it would be crystal clear...

"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.  Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked of Him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one is this: 'Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31)

Last time I checked "all" meant ALL, everything, 100 percent.  Anything less is not "all."  Including almost 98 percent.  

Lorraine ends her story with these words:  "Relief washed over me.  All my anxiousness was in my Two Percent Box...and that box was now gone.  Oh, the sweet peace that comes with complete surrender to God, the joy of releasing my wrestlings to Him.  To this day, I've never regretted surrendering my life completely to Him."  Don't you love that God allows us to be beacons to others?  Lorraine is a beacon to me.  

This week I have prayed every single one of the prayers of surrender that are in this chapter.  I have written them out in my journal...including the words of the beautiful hymn "Take My Life and Let It Be."  I will surrender my life over and again if I have to.  The benefits to complete surrender are too magnificent.  I love how The Message interprets John 14:21:  "The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that's who loves Me.  And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him." How I need Him to be plain to me.

Surrender...the hardest easy thing we will ever do. "God helping you:  Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering." Romans 12:1~The Message. Let's surrender it all as an offering to the God we love.

Love to you, my friends!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Expanding My Worship Experience

Have you ever had a worship experience so wonderful you thought..."I AM SO DOING THIS AGAIN!!!" And then the next time you do your best to replicate the EXACT SAME experience and...not the same at all.  I have been in this place.  I will have a rich time of worship and praise all by myself...a certain song hits me and I feel His presence in my worship.  The next morning, I play the song again and it's still a nice song, still with great, meaningful words but no incredible moment.  It reminds me of those "camp experiences" that many of us talk of when reliving our youth with the Lord.  Or the "retreat experiences" that can happen when you are away for a weekend just you, the girls and God.  But what if nothing emotional high, no cataclysmic experience...what then?  

I was at a women's retreat a over twenty years ago where this exact thing happened...nothing.  My heart went out to the worship leaders as they tried to bring us into a "worship experience" that would be life changing and memorable.  You could feel the tension in the air...and it was not holy tension...nor was it evil.  It was just the fear of unmet expectations...all of us feeling the "what if He doesn't come?"  All of a sudden one of the ladies spoke to the group that we needed to get on our faces...then He would come.  So down we went...and still nothing.  The evening was memorable, that is for sure.  I don't think many of us who were there have forgotten it.  I was grateful for a mature Christian woman who finally walked to the microphone and spoke some wisdom to us.  I don't remember her exact words, but I do know that we walked out of that room knowing two truths:  1.  God is still God when you don't get goosebumps during worship and 2.  He was not angry or disappointed with us or our worship; He just had other plans for us and we weren't listening.  We were desperately trying to recreate what we had experienced before.  We had no idea that there are so many wonderful facets of worship and a never-ending list of venues He wants to use to bring us joy in our worship. 

Since that time God has met me in my worship in a myriad of different ways and places.  One time my sister, Joni, and I pulled over at river during a road trip we were taking.  We were not expecting Him there, but Oh, the sweetness of it...there He was!  And our worship continued as we drove down the road.  I have worshiped in the car, tears streaming down my face barely holding onto the wheel because my hands were aching to be raised in worshipful awe. Praise the Lord, He must be my co-pilot:)!  There have been times when I have put on my "Worship Music to Clean By" album on my ipod and sang and danced and worshiped while I dusted and mopped and washed dishes.  I'm sure it looks pretty crazy, but it really doesn't matter, does it?  One moonless night clear up in the Sierra Nevada's, I looked heavenward and saw the Milky Way.  Did you know that the Milky Way actually LOOKS milky????  And the stunner for me was knowing that all those trillions of specks of "dust" were planets and stars and other galaxies...vastness that just for a moment hit my heart with complete and utter awe.  What a Creator!  In the midst of a starry dome like that, who wouldn't lift their hands and declare:  "YOU ARE MAGNIFICENT!"  It wasn't twenty minutes of worship; it was one sentence shouted but the splendor of that night remains with me still.  On one Sunday while I was visiting my sister, we decided to take a Bible and hike to church.  We weren't sure where church would be that Sunday, but we prayed that God would show us.  We hiked for four hours and then heard a rushing coming from down the mountain.  We followed the sound some 400 yards off trail and found our church:

This was the view from our pew:)

 We flipped open the Bible we had packed and found ourselves in Psalm 104.  Imagine how we felt when we read these words:  "He makes the springs pour water into ravines; it flows between the mountains" and "The birds of the air nest by the waters;  they sing among the branches" as our only choir was the mockingbirds, bluejays and other birds calling back and forth and singing in the treetops.  We ended our service with the last verses of this chapter..."I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I live.  May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the Lord.  But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more.  Praise the Lord, O my soul.  Praise the Lord."  Amen!  We had definitely been to church that morning:).  These are all lovely, blessed times of worship, but if we take off the masks and be transparent for a moment, we have to admit there many times in our lives when we are not "feeling it."  I know I have.

I was blessed to have a wonderful and wise mentor in my twenties, my friend Dee Cosola.  One day we were having a conversation about worship and the truth that there are those days when...let's be honest...we don't feel very worshipful at all.  She reminded me of a verse in Hebrews:  "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His name." (Hebrews 13:15)  What Dee told me that day changed worship for me.  She agreed that sometimes we don't feel like worshiping God, but the Scriptures tell us to praise Him "continually."  She said that she believed that when praise becomes a "sacrifice of praise" is during those times we don't feel like it...when it seems there is not a lot of praiseworthy life stuff fact, just the opposite might be going on.  If then, in those moments, you can lift your hands in worship and praise, that is fruit of your lips, a sacrifice given solely and only to God and for no other reason than He is just that...your God, the great I AM.  

Expanding our worship experiences can take us down so many different paths.  I am excited to hear where God has taken you.  What are you doing to open the doors to being "expanded"?  

Love you, my friends, and I hope you will feel comfortable to share your thoughts and experiences with us!!