Cheri Gregory – Be Longing


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Be Longing by Cheri Gregory

I hate her.

As I stare at the boxes of belongings going to the Goodwill, I hate the woman who bought all this stuff in the first place.

My past self.

What were you thinking?!?  I demand.

This, of course, is the heart of the problem.

I wasn’t thinking when I bought all this stuff.

I was longing.

Longing to be.

I felt an endless ache for be-longing.

So I bought easily into the lie: You can buy in order to become!

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Buying to Become

Through the years, I’ve purchased dozens (perhaps hundreds!) of versions of myself.

My boxes of belongings are like the Barbie isle at Toys R Us:

The piles of card stock, drawers of punches, and boxes of photo albums still in shrinkwrap?

Scrapping Cheri.

The mandoline with fifteen attachments, the ice cream cookie sandwich maker, and that 20-year-old stack of brand-new cookbooks?

Cooking Cheri.

Yoga mat, Denise Austin DVDs, and NIB cross-training shoes?

Fit-n-Fabulous Cheri.

You won’t find evidence of Awful Evil Cheri in any of these boxes.

No, the problem is far more subtle.

The problem is that I’ve bought so many versions of myself, I haven’t been able to find my self.

My one self.

The woman God created me to be.

I’ve tried on so many different lives that I’ve failed to live my own.

Trapped by Belongings

I tried to satisfy my be-longings with belongings.

But my excess belongings ended up owning me.

My excess belongings have taken

  • my money.
  • my space.
  • my time.
  • my energy.
  • my peace.

My excess belongings have stolen everything I need to discover who I truly am.

Free to Be

But here’s the good news:

As I surrender excess external belongings, internal transformation is occurring.

I’m noticing two things in particular:

1) I’m admitting who I am not.

I’m not a scrapper or gourmet cook or athlete.

Or any of the other versions of me represented by the stuff in my boxes of belongings.

I didn’t really long to be any of them

My longing went far deeper.

I longed to belong.

2) I’m finding space to be me.

I’m finding where I belong.

And to Whom I belong.

“Quite simply, every piece of clutter I give away gets me closer to the life I’m designed to live. One of peace. One of freedom.” (Pg. 35)

The more clutter you release, the better you can hear God’s call on your heart.

You’ll find that he’s not a cruel circus master, demanding that you live dozens (or hundreds!) of lives.

He’s a loving, rescuing shepherd.

Who will lead you into a spacious place.

Where you belong. With Him.

And where you can live your one life well.

Cheri

 

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

#126 The Restless Moments in your Life — When God Burdens your Soul

ListenNowWhat is born from the restless moments in your life?

Jennie Allen, the author of Restless and Anything and the founder of IF Gathering, believes that God burdens our souls with the people who he wants us to reach. Listen in as she gives you simple tools and ideas to:

• Be faithful where God puts you, regardless of how big, how small or how chaotic your dream is.
• Move in obedience when God gives you a burden in your heart.
• How to help raise up a generation of people that love Jesus with our entire hearts so that we can be unleashed to move in big ways for His kingdom.

Listen as Jennie Allen shares her heart behind the IF Gathering and get some ideas on how you can become part of it. Plus, head to IF: Table to sign up to host your IF: Table.

What is IF: Table? A place to gather women and share a simple meal and dive deep with people over real stories and Christ centered conversations. A time for a whole lot of laughter — and maybe a few tears — but time spent that leaves us with glad hearts. Full hearts. Grateful hearts.

 

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#125 Wanting God More Than Anything Else

ListenNowDo you want God more than anything else?

After a quick trip down memory lane (does anyone else still use Elizabeth Arden Sunflower perfume like Kathi does?), this week’s guest, Lisa Whittle, author of I Want God, shows us how to find spiritual revival in the midst of our crazy, scary lives. She helps us see that a close, deep, deconstructed relationship with God is not only possible, but is actually simple to get. She tells us how:

• We can get over our fear of revival and get started on a journey to go deeper with God in a real way.
• The disconnect between our desire for God to deconstruct us and the fear that he will can stand in the way of our  spiritual growth.
• To allow yourself to fully feel the God hunger within you and then to do something about it.
• Christians can hop off the roller coaster of passion with God for a truly, deep relationship with our God.

Download Lisa’s free 7-day Wanting God devotional to start your own soul revival. Plus, tell us in what area of your life your heart is crying for God most and you will be entered to win a free copy of Lisa’s book I Want God.

Nicaragua with Compassion International

Nicaragua with Compassion International

Compassion2014When my agent asked me if I wanted to speak on behalf of Compassion International two years ago, I was intrigued. I’ve always loved their work, and our church has a project in Nicaragua.

But you know how these things go – we had a couple of conversations, but it never really went anywhere. Yes, we sponsored a child, but I didn’t really have a story that was compelling for audiences about Compassion and the idea of supporting kids.

About six months ago, I hired a new booking agent, Julie. Julie has a huge heart, is super talented, and oh – she used to work for Compassion with their Artist Program (working with speakers and musicians.)

So I told Julie about my desire to work with Compassion – and she set up the call. The call that changed it all…

When we talked with Nate with Compassion, he said yes, we’d love for you to speak on behalf of Compassion. Then he asked, “Do you already have a Compassion child?” When I told him that yes, we sponsored Roger in Nicaragua, Nate suddenly got very quiet. Finally he asked, “What are you doing November third through seventh?”

Ummmm…

That’s when Nate invited me to go to Nicaragua to meet Roger and see the work that Compassion was doing there. Then Nate asked, “Do you want to go?”

And my first thought was “Um – NO!”

I’m not ready.

I need to speak Spanish first.

I need to lose more weight first.

I need to be in better shape.

I need to write more letters to Roger.

I’m not ready.

But good thing I didn’t say that out loud.

What I did say was, “Let me talk to my husband and pray about it.”

In other words, I did the Jesus-y stall tactic.

As much as I feared going. (“What if I held other people back? What if I got sick from bug bites like in Japan and had to be hospitalized again? What if…”) What I realized I feared more was not going.

Not doing what so clearly felt like a divine God-only opportunity.

Not doing what I knew I wanted to do, but feared.

So we said yes.

My Roger (my husband) is also going. We are taking the typhoid meds, we are learning very bad Spanish, and we are shopping for shoes and T-shirts for little Roger, who we get to meet in just over a week.

Fear almost kept me from the God-adventure of a lifetime. But I refuse to let fear have a foothold in my life. Fear is the one thing that will keep me from saying yes to God. I want fear to have no room to get comfortable in my life.

 

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What Happens When There is No Snap

What Happens When There is No Snap

snapI was 33 years old when I came to the very logical conclusion that the only way to stop the hurting was to kill myself.

I was in the depths of a very painful marriage where I never felt like I could do anything right. I was a mess. I knew I wasn’t a good wife, a good mother, or a good friend. All I could see around me were the people I was disappointing. I didn’t just feel helpless. Worse. I felt hopeless.

So I thought about how I would kill myself.

I didn’t want to hang myself – what if one of my kids found me?

Then I remembered that a radio personality I listened to on a regular basis in the Bay Area, Duane Garrett, had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. But I was afraid I would not be able to go through it.

I considered all the possibilities, very rationally, very thoughtfully. As if I were trying to decide between chicken and beef for dinner that night.

I felt sure I would go through with my plan, until I thought about what would happen to my kids. I didn’t think my kids would miss me, but I was concerned that they would be raised without me. So, continuing in what I thought was totally logical thinking, that if we all died, that would solve all of the problems.

And that’s when I felt the snap.

There was something inside my soul that just broke. I remember feeling like I was splitting down the middle of a foggy lane, and I thought to myself, “What the HELL are you thinking? What mother ever thinks of hurting herself, much less her kids.”

That snap got me to run to my therapist, where I admitted for the first time that I thought about killing myself.

The words that were assigned to me were “Situational Depression”. I was given counseling and medication. I was prayed for and I was loved. I went to bible study, and I found hope.

But every time I hear about a suicide, I think about that time some many years ago. What if there was no snap?

What if I’d never ran to get help because I was in such a dark place, I couldn’t imagine that help existed?

I only have two reasons for writing about this:

1. I believe the more people who talk about their own battle with depression, the more we can all talk about it.  I know for so long I felt like I had to wear a mask and keep up appearances because things would be taken away from me if I didn’t. My kids, my job, my friends. I felt like normal people didn’t go through what I was going through, and therefore, I didn’t deserve normal people things. So I kept hiding it until there was no me left.

But, if we can say that this happens to people, real people, and share our stories, we can give someone else the courage to safely share their story, their struggle. When we find out that we’re not a freak – that our struggles are real but not rare, we have a better chance of being able to connect with someone who has gone through the same thing, or who can help us get to a healthy place.

2. Each of us has a story. I wanted to cut my story short, because I couldn’t take the pain and I couldn’t see any good up ahead.

But only God can see around the corners.

I would have missed out on so much: my second husband, who is the love of my life,

my two beautiful kids, who make me laugh every day and bring good things to the world,

my bonus kids, who I can’t imagine my life without.

A job that makes me excited to get out of bed every. single. day.

And a life that God sets before me every day and and says, “I’m crazy about you. Come alongside me. We have great things to accomplish today!”

Your story is not done. God had great adventures for you. Only he can see the ending to your story.

If you’ve been in that dark place, would you do me a favor – could you share below what God had for you on the other side. Someone needs to read about it.

If you are in that dark place? Would you please, please, reach out to a safe person? A friend, a counselor, a doctor. Please. You don’t feel it now, but you are precious. You are irreplaceable. There are things that need to be done that only you can do. God says so.

And I’ve found that he turns out to be right over and over again.

 

When You Feel Like Calling It Quits

When You Feel Like Calling It Quits

Calling it quits

Friends, it’s Kathi here- I’m sure most of you know my sweet friend Renee Swope from Proverbs 31 or her wonderful radio spots heard absolutely everywhere. (Sometimes I’m sitting in the passenger seat swearing to Roger that I’m hearing voices – it’s just Renee talking to me through the radio.) Make sure you read down to the end of the post where Renee has several ways for you to win some of her latest resources.)

It had been a hard day, running too many errands with two small children. My three-year-old didn’t understand why we couldn’t buy every toy his tiny hands could touch. And he kept getting in and out of the grocery cart, and whining when I tried to stop him.

I was not a happy mama and wondered how all the other moms in the store seemed to know what they were doing.

Their children listened when they told them no and they wore matching outfits, too. I wondered how in the world those women pulled it off with a smile. I could barely get a shower, get my kids dressed and get us out the door before lunch.

When we got home that afternoon, I went looking for pink construction paper so I could write “I QUIT” on it and turn in my “pink slip” to my husband J.J. when he came home from work. I was tired of feeling like such a failure as a mom.

I couldn’t find pink construction paper, so I decided to pull out my journal.  Filling blank pages with scribbled thoughts, I wrote:

I hate who I have become. I’m such a horrible mom. Why didn’t someone tell me how hard this was going to be? I’m frustrated with my kids and myself. I have no patience and I don’t know what I am doing! I feel guilty all the time. I couldn’t wait to be a mom and now I want to quit.”

Just as I finished writing that sentence, I sensed God whispering to my heart: Renee, You are so critical of yourself. You focus on your mistakes and beat yourself up with accusation and condemnation. Those are not My thoughts …”

It felt like a dam broke in my soul as I choked out the words, “God, I can’t do this. It’s just too much for me”

And in that place of surrender, Peace came over me. His gentleness calmed my nerves. It felt like God bent down before me to listen, and spoke to my heart: You are right, Renee. In your strength and through your perspective, you can’t do this. But with My promises, My presence and My power – all things are possible. I will help you.

Looking back on that day, my heart can’t help but echo the words of the Psalmist: Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”  Psalm 116:2 NLT

When we acknowledge that we are a mess on our own, God rushes to our side to help us. He bends down to show us that with His help, wisdom and guidance, we can become the confident praying mama we long to be, and the confident mom HE created us to be!

When I say… I can’t do this, God says… You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Keep praying and depending on Me for help.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

 

Today’s post from Renee Swope is a partial excerpt from her new A Confident Heart Devotional book. Used with permission from Revell Books.FamilyPhoto_Nov2012-300x227Renee and JJ Swope have been married for over 20 years. They have three children: Joshua (19), Andrew (16) and their sweet Ethiopian princess who they brought home in 2009, at the age of 10 months. Renee is also a best-selling author, speaker and radio co-host with Proverbs 31 Ministries. The Swope family lives in North Carolina and she blogs at www.ReneeSwope.com.ACH Devo standing up

About Renee’s NEW Confident Heart Devotional:Does self-doubt ever make you question your ability to be a good mom? Expanding on her best-selling book, A Confident Heart, Renee Swope has written a new 60-day devotional that will encourage, empower and equip you to live confidently in your God-given roles, relationships, and responsibilities! Each devotion also features a “When I Say…God Says…” statement with a Bible promise and a prayer to guide your thoughts and emotions that day. Plus you’ll LOVE an easy-reference chart that includes all sixty ”When I Say…God Says…” statements for days when you just need a promise to hold onto!

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ENTER TO WIN 2 copies of Renee’s A Confident Heart Devotional book. Leave a comment below and let us know what friend you’d give it to and why, if you won 2 copies.  Contest ends on February 20, 2014. CLICK HERE to find out how you can WIN a $50 gift card, 2 additional signed copies of Renee’s A Confident Heart Devotional book, and more!