Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A point to ponder

I read this tonight on one of my friend's Facebook pages. I'd be interested in YOUR feedback:

"..the gospel (that i am so lost that no less than the Son of God, creator/sustainer of the universe, HAD to die to rescue me..yet i am so loved that no less than the Son of God CHOSE to die for me so that He could bring me into what C.S. Lewis would call the 'cosmic dance of love') OUGHT TO create the most 'INCLUSIVE' exclusivity that exists."

-- Mark Hubbard

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That wretched bar of soap

Ever played in the tub with your kid -- squeezing the slippery soap so tight that it pops out of your hand?

I do that with life sometimes. In fact, more often than I care to admit. I squeeze so tightly the things that I want that, sometimes, they slip out of my hand. Then, I go splashing around in the water of life looking for that slippery soap only to have it elude me once more.

Corrie Ten Boom identified it another way. She said, "I've learned to hold everything loosely, because it hurts too much when God pries my fingers apart and takes them from me." Ahhhhh. Yep. I've been there, too. When I hear that quote, I imagine my fingers being superglued to the things I want -- and the skin-ripping pain of having to relinquish what's "mine".

Don Uth, pastor at First Baptist Church of Orlando, said this past week, "We weren't made for this world -- hold life loosely." So true.

Ever tried it? Ever really tried to hold everything -- your thoughts, actions, hopes and dreams -- loosely? What about your coworkers, friends, family, kids, parents, bosses, teachers? Not carelessly. Loosely. Loosely so that God can reorganize, reshape, rework them for His purposes. Just as an empty vessel cradling precious gifts but not clinging to them.

Ever tried to hold multiple ideas from multiple people loosely? Can opposing ideas and thoughts really coexist? Can different personalities and ideologies become one?

Are we truly capable of allowing a fellow human -- moreover a fellow Christian or Christian leader -- to progress on THEIR journey and not on ours? Can we give them the grace to fall? Can we help them up without expectation of where their journeys may lead?

What about your best friend? What about your spouse? Can you allow him or her to be who God created him/her to be without expecting YOUR purposes to be fulfilled?

This is where my heart is these days. Trying to hold all of God's gifts loosely without anticipating how the pieces fit my purposes. Frankly, it's messy. I want to fix it. I want to create an answer that satisfies me. And yet I know that His timing, His purposes and His plans are far greater than my own.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Shack

So, I finally read The Shack. Apparently, there's some controversy about the book. But, if you've read it. I'd be interested in your feedback. (And, not how badly written the book is -- that goes with out saying -- I'm going for concepts here . . .)

How did you the author's picture of the Trinity compare with your theological understanding?
What did you think about the author's comments on the church?
What was your response when the main character opened the door to the shack?
How do you feel about the author's explanation of Christ as fully God and fully man?

There's no wrong answers here. I've just heard about the controversy -- and I'd like to understand it . . .

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I was visiting my friends Mark and Charlotte today. Charlotte is three and she loves to see her name written on the whiteboard in the kitchen (or anywhere for that matter). And, Charlotte said to her daddy, "will you write my name, PLEASE?" So, he did. Charlotte. Rose. Novak. Then, with even more enthusiasm, "Write your name, Daddy!" And, then, "Okay! Now Cheri's" (prounounced 'cherry' in Charlotte speak). "Okay, now Mommy's."

"There," she said. "That's my family."

My heart broke. I love that little girl. And, Mark. And, the family they have allowed me to be a part of.

Mark is the best friend God could have EVER placed in my life to walk me through this divorce. Really. I can't imagine anyone better. A major reason why I am not a bitter, angry divorced woman is because of Mark. The whole story is quite remarkable -- as only God could fashion it.

Mark went through a divorce almost simultaneous with mine. He and Charlotte -- in their own grief -- opened their home and their hearts to me and allowed me to be a part of their family on a regular basis.

It was Mark who led the way in making sure that the right boundary lines were held to protect tender hearts. And, yet, never seemed to close his own. I have learned so much from them about keeping my heart open. About being honest. About letting go. About courage. And, about what God intended for love to look like. For a guy who grew up without much family of his own, I have never felt more at home.

I wish everyone could know Mark Novak. He's remarkable. And, God is so especially fond of him. My heart grieves that I can't pack him and Char in my suitcase and take them with me. But, they will forever be in my heart and part of my family.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winds of Change

Well, it's official. I am moving to the land of cowboys, aligators, fresh citrus -- and the Rat.


The mixed emotions continue. I am excited about the opportunities. I am thankful to be supported by my mom and dad. I am frightened to take this next step. I know that it is the right decision. Yet, I'm so sad to leave some of my dearest friends. In fact, in some ways I am scared to leave them, because while I don't have the vast network of friends I am accustomed to building, the relationships are deep -- and have only deepened with the tragedy of the divorce. They have seen the uglies.

I officially quit my job today. I have a part-time job to keep me busy while I pack up. I am heading south around the middle of March. And, I hope to lose about 15 pounds in the process. The exact next step is in the works, but not official, so I will hold off on the details.

In the meantime, I'm happy not to be making 100 phone calls a day. And, I am thankful for God's financial protection and provision.

I will appreciate your continued prayers for the transition and healing process. As always, I am very blessed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mixed emotions

Politics aside, I am enormously proud that this country could demonstrate how democracy can work with a peaceful exchange of power. I'm not naiive enough to think that there may have been "acting as if" moments on everyone's part. But, the fact that two diametrically opposed viewpoints and opinions could work together to pull off a well orchestrated inauguration day is powerful.

I am proud to be an American.

I am proud that this country has put an end to racial glass ceilings. I was moved by Jim Brown's interview on Fox News when he said, "there are no more excuses." I pray that those individuals (from both sides) who's words and actions may attempt to perpetuate racial divide will be silenced.

I was not proud of those who chose to boo the man -- and, thus, the office -- that has kept them safe for 8 years. But, the fact that we live in a country where dissenters can voice their opinion without retaliation gives me pause.

I am grateful for the military men and women who cheered the incoming President while voicing their heartfelt thanks for their former Commander in Chief.

I was impressed by Rick Warren's prayer which was inclusive but pointedly Christ-centered.

I am concerned about the future of issues like abortion, socialism, Palestinian-Israeli relations and an unbridled Senate. I keep hoping that Obama will lean to the center, but his first day does not give evidence of that.

In the midst of all of this is opportunity. Opportunity to grow in our faith. Opportunity for us to engage in the political system. Opportunity to articulate what we believe and become participants in the democratic process.

A painful 4 years seems inevitable, yet I have the audacity to hope that through the pain this country will wake up from a deep sleep and its people will reclaim responsibility for themselves.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hmmmmmmmm . . .

Have you ever Googled your name? I'm sure you have. I'm sure I have done the same for myself before. But, I don't remember googling my name and having so many weird Cheri Armstrongs out there. And, they write. But, not well. Not exactly Cheri Armstrongs I want to get confused with. But, then, if they could google this blog, then maybe they would feel the same about me.

I'm cleaning out my closets, again. I am so ready to be done with this phase!!! I seriously think it's about 300 bags of donated or tossed items. And, I still have a ways to go -- meaning, I'm about half done. How is that even possible? I guess, donating most of my TOO BIG CLOTHES in my closet, isn't such a bad thing! :) But, that accounts for 3 bags. In the last 18 months, there have been 297 bags of too much crap!

I'm sure there is a personal life parallel in there. In fact, I know there is. Just not something I feel like getting into. (The decluttering that never seems to be completed -- piling on more junk before I get my life cleaned out -- etc) But, that's not for tonight. Tonight is just random thoughts.

Lucky you. Reading weird random thoughts.

Here's a quote that I love. Comes from the most foul, off-color human being I've run into awhile, but that makes his comment even more poignant.

He says, "What motivates most people -- beyond money, beyond fear, beyond success -- is redemption."

Maybe God knew what he was doing.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lessons I'm still learning.

I found this today. It was a journal entry I wrote my senior year at Taylor (circa 1994). I share this with you, because it is eerily true today. There are some lessons that we just have to keep getting better at -- and maybe never really fully grasp. Please read it with the understanding that I wasn't then -- or now -- depressed.

I was just pouring my heart out to the Lord telling him the details about my messy apartment -- and comparing it to how imperfect I am. (That hasn't changed, either!) And, I write, ". . . . Lord, You know I'm not perfect. You can see my entire life. Why am I so quick to point out to you my faults when you have already forgotten them? Why am I so quick to point out to you my desires and wants when you have already satisfied my needs? Lord, Jesus, sometimes I don't feel satisfied. Sometimes, I feel very empty and I know that I need you -- but I don't feel You or accept Your gifts to me. To be very honest, I'm having a hard time accepting Your will. I'm having a hard time giving my heart up to You. I'm scared of vulnerability."

Well, that sums it up, doesn't it? Sometimes, giving it all up is difficult, if not seemingly impossible. I just want to control that one part -- you know the one. The one that seems so hard to hand over to a perfect, all loving Father who only wants the best and has the power, foresight and compassion to give the best. Yep. That one. That's the one I want to store away and hold on to and control as I see fit -- at least until I mess it up so royally that I would prefer if God would just take over again -- and fix my mistakes.

I'm still that silly girl -- a little wiser perhaps -- but the resemblance is uncanny.

Thursday, January 1, 2009