Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Read My Story

My story involves 6 miscarried babies (with a set of twins I went into early labor with to bury), 4 failed adoptions, 3 sibling deaths, abuse, infertility, and loads of trauma. Jesus took it all and made the things that should bring death usher in healing. My dear friend Emily took my story and placed it in the pages of her book. If you are struggling today, you’re not alone. Raising children is hard. Not having children to raise is hard. Losing children is hard. I want you to know that you are not alone. No matter how much the enemy of our souls wants us to feel isolated, God has given us community. The beautiful thing about suffering in the hand of Christ is that it makes us vulnerable in the places we have built walls. We can all take a collective, soulful breath and know we reside in a kingdom community that awaits our honest pain. You can read my story and others in Trying. 
Now available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3xXGV6S

Saturday, August 08, 2020

We Carry Kevan by Kevan Chandler



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I might just love Kevan now. I did not have a single clue what this was about besides these guys carrying a man in a backpack across Europe. Upon opening the book, I saw that the forward was written by one of my favorite authors, Andrew Peterson. He had carried Kevan around the Warren and become a mentor to him. The more I read, the more I loved this adventure and these men. The sacrifice it must have taken to carry someone for 3 weeks through huge crowds and up steep cliffs. It’s beautiful. I found out that Kevan loves Jesus and had been studying the servant’s heart in John during this journey. What a powerful picture of that idea literally carrying someone is. There are amazing details about places he traveled in the book. One of my favorites was when he traveled to the Peter Pan statue and told the stories of how green parakeets escaped from a pet store 30 years ago. Those birds turned into a flock of hundreds and have chosen to take up residence at the Peter Pan statue. J.M. Barrie gave large sums of money to the local children’s hospital there and in 1927 he signed over the rights to Peter Pan to them. There are plaques there thanking him for the gift of Peter Pan not only because of the huge amount of funding, but because of the gift the character is to a sick child’s imagination. It had been a gift to Kevan’s. He also went down Baker St. (Sherlock Holmes), danced through Paris, and climbed the steep steps of Skellig Michael in Ireland (a bit of Star Wars was filmed there). It was an amazing adventure. Kevan has gone on to start a non-profit, team up with Stephen Curtis Chapman at Show Hope, and walk on the Great Wall of China. In September, he’s getting married. **There is also a documentary on Prime. It’s a bit like a home movie of their journey. It doesn’t explain where they are or what they are doing exactly. You’ll need to read the book for that. I loved it. (These are some of my girls that carry me. I’m waiting for a piggy back ride) #672 #wecarrykevan Thanks for the book recomendation, Angie. #book #bookstagram #peterpan #thebookisalwaysbetter #jmbarrie

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Monday, August 03, 2020

The Story Garden: Playhouse Remodel


One of my mom goals has been to create spaces that spark the imagination for my children. I used to only read theology books, but I came across a quote years ago that opened up my thinking. I can't tell it to you verbatim or who said it. The gist of it is that imagination is what helps us conceive of heaven and all of the wonders of God. Without it, we make God dull and formulaic. Peter Pan shows us how rare adults with wonder are. My hope is that my kids hold tightly to imagination and carry it with them into adulthood. 

We started a story garden this year. It is full of fruit, vegetables, butterfly bushes, hummingbird feeders, and spots to sit a read or draw or dream. There is a swing in every tree. My prayer is that they read widely, develop great empathy, and love the God who created so much wild beauty that we will never be able to comprehend.

We had this old playhouse that no one used in the back of the yard so I decided to use it as a passthrough to our trampoline that is in the ground. It started coming together in my mind as a whole little beach area. I named it after my aunt who was a spunky, fun lady. There's also a little homage to my 80's roots in the address.
Donna's Cottage 
A1A Beach Front Avenue

How To: 

I placed pavers and sand in the desired location and placed a painted piece of plywood down for the base. I painted a doormat on with the house paint.

We hand painted the house with Rustoleum
I spray painted the insides of the house with Rustoleum 2X.
The door has to be primed because it is a different ptype of plastic than the rest of the house. I used Rustoleum Primer and Rustoleum 2X in Seaside.

Door Knob: Hobby Lobby

Bell: https://amzn.to/33kzcCP

Instead of a flag I made a fairy wand out of a dowel rod and ribbons that they can take out and play with. Items from Hobby Lobby.

I added a palm tree from my mom, flowers from Lowe's, and shells from our vacations. 

My girls could hardly wait for the paint to dry. 










Thanks for following along on our adventure to restore a 100 year old mansion and feed the homeless at The Boho Table. 
Perhaps I painted the tiny house to spur my soul on to painting this whole house.



Friday, July 17, 2020

The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Crushing Depths is a murder mystery set in the deep blue sea. It was a compelling story about a Coast Guard Investigation into a death on an oil rig. Many sub plots developed and more crimes needed to be solved. A helicopter crash into the ocean at night started this book off and kept me from sleeping. There was a lot of drama from the oil company and protestors. It was high energy. I enjoyed the story.

I am not much of a romance reader, but I just overlooked all of the hand brushing and buff bod talk and stuck to the story. The Christian references seemed a bit awkward, but I went with that too. All in all it was an entertaining read.

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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Stand All the Way Up by Sophie Hudson



Stand All the Way Up: Stories of Staying In It When You Want to Burn It All DownStand All the Way Up: Stories of Staying In It When You Want to Burn It All Down by Sophie Hudson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sophie has a calm, direct way of speaking that is nurturing to me. She tells stories that are lessons, but you would never know it. I read her book shortly after my brother died and the portion on her grief and losing her mama got me. Her humor always lifts my soul. The comical lens she shares her common stories through help me see the humor in my own life. Read it. I wanted to applaud her humility and grief over racism in Alabama and frustration with church. I feel like she wrote a book to us today over a year ago. Kudos, Southern Diva. You make us all proud.


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Monday, July 06, 2020

Prayer of Agur by Jay Payleitner

I read a book. I realize I have shocked you all. This particular book landed in my lap at an opportune time and seemed to fall right in line with every other book God has been using to talk me through grief lately. It fell right in line with the last 5 books I have read over the past month. This is not a shout out type of book review. This is how I saw the Lord speaking to me through another man's words during a time of pain.

I do not want to sound like a broken record, but I have lost 18 people in my family is the last 17 years. My remaining brother passed away recently just weeks after my husband's brother passed away suddenly. Grief from all of the compound loss made me feel like I had been run over by a truck. Compound that with all of the things that have gone viral in our nation of late and I was needy to hear from God. The first three lines of Proverbs 30 made me need to catch my breath.

I am weary, God,

I kept repeating it in my head before I moved on to the next portion. We moved into the only prayer in the book of Proverbs. That astounded me. Proverbs 30 is  also the only mention of God having a Son in the book. I sat there and thanked God (and Jay) in my head for showing me Christ in this book. When You are shown Christ anywhere, it can help you see him everywhere. I wanted to see him everywhere desperately. Even though I have written out the book of Proverbs, I have been truly beginning to see the beauty of the book after. The true Wise Man of Proverbs is a healer when we look to him. I am thankful to see him illuminated so clearly here. I see you, Jesus. You're beautiful.

We follow the rest of the Proverb seeing God's attributes on display. There is something centering about meditating on God. We will never wrap our minds around him, but what a joy it is to try.

I appreciated Agur's prayer to balance on God's provision and seek no extreme in poverty or riches. It's something we could desperately use in our current cultural climate.

Agur's prayer for neither riches not poverty is still resonating in my head each day. He asked for only what he needed each day. He didn't want too much so that he thought he had no need of God or too little that he might steal and dishonor God's name. I wondered if I could truly do the same.

Thank you for writing this book, Jay. It has spoken deeply to and challenged me.

My dear friend Robert has Jay on his podcast today. You can find that here: https://bit.ly/PrayerofAgur






This is book 665 in my journey to read 700 books by the end of the year (in a total of 12 years). https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/70094937-steph-cherry

Thanks for following along with our mission to the homeless and the restoration of our mission mansion at The Boho Table.

This book was generously provided by Jay Payleitner and Multnomah for review.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Reading, Restoration, and Grief


There are stages of grief. I think I may be in them all simultaneously. Denbigh pointed out that we have lost 18 people in our family in 17 years of marriage. That seems unfathomable and could account for why I feel like I have been run over by a truck. It's been a hard road. Sometimes grief is a deep loss of a person. Sometimes it is the aftershocks of the mess a person caused with what they left behind. Sometimes we grieve the relationship that was never fully realized in life because of alcohol or drugs or mental illness. Sometimes we mourn the life we could have had without abuse. It's been a mixed bag of the torturous and the beautiful for me personally. I found myself 20 feet in the air asking God a simple question after my third brother passed away recently. What are we going to do with it all? Where are we going from right here?

Over a decade ago, I was reading Ron Hall's book The Same Kind of Different as Me. Ron had a gallery close to my grandparents in Ft. Worth. When my stepmom read his book, she was blown away by his transformation. During the reading of that book, I knew that my brother was going to die from that same thing that Ron's wife died from in the book. It's a fascinating read about a Ron's wife having a dream about a homeless man and their taking him in. God has used that story to help me have direction for my healing grief.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Ron had a new book out. Walking Our Way Home. It was about the 10 years of his and Denver's, the homeless man, friendship since his wife's death. I downloaded it on Chirp so that I could listen to it while I was scraping and painting. Then my brother Bart died. I am honestly still in shock. I am sad for my family and wondering how I am the last child left of both of my parents. Grief. I was surprised to hear that the book I was listening to was equally about navigating grief after his wife died. It helped me tremendously.

I started reading Sophie Hudson's new book Stand All the Way Up. I just love her. Her down to earth writing and depth of heart always make me feel at home. The thing that surprised me was the chapter on grief at losing her mama. I knew that this was for me right then. The rest of the book is funny and prophetic and wise. It was exactly what I needed right in that moment. As a side note, she even tackled racism and the church in a powerful way.

David Kessler, protege of Elizabeth Kubler Ross who wrote Five Stages of Grief, wrote a new book from some of their research entitled Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. This book is rich with hope and I cannot recommend it enough. We all go through the stages of grief in different areas of our life. This book helps us see what we can do with our pain. We can transform pain daily into more life. It's a choice we have to see our worst moments as seeds for some of our best. We can pray for post traumatic growth. We can get the help we need.

Reading through Dream Big by Bob Goff was a continuation of Finding Meaning for me. Bob has written a book about getting past all of our internal and external hurdles. It has helped me to continue forward motion through the long reaching effects of abuse as a child. It's giving me new words for myself. I have found meaning in loving the homeless and starting a non-profit for them, but the continual unraveling of God's work in me to give more is unending. I am thankful for the boost.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever finish this house, but I am always thankful for the picture that it offers me. Healing comes and washes over us. I have heard it said that angels talk to a man that is walking. I think Jesus talks to a girl that is restoring.

Other posts that might help you in grief:
Grief is a Gift
Trying: Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope










Tuesday, June 02, 2020

The Neglected C.S. Lewis by Mark Neal & Jerry Root

The Neglected C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Riches of His Most Overlooked BooksThe Neglected C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Riches of His Most Overlooked Books by Mark Neal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that you read and feel like you have a mountain of homework in order to understand everything in it. Outside of Lewis' fiction and apologetic work, he has mounds of works that are largely overlooked. He is a man full of thoughtful opinions about the works of others. I have found some new books by other authors to read that he wrote about.

The thing that has stuck with me from this book is how important reading widely is. Reading takes us into the thought and hearts of others and gives a clear-eyed view into the plight of another. Given our current rioting, I can see how important it is to figuratively peer into the window of another man's house. We can see things and move on the behalf of others because we have developed a sense of care.

"Reading at the level Lewis advocates is a yearning for connection and clarity, to imagine oneself living many lives, seeing through many eyes the many ways the world can be apprehended. It is a way to engage in beneficial iconoclasm, in breaking down those barriers of blindness that keep our hearts and minds fettered. This kind of reading helps us to come awake from the lethargy of self- delusion. G. K. Chesterton noted that “If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe. If you look at it for the 1000th time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time.”256 This is what the eyes of others can give us, where we finally see beyond ourselves, the windows are opened, the light streams in, and our view of the world clarifies and expands."

This also struck me and left me wondering how we get back to beauty and significance.
"The medievals saw the universe packed with beauty and significance. Our modern sensibility tends to see the universe in terms of fear: as an infinite, empty void."

Synopsis: Readers who can quote word for word from C.S. Lewis’s theological classic, Mere Christianity, or his science fiction novel, Perelandra, have often never read his work as a professional literary historian. They may not even recognize some of the neglected works discussed, here. Mark Neal and Jerry Root have done students of Lewis a great service, tracing the signature ideas in Lewis’s works of literary criticism and showing their relevance to Lewis’s more familiar books. Their thorough research and lucid prose will be welcome to all who would like to understand Lewis more fully, but who feel daunted by books of such evident scholarly erudition.

For example, when you read The Discarded Image on the ancients’ view of the heavens, you understand better why Ransom has such unpleasant sensations when first descending toward Malacandra in Out of the Silent Planet. And when you come across Lewis’s discussion in OHEL of a minor sixteenth-century poet who described the hellish River Styx as a “puddle glum,” you can’t help but chuckle at the name when you meet the famous Marshwiggle in The Silver Chair. These are just two examples of how reading the “Neglected Lewis” can help every reader understand Lewis more fully.

The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis is another great book by this duo.


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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The German Heiress


The German HeiressThe German Heiress by Anika Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting and different view of WW2 from the vantage point of the German business owners and citizens who were threatened to comply with Hitler’s army.

I had a bit of trouble getting going with this story. I’m not sure if I didn’t like what was happening or if the beginning didn’t flow to me. After I paced my way through those initial pages, the story ramped into high gear. I don’t want to issue any spoilers, but I was overwhelmed to see how the war had such an effect on everyone around. It was incredibly easy for people to be killed simply because someone said they were involved in a crime against the Reich. Businesses were forced to comply and use forced labor. After the war, people were left to live in bombed out houses and were in fear of the people who came to rescue them from the Nazi regime.

I read that this debut novel was meticulously researched. I couldn’t find what our author researched. I do not know if it is based on actual events or simply things that might or could have happened during this time. The writing is engaging and the story keeps you locked in. It’s definitely one that is hard to put down.


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Read My Story

My story involves 6 miscarried babies (with a set of twins I went into early labor with to bury), 4 failed adoptions, 3 sibling deaths, abus...