Saturday, November 19, 2011


Crunch, crunch, crunch.

That is what is sounds like outside my house this fall. The acorns are truly raining down out of our oak trees.

The other day I saw a huge flock of black birds land in our biggest oak tree out front. They did a group snatch and grab. At first I was confused and then realized they were taking acorns. Within seconds they all flew away again. I was like, "No come back, please take all you want."

I have been pondering these acorns for weeks now. We are in a drought. In the same year we have the least water we have the most acorns. Hmm.

Yesterday while blowing off the front walk of leaves and acorns, a new insight about these prolific little buggers dropped into my head. When we are stressed and depleted there is this massive seed production going on in our lives. I stopped what I was doing and stood in awe of this thought.

You see, part of what I do is walk alongside people in the some of the hardest days they face on earth. Or, I walk with them while they sort out the meaning of the hardest days they have known on earth. That is a challenging call at times. I need all the help God will give me to keep allowing myself to be in those places with people. We all need to see purpose in the hard and painful days.

This is a beautiful visual of why we patiently endure hard days and our questions around past hard days. Those dry and difficult seasons in our lives produce seeds. All kinds of different seeds. When the season is over we have a rich storage bin of seeds. We have gobs and gobs of seeds. The dryer the season the larger the seed production.

In surprising ways and with people we never knew we'd meet we receive the invitation from God to plant those seeds... to give them away... to offer life to another person. God waters it, feeds it and causes it to grow. And, we have the privilege of seeing purpose and life come out of our past pain.

This is another challenging invitation to trust God. God knows exactly what seeds He is developing. He knows where and with whom He wants to spread them later. If we trust that He is working for His glory and our good and for the good of others then we will more patiently endure. If we do not we will be controlled by our fears. We will be prone to despair. We will wander until we do trust. Or, we will determine to ignore God and go about rescuing ourselves.

This morning before writing this post, I came across this poem:

Be still, my soul! The Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul! Thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Poem by Katharina von Sclegal

Dear Lord,

Thank you. This visual of piles and piles of acorn seeds is very helpful to me. To know and believe you have good purposes in all seasons is hopeful to me. For my friends who are hurting and enduring a dry and hard season please show them how to rest in you... to trust in you... to believe in you.

For my friends who are not in that season right now but have bags of seeds to spread around. Guide them to people and places to spread those seeds. May they follow with a listening and responsive heart to the needs of others. May You get all the credit for any life realized in the process.

May we all know how to worship you regardless of what season we find ourselves in.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Cease Striving

I received one of the most unexpected and therefore delightful gifts ever this past weekend.

God has been trying to show me something for some time now. Inviting me to a very big paradigm shift. It's such a big shift that I can honestly say that I see threads of it going back for more than nine years.

I have been very resistant for several reasons. I am the first born child of my family with all the typical leanings of a first born. It is a part of my personality to strive. Second, I live in the most productive and striving culture on the face of the planet. And lastly, I have lived in a church culture that teaches very little about our need for rest. That's a whole lot to overcome.

My awareness of all these things has been growing for almost a decade. In God's grace I have been able to see and understand more and more about words like, "Apart from me (Jesus) you can do nothing." When I look back at the beginning of this journey and think about how absolutely confusing those words were to me, it brings me joy that there is more clarity than confusion at this point. This has truly been a point of life changing or life transforming work in my life.

So what happened this weekend, you ask?

I'll get to that in just a minute but need to explain a couple of lead in events first.

My Grandmother True was passionate about genealogy. You should have seen her basement. The correspondence and research she did was in volumes and with great passion. That was back in the 70's and 80's. So one night in the summer of 2010, I was bored and got on the internet to see if any of her research had made it on to the world wide web. Before I knew it almost two days had been eaten up with following lineage trails back on both my Grandmother True's line and and my Grandfather True's line. I can trace my lineage back to Amsterdam and England.

One of the lines that goes back to England is the Otis line. John Otis arrived to the New World with Rev Peter Hobart and other families in 1635. Each of the families received a land grant near Boston, Massachusetts. I had discovered over a year ago, that it was possible to see that land, as the street name has remained the same since that time. It is called Otis Hill Road. As a part of my internet investigation I pulled up Google maps and thought that it would be very cool to find that hill one day.

So fast forward to June of 2011 and I find out that I have been accepted to a training program that takes place at retreat center locations around the Boston area. So prior to first training weekend in August, I thought I'd like to extend my stay after one of the training sessions to find some of the historical locations that relate to my family story. I thought the best time to do that would be when I go back in June of 2012. I also thought this just because a group of rent a car together each time and I am not usually one of the drivers listed on the rental.

The first night Rebecca and I get into a conversation and I mention that I'd love to find Otis Hill at some point but don't plan to do anything about it on this particular trip.

Well Sunday morning I hear someone running up the stairs at full speed. We're supposed to be in silence until after breakfast when we begin our worship service with prayer. I hear someone knocking on each room door in the hallway. Eventually there is a knock at my door. I say come in. Rebecca opens the door and says very excitedly, "Cheri, you have to come right now. I have to take you to Otis Hill Road. I found it will getting my cup of Starbucks coffee." It was the most delightful unexpected gift. My heart started to pound a bit. We drove for only five minutes or so and there we were.

It was a bit surreal. Eleven generations ago, a family led by John and Margaret Otis left Barnstable, England with a group of Puritans and started their new lives in the New World. They are a part of my story. It was beautiful piece of property that is on Walton Cove, in Hingham Bay which borders Boston Harbor.

So why the title cease striving? Well, I've been learning how to do that. Learning to let the Lord bless me with unexpected gifts. He is very creative in how He demonstrates His love for each of us. In my case the timing of it all boggles my mind. Even though I had the information I did not feel compelled to make the discovery of this amazing place happen. That is new for me. In the past something that I longed for would have made me anxious until I got it accomplished. One thing led to another over 15 months or more and there I stood. I hope I never forget just how lovely that felt. It was a treat to see how much Rebecca enjoyed participating in the gift! She wasn't missing that all this was some kind of God thing happening! She kept saying things like I can't believe I remembered your families name. I can't believe I saw the little sign. Very fun!

I'm getting less and less interested in making anything happen in my own strength. Which is a very good thing since it is a complete waste of time!

Here's a few pics...