My name is Cheryl.
I grew up on a farm outside of Phillipsburg, MO. My mom was an only child, so we were very close to her parents. I would say my grandma was the biggest influence on my life. She died almost 2 years ago. My grandpa is 95 and still living on the farm, alone, taking care of himself. I come from good stock! I have a younger brother and sister. I had a good upbringing. We were not wealthy at all, but we always had what we needed. I think a good part of that was thanks to my grandparents. I spent hours with them daily. My parents taught me the value of hard work and persistence. My dad was an amazing provider for our family when I was growing up and now he is an awesome grandpa to my kids. And my mom is an awesome grandma. My mom has always been a giver. She modeled sacrifice and service by moving in with my grandparents and taking care of my grandma until she passed away. I love her heart for people. We consistently attended church services. In fact, I still attend the same little white church I grew up in.
I accepted Jesus as my savior the summer after my 3rd grade year. That summer I attended church camp for the first and only time. My friend and I asked the pastor some questions about Jesus in between sessions. We were literally standing in the middle of camp, on a grassy hill, no one around but my friend’s mom and the pastor. He asked if we believed in Jesus and if we believed he died on the cross to save us from our sins and I think I remember praying with him. Then he took us to the mess hall, it was just before supper, and announced to everyone that we had just accepted Jesus as our savior. That would have been July, and I was baptized by our pastor in the spring waters of Bennett Springs Park a few months later.
I met my husband, Todd, a month before I graduated from high school and he has truly been a God-send. He is mellow, laid back, never wants to argue; all the things I am not. I think he has been a major influence on the shaping of my adult personality and self. But before I married him, my experience as a student at Evangel University began to mature me as a Believer in Jesus. My friends at Evangel revealed a sense of joy to me that I had never experienced. It was the first time I remember seeing people who had a true, genuine relationship with Jesus and weren’t just going through the motions of Christianity. I saw people who were happy and genuinely joyous. I understood what the “joy of my salvation” should look like. It was refreshing to be around people who were not always looking for bad in everything, who could just shrug off negativity and not take it to heart. Once I saw that life could be like that, I wanted to start living more like they did. The difference, was a solid faith and trust in Jesus.
Jesus has freed me from negativity. I”m not a naturally joyous person. I have to make a concerted effort to be in a good mood every day. I want to see the glass half full. I want to make people laugh and be happy. But my sinful nature wants to be critical and point out flaws. I have to daily put on the mind of Christ to guard my thoughts and discipline my tongue so that what I’m thinking doesn’t always come out and hurt someone. He has also freed me from self-deprication. My brother-in-law has a saying: Jesus+nothing=everything. There is nothing I can do to make Jesus love me more or less. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that. He doesn’t care what my hair looks like, how much I weigh, how big my feet are, how little my bank account is, if I have what other people do or not. When I lack self-confidence I go to the only ONE whose opinion counts and He faithfully reminds me that I am good enough.
God has called me to is to raise my children to love Him. I think that is the first calling for all parents. And again, I’m not doing a perfect job, but my husband and I do our very best. We pray with them every single night before bed and we try really hard to help them see things through a Biblical lens. When they have problems with friends and issues at school, we try to address it through a Jesus perspective.
God gave my husband a healing from cancer last year. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on February 15, 2013, and had a clean PET scan in February 2014. When Todd was taking treatments for cancer last year, one of the things I prayed for was that this trial would be able to be used for His glory. That our struggle would be an encouragement for other people. Well, you can only do that if you tell the story, which is part of the reason I agreed to do The Grace Mask.
Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
I always believed Todd would be healed, but there were definitely times I was sick with worry and doubt and fear. This verse reminded me to have faith (which is something I struggle with) and believe that Jesus could heal him.
I am terrible at memorizing scripture, but I never, ever, ever forget a song. A couple of old hymns that are seared into my heart and mind and I sang over and over during the cancer trial were:
It Is Well With My Soul
He Hideth My Soul
His Eye is on the Sparrow
And believe it or not, another one I sang over and over was the kids song “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart. Where?…” Because seriously, I had the most amazing, wonderful peace that anyone could ever imagine throughout that ordeal. Some days were rough, but most days, I was able to function without being overwhelmed by fear, and I slept at night, not worrying if he would beat it or not. Thank you, VBS.
When I am gone I want people to see me as Jesus does. He took this imperfect girl, who chose to look past her flaws every day and struggled in her faith and He helped her to press on toward the goal. I want them to see a wife who was a faithful companion to her husband. I want them to see a mom who loved her kids and showed Jesus to them. I want them to see a teacher lived out her faith in the presence of her students. I want them to remember me as a citizen of the eternal Kingdom of God, who did her very best while she walked this earth. I want them to always remember that circumstances don’t matter to Jesus. He is above your circumstances and willing to pull you up with Him if we will simply take His hand and say “YES”.
My anchor verses:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Philippians 3:12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.