Thursday, September 21, 2017

Melting heart

You may have noticed that I don't write as often as I used to. A reason for this is the pace of growth seems to have slowed. As evidence,  I believe I have a new record for how long it's taken me to read a book. I'm eighteen months into Changes that Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud and I still have 60 plus pages to go. Reading for integration rather than information is slow work.

In the last six months, it feels like I've been playing with a new puzzle. The pieces have come together and I have something new to offer. The latest segment began last spring when I left a women's retreat with two words - melted heart. The speaker had shared a prayer with us that had developed in her life over time. Her prayer, "Lord, I am willing to receive what you give, release what you take, lack what you withhold and do what you require and be who you desire." When we were asked if there were any invitations to us in this prayer, the words - melted heart - appeared.

In early summer, after continuing my lent practice, (reflecting on moments when I had chosen to be judgemental and also considered the Lord's desire to let Him be with me in all things) I started to realize how effective these two practices were in helping me identify hard places in my heart. I began to long for and receive what I needed for melting those places. Two plus two!

In the slowness of summer, I was seeing something new. I started to notice moments when I would self-protect. It was like hard spots of my heart and self-protection were teaming up. As teams do, they had a playbook. I was like an athlete with well-honed skills. Rather than muscle memory, I had heart memory and  I would execute the play without even thinking. Recognizing this was sad and brought up new questions. What will it take to melt this heart of mine? Will I be able to embrace a new way or ask for the help? More than ever before I believed I will not be able to change on my own and change only comes when I choose something or someone new to trust.

I began to pray with a sense of purpose and hope for a melted heart. I longed to have what I needed to avoid self-protecting. What did I need? I needed fear to be replaced with love, trust, and courage. And so the opportunities to develop and practice a new playbook began to appear.

From this vantage point, two opportunities stand out. That is because they were similar to situations from my past. But something was different. I was different. This time around, I was completely filled with freedom and peace as I trusted the Lord. And I really mean the word completely. It was shocking. What a huge contrast with the past. A year ago, in a similar situation, I was completely filled with fear and paralyzed by it. In something altogether different, I was spinning with so much anxious energy that I was left exhausted.

It was like I kept blinking to see if I was awake or dreaming. I kept saying, "I just can't get over how different I am in my response."Those responses were the fruit of newly melted spots. My melted, pliable and trusting heart had capacities to love that were simply impossible before. Growth. Can I get an "Amen"?!

Even as I write a new connection appears, last December I felt compelled to memorize a prayer from Romans, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him." Can you see it? The Lord has been powerfully answering this prayer. It inspires me to dare to dream these qualities will become hallmarks of my life in more and more circumstances. What an amazing dream?!

Why do I share this? My answer is the twelfth step of the Twelve Confessions. "Having experienced some measure of authentic transformation as a result of surrendering all aspects of myself to power and presence of Christ, I will carry this message to others and continue to practice these principles in all my affairs." May God be seen, recognized and trusted. Amen

Helpful companions:
Unlikely Rebel by Kelli Gotthardt
Apprenticeship with Jesus: Learning to live like the Master by Gary Moon- Twelve Confessions which closely resemble the Twelve Steps from AA- see pg. 41

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What God gave me for Easter


This year for Lent two ways of praying daily emerged. I believe the Lord prompted me to pray, "Judging?" That was shorthand for reviewing the last 24 hours and instead of judging things I had done to instead observe things I had done. It took a week or so for me to feel the impact of this. The first realization was how many negative feelings I still have around choices that I make. Those feelings cause reactions - denial, shame, disappointment. When doing this practice it trained me to observe what I was doing and wonder what I was doing. That simple change gave the Lord an opportunity to be with me at that moment.

When I made that connection, that caused me to laugh out loud. (I love when praying leads to laughing.) That was because at the beginning of Lent the other prayer that formed was Jesus saying: "Let Me be with you". Look at that connection. I was putting off judging myself, which normally causes me to break off from relating with others and instead put on the practice of letting the Lord be with me.

I deeply smiled in the recognition that this was another moment in a long list of moments that demonstrated how well God knows me and knows what I need. He is capable through His loving Spirit to reveal these things to me. My faith was built up in Him once again!

Dear Lord,

Thank you for inviting your people to reflect and pray in preparation for Easter. You were inviting me to let something that brings me death, die. You were giving me a new desire: to simply observe and in those honest observations turn to you in faith, and trust, and hope. May the roots of this new way go way down deep into my life. May I remember that when I say, "Yes" to you that I come alive! It's a moment of embracing the resurrection, of being brought into a Jesus way of life. Forgive me for all the moments when I wonder if you are up to anything good and transformative in my life. Thank you for reminding me this Lent and Easter that you are alive, present and active in my life. In the lives of all.


You are Risen! A piece of my soul is risen, indeed!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Spiritual Direction

Are you a church staff member, missionary or a lay leader considering Spiritual Direction? Do you find yourself in a place where you have more questions than answers about your relationship with the Lord or vocation? Have you heard of Spiritual Direction but you are unsure if it’s a good fit for you? I'd enjoy connecting with you to answer your questions. If we decide we are a good fit, I’d like to be with you as you explore the activity of God in your life. If we are not a good fit, but you remain interested in Spiritual Direction, I’d be more than happy to connect you with another Director.

I live an hour-and-a-half northwest of Chicago in Milton, WI. I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2008 with a Master of Arts in Theology. I completed the Selah Spiritual Direction Training program in 2013.

I'm also married to David. We have an adult son that now has a lovely bride! I enjoy reading. I love to be outside as much as possible!
I'm available for:
In-person Direction
Phone Direction
Skype Direction
Group Direction
Retreat Leading

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit. From Jeremiah 17

A small group of people, myself included, are reading through Flourish: Live Loved. Live Fearless. Live Free by Margret Feinburg together. It's a one year journey.

This week I re-read week one and stopped when I came to the verses from Jeremiah.  The phrase "whose confidence is in him" leaped off the page. As I continued to read, a beautiful image of of a flourishing tree appeared. I pondered the words and the image, I was stunned. I think God and I have agreed to something, I want to be a flourishing tree and He likes creating those kinds of trees. (A match made in heaven! 😆) It felt marvelous to agree with God!

My confidence in God is filling me with hope, extraordinary hope. The heat will return. When it does, I want my tap roots to be strong and drawing life from the stream of living water.

What do you want in 2017? What longing lives in your soul? What is it that you and God can wholeheartedly agree on together?

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


Back in my California days, I was sitting and chatting with one of our pastors. It was a conversation where we'd moved out of planning something and into talking about what was really going on in us personally as we were following God. Seemingly out of the blue, she asked me, "What does it mean to bless God?" An answer came in a flash, "I guess it's the opposite of cursing God." As I recall, we both did that "Hmm" thing together. It was impactful to recognize the contrast between blessing and cursing. These ideas have remained with me and have shown up randomly again and again.

Here recently, I've observed we live in a world with a huge range in its capacity to curse God. It goes from very aggressive, even violent curses to passive aggressive side-jabs. People who don't believe in God and don't trust God seem to feel lots of freedom to curse Him. Acknowledging that has left me to wonder what redemptive possibilities there are for those that desire to bless God. Oh! What a great after dinner table question!

This past weekend I experienced a new way this could look. My current pastors decided to do a different kind of service on Sunday, January 1st. It had an intro, a three-part movement, and closing. The movements were each guided by a scripture that was read, a short teaching offered and then an invitation was given for all to participate then and there in a related action.

The third movement was centered around blessing. Eleven or so leaders circled the back perimeter of the room and the people seated were invited to approach those leaders and ask for a blessing. Several types of blessings were offered as options. One of the stated hopes was that the people would feel cared for as they received these blessings directly from Scripture. In addition, there was a desire for people to be inspired to bless others around them in their everyday coming and going lives. In the moments that led up to that portion of the service a deep sense of joy and privilege began to well up in me. That only increased as I offered God's words of blessing and hope to those who came to be blessed. As if all of that wasn't enough, I was deeply touched by one returning to me and offering to pray a blessing over me. Beautiful. Hopeful. Kind. Glorious even.

Since Sunday, I have also reflected on the grief I've felt related to how comfortable the wider culture has become with cursing one another. I don't believe we take our attitudes and words towards one another seriously. I don't think we desire to understand or respect their potential consequences. I don't think we realize how much power lies within the intentions of our words. I believe harsh words can corrupt our own souls and place barriers between us and those we speak of or to. It seems the damage created will require love in order for those barriers to be broken back down.

And then there is the Kingdom of God to ponder. We are created and loved by a blessing God. It's one of the first things that God wanted to reveal about Himself. It's one of the first things He asked us to be with one another. It's a part of His essence to commit to blessing all people and with extraordinary abundance those with faith in Him. I've come to believe that we bless God when we thank Him for blessings received. And this week I've come to believe we bless Him when we freely bless others. I think He actually digs it when we turn out to be like Him. Can you see His face lighting up with joy?!

As I bring all these things together, I've become hopeful that blessing God and blessing others can really stand out and give us a "shot in hell", so to speak, of bolts of glorious light breaking through. I want so badly for the source of blessing to be noticed, wondered about and maybe even recognized.

What if Christians had a reputation for being these crazy generous people that go around blessing others all the time? And God wound up with that reputation too. What if?

In light of all these things, may the Lord bless and keep you in 2017. May He make His face to shine right down on ya. May He be gracious to you and grant you His peace. With love, Cheri

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What breaks my heart?

Jesus not being trusted.

God being blamed for things He's not guilty of doing.

The suffering of sweet people around me.

Assumptions that lead to misunderstanding in relationship.


The beautiful creature we call Chloe pup fading away from life.

My resistance to what is good for my soul.

The last 30 plus days I've been taking note of the things that break my heart. I know what you might be thinking. Since I can hear one of my friends in his powerful voice saying, "WHY would you do that?!?!"

The simple answer is because that's what God did. I believe it's one of the reasons Good Friday happened. God's heart literally broke. I believe that part of the promise I made when I agreed to be follower of Jesus is that I would allow my heart to break too. Those things I listed above, they cause me to want things to be different. A broken heart always wants that. I want love to overcome them and write a different ending then I expect. In a way, I want death to lose and the grave to be empty for those things too.

I want Resurrection Sunday. I believe in Resurrection Sunday. I trust in the reality of Resurrection Sunday...broken hearts being made new.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Who's with me?

I'm reading a book about mentoring called Organic Mentoring: A Mentor's Guide to the Next Generation Women. It’s co-written by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann.  One of its main objectives is to help the different generations understand how different they are from one another and instead of resisting that to settle into it. In other writings, I’ve heard this described as the “third way”. I’ve adopted that language. The “third way” is a process of observing and noticing the tensions revealed in two different ways and then looking for a third way or a place of common ground. Ideally both perspectives adapting to the other because of shared values and shared love for one another.

Being in this conversation has made me aware of a few things and I’ll share couple of them. I don’t know of a subtle way to say this, so here it goes. Older women, please stop apologizing for aging. Please stop apologizing for things like knowing songs from many different decades.  Why do we care if we “date ourselves” in a conversation? I’d love for us to collectively reach a place where we see the history of redemption in our stories and get excited about sharing that with others. What if we really believed our journeys are a gift? We have more to draw on than those younger than us.  Selfishly, I’d like to live in a community where the people ahead of me are learning how to grieve the losses that come as we age, but also celebrate the gifts that can be known at no other stage in our lives. At 48, with 50 around the corner and other numbers just past that (Lord willing), I don’t want to live owning my age alone. I want people on the ride with me.

The other thing I want to say is how much I love millennials. Paying attention to what matters to them and why has been a fabulous corrective in my life. I’ve been curious for many years about the pendulum swings that are so evident in human history. Why does that happen? One observation has to do with our strengths eventually becoming a weakness. For instance a strong identity as an individual has it’s benefits. But this identity left us weak in the area of committing to community over our own agendas. We’re blind to our own weaknesses. The next generation isn’t so blind to the weaknesses of the one before it. They have the energy and desire to make changes so the pendulum moves.  Thank God!

If you want to understand yourself and other generations better there’s lots of good information out there. It’s truly fascinating to pay attention to. My prayer is that we will learn from one another. I hope we will pursue loving one another well and that the Spirit of Christ will be our guide and good teacher in the midst of our wonderfully varied stages of life and perspectives.