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.




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sink and Know

Like the Titanic cruising across the ocean, I sank one day.  I had no idea I was heading for an iceberg, and though I had been warned…I steamed on at full speed.  I was, as Emily Freeman writes in her book, A Million Little Ways, “…bound to my own usefulness, big-headed with my own accomplishments, crushed by shortcomings…capable of making art, but also capable of turning the art into something it was never meant to be.”  There was no time for prayer or worship or reading the Bible…I was TOO busy making my “art.”  And it was beyond exhausting…it was literally killing me.

My doctor would tell me as I came to him with symptom after symptom, “This is all stress related.  You have to give up something or your body will make you give it all up someday.”   I would always smile, make some flippant remark, thank him for his advice and the prescription and walk out the door without a thought to heeding a single word he said.  I couldn’t…that would be admitted failure…”a shortcoming” and it would crush me for sure.

And then God sank me.   I guess you could say that the iceberg I hit was the biggest one you could hit…the “God one” but in my everyday living it was seemingly insignificant.   Like a listing ship taking on water, the tipping point was reached, and I went DOWN.

I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone…and yet…that sinking moment was my first gasping breath back to life.  It did not feel like life...it felt like death.  In reality a fatal blow was given that day to my “addiction to measurable productivity” and the adulation of others.  Praise God!  When you finally see your weakness, your irreparable brokenness, there is nothing you can do but sink.  And sink I did into an inky blackness where no one could go except the One who is the Light and the Way.  What I found out was...He was already there just as Psalm 139 said He would be!   Slowly but surely, He "lifted me up"  like David describes in Psalm 40: 1-3:  

"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned and heard my cry. 
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; 
He set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord."

You see?  Sink into finally knowing that HE IS GOD and He will lift you up giving you new art to do...new glory to give:)

So why do I tell you my story?  Simply this…sink yourself.  Decide to sink into His story for your life…sink into His compassion for others…sink into His love for the lost…His compassion for the hurting, the heartbroken and the grief-stricken…sink into His ability to throw off bitterness and show undeserved forgiveness. 

I listened to my pastor, David Parker, talk about the “culture of Jesus” recently.  As I listened to him, I thought about the “art” in the life of Jesus while he walked this earth.  Though he was a carpenter, probably the best that ever laid tools to wood, no relic remains of his workmanship.  What does live on is how he interacted with people:  His truly unconditional love, His compassion, His acceptance, His forgiveness, His ability to impart value, His example to us of how to live art in our daily lives during this brief “breath” we are given. 

When I look at my sweet Savior’s life, when I read His Word, I can see clearly the way I ought to behave and react, but I am an imperfect, human imitator of this
Divine Life.  I am a messy thing.  I am a child copying Van Gogh’s Starry Night.   My canvas has the hint of the master’s, but the strokes are sometimes hesitant, too much paint or not enough or at times not even the right color.  Sometimes my frustrations rise and the canvas gets tossed aside.  Emily puts like this...we go to wash someone's feet like Jesus did and we spill the water or turn up our noses at smelly feet.  We are imperfect imitators of the art we see in the life of Jesus.   

“Be still…sink…and know that I am God.”  These beautiful, dropping to the knees, “I cannot do it” moments, these are the sinking times.  The sinking into knowing that even though I cannot forgive in my own humanness…I cannot love fully…accept unconditionally…live “a million little ways” consistently or perfectly…that God can and He can change a heart like mine to be more like His perfect one.

Let's keep sinking, my friends, into the safe and loving presence of a Savior who will bring His art into our lives in more ways than we ever imagined!

Love to you, dear friends!

Cherri

Monday, July 21, 2014

Looking Back...

 
I am a BIG fan of good, sound, prayerful, Christ-centered counseling…now.  Prior to the year 2001 you would have never seen me near a counseling office.  Counseling was for the weak…for those who had problems…for people who had “issues.”   In 2001 God did me a huge favor…He showed me myself in all my pathetic weakness and need.  Guess where I ended up?  Yes, indeed…in counseling. 

I had a wonderful Christian counselor who was really quite a saint.  First thing I did when I walked into her office was make it very clear what I would NOT talk about.  (And I thought I didn’t have issues:).  God bless my sweet counselor…she simply smiled at me and said, “OK.” 

One afternoon just as I was getting up to leave she said, “Cherri, I want you to work on something for me over the next two weeks.  I want you to draw a line across a blank piece of paper.  Above the line at the top write ‘HAPPY.’  At the bottom of the page write, ‘SAD.’   Then I want you to remember back to your very first memory and graph that memory above or below the line to the extent that you felt happy or sad.  As you think back over your life, graph your memories on the line and bring it to our next counseling session.” 
 

Two weeks later, I handed my counselor my graph and she thanked me then promptly put it into a file.   A bit anti-climactic after two weeks worth of work, but at my next appointment, she answered the door with my paper in her hand.  Just about the first words from her mouth were, “Cherri, did anything jump out at you while you were creating this graph?”  I had to be honest…nothing had “leapt from the page.”  Even as she showed it to me again, I did not see one thing that would make me say, “Ah! Ha!!!!”  For the next hour we talked about this graph and for the first time in my life I understood myself with a clarity I had never experienced.   She noticed that nearly every good memory I had happened outdoors…summer vacations camping, working in the woods with my dad in our family firewood business, or time spent playing outside in the neighborhood where I grew up.  Most of my bad memories happened inside four walls: some inside the small house where I grew up.   As I think back on that timeline, my life…my childhood was trying to tell me something about the art in my life and what fuels it.

In the book we are doing together, our author tells us that sometimes we need to “look back” and “rescue” the art we were making even as children.  I can tell you that in my life, a lot of my art happens outside of four walls.  Whenever I can, I am outside.   I don’t even have to be “far out.”  A backyard will do just fine. My favorite place to write and do my Bible studies is outside at the table on my backyard patio especially around sunrise.  At this moment I am outside typing away and this is the beauty God has given this morning at Lake Tahoe where I am visiting my sister!















I was talking with my granddaughters one day about beauty.  I asked them what they see as beautiful.  Their list was much like my own:  sunsets and sunrises, wind blowing in treetops, poppy covered fields, billowing thunderheads that fill the sky.   God’s creation fills me and inspires me to create art that I hope with all my heart glorifies the Maker of all good things.  I hope pictures of sunsets, and forest paths, descriptions of sunrises and a valley covered in wildflowers, or a waterfall cascading down a mountainside, fill people with wonder and turn their eyes to an incomparable Creator.






I know that the “great outdoors” does not inspire art in everyone.  I know this for certain because I have a birthed a few myself:).  I have talented and gifted daughters who the LAST thing they want to do is sit outside with bugs and wild creatures.  It most assuredly does not inspire art in these precious ones of mine…but other things do…like music or the “blank canvas” of a birthday party or wedding shower. 

Do yourself a favor.  Sit down with a blank piece of paper and your memories.  Graph the happy and the sad and see if your art peeks out at you from behind those lines.  Rescue your childhood love for ____________ (whatever you might find) and bring it out in the open to bring joy to others and glory to God.

Look back and rescue what God gave you from the beginning!

Love to you, my dear gifted sisters!

Cherri

Monday, June 30, 2014

Redeemed Desire

 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37: 3-6

 I have never had such a difficult time writing a blog post.  For two weeks I prayed and asked for words, but the right ones just would. not. come.  I finally found the reason why...I wasn't supposed to write this post!!!!  The chapter on desire was a difficult one for me. I could see clearly the two very distinct sides of desire:  the one side that brings destruction and pain through selfish desires and then the other that comes from a beautifully redeemed heart that delights in the Lord.  But I could not, for the life of me, put words on this screen that seemed right (though the Lord knows I wrote 2,000 of them...no exaggeration)

And this is where I introduce you to my sweet, young friend, Jackie, who did:).  You girls are in for a blessing!!!  Jackie recently had a beautiful son, Cade, who was born with fibular hemimelia (absence of the fibula bone in his lower legs.)  She has a blog where she shares her journey with Cade  and her latest post was just, well...you will have to read it to see why I am uncharacteristically speechless.  What you will find is not only Jackie and her family's story but a beautiful example of "redeemed desire."  Read Jackie's post and then come on back her to TWAOWW.  By the way...this is Cade:)  http://www.mjandcade.com/2014/06/27/grace-and-the-momma-bear/


So, are you as blessed by this momma as I am????  Jackie was a living, breathing example that day in REI of the two-sided coin of desire.  The momma bear rising, "you are going to get your's" kind of desire we have all felt, haven't we?  But then she chose to display "redeemed desire," the "delight yourself in the Lord" kind of desire...the God infused desire that, as Jackie showed us so beautifully, is covered in grace.   This is the kind of desire that beautiful art is made from.  Oh, Cade, you are blessed to have such an artist for a momma...momma bear and all:).

One night I had Peter read one of my many posts on desire.  He read it and then said, "Cherri, you need a story to show what you are trying to say."  He was absolutely right.  Thank you, Jackie, for allowing me to share your story:)  Love you, girl and that sweet boy!

So, my friends, I am sorry for the late post, but it couldn't be written until Jackie wrote hers:)

Love to you, my sisters!!!

Cherri


PS  So happy to hear that some of you finally received your books!!  Welcome to Together We Are One Wise Woman!!!!!  I look forward to hearing from you, so leave a comment!  Please don't be shy...:)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Some Art of Our Own

 I have received some beautiful posts and/or pictures to share with you girls...enjoy:)

Our friend, Esther, sent this post along...

 Page 21 "Trees have always fascinated me. They are so confident, so sure of their identity. Feet rooted strong in the ground of their birth, they don't wander off to find out where they came from. Instead as they grow, their roots go farther into the ground where they already are and their branches reach up higher to God."


There once was a tree rooted strong in the ground,
till one day someone came and cut it down.
She was re-purposed into posts and scattered about.
One came to live on Santa Cruz Island.
This beautiful post, once part of a living tree, lived through seasons.
She lived spring,
    She lived summer,
        She lived fall,
            She lived winter.
She had a wardrobe to match each season.
    She bent and swayed in the wind,
        She gave shade in the summer,
            She provided shelter for other living creatures.
But now she is set in the ground,
No roots!
No life of her own!
Yet here she stands!
Straight and tall!
Part of a fence holding wires.
But that is not all.
She has a glorious view atop a cliff.
A view of the ocean that feels like a dream.
Wildflowers surround her.
And how many birds have perched atop her to sing?
The moss climbed up on her to join in the awe.
Somehow, though rootless, this tree still lives on.
The seasons are different and so is her wardrobe.
From beauty to beauty, she has a story to tell.
You have to listen closely for she will whisper not yell!
Just ask the moss!
It has become quite attached to her.

* * * * * * *

I too, am fascinated by trees. As a young girl I loved to climb trees, sit on their branches, admire their spring, summer, and fall wardrobes, and wonder at their bare winter branches. Like us, trees go through different seasons of life.

I like to wonder what this post looked like before it was taken from its roots. Was it tall? Where did it live? Was it young or old? Was it growing in a pasture, on a hill, in rocky ground, or in a forest? Was it taken on purpose or did a storm blow it down?

How did it end up here? If only this post could talk, what a tale it would tell! Moved from one canvas to another I don't believe it has lost a stroke of beauty. I know not from whence it came but I am blessed to have seen where it ended up. Today it is planted in the soil of Santa Cruz Island. Its purpose is meant to hold up wire, to be a part of a fence. To my eyes it is so much more. It is a beautiful work of art and it takes my breath away.




Lynn sent along these beautiful pictures of majestic pines who very definitely reflect the glory of God!






I am so glad that one of the readers of this blog sent a poem she wrote for all of us to enjoy.  Emily e-mailed me this beautiful poem and I think it is a perfect example of giving God glory through our gifts.

Tree of life tapestry
      
  Tapestry of Life
Our lives are just a tapestry
And woven they must be
of emerald gold and crimson red
Outlined with burgundy
When the master takes his had
from the weaving he has done

He marvels at the tapestry
he wove  us to become
Love is woven through and through
With mercy side by side
Salvation is delicately woven as a light
 for which Christ die
Yes this is tapestry of life
and the border is
unending love
 Emily

I found this beautiful picture of a tapestry called "The Tree of Life" designed by Morris and Company in the 19th century.  I thought it fit with Emily's poem perfectly:)  Thanks, Emily for sharing your lovely poem with us.

Please don't hesitate to share with us your own art! E-mail me at cthompson@desertvineyard.org

Blessed by you...

Cherri

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Created to Reflect

 

The quotation at the beginning of this post are the very words that sold me on Emily's book for our study this summer.  The beauty of her words captured my heart in an instant.  The truth is, I was taken by Emily's words...but I was undone by the image above when it flashed on my screen as I searched " low country oaks." I wanted to see what these unusual trees actually looked like.  This great beauty is the Angel Oak Tree in South Carolina.  It is sixty-five feet tall, has a circumference of over twenty-five feet, and gives shade to over 17,000 square feet under its "audacious" branches.  It has lived an estimated 1,400 years, surviving fire, hurricanes, earthquakes, war and the encroachment of civilization.  And here it stands...yet.  What it has weathered, stood up against...endured for over a millennia!  I see this beautiful photo...an image well worth every cent I spent on it...and the art in the life of this oak as it reflects God's glory is obvious.  

However, all this tree has to do is "just be"...for me there are just SO many excuses for not reflecting God's glory in my life.  After all, I can look at myself and see every imperfection, every shortcoming, every shame, every sin.  How in the world could I possibly reflect God's glory?  I am a blurred, scratched up mirror for sure.  So many things have stopped me...I am too young, too inexperienced, not talented enough or educated enough.  I am too old...too late.  My good years...my productive years slipped by...somehow, between too young and too old.  When did that happen????  I imagine you might have your own excuses...a disability, a diagnosis, or maybe a history, a past that surely tarnishes any reflection you could have had.  Or maybe something happened to you...divorce, abuse, rejection, or a sorrow or pain so great no light seems strong enough to penetrate the depression, bitterness, fear, or grief that cloaks your life.

And then God comes along and gives us object lessons...beautiful, breathtaking ones...like a 1400 year old low country oak who reflects God's glory in spite of.  Or a small pine tree that grows in the midst of difficult circumstances to say the least...

What I learned this week from this chapter is really quite simple: If we are able to take a breath, we can reflect the glory of God in how we live our lives...our choice entirely.  We are the living, breathing poem of God with unwritten stanzas left to live out...no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in...no matter what we have endured...there is good to be done, kindness to be shown, beauty to be created. 

I had to smile as I read Emily's words toward the end of this chapter:  "You need not go on a search party to find yourself."  I wasted a lot of time waiting for that elusive "something" that proclaimed to me and the world I was "ready" to be who I was made to be.  Circumstances would be perfect.  I would have gathered all I needed.  I would have finally found what I was made to do.  THEN I could stop searching and waiting for my art.  It really is much like having a baby.  If you wait until you are ready...you will never be a mother. 

I don't know about you; but, as I look back over the years, art has changed in my life.  I wish I would have realized then that I didn't have to wait to create art.  I wish I would have known that art was being created in my mothering and now in my grandmothering.  It was in my teaching and now in ministering to women and parents.  It was in my homemaking (as chaotic as it sometimes was:) and now in my gardening.  I wish I would have known that all my reasons for hesitation were not keeping me from living the art He had created me to live.  They were the diamond cut facets.  It is a remarkable truth that God has created glory FROM my imperfections, my pain, my loss, my grief, and dare I say it...even from my mistakes and sin.  It is because of His great goodness in my life that I can reflect any of Him in any glorious way.  

I have a fun thought for this week...Please share your own pictures of God's "object lesson" in your life.  Send a picture to cthompson@desertvineyard.org with a short explanation, and I will add them to our blog. Be creative and have a good time with this!  Your story will bless others who read this blog and will reflect the Lord's goodness in your life:)

Reflecting His glory together, we would be blinding:)...in a good way!

Love and blessings!

Cherri



 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Awaken the Artist Within!!!!

"Art is when we do work that matters in a creative way,
in a way that touches [people] and changes them for the better."
~Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur
 
This week we are covering the very first, very short chapter entitled "Awake" in our book, A Million Little Ways.  Emily shares her "Sarah experience" and explains that through the creativity and generosity of artists like Sarah who "live" in their giftedness, we see things we might have otherwise missed.  I had a unique "Sarah experience" of my own recently that really blessed me and opened my eyes to the joy that comes when you share your "art" with others.

I don't know if my cousins, Dan and Barb, consider themselves artists...probably not, at least not in the way I perceive them to be, but I was blessed to witness the love and passion they have for their land and everything on it, and that was art to me.  Dan and Barb live on a ranch at the foot of the Short Pine Buttes in South Dakota.  A unique piece of property with a rich history that spans before recorded time.  The day I spent with them was filled to the brim with experiences I honestly had never had, and it left me wanting more.  Their passion for this land was contagious...from the cattle they raise, including a few pet milk cows and their calves who eat with reckless abandon from your hand,  to the Pony Express Trail that winds up the mountainside to the Indian camps and buffalo jumps that allow you to vividly imagine teepees, buffalo and a people busy at their own "art."  That day I saw a tiny calf not more than thirty minutes old, nine piglets with their muddy mama, beautiful spotted curlew eggs lying in a nest on the prairie floor, the weather-beaten, collapsed hideout of a notorious outlaw, mysterious "fairy rings" in the grass, a pine tree denuded of bark by a porcupine, and "The Names," a steep, rock outcropping where names one hundred years old have been etched into the soft, white stone.  With excitement, Dan read off names and dates as familiar to him as his own.  We climbed to the peak of a ridge, following the ruts of a Pony Express Trail, eating sweet, wild onions and wild celery along the way.  All of this was only part of a glorious day filled with wonder.  What Dan and Barb did not realize is that each moment, each new experience was a colorful, beautiful stroke upon the canvas of that memorable day. It awakened a desire in me to create in the home that I have something that can be beautiful, unique and memorable that will bless those who visit.

And that is exactly what artists do.  They leave you in wonder, wanting more.  Dan and Barb are artists unaware.  They generously share their love for the beautiful land they own with excitement and great joy.  That evening as we left Dan said, "Come back next week...there is more to see!"  Those are the words of an artist:).

Dan and his bulls


Mama and her brand new calf
The Buffalo Jumps

View from the Short Pines Buttes

The Names

Curlew eggs

Simply beautiful

The hideout
Mama pig
And her piglets







So that is my example of someone who "lives" the art they were made to create.    Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on the beginning chapter of this study, and share with us your "moment when you were moved by the heart of an artist."

Blessings to you as you awaken the artist within!!!

Love,

Cherri

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why, My Soul, Are You So Downcast?

"Why, my soul, are you so downcast?  Why are you so disturbed within you?"  This morning...I could feel it...my soul downcast and disturbed.  At first I just felt it...the lump rising in my throat...the heaviness as I walked through my empty house doing the mundane.  Then I remembered...ask your soul...why?  And the answers came…

Why?  Because my heart is heavy for a friend whose two year old grand niece, Anna Mae, is suffering from an incurable and devastating disease.  I watched the video, “Judson’s Eyes,” http://judsonslegacy.org/judsons-eyes about  Krabbe Disease—a rare, genetic, incurable leukodystrophy and through streams of tears, thought of the family who is facing this heartbreaking journey.   I especially thought of the mother, the grandmothers, the aunts, because I can relate to them.

Why so downcast and disturbed, O my soul? Because I have a sweet young friend who waits...praying with all her heart for an unborn baby whose life hangs tenuously in her womb.  She hopes for the little one within and dreams of a life that could be, but the dark clouds of "what if" hover over her and she cannot get away from the truth that this precious life is tenuous.  I feel her pain...I've been there.

 What disturbs me?  The news that a pregnant Sudanese woman, Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim, who has been jailed along with her 20 month old son, was sentenced to death for apostasy...she will not recant her Christian faith.  She is scheduled to die by hanging after her baby is born. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/05/16/international-outrage-grows-for-sudanese-woman-sentenced-to-death-for-apostasy/

And again...why?  Because my heart is broken for the over two hundred young girls in Nigeria who have been kidnapped and sold into slavery.  I grieve as I look at pictures of the families and their signs begging “Bring Back Our Girls!”  I think of their mothers and sisters, their aunts and grandmothers…their friends.  I think of my own girls...my daughters and granddaughters, my nieces and sisters...and just for a moment empathize with the horror in the thought, “What if?”  In that split second, I feel the unbearable, the unthinkable and I realize with tears in my eyes as I type this…these sisters of mine…of yours are living it…right now.  And I want to DO something.

 I love women and working in "women's ministry."  Women’s ministry, put simply, is ministering and serving women.   So which women am I called to serve?  Only the women in the Bible study on Tuesday nights?  Or the women in my church?  Or the women in my community?  This country?  Or maybe only Christian women?  How about you?  Are you a woman?  Do you have women you care about and love?  We are…everyone of us…”in women’s ministry,” and God’s scope on HIS women’s ministry is global and all inclusive.  Here’s how I know this:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intersessions and thanksgivings be made for all people…”  I Timothy 2:1.

Pray.  Here’s the irony about prayer…It many times has one small four letter word in front of it…"just.”   All we can do is "just" pray…  Nearly every time I have heard this or said this myself…it is with resignation.  After a long conversation detailing the trouble or pain..."Well, all you can do is just pray."  We are finally left, after all else has failed, to “just pray."  Really?  Talking to the Creator of the Universe is "just" conversation?  Can I throw something out there for you to consider?   Prayer is powerful because it makes you immediately “present” in a situation or with someone.  You can be present with Anna Mae and her reeling family.  You can be present with those girls in Nigeria and their grieving families. You can be present with Meriam, her unborn child, and her son in their jail cell.  You can be present with an expectant young mom as she anxiously waits and hopes for a safe birth and healthy baby.  You can be present with a son or daughter in distress or wandering.  Prayer makes us present in the midst of those who are suffering even if they are a world away…even if you have never met them. Actually, if prayer is what God's Word says (And I believe it is), then we can't be MORE present or MORE useful.  A young mom put this up on her status on Facebook one morning and I have never forgotten it:  “When we get to heaven, we will wish we had prayed MORE.”  "More" is the exact opposite of "just." 

God's Word tells us to "trust in the Lord and do good."  My sister, Joni, is an example of this.  She prays for others then she waits...trusting the Lord is at work, but in the meantime, she writes cards, makes phone calls, bakes cookies.  She does "good" while she prays, trusts and waits.  So absolutely do  something while you pray for people and situations: sign petitions, #Bring Back Our Girls on Twitter, "share" articles and videos that will raise awareness for those in need, give what you can in whatever way you can, write letters and e-mails on behalf of our Sundanese sister and all our young sisters in Nigeria or any friend in need, bring meals and encourage.  You can keep up with Anna Mae and her family at:  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/annadewitt and add them to your prayer list.  This is what we are called to do as Christ followers, so by all means do good,  but for cryin’ out loud…Cry out loud to God on behalf of those who suffer.  In this way, we all minister and serve others wherever they might be.

The way I read the Bible, it seems that a praying people is a force that can't be reckoned with.  Prayer can bring the miraculous...peace, joy, restoration, redemption, counsel, wisdom...hope.  The end of the verse "Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?"..."Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and God."
Oh, I love you, my sisters...thank you for allowing me to "think" things out on the pages of this blog.  Please share how you work out this praying, trusting, hoping and doing good by leaving a comment or a prayer to encourage us all.
Hoping in my Savior and my God,
Cherri




Monday, May 19, 2014

And The Winners are...Maureen and Marisela!!!!

Woo-Hoo!!!  Congratulations, Maureen and Marisela!!!!  Your copies of A Million Little Ways will be in the mail on Tuesday!  My granddaughter, Brenda, was my lovely assistant in choosing the names out of the bowl.  This was so much fun, I think I will have to do it again with something "artsy" during the blog:)  Thank you, girls, for all the comments.  It looks like commenting on the blog has gotten easier!!!  That money I spent on a "social media specialist" was well worth it!!! 

For those of you who have not gotten a book yet, they are available at:

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Million-Little-Ways-Uncover-Were/dp/0800722442/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400510644&sr=8-1&keywords=a+million+little+things 

Dayspring http://www.dayspring.com/emily_p_freeman_a_million_little_ways/ 

CBD http://www.christianbook.com/million-little-uncover-were-made-live/emily-freeman/9780800722449/pd/722440?item_code=WW&netp_id=1133105&event=ESRCN&view=details 

To make your time even more "artful,"  get some highlighters, a pack of colored pens or pencils and a fun journal to write down notes, draw pictures, write poetry or whatever your little heart feels as you read through this book. Have fun with this study as you learn the "million little ways" you can be the unique and creative person God created you to be!!!!!
 
Blessings to you, my friends, and congratulations, Maureen and Marisela, on winning the books!!!

Love to you all,

Cherri







Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Million Little Ways Book Giveaway in Three Days!!!!

Summer is coming, Girls!!!

The start-up of the Summer Bible Study Book Blog is right around the corner, and I have TWO copies of A Million Little Ways to GIVE AWAY!!!  In a few days, on Sunday night, May 18, I will draw two names from those who have left comments on the "Together We Are One Wise Woman" Blog the past few weeks.  It's not too late!!!   There is still time to put your name into the drawing!  Simply make a comment on any of the blog posts and you're in!!!
http://besmallstudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/million_little_ways-580x388.jpg Recently, I spent some time with a very gifted "social media specialist."  Following some of her suggestions,  I have made a few changes to the blog with goal of making it more "user friendly." I hope this helps with posting comments.  However, if you have problems leaving a comment, you can email me using the "contact" form on the right side of this page. I will do my best to make this as "frustration free" as possible. 

 I am looking forward to getting this summer blog going this summer and am really excited to have friends joining us from all around the states and from Nicaragua as well!  Isn't it cool that we can stay connected with sisters from around the country and world? 

Please know this is not "my" blog...this is OUR blog, so your comments are very important...after all, TOGETHER we are one wise woman:).  I wouldn't want to live this adventure without you:)

Love you blogging girls and I can hardly wait for June!  

Cherri

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lessons From Wildflowers

 
Four months in and already this year has been an eclectic mixture of joy and sorrow…of the Lord’s supreme beauty and the crushing ugliness of living in an imperfect, fallen world.  But right now…at this moment, the Lord has been absolutely ridiculous about His show of beauty in this desert. 
The wildflowers, especially the poppies, have been beyond spectacular.  One week ago people were saying this was close to the most beautiful showing of wildflowers this valley had ever seen.  Just as the show began to ebb, we had a small rainstorm and the valley rebloomed with more orange and then just to show off, He added purple and blue and shades and shades of yellow.  I told you He was ridiculous this year.  Here’s the wonder…in January the talk was all about the poor showing the wildflowers would make this season and then He brought the rain…again and again.  We can talk and predict all we want but in the end, He gets to do what He wants. 

I posted pictures of the wildflowers on Facebook.  Honestly, it was just too beautiful not to share.  Peter and I would look around our hilltop home the Lord so graciously provided for us, and we would stand in awe of the gorgeous sight.  We took picture after picture because to NOT share felt like we were “hogging” this spectacular beauty for ourselves.  One day I was surprised to see a comment made by a friend of a friend… "Too bad it’s all going to be brown and ugly in a week.
He spoke the truth.  All this beauty and vibrant, living color will be gone in a few short weeks.  Poppies will recede back into the earth and this year will only be a memory of what once was, and in future years the “2014 wildflowers” will be talked of and used as the new standard of flowering beauty.  I know someday there will be a better year because that’s the way our God is…He likes to outdo Himself just to bless us and prove that He can.

I’ve been thinking a lot of about the flowers that surround me this year, and I don’t think it has been a coincidence that the year they are at their most beautiful, I have lost dearly loved women in my life.  Over the months on this blog, I have introduced you to two of them: my Aunt Delores and my friend, Elaine.  Then recently another beloved friend left us…sweet Tara, who was a faithful morning Bible study girl for years.  None of these three had “charmed” lives, in fact, each one endured difficulties that were painful physically and emotionally.  My Aunt Delores in her lifetime grieved the loss of two of her children, her sister, a daughter-in-law and her husband.  Elaine and Tara endured chronic and painful illnesses for years.  And yet, when I look at their lives, I see great beauty.  I witnessed it.  Each wore their suffering and pain with grace, faith, kindness and selfless love.  Others say the very same thing about these three: they left a legacy of beauty behind. 

Let me tell you a little something about poppies I learned from a wise, old rancher who lives up the road from me.  Mr. Barnes has lived in this valley his entire life.  His family homesteaded the property he lives on to this day and he has seen many, many wildflower seasons.  Some decades back, there was a decision made to create a Poppy Reserve at the west end of the valley, so they fenced off a fair amount of land to protect and preserve the poppies for future generations.  Mr. Barnes made an effort to tell the Poppy Reserve people that though it sounded like a great idea, poppy seeds need stressful, adverse conditions in order to bloom to their best potential.  I don’t know when shepherds began grazing their sheep across the valley floor, but they have for as long as I can remember and evidentially for as long as Mr. Barnes can remember as well, because he told them there is a reason why poppies bloom best where the sheep are allowed to graze.  The seeds are mashed up between sheep teeth and then conveniently “exit” the sheep complete with fertilizer just waiting to be watered the next year.  To this day, the most beautiful poppy fields are the ones where the sheep are allowed to graze.  Probably the most convincing sight I saw this year of this truth was the patch of poppies growing under an electric power line that had been erected in the past few years.  All that movement to set the tower created stress on those seeds and though not many poppies grew in the field around the tower, it bloomed like a garden underneath.
My friends, Tara and Elaine and my aunt lived the life of a poppy field.  They endured pain, more pain than most, but they had spirits that overflowed with loving-kindness, selflessness and more than anything else, humility.  The seeds of their lives have blown into mine…they have blown into yours as you read this.  They just keep blooming on in bigger and better displays of beauty because that's the way it works with lives like theirs....they multiply and magnify.

My brother told me this year he had a pilot flying over the valley who came back and told him she wished everyone could view the valley from her vantage point.  She was in awe of the sight below her that was beyond description.  From above she could see the entire vista of what those spring rains had brought to the valley.   I believe that is the view God has of our own lives.  We see the here and now of our lives as we go through the joys and sorrows, as we endure the difficulties, as we choose His way rather than our own.  He knows what we can’t see, that the future is transformed into beauty because of a life lived well in the midst of an imperfect, and many times, painful world.

Many people think of death much like the person who posted the comment on my pictures of wildflowers…a beautiful life is lived and then death shrivels it up and it is swept away in the months and years that follow by the winds of forgetfulness that blow across our lives.   If that were it, ALL we could feel is sadness at the loss of something so beautiful.  But then there is Jesus who visited this fallen world with a perfect life and He changed everything by living and dieing and then living True, human lives might be “grass that withers and flowers that fall,” but for faithful servants of the Lord, the beauty of their lives keeps on producing...keeps on living in those of us who remain and we, as good stewards of such preciousness, have the opportunity to add to the beauty with our own lives.  

Remembering the beauty...with love,

Cherri