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.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Green-eyed Monster

"Comparison will attempt to puff you up through the insidious vehicle of pride or it will push you down through the tyranny of insecurity."~Lisa Bevere Without Rival

My sister, Joni, is a beautiful woman. She is my younger sister by 15 months.  At fifty-nine her blue eyes still shine, and she is just...honestly...lovely.  Our mom and dad both had brown eyes, so when Joni was born with her sparkling blue eyes they were thrilled.
And that began a decades long desire in me for blue eyes.  It hadn't dawned on me until lately that I hadn't given much thought to the color of my own eyes back then.  They weren't blue, so that made me "less than" in nobody's opinion but my own.  Here is how deep this insecurity weaved itself into me.  A while ago at a gathering in my home, my mom was telling this cute story about Joni and how she told someone once that she got her blue eyes from our Siamese cat.  I had heard this same story 500 times.  Before my mom finished, I said out loud to everyone, "Yes!  Yes!  For the fifty millionth time!  She got her eyes from our Siamese cat!" 


Everyone in the room looked at me as if I had just lost my mind.  My poor mom sat stunned and finally said, "Cherri, you wrecked my story" to break the awkward silence in the room. Fifty-five years of comparing my own green eyes to Joni's blue had boiled over into one monumental moment of insanity!  Another one of those "Can I have a do over" moments:(
We LIVE in a world that compares EVERYTHING.  You can't escape it if you tried.  And no matter what, the minute you engage your thoughts toward comparison, there is no way to come out ahead...NO WAY.  As the quote from Lisa says above, you are now either filled with pride or stricken with insecurity.  I heard once that pride and insecurity are the flip sides of selfishness...both are self-focused.  Isn't it the truth that for some reason none of us really want to admit too much to pride, but we will share our moments of insecurity sometimes like a badge of honor...oops...that pride is a slippery bugger! 

There was a time in my life when I was horribly insecure about my mothering.  Without a doubt I can tell you my thoughts were pretty much wholly on guess who?  Yep!  Me!  I would think about my failings, how I could do better, how much therapy all my children would need from having such a mother, and over and over I would silently compare myself to every other mother in my sphere.  In the deepest places of my heart, I always came up lacking.  These thoughts plagued me day and night and made me a crazy person. 

I wrote once in our parenting curriculum "nothing is as pathetic as an insecure mother...we do nutty things."  Truth!  Lisa Bevere says "the more we do his (Satan's) work, the less he has to."  He did not have to work hard on me at all during that time.  My unhealthy self-focus had sin in my life on auto-pilot.

But I had it easy-peasy compared (ha ha:) to what this current generation of young women have to deal with now.  There is SO much online through social media to keep the models of comparison rotating relentlessly into their sight at lightning speed.  Pinterest...I love Pinterest by the has a TON of great ideas; however, it has become the mecca for comparing our lack against others perfection. 

I have talked with women who get depressed looking at the never-ending barrage of pins on Pinterest because it all feels so hopelessly far from their reality.  They could never be as in shape and healthy~keeping up with the latest or best work-outs for new moms, the working woman, the middle aged or like me "safe for the golden girls," essential oils, fermented foods, best supplements, the most recent list of "dirty dozen and clean fifteen," or cook the amazing meals in a pinned out, beautiful kitchen every day as some.
They will never have a perfectly organized pantry or sewing/craft room/she-shed.  Her finances could not afford the farmhouse out on the acreage where she raises grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, and her own sheep to sheer for her children's clothes each winter and grow her own organic vegetables and fruits

She will never possess a wardrobe that accents her shape and coloring to her best advantage. 

Without exaggeration at all, the list goes on and on (and I didn't even get into the party/shower/wedding boards!) Let's just say I am glad I got married in the day of cake and punch with bowls of peanuts scattered around!

So what is the answer to this constant push to look at others and ourselves with an invisible measuring tape of whatever we are insecure or prideful about?  I think it is first to do exactly what we have been talking about these past few weeks:  

1. Realize we are loved, one of a kind, cherished, and valuable to a God who is without comparison

2. Recognize who He is and what He has done on our behalf and finally...

3.  Discover that looking to the benefit and good of others frees us from the bondage of ourselves...that miserable sin on auto-pilot.

Can we get there?  To the place where we can rejoice over the joys and successes of others?  Here is the tough question for us moms...Can we celebrate the successes of other children over our own?  Can we hope the best for those who are seemingly the ones with favor?  The ones who seem to live the golden life?  Will we finally see that pushing others ahead, holding others up, serving others and hoping the best for them, is EXACTLY what pleases our Father because it is then that we are more like His Son than any other time and we shine.  WE SHINE because it is SO different from what everyone else is doing.  Beth Moore in her book 90 Days With the Beloved Disciple, said that Christ laid aside His crown, His glory, and even His life, but never once did He lay aside His Sonship.  And so it is with us.  Honestly, when you really think about it, we have pathetically little to lay aside in comparison. 

Thinking too much of ourselves...thinking too lowly of ourselves...both are roads of self-focus that tie our hands behind our backs in the work of His Kingdom.  We need to be formidable force for His Kingdom in this one life we are living out for Him on this earth.  I know I've already wasted FAR too much time on the ridiculous (see above). 

Blessings and love as we swim upstream together against the waves of comparison!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Together We Are One Wise Woman!: The Unrivaled Promises

Together We Are One Wise Woman!: The Unrivaled Promises

The Unrivaled Promises

I never was much of a princess kind of girl.  You would have found me catching bugs and lizards, riding my bike and building forts rather than playing with my Barbies (Though I did have a cool one with a bald head and three interchangeable wigs!). 
I could probably pay-off my house with this now:)

 So when I come upon "princess stuff," even in a wonderful Christian book, I have a tendency to want to bust through quickly and get on with it.  That's what happened when I began to read this week's chapter "A Promise Without Rival."  I could feel myself cringe a little as I began to read, "Imagine there is a knock at your door..."  As I continued reading (as fast as I could) I realized that though I might not be connected to this kind of imagery, there are many who would.  Like my granddaughter, Adley.  She LOVES the whole princess thing and this kind of story would reach to her very soul! And whether you are "princessy" or not, the truth is, in Christ, we are of a royal line.

But in reality this chapter is not so much about princesses, as it is, at its very core, about the promises of God on our lives.  Now that is something I can wrap my heart and mind around!  Here are a some of my favorites:

Exodus 14:14
The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still.

Isaiah 40:31
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 54:10
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.   He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Psalm 86:5
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.

Psalm 9:9-10
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Philippians 4:6-7  
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 3:4-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Ephesians 3:16-19
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, bring rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Luke 11:9-13
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

I could go on and on.  Each one of these wonderful promises have meant EVERYTHING to me during different times of my life.  I clung to them like a drowning person to the one stable thing within her grip or sometimes they lit my path like a flicker of hope in the future.  At other times, they were the my only "how to" when searching for an answer or my way.

C. S. Lewis, who can, at times, bring a truth to light in such a way that it smacks you upside of the head, does this in one of my favorite quotations: 

"If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea.  We are far too easily pleased."

"We are far too easily pleased" with a lot of silly stuff we idly spend our time on day after day. What could the Lord do with our lives if we embraced the truth of His great promises and stopped believing the enemies whispered lies of "too late," "too young," "too old," "too difficult," "too risky," "too damaged," "too uneducated," "too much for me."
What. Would. Happen?

That is a question I would LOVE to see the answer to:)

Whether you feel like a princess or not, the truth is in Christ we are royalty, chosen by Him, loved and sacrificed for, blessed and given the greatest promise of all...the Holy Spirit within and someday the Lord has promised we will see Him face to face!!!

I am praying right now that we would begin to get a glimpse of how monumental all these promises mean to our lives.  May we know Him and His great goodness, hear the Holy Spirit speak and walk forward in all the promises He has for us each day!

Which of God's promises have meant the most to you lately and why? 

How is God asking you to step out in boldness into His promises for your life?

Blessings to you this week!!



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A God Without Rival...Who Do You Believe He Is?

One evening some decades ago, I was sitting with a beloved mentor in her living room.  We were taking over how I felt about God.  Who did I think He was?  How did I feel He thought of me?  She made me face something that began a journey of knowing God better and truthfully.  You see, when I answered those questions without fear of judgement, in a safe place, with a safe person, I could say what was a fear deep in my soul...I was terrified of Him...He couldn't be trusted...He could love and bless me one moment and crush me the next.  I feared Him alright, but it was not the awe-inspiring kind of fear; it was a horrible gnawing fear of being punished but not knowing what in the world I was being punished for.  I walked through life with a dark cloud over my head, continually ducking for cover and trying my hardest to stay safe, unnoticed, and perhaps good enough to "stay out of trouble."
After this gut-wrenching confession I had dared not reveal to anyone, this sweet woman looked at me and asked, "Cherri, was your dad an alcoholic?"  I was shocked.  I grew up NOT talking about our family's problems.  You didn't say anything to anybody.  How could she possibly know?  But Dee was one of those dear, wise and wonderful Christian women who kept in touch with the Holy Spirit within her.  She began to speak truth to me about the Father, and though the change of heart did not happen instantaneously, my heart did change and continues to as I learn more and more about who God truly is.

What I found is I had, without even trying to, transposed my experiences with my own earthly father onto my Heavenly One.  My dad was a great dad when he wasn't drinking, so I had no problem with believing God could be good, kind and affectionate.  However, this same father, who I loved dearly, could turn into something completely different when he drank.  No physical abuse, but plenty of verbal, and it never made any sense to me. This cartoon is actually a pretty good depiction of what happened in our family.  When dad drank, he saw everything...even his kids though the distorted view of the bottle.  I grew up unconsciously dividing my father into "good dad" and "bad dad."    This carried over into my relationship with my Father God.  I loved and trusted Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but God, in my mind, could be a mean one at times and you never knew when it was coming.  Scary.

One of the attributes of God I have recently been sinking my thoughts into is His ability to be "over" time.  It is a wonder to me to ponder the truth that God is every bit as present in my past as he is with me right now as He is in my future.  Think on that a bit!  Last year at a Living Proof Conference, Beth Moore, said something I cannot forget...that because God is omnipresent in our past, present and future, we can ask Him to pour healing out on those things that hurt us in the past and have had repercussions in the present, so they don't have power over our future or subsequent generations!  WOW!  This is a weighty thought!

My prayer for myself and for you, dear friends, is that we would be delightfully surprised by God as He reveals who He is to us daily.  Augustine said, "God is best known in not knowing Him."  I had to think on that one for a bit, but I think I get it!  This life we live, no matter how many days we have, can never possibly get to the place where we can say, "I know God completely and perfectly."  He wouldn't be infinite, unfathomable...He wouldn't be God.  There is ALWAYS more to learn about this great and loving Creator!  What an adventure!

How about you?  How do you see God?  How do you feel about Him?  How has He delighted you?  Which of the "I am" statements about God on pages 39-41 in Without Rival means the most to you right now?

I hope this week has been and will continue to be a blessed one for you!

**You will find a bit of my dad's story in the blog post, "What if What We Think is True is Not True at All" here:

Monday, June 26, 2017

An Identity Without Rival...Who Are You?
Boy!  Is this a loaded question!  Who are you?  I have definitely answered that question differently over the years:  oldest of five, daughter, sister, wife to Peter, mom of six, nana to twelve, lover of nature, secretary (back in the day:), teacher, assistant to Nancy, Bible study leader, blog writer, women's director and also daughter of an alcoholic, anxiety ridden, fearful, alone, a failure, broken and lost.  My mood can swing widely as I answer this question out loud in response to the question and other times to myself as I deal with the myriad of "identity crises" I have put myself through.

In Lisa Bevere's book, Without Rival, the very first chapter deals with our identity as Christian women. She says far too many are "...content to allow the shallow confines of what they do or what they have define them...Jobs change and skills can be lost and things can be stolen.  Even important relationships can be stripped from us.  What you have and what you do and who surrounds you can change..."  

So let me be honest...these are usually the first words out of my mouth when asked "Who are you?":  "I am Cherri, married to Peter for over 40 years, mom to a wonderful half dozen, nana to an even dozen.  I've lived in the Valley all my life and currently live out in the country.  I work at the Desert Vineyard Church as the Women's Director. I have dealt with stress induced anxiety in the past, my father's alcoholism, miscarriage, other tragedies and my own myriad of insecurities.

All this is true.  Think about your answer for a moment...Again...All truth.  But not the realist truth...the foundational truth of who you are.

Get ready for a complete shift in thinking.  If we can wrap our minds around this truth and REALLY BELIEVE it, much will change in our lives.  Here is this life altering truth: 

 It's just SO "Christian,"  and we have heard all this so often, we will let these powerful words go through our mind without so much as a warm, fuzzy feeling.  THAT. IS. SAD. When you get will feel the beauty of these words to your very soul:  "I am deeply loved (by God HIMSELF)...absolutely forgiven (because of this great love)...God's masterpiece (unique and loved uniquely by this unfathomable Creator)...chosen and set apart (to bring Him glory with my life) in Christ (the anchor of who I am).  THIS is my identity.  BOOM!

When things are not going right in my life at work, at home, in relationships...when my past regrets and mistakes rear their ugly heads, when I blow it now and wish I could have a "do over"...when life isn't fair and my heart breaks...when the unexpected happens and changes bank accounts, relationships, position or health...THIS wonder remains:  He, the LORD of the Universe, loves me with boundless and faithful love NO MATTER WHAT.  THIS is my identity.

I don't have to compete to be noticed by Him.  I don't have to do and do and do to finally get His approval.  I don't have to be young, thin, and perfectly put together for Him to see me as beautiful and precious.  And His love for others does not take one whit from His love for me, so I can celebrate and enjoy watching God lavishly love on others!  What freedom!

Oh, LORD, help us to grasp not let it pass us by without taking the truth about who we are deep into our hearts. Block the "whispered lying innuendos that assault" our minds telling us we are "not good enough, young enough, smart enough, fast enough and rich enough."   May our identity never shrink from who we truly are to the expectations of this world.

Do you find it difficult to describe yourself outside of what you do? Your past? Your age?  What you have?

Ask the Lord to speak over you truth.  Listen to what He whispers to you.  What did you hear?

What rivals have detracted you from your ability to embrace your identity and receive God's love?  


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2017 Summer Book Blog "Without Rival" by Lisa Bevere I LOVE this cartoon because it is SO true!! And boy!!  Do I remember those days!!  How many times did I hear, "I'm bored"?  And my answer was always the same:  "For cryin' out loud!  I'm not!  Let me give you so something to do.Never did have any takers!:)

Summer is just around the is over...the kids are home...YIKES! are planned, looked forward to and  and we, ladies, take to the web and stay connected through the summer book blog!
If you are back...welcome back!!!  If you are new to our blog...we are so glad you are joining us!!!  My hope is that we will have a great time reading and discussing the book chosen for this summer.

Over the next couple of months we will be reading Lisa Bevere's, Without Rival.  It is a brand new book currently on the New York Bestseller List! 

 I was in the audience some years back when she was the guest speaker at a Women's Cultivate Kindness Event.  I was drawn to her desire to see women, young and old, become what the Lord had created them to be in His Kingdom.  There is NOTHING laid back or "beating around the bush" when it comes to Lisa and her message to women!  Fasten your seat belts!    Here is how you can get your copy of Without Rival...

At Amazon this book is $10.12 and if you have an Amazon Prime account there is no shipping!  This is the link for the book at Amazon:Without Rival Amazon (Christian Book Distributors) has this book for $8.49 plus shipping and handling.  The link for this book at CBD is:Without Rival CBD

We will be starting our conversation on Chapter 1 beginning the week of June 26-30, which should give you all time to order and receive your book.  This 10 week book study will end the week of August 28-September 1.  

Every blog post will be posted on the DV Women's Facebook page.  You can find us here...> (DV Women's Ministry Facebook Page) Please ask to join our group, and you will receive all blog activity on your personal page.  We will be discussing the book on this blog in the comments below each post and also on the DV Women's Ministry Facebook page.  Some have found discussion on Facebook easier than posting here.
This would also be a great book to have a journal available to write your thoughts, prayers, and answers to the questions at the end of each chapter.  Please join me this summer!  Grab a cup of coffee or tea, Lisa's Without Rival, your Bible, a journal, a pen, your computer or smart phone, and sit with me as we talk through this thought provoking book!  For a little added blessing...Lisa's  publishers have given me permission to post some of her videos on this blog!!  So be looking for those as well!

Blessings, my dear sisters, over these wonderful summer months ahead!  May we all come to better know the love of our Savior that is "without rival"!!! 

With love, joy and just a little bit of boredom for the summer!! :)