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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children

You might find it strange that I would have picked this book up because I do not have any adult children. I decided to read it for two reasons. 

1. What people say is true. It goes so fast. My kids will be adults in the blink of an eye. Why not go ahead and prepare my heart and head to help them fly on their own and support them as best as I can?

2. Sometimes aging parents can feel like adult children and I need all of the prayer help I can get to support them to the best of my ability.

I am truly glad that I picked the book up. It handles a wide range of topics such as blessing & releasing, prayer for spouse, through divorce, a job, health & mental health, prodigal children, and addiction. 

It is a rich encouragement reminding me to daily take my cares for those I love straight to Jesus. I wish I could buy a copy for all of my friends with adult children. Buy it. You'll be blessed. So will your kids.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids: Devotionals

I wanted to share some devotionals and a Bible that my girls have been enjoying. My almost 11 year old is loving the Brave Beauty dev. She spends time with it every night before she goes to bed. It takes courage to do beautiful things, to come out of darkness as well as helping others out of darkness. Inside you'll find prayers, quizzes, and calls to courage. It is a well-designed book for preteens and teens. It's part of the Faith Girlz collection written by Lynn Cowell, part of the Proverbs 32 Ministries team. You can buy it here:

Adored 365 is great devotional for teen girls. The layout is beautiful. After each short reading, there is a space to pray or write thoughts. As I read through it, I loved how the author, Lindsay A. Franklin, kept the focus of the reader on the attributes of God. She continually invites the reader back to trust in God. It's a great way to start the day for young women. 


This isn't something I would usually be interested in, but I have a girl who loves Star Wars. I thought it might be cheesy or skewed in some way, but I am actually impressed. The sections have areas highlighting where the wisdom is in the book. One page had a section asking "Why Did Jesus Have To Die?" It goes on to clearly present the gospel. Other than that, it's just God's word. It would make a good gift for any Star Wars fan and could be a good way to start a conversation of faith.

These books were graciously provided for review by Zondervan Publishers.


May your Christmas be full of the beauty of Christ!

If you are interested in sending me to Haiti, I thank you kindly.
https://www.gofundme.com/stephs-haiti-trip

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I loved Nourished by Lia Huber

This book drew me in right from the get go. Fresh ingredients showing love at an open table. I'm in. The great part is that we get to follow Lia around to all of the tables she held on her many adventures. Look at that book cover. Don't you want to sit right in the middle of that table and eat?

She had me right off the bat describing eating homemade food in Greece. I followed her through her journey to finding love and losing her uterus to wondering what God had in store for her family. I don't want to issue any spoiler alerts so you'll have to read the book to find out what happens. I do want to share this that stuck me.
He very much intended me to bear things of beauty and worth.

There's more to love, people. One thing is how she spoke about the food industry. Much of her early writing and attending food conferences included people who attempted to make food and elitist thing. Knowing how to do or cook something somehow made these critics feel superior. I can understand. I have been lectured on coconut oil and essential oil and everything under the sun. Lia made a beautiful point by saying that good food and rich tradition is meant to be a point of connection rather than a point of contention. I agree. Come to the table.




Lastly, I was reading this book after leaving a homeless center in downtown Austin and came across this great section. It goes with what Jimmy Dorrell, founder of Church Under the Bridge, says about compassion not being about bending low from a place of superiority. It's about sitting among the broken. 
Y'all. Read it. It will make you want to eat good food and love people better. Amen.
This book was graciously given by Convergent Books Publishing for review.
Somebody come cook with me. love, Steph

Monday, November 13, 2017

Stones of Remembrance by Daniel G. Amen

I originally found interest in this book because all year long I keep hearing and seeing the word "remember" every where I go. Remember. I have been on a mission to remember the things God has done for me and those I love. I did not initially realize that this little is a companion to a book entitled Memory Rescue. The timing of me reading this book hit me pretty hard as I sat in the neurologist's office with my dad for his dementia that is progressing. It is truly one of the hardest things I have dealt with. It's hard loving someone so much and being able to do nothing to help them. If my help involves change for him of any kind, he doesn't want my help at all. It's a deep ache to miss people who are not missing from you physically.

As this disease progresses, I feel like I need to read everything I can to help me transition to this next phase of life. It seems like that angst of having your first child. I have no idea what I am stepping into and want to be prepared as possible. I'm thankful for all of the people who have gone before me into this wild unknown. I am grateful for those who have left guidebooks so that the journey does not feel so lonely.

This book is small. It has just a few simple pages on the brain and a lot of scripture to deal with what our brain throws at us. As I read through the pages, I felt conviction and great hope. It's something I could easily see myself tucking in my purse or at my bedside table to read again and again.

I have not read the book that this is a companion to, but this book was encouraging and gave battle verses for life in the unknown. Memory Rescue is on my wish list. I recently ordered another book that the Neurologist recommended called 36 Hour Day. It's about caring for people with Alzheimer's and Dementia.

This book was graciously provided by Tyndale House Publishing for Review.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope : My Story

I was recently asked to write a story of my journey through miscarriage and infertility for the Trying Collective. I thought I would share it here as well for anyone who might be hurting.
I encountered Jesus as a young child in a church pew in the balcony of an old country church. Through a lifetime of trial, I knew he was there. I did not always know or understand what he wanted of me, but I knew I was wanted. We could go through all of the pain and abuse of my life and unpack each tiny detail, but that is not what this is really about. I love what Frederick Buechner said, “Pain is not the biggest thing that has ever happened to you.” That is true. I have beheld far greater glory. As I clung to his word through all of this, I knew he was there.

My story about trying begins long before I began trying to have children. I tell you this because almost half of the population has been abused in some way. The attack on my uterus began when I was four-years-old. I spent most of my life believing that I was broken and I was crippled by shame. I carried that shame into every relationship I had. As I encountered people in the church, I never felt safe enough to ask for prayer or help. I could hear in their words shame heaped upon shame, even when they were trying to seem compassionate. I simply could not bear even one more ounce of shame.

Through all of this, I had a relationship with Jesus. I knew and understood that he cared for me. I could hear the Sunday School answers to all of the questions I had raging in my heart. The problem was that I did not see one single person working this out practically. I did not trust people with what I was carrying in my heart. I had seen a terrible counselor and tried to share, but it honestly left me feeling worse. So there I was, feeling damaged.

The first person I really confided all of my past hurt to was my future husband. I was sure he would think less of me because of all of this. Fortunately, we went on to get married and he gave a safe place for my heart to heal. He gave me support in every way that he could so that I could sit with Jesus and heal. For the first few months of our marriage I was on birth control. Then I became personally convicted about telling God when to give me a baby. I thought I would become pregnant right away. Years went by. I began to believe I was failing the man that had taken my shattered heart in.

After several years of trying to get pregnant, I finally had a positive test. At my three-month check up, there was no heartbeat. They did a blood test just to make sure and called to tell me that I had lost the baby. That tore me to the core. I could not handle the shame of my failure at motherhood. The hardest part of losing a child was all the other people that knew. The ache of sharing pain like that was beyond anything I can explain. I did not want those people in this with me. People say horrendous things in situations like this. People will try to make your pain about them. It makes something awful that much worse.

To process through all of this, my husband and I painted our kitchen a Tuscan yellow. Jesus spoke something to me in there. Listen with grace. People are trying to communicate pain or hope that they have no words for.  As I have quit being incensed about what people say to me, I have heard much more of the heart of others. I quit demanding that their story be like mine or their words be perfectly spoken and I heard them. 

Miscarriage would go on to bring pain to my life five more times. I have lost a baby in a tragic accident, lost twins that I had to labor to deliver, lost a baby on a road trip to see my husband’s family in North Carolina. Waking up to gushing blood at a family reunion is one of the worst things I can remember. I did not want to ruin my husband’s time with his family and so I just tucked it away in my heart until I could grieve. I have these memories of being in labor and delivery and going home empty-handed. I have held a dead fetus that I miscarried early as it came out during a shower. I have been told that regular cancer screenings were needed to be sure that what hurt my children would not hurt me. There are things you cannot shake from your memory.

There are things I am grateful for through it all. I am not Catholic, but I am grateful for Catholic hospitals that believe in the sanctity of life. In the one hospital that I had a D&C for the twins, they bury your babies instead of putting them in a jar or the medical waste bin. There is also a memorial garden there where you can sit and pray. So often when you miscarry, you feel as though you made the whole thing up because you never held a baby. Someone offering you a place to grieve makes you feel like you do not need to pretend it did not happen or hide under shame. I am grateful for those who champion life.

During all of this trying, we also tried to adopt four times. We had one woman have her child taken by CPS, one had an abortion, one had a miscarriage, and the last kept her baby. It’s a completely different grief trying to adopt and failing, but it is grief nonetheless. We had made room in our hearts and our home to bring someone new into our family come what may.  

Out of my nine pregnancies, six were miscarriages. My husband and I did end up having three girls. There has been some pretty significant damage done to my liver, but I am thankful. I am also humbled to share my journey with others. There are many beautiful women who are crippled in shame from trying and seemingly failing.

The thing I have come to learn is that we must tell our stories no matter how they turn out. One person’s story of trying is not more valuable that someone else’s. We simply need to learn to listen with grace, keep unwise comments to ourselves, and learn from each other. We are good together and must not let anger isolate us any further. God designed us as women to nurture those around us. Often, it doesn’t look like we think it will.

I look back at my stubborn approach to how God would give me my motherhood and I realize how I tried to usurp his lordship in my life. I have been arrogant in how I dealt with what people have said. The “how dare they speak to me like that” approach to life doesn’t honor anyone. It refuses to listen or care for the burdens of others. I learned how to kindly share with people what to say and let them mature in Christ. I learned to accept care how it was given.

Humility and trust in God will make you a spectacular steward of your pain. Decades of agony in the hands of Christ gave me a gift. I learned to care more about others than myself. That gift helped me lift the laser eye I had on my deficiency and shame and pour out the love of God on anyone God entrusts us with.

Thank you for listening with ears of grace to my story. I pray that you can have hope no matter what mile marker you are on in your journey. In reading scripture, I could see how one person’s story was really a gift to someone else. The gospel went out. So does what we carry in our hearts. “Choose wisely,” I would tell myself. What is the legacy you want to leave to the people around you? We could have had it all on our timeline and according to our agenda, but we wouldn’t be the people we are. We wouldn’t have been humbled to offer mercy and we wouldn’t know that God is truly there even in the darkest moments.

God promises that he is there with the broken hearted. I can tell you from experience that his presence gets more palpable the darker it gets. Sometimes, I want to sit among the broken just so I can feel that nearness again. Honestly, the gift of having the nearness of God far overshadows the pain of it all. Lean in to Christ. Weep through the Psalms. Read every ounce of God’s word, every story and you will see that their greatest hurt was a launch pad of redemption when they took it to Christ. Grieve when you need to, but hold fast to hope. There is more to our story than this moment. There is more beauty and glory to behold. Take heart. You are seen and loved by a beautiful God.

If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:9-10

"EVEN THERE"  painting by Stephanie Cherry

Saturday, November 04, 2017

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old by Jennifer Grant

Y'all know I am forty. I often forget that this age is middle-aged. I picked this book out of the review queue and thought it would be interesting to prepare for the future. As I was reading, I realized that I have or am living all of the things in this book. In many ways it was helpful and encouraging. In many ways I thought it was WEIRD and preached capital T Terrible doctrine. Here's my two cents.

Jennifer talks about why teenagers make fun of us, rebel against us, and detach from us. That is always helpful to remember because it helps us to engage the issue instead of reacting to it. She didn't give much help in the engaging area however. She also dealt with how our kids make fun of us as a way to build their independence and prove themselves separate from us.That can be helpful in affirming our children's individualism. 

Really this was a strange group of essays that formed a memoir. She went from wearing glasses that her kids said look like Elton John, to losing her addict sister, to being cremated, to being Episcopalian. The part about her sister was interesting. She shares a little list of what not to say to people who are grieving. When someone loses a family member that is an addict they also grieve their life and loss of relationship. It's a grief doubled.

At the very last chapter, she lost me completely. She went on this strange rant about verses used in the Bible to clobber others. Ones that preached repentance and justice. She said that she thought everyone gets to go to heaven. Honestly, I think she took those "clobber verses" and hit people who believe in repentance and our need to be forgiven by a Holy God with them. It was some of the worst theology I've read in a while. 

That leaves me to tell you that I do not recommend this book. 

This book was graciously provided by Herald Press for review.



Wednesday, November 01, 2017

I read A Crazy, Holy Grace by Frederick Buechner

This was the second book in a set of previously unpublished lectures by Frederick Buechner. The first one I read I loved the whole way through. It spoke to me page after page. This one was good and thought provoking until the middle. Then It lost me.

You can read about the other things I loved in this book here: http://www.stephaniecherry.com/2017/10/off-book-stack-remarkable-ordinary-by.html

The first part was all about remembering. That hit me because that's a bit of a buzz word in my prayer life. I think often of the stones of remembrance in Joshua. I often go back through prayer journals to remember what God has done for me and ask him to do it again. He told a story about a dream he had where he was in a hotel. He wanted to find his way back to the room he was in the night before and couldn't. He asked to front desk clerk how to get to that room and the clerk told him that he only needed to know the name to return there. The name of the room was "remember."

Now, the second half lost me altogether. These lectures were originally spoken so I don't know if they lost something without the emphasis of human voice. Perhaps I was reading it wrong. It seemed to me like he was saying he was summoning his dead grandmother to have a conversation with. I couldn't figure out if this was real or he was imagining it. All I know is that it came across incredibly weird.

That leaves me to not want to recommend this book to you. If you read it, perhaps you can share your thoughts on the latter half with me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Off the Book Stack: The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner

 I recently read a few previously unpublished lectures by Frederick Buechner. The first one met me right where I was. I needed to walk through my life and sort out some things. I needed to let go of empty relationships. I needed to carve out greater moments inside each day to sit at the feet of Jesus. The story telling in this book helped me sort out some things. The words were like that of an old friend we wish we all had. It is a rare person who can tell simple stories about their lives and it hits you to the core. Frederick Buechner had this gift.

This was one of the most impactful lines of the the  second book. I read it over and over and shared it over and over. It is so easy to identify as a victim and forget that we are hemmed in by glory. The enemy is tricking us into being infatuated with inferior things and we must ruthlessly defeat the lies before us. This isn't who we are. We are hand-crafted image bearers of the Most High God. We have been redeemed and beheld his glory. We have been witness to unequivocal beauty. That is who we are. Free, Image-bearing witnesses of beauty.

I also hand-painted the church of my soul because of a story in the second book. You can see that in my Instagram post. By hand-painted, I mean that I used no brushes. I simply mixed paint on the canvas with my hands to create it.

"Soul Church"
I have been reading a couple of newly released books by Frederick Buechner. They are comprised of unpublished lectures he had given. His words are so raw and honest. Reading them has been like taking deep breaths into places that may have never felt air. In one chapter he talks about meeting a woman who taught him to pray. She told him to imagine his life as a house. His memories comprised every room. She told him that once he had all their rooms in place in his mind to invite Jesus into them. Imagine him there walking around and looking at things, touching everything with his healing mercy. Continue inviting him as new rooms emerge, the secret and the sacred. That led me to thinking of my life as a church. I knew it would be no cathedral. In my mind I pictured this old run down wooden church hidden somewhere in the country. I saw myself sprawled out face down on the wooden floor just listening to the soulful sound of God’s Spirit. Here is that rendering.
A post shared by Stephanie Cherry (@heystephcherry) on


God has been teaching me to worship him in the small parts of my daily life and he used this as a teaching tool. I think you will enjoy The Remarkable Ordinary.

I'll share my thoughts on the second book tomorrow.

This book was graciously provided by Zondervan Publishers for review.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors

I have not anticipated a book this much in quite some time. I was deeply encouraged after reading Kisses From Katie and I looked forward to the wisdom God would give her to share with us. Of course, the book did not disappoint. We follow her all over the streets of Uganda as she quietly loves and brings healing to those around her. We sit in the sacred space of the bedside of woman being ushered into the arms of Jesus. We follow her on a plane to America to get a young man desperately need surgery. We walk the isle at her wedding and welcome a new baby with her. My heart is wildly aglow from the word of her testimony.

So much of her story I can empathize with. The same words he told her through scripture, he has told me (and I'm sure many of you). He walks her through the suffering God declares before the restoration in Habakkuk. Over and over Isaiah 61 speaks to her. Beauty from ashes doesn't often look what we think it will. Sometimes it comes as we usher someone into the arms of Jesus. 

One thing that resonated with me was that she said she was tired. She wasn't tired of serving or giving. She wasn't afraid. Her Spirit was simply so weary from seeing so much grief. So many addicted to alcohol, assaulted, ill, and one friend being poisoned by a rival. Through all of her hurt and questioning, God reminded her over and over that HE was strong when she was weak. He is why the time of singing has come and flowers spring forth on the earth in Song of Solomon. He who promised is faithful. 

I loved this book. I could hardly put it down. It encouraged me over and over to serve in my home and the streets. 



This book was graciously  provided by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for review.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Off the Book Stack: Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

This is one of those books that will change you if you give heed and listen. The voice of culture tells us to grow and build exponentially. It occurs in our Christian culture as well. We are impressed by the one who has amassed the most followers. The problem with this mentality is that it completely denies the descending way of Christ. He drew people in to serve them and renew their hearts.

Right out of the gate, Gordon takes us into addressing the sin of his own drivenness as a pastor. What a refreshing thing to see a man in a high profile position allow his heart to be taken to task by the Holy Spirit. God convicted him of the many ways that he had been moving in his own power and agenda. He was doing it at the great neglect of those closest to him.

Gordon lays out some simple ideas that can change how you relate to God and others. We can do quite a lot by being teachable and learning to truly listen to others. There is even a section about how to listen to your critics and pray through what they tell you. Wouldn't it be great to be able to receive from the Lord even when people don't say things well? He tells us to ask God to show us truths in the hurtful ways people tell us things. What a freeing response to discuss things with Jesus over carrying unnecessary pain from their words. 

I highly recommend this book.

Disclaimer: You know that once I tried to start implementing much of what Gordon said and change up my devotional routine to be with Jesus more that all of my kids started throwing up, being sick, and having nightmares. I did what I could and I keep pressing on toward the ultimate goal (without being angry that I have been given a heart to serve my children). Don't give up. Keep pressing in. He wants to make you more like him.

This book was graciously given by 
Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.

Book Description:
We have schedule planners, computerized calendars, smart phones, and sticky notes to help us organize our business and social lives every day. But what about organizing the other side of our lives?the spiritual side?
One of the great battlegrounds is within the private world of the individual. The values of our Western culture would have us believe the busy, publicly active person in ministry is also the most spiritual. Tempted to give imbalanced attention to the public world at the expense of the private, we become involved in more programs, more meetings. Our massive responsibilities at home, work, and church have resulted in many good people on the verge of collapse.
In this updated classic Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald equips a new generation to live life from the inside out, cultivating the inner victory necessary for public effectiveness.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Off the Book Stack: The Awakening of HK Derryberry by Jim Bradford

 Oh how I loved this book. The story deeply touched my heart. It all started when fifty-five year old Jim Bradford ended up in a diner on a Saturday morning looking for coffee. It was a place he never really went to, but somehow ended up there that morning. He noticed a small boy sitting in a booth all alone. He began inquiring about him and went over to speak with him.

After leaving the restaurant, Jim couldn't get HK out of his mind. He went back repeatedly to visit with him at the diner. Eventually, the two of them became best friends. HK's grandmother and caregiver allowed Jim to take her grandson out to church and to eat. Jim saw to it that HK's needs were met. His blindness and Cerebral Palsy were no match for his charm and caring heart.

I hope that you will read this book or read about the story. Jim stepped straight into the fatherless generation and made a difference. HK has gone on to do amazing things as well. You'll see how his personality has garnered him much attention. He has befriended many celebrities, flown a plane, ministered to the homeless, given inspirational speeches to thousands. It's amazing what you can do when someone loves you.

I highly recommend this book. Both of these men offer us such hope. Good people are out there. They are quietly loving others behind the scenes and making the biggest difference.

Find out more about them at http://hkderryberry.com

This book was graciously provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for review. 


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Thursday, September 14, 2017

I read Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore

Beth just rereleased Get Out of That Pit for it's 10th anniversary. I had read it before when it was initially released, but decided I could probably stand to read it again. I read a lot of books, around a hundred a year. I don't always remember every detail of them, but I did in this case. I remembered nearly every part of this book. I remembered it so well that I could tell you where I was sitting in my house ten years ago when I read different chapters. That tells you that it had a profound impact on me.

I think this book is full of power. It is desperately needed still, a decade later. It is a current word to the church. I think so many of us in the body of Christ are ill-equipped in handling the misdeeds of others that we unintentionally shame them into a pit. How rare is the hand that acknowledges sin and still offers a hand up. 

Now, one thing I love about Beth Moore is that she never wavers of her tireless preaching of the sovereign power of God. She makes no bones about the fact that we are unable to deliver ourselves. Only God can deliver us. She covers the several different ways that we get into pits and the only way we get out. Christ. 

I could identify with much of this book. I have been thrown into a pit and I have thrown myself into a pit. I lived there for decades. Recently, I realized that I had been feeling stuck because I spend so much time caring for others that my own body and soul were depleted. It's not the pit that child abuse threw me into or the one I threw myself into repeatedly as a result, but it was something I needed to see. I needed a hand up. I needed more time with my heavenly father. I needed reassurance of His love. A decade after my first reading, I learned a new lesson.

This book was graciously provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for Review.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Home Is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson

I am a fan of Sophie. I like that she is talking about nothing and yet driving a point all the way home. I always appreciate the fact that she isn't trying to impress me with her great knowledge or holy wisdom. She just tells what God is teaching her with all the humility she can muster. I like it. Send me the straight shooters. 

I read this book when it came out and I liked it, but for some reason I decided to buy the audio at the end of summer. I think I had just made one too many long trips with three kids and the thought of driving four hours home almost took me out. I wanted to listen to somebody talk to me, somebody that sounded like family. It worked. I think it was divinely inspired because my four hour trip turned into over six hours and I arrived home no worse for the wear. It was like riding around with an old friend.

I actually liked the book more the second time around. I think I needed to hear it more. I needed to be reminded of the importance of certain things. I was dog tired, worn bone thin, and hurting. So, I listened. I grieved. I went on. I loved hearing her inflections. It was soothing. Sometimes you want that person around you to remind you to love and be loved and the spot is empty. So, for this window, she was my person. 

I loved following her moves and life changes and hurts. Her story of encountering the Holy Spirit at a Christian school she got a job at was fantastic. She said, "These people were serious." I laughed so much. She talks about raising her son, troubles in marriage, and finding her place in the world. It was good for my soul to stop and hear her story. 

I listened to this in my suv, on my John Deere, and painting our three story house. 
We kept company and it was grand.

 I loved it so much, Sophie. Thank you.

Almost all of the books you see on my blog are given to me by the publishing houses for review. This one was paid for by my man, Denb. Thanks, Boo.