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.”

Authentic Love Story

August 27, 2015

Women love a good love story. That’s why we buy the romance novels and check out the latest “boy meets girl” movies. I’ve had the privilege of observing for more than 30 years an authentic love story. My sister-cousin Rhonda and her husband James celebrate 32 years of marriage today. They still have eyes only for each other. Their love is stronger today than when they said “I do.” It’s a joy to be around them. I see the tenderness, affection, and simple delight of them just being in each other’s presence. (I want a love like this!)

I’ve often thought why is their marriage so strong? Here’s my theory. Before they said I do to each other, they said I do to God. Before they met, each decided to make Jesus Lord of their lives. They decided to date and wait His Way. Both sought God in prayer about His choice for a marital partner. They were 100 percent confident that God led them to each other. James was a godly man and a man of the Word before he met Rhonda. He’s a godly man today. He’s on the road a lot for his job. Rhonda told me that not once has she questioned his fidelity or felt the need to sneak and check his cell phone or text messages. She can trust her husband because he fears and honors God. Rhonda was a godly woman before she met James. I greatly admire her sensitivity to the voice of the Lord and her willingness to obey Him no matter what. She told me once, “Every year I pray and ask the Lord what kind of wife do I need to be for my husband this year. Do I need to be more patient, more understanding? I’m open to the Lord’s leading.”

Like any couple they’ve had challenges, but Christ was always there to meet them at their point of need. He owns their hearts. By God’s grace, they raised two godly sons who are now happily married. They have a great example to follow.

Diversion

August 16, 2015

I spent a good chunk of time last night checking flights for one of my brothers. His connecting flight was initially delayed due to weather conditions on the East Coast. It departed on time but then encountered a rainstorm in Charlotte. He was unable to deplane for what seemed like an hour. In the meantime, I kept checking the departure time for his next flight. It was delayed as well. Finally, when he was allowed to enter the terminal he had a few minutes to get to the next terminal to make his next flight. I thought he had a good chance. Then I got a phone call.

“Cheryl, you’ll never guess what happened.” I waited for the news. “I was so focused on getting home that I stopped at the ticket counter for the flight that would take me directly to Dayton, instead of to the ticket counter for my flight to Cincinnati. By the time I got to the correct gate, the door was closed. I missed my flight. Fortunately I was able to get a seat on the next flight out.” He would be getting home around midnight.

When we hung up the phone, this thought came immediately to mind: We exchanged so many phone calls and invested so much time, focused on 1 thing…his connecting flight to Cincinnati. His goal was to make that flight. And in just a matter of seconds, so close to the goal, he lost focus, his attention diverted to the wrong flight. The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Cheryl, this is a constant battle and effective strategy of your chief adversary, the Devil…to have you focused on the things of God for the majority of your time, and then when it really counts and you are near the finish line, you divert your attention to something insignificant, that does not matter, and it causes you to lose your race.”

Let’s be ever vigilant and on guard daily. Let’s not be ignorant of Satan’s schemes and devices. Let’s stay focused on what really matters…running our race, reaching our finish line so our Master will say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

The Manual

July 12, 2015

I finally got a smartphone. I love the additional features. The phone came with a manual which I downloaded. It’s more than a hundred pages. I glanced through it once for a quick primer. Since then I’ve been on my own, sticking to the basics. But the phone was created to do much more if only I would read the manual. That requires setting aside quality time to do it. I’d rather get by on less when my phone could be smarter.

God took the time to give us a manual for living, great living. It’s called The Bible. It covers everything we need for experiencing life at its Best. We glance at it, possibly read it from time to time, but prefer to go our own way, figuring things out on our own, making unnecessary messes. God doesn’t want His children falling into ditches or taking wrong turns when His manual provides great directions.

I may not absorb my smartphone manual but I am committed to reading God’s manual from cover to cover and following the instructions. I want to live a smart life.

Love Covers

April 25, 2015

How do you know when you love authentically? You are quick to hide or cover the loved one’s faults. You know the worst, but you don’t take joy in exposing it. James 3:2 says, “We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way.”

A dear friend is going through a major, unexpected transition in her life. Without her asking me to do so, I had absolutely no desire to call up mutual close friends and say, “Have you heard? Let’s pray about…” I instinctively wanted to “cover” her during this season. When I thought about my reaction I said to myself, “I love her. I really love her.” I can pray for her without getting others involved with the gory details which could lead to gossip. I found myself asking her few questions. I just wanted her to know that I am here for her and praying for God’s leading. “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).

Now if I have the unction to expose rather than cover someone’s idiosyncrasies, poor judgments, mishaps, foibles, I ask myself, Do I really love them?

Really, Really, Really, Really Love

January 18, 2015

Love is splendid. Really, really, really, really LOVE is really splendid. I came up with this concept while talking with a girlfriend last week. The topic was “How do you know when you’ve met The One?” What makes you choose one person (for life) over another? What is the distinguishing mark? I said a major test is when you know that the person really, really, really, really loves you. (Yes, I said “really” 4 times). It’s a without a doubt kind of love. You are consumed by it…not lust but authentic love.

You can say “yes” to a proposal, but not really, really, really, really love the person. You love the idea of being in love, of being married. It will not be a fulfilling relationship. At some point you will simply go through the motions, there in body, but not in mind.

It is best to wait for the really, really, really, really love…no matter how long it takes. Make it the standard. That’s God’s standard. He says repeatedly: You must love me with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength. He accepts nothing less. Neither should we.