Why Ask Why?

August 15, 2016

I recently took a one-day road trip with a friend and her 3-year-old granddaughter. It brought me into the inquisitive world of little children. Every time my friend asked her granddaughter to do something, the toddler asked, “Why?” I heard “why” a lot from the back seat. Finally my friend would respond to the question of “why,” by saying, “Why, ask why?” Then the cutie would start telling her grandmother how to drive: fast, because from her perspective, she wasn’t driving fast enough and she was ready to get to our destination. Mind you, she was resting comfortably in her car seat.

Isn’t the cutie just like us? Always questioning God, asking “Why?” Not wanting to obey His orders until we know the reason behind His directives. Always thinking we know better. Asking Him to answer our prayers faster because we’re tired of being on the same road, dealing with the same drama, the same disappointment, the unfulfilled dreams?

Like the grandmother in the driver’s seat, God is much wiser, can see further, and has a plan guaranteed to get us safely to our destination.

“So do not throw away your confidence: it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36, NIV).

Why ask Why? Just enjoy the ride.

Preparedness

July 17, 2016

A friend of mine always signs her emails with this verse in Matthew: “Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).

It is a jolt of reality for me, a reminder of what is really important…that I treat each day as if it were the last day, because it could be. If I really thought today was my last day, how would I spend my time? I doubt if I would spend hours perusing Facebook photos or shopping. No, I would spend quality time searching my heart to make sure it is in total alignment with my Savior’s mandates. I would reconcile with anyone I have offended. I would be busy doing the work assigned to me, knowing that it would be inspected and graded really soon. No time for distractions.

I decided after seeing my friend’s email “signature,” to read Matthew 24 slowly. I suggest you do the same. It is like a jolt of potent caffeine. Jesus clearly states the signs that signal His return and the end of the world: constant wars, earthquakes, famines. That’s only the beginning. “But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come” (Matthew 24:8, NLT). It gets much worse, beyond the grossest horror flick.

What’s the answer? To be prepared, ready. Some people are ready for a nuclear attack but not ready for the coming of the Lord. Jesus says repeatedly, “So be prepared, because you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. …You also must be ready all the time. For the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24:42, 44 NLT).

I’m refocusing, recharging, recalibrating. I’ve got some housecleaning to do. I intend to be ready when the Master shows up unannounced. What about you?

Men Who Stand Tall

June 19, 2016

On this Father’s Day I reflect on a few of the men who’ve made an indelible impression on my life, not by their words, but by their actions. Some I never got the chance to tell that I was watching how they walked and I was not disappointed.

Austin Edwards. A man of quiet strength and godly character. He consistently served faithfully as the Sunday School superintendent at the first church I attended. A man of few words, but when he spoke, only wisdom poured forth. He was not an emotional Christian, but he was solid, dependable, upright, respected, and gentle.

H. W. Falls. A man in a league all his own. My first pastor. A man who took His calling as God’s servant very seriously. A holy man. He loved his congregation and the children. I didn’t hesitate to go to him about what was on my mind or for him to pray for me as I was leaving for college. I believed God answered his prayers and He did. He had an open door policy. He never betrayed my childlike trust.

Carlis Moody Sr. What a privilege to be under his pastorate while I was in college. A student of the Word who lives the Word. A man of humility, known for integrity, and fidelity in his marriage. At 81, he is still going strong in the Lord, never wavering from preaching and living the uncompromising truths of God’s Word.

I could name more. I am so thankful for these godly men of standard. We need more. My constant prayer is that God would raise up a new generation of men who will take God at His Word and wholeheartedly follow Him in the tradition of Caleb, Joshua, Joseph, Daniel, and Apostle Paul. It can be done in the 21st century. Will you be that man?

Distinctly Jeremy

May 12, 2016

Proverbs 20:6 poses the question: “A faithful man who can find?” Today I celebrate the significant birthday of one faithful friend, Jeremy. I applaud you today and your distinction. There is absolutely no one like you! Our paths crossed when I was 18 and while we lost contact periodically, we always resumed the friendship.

Thanks for accepting me as I am. I’ve always been free to be “me” with you. You know my quirks and anticipate them. They have never bothered you. You make allowances for them. You have only encouraged every pursuit, never shooting down a dream. You were one of the first to purchase Distinctly You, read it, and make copious notes. When we last met, you were prepared to give feedback on each chapter. Unfortunately, we only made it through the Introduction.

I rejoiced with you when you found your birth mother and established a relationship. I documented the event by writing an article for my journalism class.

You are a man who keeps his word even if it hurts. I never have to worry if you have made a commitment to me. You will be there on time (ahead of time), no matter what it takes.

You have demonstrated to me the love of Christ, sacrificial love. Of course I think you are too hard on yourself and I worry about you at times, but then I am reminded to continue to entrust you and your future in our Savior’s hands.

God knew that I needed a trustworthy friend like you. You have made a significant difference in my life. I will be forever grateful. Continue to be distinctly you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

“Distinctly You” Impact

April 16, 2016

It’s been six weeks since the release of Distinctly You and I’m so thankful for how it’s impacting readers. I so appreciate the feedback. Here are more comments from readers:

“I read chapter three and was reminded – again! – how easy it is to make God small.  Your writing is brimming with clarity and personal actions/experiences which assist the reader greatly.”

“I am reading Distinctly You now and going through the chapters slowly, highlighting and taking notes.  God has really used your book to speak to me and change a lot within me.  I am so enjoying it and being blessed by it.”

“I’m enjoying reading your book which is very inspiring. I’m gaining great nuggets.”

“I was so excited to get my copy of Distinctly You…I am on Chapter 18 and sure to finish tomorrow. Cheryl, the book is fantastic!! I thank God for your wisdom. Some of the illustrations have cut me to the core. I have a lot of work to do to become distinctly me.”

I didn’t want to write Distinctly You just to say I’ve written another book. It was my prayer (and continues to be) that the principles resonate with readers and inspire faith and change.

I long for each woman to walk in her own distinction. Life is short. Don’t waste another minute. It’s time to be distinctly you!

Distinctly You

February 28, 2016

It’s been a lifetime in the making…and now it’s here…the book, Distinctly You: Trading Comparison & Competition for Freedom & Fulfillment. Here’s what some readers who got advanced copies are saying:

“I have been waiting for a book like this all my life…”

Wow! I received my book yesterday! …I started reading it today and couldn’t put it down. It’s a great read. This book is going to be a blessing to so many. It’s relevant! It’s daring! And, it’s well written! Can’t wait to use it in our Connect Groups and Women’s ministry.

“Bottom line: Your book is a winner. I got it last night; it was on my desk when I got home around 10:30; I stood there and read 30 pages before I put it down. This book is going to heal a lot of people…Excellent job. I’ll do all I can to help spread the word.”

“Just finished Chapter 4!!! What a blessing!!! I’m going to be late for church if I don’t hurry.”

“I plan to organize a women’s discussion group in my home.”

Please know I put my heart and soul in Distinctly You because I believe it’s important to share with you my sisters…what has set me from free from years of comparing and competing and fighting God about my design. When I read certain passages I still find the tears flowing. I want you to thrive in your own uniqueness and be Distinctly You. My mission in life is to encourage you to stop at nothing less than reaching your finish line. I want to applaud you all the way. I believe in you because God created you with a specific assignment and I don’t want you to miss it.

I didn’t write this book just to say I’ve written another book. It was hard work. Labor intensive. Soul searching. I knew God wanted me to share my story after I told Him, “I will only write the book if you open just the “right” doors to make it happen.” I told Him (as if He didn’t already know) that millions of books are being published. “If you don’t need one from me, it’s okay.” This is NOT about me. He provided the right agent, the right publisher, and the right words in His timing. Why? It is time for YOU to be Distinctly You.

I’m not reaching out to you with a sales pitch. I’m writing to you because I care and I know what my God given assignment is…to speak truth into your life and to encourage you with My story. God’s story. So…No more excuses. No more sob stories. Drop the 3Cs of comparing, competing, and coveting. It’s time to be Distinctly You.

Buy the book. Read the book. Talk about it. Post and Tweet using #DistinctlyYou. I want to hear from you about how Distinctly You has impacted your life. I’m confident it will. It’s changed mine.

Valentine’s Day Renewal

February 14, 2016

Love is in the air. It’s celebrated today. Many couples will get engaged. Oh the dreams and fantasies of enduring love. That’s why I decided to renew my vows to my One True Love…Jesus Christ. He gave His life for me so I could experience life at its fullest. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He has kept His word. We’ve been in a relationship since I was a child and He has never left my side. He loves me unconditionally. He only has great plans for me. I can tell Him everything (He knows it anyway) and it will not surprise Him or repel Him. I am secure in His love, because there is nothing I can do to stop Him from loving me. He’s committed to me and my well-being forever. This is ENDURING LOVE.

Now my Lover has a request of me. That I don’t just talk “love” but demonstrate it by responding to His love language. God’s love language is obedience, not good intentions, good feelings, great words, but obedience. I’ve heard of men who kiss their wives every morning as they head to work, mouth the words, “I love you,” and keep a girlfriend on the side. The audio and video don’t match.

God says, “Don’t play me.” If you really love me, you will obey me, when it’s convenient or inconvenient. So today, Lord I reaffirm my commitment to you. It will be shown by my actions, not my words. I will love you the way you want: radical obedience. Your love is worth it.

Snowed In

January 23, 2016

God has a way of forcing us to stop our hectic routines. Heavy snowfall did it for me today. My only option? Staying inside and watching from my window the mounting snow. I loved it. A different rhythm. A time to reflect on desired goals: being more deliberate about thinking before I speak, exchanging careless words for caring ones; taking joy in living in fear: fear of dishonoring God, fear of being disqualified as Apostle Paul stated (after preaching to others). This is a healthy fear, a fear that makes my walk more intentional with the aim of always pleasing our Commander in Chief.

By the end of the day a sweet realization: I accomplished more not less on a snowed-in day.

Joseph, Will, and Elwood

December 23, 2015

Every Christmas season I find myself reflecting on Joseph. I don’t think he gets the props he deserves. What an amazing man, a man of impeccable character and integrity. He was all set to marry Mary until he found out she was pregnant. He knew the baby was not his. While hurt and confused, he still wanted to do the right thing. He would not expose Mary, but break the engagement quietly. Then God stepped in with a message from the angel (in a dream) while Joseph was asleep: “Do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary, for the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20, NLT). Joseph asked no questions. When he awoke, “he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife” (Matthew 1:24, NLT).

Joseph, an honorable man, committed to obeying God no matter what. We don’t see him stressed out about the potential of scandal and gossip. He had tuned his ears to hear God and respond without back talk. Matthew records 3 more angel encounters (in dreams) for Joseph. After the baby was born, he was told to flee to Egypt with his family because King Herod was going to try and kill the child. “That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother” (Matthew 2:14, NLT). When Herod died, the angel appeared to Joseph again in a dream saying, “Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead. So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother (Matthew 2:20-21, NLT). Joseph obeyed God with alacrity. God’s time frame was his modus operandi. Then in another dream, he was warned to go to Galilee. They settled in Nazareth. God could trust Joseph with this awesome assignment.

I so admire trustworthy, faithful men, faithful to God and to their spouses. Two men come to mind this holiday season to celebrate: Will and Elwood.

For years Will has modeled Joseph-like characteristics to me. He quietly and faithfully goes about his job as the manager of a copy center. He does his work calmly with the aim of pleasing God by producing an excellent product with a servant’s heart. It’s obvious he loves his wife, Janet, unconditionally and passionately. The other day he told me, I need to leave the center early today because Janet wants me home with her as she battles her sickness. She can handle things better if I’m there. I had just heard him say the week before I’m rearranging my schedule to make sure I’m available to celebrate Janet’s birthday this weekend.

Elwood is a pastor and manager for his wife Betty, a worship leader. We were talking the other day making preparations for our Jump-Start 2016 event. We reflected on God’s amazing love for us and because of that love we don’t want to disappoint Him. Elwood then said, Cheryl, Betty and I have been married for 27 years and I have never cheated on her and I believe she has never cheated on me. I would hate to think about the impact of that. I love her so much that I never want to disappoint her. True love. Amazing love. Honor. Integrity. I thought about what Elwood said for days and smiled.

These 3 wise men got it right: Honor God by how you live and Honor your Spouse.

Thanks Joseph, Will, and Elwood for being wonderful examples of “faithful” men. I applaud you this Christmas.

One Thing

October 18, 2015

“Wherever you are, be all there.” I love this quote by martyred missionary Jim Elliot. It’s simple enough, but seldom easy because we face distractions daily. They are designed to take us off course of what is really important, what really matters. We have become slaves to our cell phones (heaven forbid if we miss any calls), emails, Facebook, and the barrage of text messages. I contend that in most instances, these interruptions to our sleep, workflow, time with family and authentic friends are nonessential. They can wait. We have a choice in the matter. To rule the technology that has made our lives more efficient or allow it to rule us.

If we rule, this will require focus, intentionality, and discipline. Discipline to keep our ears tuned to what God is saying to us about how to order our lives in order to bring glory to Him, and then to let nothing distract us from that goal.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all that I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. I hope all of you who are mature Christians will agree on these things” (Philippians 3:12-15, NLT).

“Lord, help me to focus.”