Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | January 29, 2013

Beauty in Brokenness

LOTUS with blog and leaf

(Note: I apologize for the long post. Normally my posts are 300-500 words. Think of it as chapter 1 of a book.)

Brokenness, I now believe,  exudes beauty. Like a kaleidoscope, the shattered pieces of our souls display splendor against the dark canvases of our hearts. The mosaic of our stories paint powerful pieces of art. But during the painting process, we want to run.

At age 28, I didn’t understand why I developed a chronic illness called ankylosing spondylitis. I could barely walk, change my clothes, drive, or use the restroom without severe pain. At age 35, when I was diagnosed with lupus, I could not see the gift the illness would provide. Terrified, I wondered why it happened. I was athletic, didn’t use drugs and drank only in moderation.

Why, why, why, I wondered, when lupus appeared on the menu of my life.

As sure as the tulips bloomed every Spring, I knew in my depths that I would never get divorced. But as the lens of time lapsed in my marriage, I realized my ex-husband was abusive. It culminated when he pinned me to the floor one day. He was 6’3″ and weighed 220 pounds. He had played water polo for the Pan American Games, and I was five feet two.

When he held me to the floor, I felt a fiery anger pump through my veins.

That terrified me because I’d always been known as a kind-hearted person. Suddenly I understood why there are so many women on death row for murdering their husbands.

My own anger terrified me more than his pinning me to the floor. I’d known for several years that he was controlling, but never expected his control to shift into physical abuse.

I left him and eventually divorced him.

Ashamed, confused, depressed and a mess, I travelled back home to the Seattle area with my parents, who had come to visit us in Arizona for Christmas.

At the time, I suffered severely from panic attacks (which I’d never experienced before the marriage). This led to a depression that felt as deep as the Pacific Ocean.

I didn’t see it coming. But as strong as a hurricane force, Jesus was calling me to lean on him. I was shattered beyond belief and I tried to run, but he continued to pursue me.I was done with God because I believed he had ruined my life with a failed marriage, two chronic illnesses, depression, panic disorder, and no job. (I’d broken my teaching contract in Arizona because I knew if I didn’t leave him, one of us would end up dead.)

Since my blood boiled over with anger toward him, I wasn’t sure who would be in prison, and who would end up dead.

When I arrived back home to the Seattle area, it seemed as though everywhere I went, someone told me about a certain church. Why can’t I get away from these people? My hairdresser, teachers in public schools where I substituted, and others I met invited me.

But I was done with God. I couldn’t understand why he let all these bad things happen to me.

One day I finally decided to visit the church to see what the big deal was.

I walked in and I planned to sit in the back.

An elderly gentleman, Chuck, greeted me at the door. I was too early for church, but he said I could attend Sunday school. He mentioned they had classes for married, single, and divorced people. He didn’t sound judgemental at the “D” word, and for some reason I was surprised. I hadn’t grown up in a church, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. Who knows where that came from.

I decided to attend the divorce class so I wouldn’t offend Chuck.

When Chuck opened the door to the class, the chairs were arranged in a circle.

How can I sit in the back row and slip out if there isn’t a back row?

Buford, the leader of the divorce recovery group, explained that when we chased the passions of our hearts, we still felt empty inside. Money, power, beautiful homes, fancy cars, exciting trips to destinations across the globe- none of those would fill the hole in our hearts.

He said that real and lasting joy came from walking and talking with Jesus. All other things,  and people – including our former spouses – would eventually fail us. Buford explained that we could ask Jesus into our hearts. I’d done that once at about age eight, but there was no follow-up after the Vacation Bible School I’d stumbled upon at a park across the street from my house.

Buford’s words gripped my heart. I felt a wave of hope replace my anger.

Since that day twenty years ago, I have never been the same. That day I wholeheartedly asked Jesus to take control of my life. I told him that I’d tried to live life my own way. And I finally had come to the end of myself.

Has life been perfect? Absolutely not. We live in a fallen world, and until I go home to be with Jesus forever, life won’t be a trip to Disneyland.

I am not saying that I always understand why bad things happen to people. I don’t. Some things we won’t understand until we reach the other side of glory.

Joseph, in the Old Testament, was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and later was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. But he later became a great man who God used to save an entire nation.

Job was a righteous, blameless man. Blameless. Wow, that’s a powerful word. Yet he lost his entire family (except for his nagging wife- God indeed has a sense of humor!) He was extremely wealthy (although I want to emphasize that God does not promise wealth if we are righteous. Look at the Apostle Paul and many others in the New Testament.).

He lost everything he had. Then he became infected with boils and Job sat in a heap scratching his boils with a piece of pottery.

Job’s “friends” told Job that  he had deserved it. Yet God had said, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8) (See the post, When friends do you wrong. http://cherriesotherblog.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/what-to-do-when-friends-do-you-wrong-advice-from-job/)

Yet in the end of Job’s story, rapturous beauty emerged. Time elapsed and he endured severe trauma. But in the end, Job experienced a kaleidoscope of beauty in brokenness.

I am now living on the other side of brokenness. The picture in the rear-view mirror of my mind is one of brilliant beauty and power, that creates a mosaic in my story.

Yes, there is beauty in brokenness.

Photo by Cherrie Herrin-Michehl (c)

Photo by Cherrie Herrin-Michehl (c)

 

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 11, 2012

Unwrapping the Heart of Christmas

Image taken myself.

 

A few years ago, shortly after I put away the Thanksgiving dishes, I started to panic.  How would I get Christmas together?  My heart raced and my palms felt sweaty as I thought of everything I had to do before the big day – shop, decorate, bake, wrap gifts, clean, cook, and attend celebrations.  Wait a minute.  Isn’t this supposed to be fun?

I had a hectic to-do list that day, but at the last minute I decided to attend Bible study.  Deep in my heart, I knew I needed to go.  I’m glad I did, because the teacher performed a demonstration that helped me prioritize my Santa bag sized to-do list.

She placed a bowl of sand into a two liter jar. Next, she added a bowl of small rocks. Finally, she tried to add a bowl of golf-ball sized rocks in the jar, but they wouldn’t   fit.

“The sand and rocks represent the busy things that eat up your time but don’t have eternal value,” the teacher said.  “Think about activities and errands that take time but really are not essential.  You’ll notice that all these rocks won’t fit into the jar.  That’s because I have chosen to make the non-essential, trivial things in my life the foundation.  Now I have little room for Jesus, the Rock.”

Then she dumped the contents of the jar onto a pan and separated the sand, pebbles, and rocks.  “Let’s see what happens when we fix our eyes on Jesus, our Rock and Savior, and make him the priority in our lives. “

This time, she put the large rocks on the bottom of the jar. “Now let’s see if I can add some of the lesser important activities.”  Next she added the pebbles, and later the sand.

“Now I have room to fit in other activities because I have made Jesus the foundation.”  All the rocks, pebbles, and sand fit into the jar.  “This is your life, and you have choices on how you spend your time.  Let’s ask God to help us prioritize so we give our time to what’s really important – especially during the Christmas season.”

Driving home, I decided not to give in to the hustle-bustle of Christmas.   I know many people who like to shop, bake, decorate, and prepare for Christmas.  But to me it was starting to feel like a Martha Stewart Christmas Comparison Contest.   Agony and stress pumped through my blood, and I felt overwhelmed.

That‘s when I decided to peel back the layers of Christmas.  I would do only what felt most important and that I enjoyed.  I cut down on shopping, decorating, baking, and celebrating.

We peeled Christmas down to the heart.  That year, we had a small tree and displayed our beautiful nativity to remind us daily of the heart of Christmas.  Since I love to write, and our friends and family expect to receive a Christmas story in the mail the first week of December, I put that at the top of the list.

We enjoyed a beautiful, stripped-down Christmas.  Instead of worn out and waiting for the holidays to end, I felt energized, grateful, and focused on the Jesus and the gift of the cross – the true heart of Christmas.

I’m grateful I attended Bible study that hectic day in December because I gained the gift of prioritizing during the holidays.  Now I recall the jar demonstration every year, and focus on the beauty and glory of the season.

I’m much better at avoiding getting swept up into the insanity of trying to create the most spectacular Christmas ever. 

I don’t have to worry about that because it started on the first Christmas when God came to earth as our Savior.  It was paid for on the cross.

That, I remind myself, is the heart of Christmas.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | November 14, 2012

Reflections on Gratitude: Letters of Thanks to God

man at sunset nice

This is my photo, taken at St. Edward’s Park, Kenmore Washington

 

Years ago, I began a tradition of writing a thank you letter to God.  Each November I sat with pen in hand, silently reflecting in solitude on the gracious gifts God bestowed on me.

If you could have looked into the windows of my life at the time, I possessed few belongings.  I left my abusive husband and travelled 1,100 miles to live in my parent’s basement.

Although I owned almost nothing, my heart overflowed with gratitude.

Non-things.  Those topped the list.  Family, friends, and my precious relationship with Jesus adorned this thank you letter to the Lord.  Freedom – something often taken for granted – also hit the top ten.

The fact that I could walk and move easily found its way on the letter. I’d been an athlete since childhood, but at age 28 a weird disease called ankylosing spondylitis entered my life.

Many say it’s more painful than childbirth, and by the time I started writing these letters, my heart filled with tears of gratitude if I could walk, dress myself, drive, and use the restroom without excruciating pain.

Over the years, I wrote many such letters of thanks to God.  But somewhere along life’s voyage, I stopped writing them.  I don’t remember when or why, but before Thanksgiving, I once again will sit down with paper and pen to write my thankyou letter to God.

And this year, I invite you to do the same.  Your heart will overflow with gladness as life’s pitfalls and dreary days fade into the background and gratitude bursts through like daffodils in early Spring. 

Pull up a chair, grab a pen, a cup of coffee, and let your heart sing a song of gratitude to God.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | October 10, 2012

Sacrificing the Treasure

Sometimes I sit in my sunny yellow room with my feet resting on the white wicker ottoman. I better hurry and get on with my day.  Sunlight sweeps over me as my Bible rests on my lap and I let God’s words saturate my soul. The precious time I spend reading, studying, and praying provide me with a kaleidoscope of beauty and power. No matter where my heart was before my morning date with Jesus, a sweetness of peace envelops my heart like a leaf covered with light, fluffy snow.

I’m ashamed to admit that although I grasp the glorious power of these times, my wild heart often says, hurry up and get on with the rest of your day!  Such irony. The most important part of my day I am willing to sacrifice for other, more earthly activities. Like most people, I have a long to-do list. But I remember a professor at Multnomah Seminary saying, “You have time for what’s important.” Thank you, Dr. Ron Frost. Your words have haunted, yet blessed me for sixteen years now.

I know the hustle bustle of our society wreaks havoc on me as I fight to keep my focus on what truly matters. By the grace of God, I usually catch myself in the thought process of sacrificing the treasure.  Very rarely am I willing to trade my time hanging out with Jesus for something more temporal. And for those times, thankfully, grace abounds. True, rich, glorious grace.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | May 7, 2012

Caleb’s Courage: Following God Wholeheartedly

The word “wholeheartedly” almost lifted off the pages as I studied Joshua 14.  Twice  in the chapter, Caleb reminded Joshua how he had followed God wholeheartedly while the rest of the explorers

made the hearts of the people melt with fear.” Quite a word picture. I envisioned them shaking, dripping with sweat, as they lost courage and

focused on their circumstances instead of the power of God.  Hopelessness gripped their hearts as they let themselves drown in the deep sea of discouragement.

The third time, Joshua wrote how Caleb “had followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.”

While the other men called to examine the land cowered, Caleb stood up to answer the call.  He wore a medal of courage on his heart. Although he looked at the same set of circumstances, he knew that nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)

Forty-five years after he obeyed the call, the leader remained physically strong. He asked Joshua for the land God had promised him and his descendants.  Caleb received his prize, although radically delayed due to the group’s discouragement.

The next time you are called to do something difficult, will you trust in God’s power – the same power that created the mountains, flowers, and raised Jesus from the dead?

Or will you let your heart melt in fear?

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

(Note:  bold print is my own.)

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | January 21, 2012

Prayer as a Way of Life

My friends call me a prayer warrior.  This may stem from my thinking of prayer as a way of life.  I do pray in my quiet time, and I also pray for needs of people when a situation makes my soul cry.  Often times, I pray while watching the news as different stories touch the raw places of my heart. I pray while doing dishes, driving, working, kayaking, cleaning, or doing just about anything. I’ve prayed in stores, while walking on my power walks, or while lap swimming.

So how did this praying way of life begin?  I remember teaching a Sunday school lesson to third graders about fifteen years ago.  The lesson highlighted the verse, “Pray without ceasing,” I Thess 5:17.   I found the verse captivating and life-changing.  The lesson plan suggested wearing a wrist band as a reminder.  Although it seemed corny back before the rubber wrist bands became popular, I decided to try it.

Wearing the wrist band changed my life.  I learned to pray arrow prayers all day.  In addition to my regular Bible study and prayer time, I began the lifelong voyage of praying as a way of life.  I prayed for parking spots at Costco, my friends, my relatives, finances, missionaries, for people to develop an addiction to God’s word, and for my health.  I prayed for needs of others that came up, and for the Lord to cleanse my heart.  The simplest way to say it is that I prayed for anything that came across my mind.

A few years later, I went to graduate school to get a better understanding of the Bible.  Later, I prayed to get into the counseling field because people have always trusted me with their problems.

To work my way through grad school, I cleaned houses.  While cleaning, I prayed according to the tasks I completed.  When I cleaned toilets, I asked the Lord to cleanse my heart.  I also asked him to cleanse us for our sins as a nation.  While vacuuming and noticing dirt and other debris, I asked God to reveal the parts of my life that needed change.  I also thanked the Lord for his grace, mercy, and for specific answers to prayer.  I sang worship songs.  I thanked God for his love, and I breathed out prayer.

Nowadays the Lord has blessed me with my own cleaning person and a private counseling practice.  I still pray as a way of life, and I am eternally grateful for how the Lord opened this window of prayer as a lifestyle.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | January 3, 2012

Whispers of Wisdom: It’s Calling Your Name

Image Detail

Wisdom.  I recently realized wisdom plays a starring role in the Bible.  People often pray for health, relationships, jobs and finances.

But I doubt many people pray for the Lord to saturate their souls with wisdom.  I’m not talking about wisdom in particular circumstances, as in James 1:5.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  I cling to this verse often and have let it sink under my skin.

I’m talking about asking for wisdom of  its own accord.  All by itself.  After all, receiving it is better than receiving gold.  What would happen if we truly believed this with every thread of our existence?

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!  (Proverbs 16:16) If you had the choice, would you click the “add to cart” button for gold or wisdom?

Image Detail

For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. (Proverbs 8:11) Ruby and Diamond Engagement Ring : 14K Yellow Gold - 1.50 CT TGW

Amazing.  Nothing we desire can compare with it.

Somehow I’ve glossed over this verse and haven’t absorbed its power.  Wisdom is so valuable, we can barely grasp its level of importance.

I can hear it calling our names.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 20, 2011

Dorothy’s Hands

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“Where is everybody going?” my 91 year old mother-in-law asked, her forehead furrowed.  “And why are they in such a hurry?”

What a profound question.  Where is everybody going, and why are we racing as if the world would crumble if we slowed down?

For a woman who dropped out of seventh grade to work on the farm and help raise her siblings, Dorothy had loads of wisdom.  But then again, wisdom and education don’t necessarily reside in the same person.  What would  happen if we slowed down and re-evaluated what is most important?

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her gnarled fingers and thought of the years Dorothy picked sugar beets to help feed the family.  Those same hands milked cows and clutched the reigns of horses as she drove the horse and buggy to town; hands with a rich, colorful history.

I was driving Dorothy to Top Foods for candy to turn her kitchen into a gingerbread house mini-factory.  The store showcases dozens of glass columns from floor to ceiling. Candy of every shape, size, and color fill the columns. Dorothy magically transformed it into roofs, windows, siding, chimneys, sidewalks, and fences for her little gingerbread masterpieces. Then she turned tiny toy babies into snow-suited kids riding sleds and ice skating outside the houses.  She certainly gave Christmas magazines a run for their money.  The end result melted peoples’ hearts as they slipped into the glorious winter wonderland created by the hands of Dorothy Michehl.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I walked down the hall into Dorothy’s room at the lovely adult family home, where she now receives hospice care at age of 95.  I sat beside her as she slept, noticing her hands resting against her cheek and pillow.  The beautiful, swollen, arthritic hands that once created a lovely garden.  Bridges, a pond, a small waterfall, and a natural stream kept the hundreds of flowers and bushes company through the years outside her simple home.  The same hands had managed a private food bank for fifty people out of her home. Dorothy had received an award for Volunteer of the Year at the age of 85.  Such beautiful hands that loved well for close to a hundred years.

Outside her room, I heard people laughing, which reminded me of Dorothy’s hearty laugh.  I remembered when I was in graduate school and my sister-in-law, Joan, visited from Chicago.  She asked what subjects I was studying and I mentioned several, including Sexuality in Marriage.  After a few seconds, I apologized to Dorothy because I thought she might feel uncomfortable.  She said, “How do you think I ended up with four kids?!”

After reminiscing a while, I realized she would probably sleep most of the day and got up to leave. I quietly squeezed one of her beautiful hands.  I walked down the hall and said goodbye to the man and his mom, still sitting near the Christmas tree.  His sacrificial love reminded me of the sacrificial love of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  He came to earth, wrapped in humanity and later died on a rugged cross to pay the price for our sins.  He is the reason for true peace and joy.

I pray we all stop to reflect on Dorothy’s profound wisdom:  “Where is everybody going, and why are they in such a hurry?”  May you have the gift of sitting in silence, thinking about where you are going and if you’re moving too fast.

Visit my body image blog, based on the book I’m writing called, Defeating the Body Image Bandit. www.cherriemac.wordpress.com.
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Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 4, 2011

Unwrapping the Heart of Christmas

A few years ago, shortly after drying the  Thanksgiving dishes, I started to panic.  How would I get Christmas together?  My heart raced and my palms felt sweaty as I thought of everything I had to do before the big day – shop, decorate, bake, wrap gifts, clean, cook, and attend celebrations.  Wait a minute.  Isn’t this supposed to be fun?

Although I felt busier than Superwoman on a triple vente latte, at the last minute I attended Bible study.  Deep in my heart, I knew I couldn’t let that go.  I’m so glad I did, because the speaker performed a demonstration that helped me prioritize my Santa sack sized to-do list.  She placed a bowl of sand into a two liter jar. Next, she added a bowl of small rocks. Finally she tried to add a bowl of golf-ball sized rocks in the jar, but they wouldn’t fit.

“The sand and pebbles represent the busy things that eat up your time but don’t have eternal value,” she said.  “Think about activities and errands that take time but aren’t essential.  You’ll notice that all these rocks won’t fit into the jar.  That’s because I have chosen to make the non-essential, trivial things in my life the foundation.  Now I have little room for Jesus, the Rock.”

Then she dumped the contents of the jar onto a pan and separated the sand, pebbles, and rocks.  “Let’s see what happens when we fix our eyes on Jesus, our Rock and Savior, and make him the foundation of our lives. “  This time, she placed the large rocks on the bottom of the jar. “Now let’s see if I can add some of the lesser important activities.”  Next she added the pebbles, and later the sand.  “Now I have room to fit in other activities because I have made Jesus the foundation.”  All the rocks, pebbles, and sand fit into the jar.  “This is your life, and you have choices on how you spend your time.  Let’s ask God to help us prioritize so we give our time to what’s really important – especially during the Christmas season.”

Driving home, I decided not to give in to the hustle-bustle of Christmas.   I know many people who like to shop, bake, decorate, and prepare for Christmas.  But to me it began to feel like a Martha Stewart Christmas Comparison Contest.   Agony and stress pumped through my blood, and I felt overwhelmed.

Reindeer Cookies

That‘s when I decided to peel back the layers of Christmas.  I would do only what felt most important and that I enjoyed.  I cut down on shopping, decorating, baking, and celebrating.  I unwrapped Christmas down to the heart.  That year, we had a small tree and displayed our beautiful nativity to remind us daily of the heart of Christmas.  Since I love to write, and our friends and family expect to receive a Christmas story in the mail the first week of December, I made the story a priority. We enjoyed a beautiful, stripped-down Christmas.  Instead of worn out and waiting for the holidays to end, I felt energized, grateful, and focused on the Christ child and the gift of the cross – the true heart of Christmas.

I’m grateful I attended Bible study that hectic day in December because I gained the gift of prioritizing during the holidays.  Now I recall the jar demonstration every year, and focus on the beauty and glory of the season.  I’m much better at avoiding getting swept up into the insanity of trying to create the most spectacular Christmas ever.  I don’t have to worry about that because it was done on the very first Christmas when God came to earth as a baby.  That, I remind myself, is the heart of Christmas.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | November 16, 2011

Reflections on Gratitude: Letters of thanks to God

Years ago, I began a tradition of writing a thank you letter to God.  Each November I sat with pen in hand, silently reflecting in solitude on the gracious gifts God bestowed on me. If you could have looked into the windows of my life at the time, I possessed few belongings.  I left my abusive husband and travelled 1,100 miles to live in my parent’s basement.

Although I possessed few belongings, my heart overflowed with gratitude.

Non-things.  Those topped the list.  Family, friends, and my precious relationship with Jesus adorned this thank you letter to the Lord.  Freedom – something often taken for granted – also hit the top ten.  The fact that I could walk and move easily found its way on the letter. I’d been an athlete since childhood, but at age 28 a weird disease called ankylosing spondylitis entered my life.  Many say it’s more painful than childbirth, and by the time I started writing these letters, my heart filled with tears of gratitude if I could walk, dress myself, drive, and use the restroom without excruciating pain.

Over the years, I wrote many such letters of thanks to God.  But somewhere along life’s voyage, I stopped writing them.  I don’t remember when or why, but before Thanksgiving, I once again will sit down with paper and pen to write my thankyou letter to God.

And this year, I invite you to do the same.  Your heart will overflow with gladness as life’s pitfalls and dreary days fade into the background and gratitude bursts through like daffodils in early Spring.  Pull up a chair, grab a pen, a cup of coffee, and let your heart sing a song of gratitude to God.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | August 7, 2011

Distractions and Christianity: Are you a Mary, a Martha, or a Hybrid?

 

distraction

You’re going a zillion miles an hour, checking items off your To Do list. You feel like a robot fueled by caffeine and anxiety. Whether they’re tasks at work or at home, all seem important. Your heart desires to spend time in scripture and in prayer. That’s what makes your heart sing.nfhfrtu

You understand that walking with Christ daily means listening to him through his Word. After all, good relationships involve two-way communication. That means not only talking to God, but listening to him through scripture.

If you have a relationship where one person does all the talking and the other all the listening, it suffers. The connection is unhealthy and imbalanced. So why would you want such a lopsided relationship with your lifeline?

Color Splash

But your To Do list calls you, your employer and kids and spouse need you, and the noise of living in a fast-paced society gnaws at your soul.

Last week I read the Martha and Mary passage seven or eight times (Luke 10-38-42). It spoke softly to my heart. I’m pretty good at spending time in scripture most mornings and evenings because I chose to make listening to Jesus a priority many years ago.

But I struggle horribly with feeling like a human doing instead of a human being. I’m so driven sometimes that I feel like a whirlwind of activity as I busily check off things I felt compelled to do. Much like Martha. Yet I truly desire to be wholeheartedly devoted to worship like Mary.Nature's Tears

Here are some questions that help me:

- Are you a human being or a human doing?  Our society is fast-paced and focused on the almighty dollar (meaning the worship of money and things, which are idols) but scripture encourages us to focus on Jesus.

- How important is it?

I ask myself this question about tasks or events that come up. I think I’ll start using a numbering system. I know that prioritizing works for some people, but I’m going to experiment with a numbering system, assigning a number from 1-10 to each activity.

At the top of each list, I’m going to put “Spending time with Jesus” and assign a 10 to it, meaning it is the most important thing I want to accomplish that day. Maybe with these strategies, I can remember that the most important thing in my life is to sit as Jesus’ feet, like Mary did.

Her sister was angry, controlling, resentful and codependent as she asked Jesus to set Mary straight. Gently yet firmly, he answered, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Bold print my own.)

Lord, help us to seek your face and to sit at your feet. Help us to prioritize our lives, putting you as number one.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | April 6, 2011

What to do when friends do you wrong: Advice from Job

Several years ago, I was reading through the Bible for the twelfth or thirteenth time.   During that frame in the movie of my life, a friend betrayed me , and I called out to God for wisdom and peace several times a day. Even so, my heart still bled.  I kept reading, admiring Job’s stellar character.

I was completely awestruck by the fact that after he lost his family and all of his worldly possessions, he fell to the ground and worshiped God!

One day, toward the end of reading Job, I noticed how badly his friends treated him.  They blamed him on his suffering, when in fact Satan had asked the Lord if he could test Job.  Satan told the Lord that if his blessings were stripped away,  Job  would curse God to his face.  So God let Satan test Job.

God eventually told Job to pray for the friends who had betrayed him.  How difficult it must have been for Job to do so, knowing they had blamed him for his suffering!

Nevertheless, Job obeyed and prayed for the three friends who had violated him. Obedience to the core.

Soon after, Job was blessed with twice as much as he originally had.

Although I had never noticed this, and decided to pray for my own friend who had betrayed me.  I didn’t pray that God would show her the wrong she committed against me, but I prayed for her true needs.

The next day I went on a walk with another friend,Claudia.  Suddenly she turned and said, “Hey, I noticed the other day that Job prayed for his friends that did him wrong, and later God blessed him.”  I stopped on the sidewalk, stunned. 

“I’m not saying if we pray for people who did us wrong, God will bless us materially.  I’m just saying we are called to pray for those who persecute us,” Claudia explained.  I told her I completely agreed with her.

I continued to pray for the friend who betrayed me, and eventually all my resentment toward her melted away.  My heart softened to the pain in her life, and I gradually grasped her soul-wrenching story. We lived our separate movies peacefully, but my heart filled to the brim with joy. The tears in her story rained on my life voyage.

I thanked God for the valuable lesson he taught me through the book of Job, and make it a practice to pray for people who harm me.

man at sunset nice

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | February 17, 2011

The Great Paradox of Life: Selfishness, Hedonism, and Joy

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  (Bold print my own.)

A few weeks ago I read this passage for a women’s Bible study, and the word “nothing” caught me by surprise.  It almost lifted off the page to stand alone. I’ve read the verse many times over the past several years, but never has the word “nothing” captured my heart like it did this time.

American culture screams,” It’s all about me.”  Selfishness is the hallmark of today’s culture and the phrase, ”Do nothing out of selfish ambition…” is completely the opposite. The American Dream is much ado about self, getting it all and having it all so then we can be happy.  Yet the wealthy suburbs in America have the highest rates of depression and suicide, and the Amish have the lowest rates.  This isn’t really surprising because the more people have, the more they want and the more they tend to worry.  Yet the “Do nothing out of selfish ambition…” speaks of a greater cause, a greater calling – than self.  So contrary to today’s thought stream of, “Get out of my way because it’s all about me.”

About eight years ago I wrote a booklet saying that our economy would spiral down quickly because the majority of Americans have replaced the cross with the almighty dollar sign. (The booklet was never published and I only submitted it to one publisher before pursuing my body image book.)  We had become a nation which cares much more about self and hedonism than God.  In the Old Testament, every time that happened, the economy crumbled and so it seemed obvious to me that the same would happen soon, which it did. We were living in a way that is opposite to the scripture, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.”  Self and fun were the names of the game.  Yet Jesus preached, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it,” Matthew 16: 25.  Jesus turned the tables on life’s rules, and he encourages us to be selfless and to give of our time and our resources because that is where true happiness resides.  What if we could tattoo on our hearts, “It’s all about giving of self,” instead of, “It’s all about me.”?

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | February 7, 2011

Dorothy’s Hands

“Where is everybody going?” my 91 year old mother-in-law asked, her forehead furrowed.  “And why are they in such a hurry?”

What a profound question.  Where is everybody going, and why are we racing as if the world would crumble if we slowed down?  For a woman who dropped out of seventh grade to work on the farm and help raise her siblings, Dorothy had loads of wisdom.  But then again, wisdom and education don’t necessarily reside in the same person.  What would  happen if we slowed down and re-evaluated what is most important?

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her gnarled fingers and thought of the years Dorothy picked sugar beets to help feed the family.  Those same hands milked cows and clutched the reigns of horses as she drove the horse and buggy to town; hands with a rich, colorful history.

I was driving Dorothy to Top Foods for candy to turn her kitchen into a gingerbread house mini-factory.  The store showcases dozens of glass columns from floor to ceiling. Candy of every shape, size, and color fill the columns. Dorothy magically transformed it into roofs, windows, siding, chimneys, sidewalks, and fences for her little gingerbread masterpieces. Then she turned tiny toy babies into snow-suited kids riding sleds and ice skating outside the houses.  She certainly gave Christmas magazines a run for their money.  The end result melted peoples’ hearts as they slipped into the glorious winter wonderland created by the hands of Dorothy Michehl.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I walked down the hall into Dorothy’s room at the lovely adult family home, where she now receives hospice care at age of 95.  I sat beside her as she slept, noticing her hands resting against her cheek and pillow.  The beautiful, swollen, arthritic hands that once created a lovely garden.  Bridges, a pond, a small waterfall, and a natural stream kept the hundreds of flowers and bushes company through the years outside her simple home.  The same hands had managed a private food bank for fifty people out of her home. Dorothy had received an award for Volunteer of the Year at the age of 85.  Such beautiful hands that loved well for close to a hundred years.

Outside her room, I heard people laughing, which reminded me of Dorothy’s hearty laugh.  I remembered when I was in graduate school and my sister-in-law, Joan, visited from Chicago.  She asked what subjects I was studying and I mentioned several, including Sexuality in Marriage.  After a few seconds, I apologized to Dorothy because I thought she might feel uncomfortable.  She said, “How do you think I ended up with four kids?!”

After reminiscing a while, I realized she would probably sleep most of the day and got up to leave. I quietly squeezed one of her beautiful hands.  I walked down the hall and said goodbye to the man and his mom, still sitting near the Christmas tree.  His sacrificial love reminded me of the sacrificial love of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  He came to earth, wrapped in humanity and later died on a rugged cross to pay the price for our sins.  He is the reason for true peace and joy.

I pray that we all stop to reflect on Dorothy’s profound wisdom:  “Where is everybody going, and why are they in such a hurry?”  May you have the gift of sitting in silence, thinking about where you are going and if you’re moving too fast.

Visit my blog at www.tooshieblog.com (Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit).

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | January 24, 2011

Running the Raced Marked Out for You

Note:  This post was written by Anita Peluso. 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

What does it mean to run the race marked out for us?

A few years ago my best friend, my husband, and I determined that we were going to walk (not run) a marathon. At first, I thought that it was going to be easy. How hard could it be to walk for 8 hours? I work in retail and spend 8 hours on my feet all the time! Running, of course, would be much harder. And so we began a training program that started with walking for a half hour twice a week and then one long walk beginning at 2 miles. It was fun to get together, the 3 of us, and go on these walks. It wasn’t hard and it didn’t take a long time. Piece of cake.

But let me tell you, the course of training that started out easy became harder and harder. At 14 miles I nearly quit. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. But my best friend encouraged me to not give up. Because we made a point of training together, even though I badly wanted to quit, it was even harder to let her down and not continue. 14 miles for me was a wall, and once I got past that wall, mentally, it started becoming easier. Physically, it was still a challenge. But mentally, I knew that if we stuck to the program we would be able to do it.

The program continued to increase in time and mileage every week over the course of 6 months so that we would be amply prepared for the 26.2 mile marathon. After 3 months we were walking 13 miles, and at 6 months we were walking 22 miles. And in October we walked 26.2 miles in seven hours at the Portland Marathon and I accomplished my goal of finishing while the support stations were still posted along the route.

Training for and walking that marathon was a life changing experience for me. I used to be discouraged, even annoyed with these verses in 1 Corinthians.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” — 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

When I used to read these verses, it would reinforce my feelings of inadequacy. I have often been the last one picked in dodge ball, the shortest in a crowd, the least in a competition. I’m often the one missing out, losing out, or just plain out of it.

But after the marathon, I began to look at these verses differently. It’s not about winning… or being The Winner. In the life of being a Christian we are not competing with each other to memorize the most Bible verses, or sing the best worship songs, or even sin the least. We are competing with ourselves. We are striving to be better than we were yesterday.

I think that the life of a Christian is a lot like training for a marathon. 5 miles seems like a long ways when you’ve only gone 2. 13 miles looks impossible when you’ve only gone 5. But when you’ve gone 22 miles, 13 is looking pretty good.

In the marathon of life, we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you watched any of the Olympics a few years ago, it seemed to me that “this is a personal best for …(insert athlete’s name)” was said a lot by the commentators. We, as Christians, are working towards achieving our personal best thus far.

And as for helping each other to look ahead and finish the race, it’s about training side-by-side, to set out and accomplish what we have decided to do. It’s about keeping perspective of where we were when we started and where we are going. It’s about working towards our personal best. And we have a trainer, the Holy Spirit, who will help us stay on track if we only ask for guidance.

by Anita Peluso, guest blogger.  Visit her blog at www.bloominworkshop.wordpress.com

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | January 12, 2011

Need a Reboot? Read Crazy Love

I recently read a book that challenged my heart greatly.  Although the information wasn’t new, Francis Chan’s Crazy Love created a deep stirring in my soul.  It’s no wonder that hundreds of readers have dramatically changed their lives after reading the book.  The first time I heard of Chan’s book, a friend mentioned she was attending a Crazy Love Bible study.  The book spoke volumes to her and inspired her to wholeheartedly live  for Christ.  Although she had been involved in many ministries, Chan’s book re-booted her love and devotion to Christ.  Crazy Love reminded her that she was created to glorify God with every breath of her life. 

I read the book and was rebooted and challenged.  While I know that Jesus encouraged giving to the poor, I was quite moved that Chan sold his home and dramatically downsized.  He is convinced that much of what Jesus taught is not often lived out by churches and individuals.  For example, the large, luxurious homes that some Americans have are not at all the way Jesus wanted his followers to live.  The American, move-up mentality of buying more and better was not at all Jesus’ heart.  He was sold out to helping the needy, the underprivileged, and the lost.  While I’ve known this for years, to witness a believer downsize in the name of Christ (and hundreds of others have done this as well as other radical giving of their time, money, and talents) was new for me.

Over 75% of the world lives on less than two dollars a day while many Americans bask in luxury.  Even if you don’t consider yourself wealthy, compared to the other 75%, you probably are.  Jesus would have been – and in fact is –  heartbroken that many of us live high on the hog while most scratch out an existence.  If the church and individuals would step in and meet the challenge, we could radically transform lives.  I’ve pondered this a lot since I’ve read the book, and feel like I am able to see my life with fresh eyes.  Not only that, but it has helped me to see scripture with a new heart.  Thanks, Francis Chan, for the reboot.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | January 4, 2011

Haiti: A Year Later

While Americans ripped open packages and feasted on turkey, cookies, and fudge during December, Haitians experienced quite the opposite conditions.  As we gathered with friends and family in decked out houses with lights and trees, many of them were forced to find shelter under blue plastic tarps.  Crammed in with other hungry, desperate people, rapes and robberies occur regularly.  Due to the collapse of infrastructure from the earthquake, the majority of people are still in survival mode, unable to work, attend school, or continue their normal lives.  To make matters worse, 100,000 Haitians have cholera.  Two thousand people died from the devastating disease which causes severe diarrhea and vomiting.  On top of that, Haiti has experienced a surge of political unrest. 

Something is wrong with this picture, I thought.  In the midst of our celebrating the holiday, the Haitians struggled desperately to grasp onto the line of life.  As we stuff our recycle bins with torn wrapping paper, take down our Christmas decorations, and plan goals for 2011, the Haitians scratch to survive.  The question is, what can I do?  What will I do?  Or will we choose to ignore their suffering?  Granted, life in Haiti was never a trip to Disneyland.  The country had many issues before the quake, which magnified their suffering greatly. 

Even so, how can we live with ourselves if we choose to do nothing?  For me, health issues make it difficult to go to Haiti to help physically.  However, I can offer my support to those who choose to go.  This may be prayer support, financial support, or support in the form of helping maintain their homes while they are away. 

Many organizations are offering needed assistance to Haitians in the form of health care, supplies, and rebuilding infrastructure.  Here are some resources to offer a hand.  After all, can we really continue on our merry way while they suffer amidst despair and destruction? 

For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; ( Matthew 25:35)

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 23, 2010

Remember the Wallet

 

I recently met Kim, an old college friend, at Southcenter Mall.  She asked to treat me to The Spaghetti Factory for a belated birthday lunch.  After a lot of arm-twisting (okay, not really!), I agreed.  We enjoyed catching up on each other’s lives over salad, warm sourdough bread, spinach ravioli, and pasta with clam sauce. Since Kim is also a garage sale/thrift store queen, we cruised around and found a garage sale.

She opened her purse so she could buy punch from the cutest little boy this side of Nevada.  After all, who can resist a five-year-old selling anything?  But her wallet was missing.  She didn’t find it in the car, so we jetted back to the restaurant.

What would you have done if your wallet was missing?  To be honest, I would have gone from calm to major freak-out-mode in .05 seconds.  My mind went to identity theft, credit card theft, and saw her life slide into a pit of identity despair.

To my amazement, Kim said, “Oh, it’ll be fine.  I’m sure I just left it in the booth at lunch.”  I thought even if the wallet was still there, its contents would be missing.  I prayed about it as I drove. Although the Spaghetti Factory was only five miles or so from the garage sale, it seemed to take a lifetime to get there.  The parking lot was jammed as usual and I felt the seconds and minutes ticking away.  Meanwhile, Kim continued telling me about her daughter’s college graduation and some of her son’s struggles.

For Kim, time did not seem to be spinning out of control.  She kept laughing and talking as though nothing had happened. I could not have gripped the steering wheel any tighter as I finally found a parking space.  Taking a deep breath, I prayed again that the wallet would be there.  Once inside, Kim calmly asked the hostess if anyone had turned in a wallet.  When the hostess said she would check, Kim reassured me that everything would be fine. 

I stopped to think about the fact that her wallet was missing and she was reassuring me. A few minutes later the hostess returned with the wallet.  Kim looked inside and everything was intact. Leaving the parking lot, I asked Kim how she stayed so calm.

She explained that since her mother had some major health concerns, she came to realize that nothing in life is worth worrying about.  “No matter what, I know God is always there, and that he will bring me through it and give me peace.  I know that God really has my back, and that worrying doesn’t do a bit of good – in fact it does more damage.”

Although I know several verses about peace and have read through the Bible every year (although usually it takes me a bit longer) for nine or ten years, my freak-out mode still climbs high at times.

Yet in spite of this, anxiety engulfs my soul at times.

And so I ask you – and I ask myself- what would happen if we could tattoo Kim’s attitude onto our hearts, and live at peace under the turmoil of life’s ebbs and flows?  

Amidst the undercurrents of life, what if we could cling to the promise that through it all, God has our backs – even when it doesn’t seem like it? I had prayed that morning for God to order my day, and thinking back about the day, I am grateful about this experience.

I told my husband about it, and now whenever a stressful situation floods us with worry, we tell each other, “Remember the wallet.”

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 21, 2010

Christmas 2005

poinsettiasDecember 1, 2005

Dear Friends and Family,

Last month I had the privilege of visiting some close friends in Sundance, Wyoming.  If it rings a bell, that’s not Santa’s sleigh settling on your roof or in your head.  Sundance is the place the Sundance Kid did his thing.  Nestled against the Black Hills, this little gem is the home of about 1,000 people and many more animals.  Wyoming is home to more animals than people, and deer and wild turkeys roam the neighborhoods.  Maybe you’re thinking it sounds a lot like home, with wild turkeys running around.   But these turkeys are real, not just what you call your neighbor who tp’d your house to get back at you for sticking Oreo cookies all over his minivan.  (I’ve always had the urge to do that!)

It seemed as though I was plucked out of one world and plopped into another when I learned that dinner the first night was going to be green rabbit chili.   My friend Sherri’s brother-in-law had recently shot the rabbit.  Somehow I got it down, and mom was right, it tasted like chicken.   Many people in Wyoming hunt their own meat and chop their own wood.  Most homes in Sundance are a little over 1000 square feet, but the people don’t care because they like each other.  They stop by their neighbors’ houses once or twice a week just to have coffee and chat.  No need to call because they don’t ask themselves, “What will the neighbors think?”  if the house looks like a pack of second-graders were let loose for a week.  Sherri and Ted don’t have a television.  Their lives are quite simple. People in Sundance aren’t into overspending to keep up with the Jones’, and Wyoming is the only state in the nation with a surplus as opposed to a deficit.  It also happens to be the only state with no gambling — not even a lottery.

One Saturday evening, when Ted and their adopted son, Earl, went elk hunting in the mountains, Sherri and I bundled the two little ones up and set them in their red big wheel Radio Flyer wagon  We walked around Sundance and I noticed that one of the two restaurants wasn’t open.  I asked Sherri why it wasn’t open on a Saturday night, because it seemed to me they would miss out on some great business.  She told me that the owners were probably at home with their families because in Sundance many people value their families over materialism.  At that moment it dawned on me that Sundance offers a beautiful simplicity of life that we non-Wyomingites often miss due to our frazzled lives.  Of course it’s not  perfect because there is no heaven on earth.  But it definitely offers a delightful taste of life in the raw.

And what on earth does Sundance have to do with Christmas, you’re asking, as you buzz around the house with tinsel stuck between your toes.  Is Cherrie off on another tangent, maybe on a sugar high from drinking too many peppermint mochas?  Actually, although you may be right, the back-to-the-basics living in Sundance reminded me of the real nativity—the first Christmas.  Mary had trotted around on a donkey in her last week or so before labor.  I imagine she had some serious issues at about that time,  (As one of my clients said, no one has problems anymore – we all have issues.)   And you thought the delivery of your first child wasn’t exactly a trip to Nordstrom.  Unlike your Costco nativity set, perfectly clean except for the fudge you spilled on one of the wise men, the first Christmas whispered of simplicity.  Instead of glitter, angel hair, or wood shavings to look like hay, dirt and dust adorned the people and animals — not to mention flies.  The most beautiful experience in history seeped of simplicity and  rawness.

We pray that you, like the folks living in Sundance, savor what is truly important in life.  May you strip away life’s complexities and find beauty in the simplicity of relationships.  And may the Son dance on your soul every day of your life.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 21, 2010

Unwrapping the Heart of Christmas

A few years ago, shortly after the Thanksgiving dishes were put away, I started to panic.  How would I get Christmas together?  My heart raced and my palms felt sweaty as I thought of everything I had to do before the big day – shop, decorate, bake, wrap gifts, clean, cook, and attend celebrations.  Wait a minute.  Isn’t this supposed to be fun?

Even though I was busier than Superwoman on a triple vente latte, at the last minute I decided to attend Bible study.  Deep in my heart, I knew I couldn’t let that go.  I’m so glad I did, because the speaker performed a demonstration that helped me prioritize my Santa sack sized to-do list.  She placed a bowl of sand into a two liter jar. Next, she added a bowl of small rocks. Finally she tried to add a bowl of golf-ball sized rocks in the jar, but they wouldn’t   fit.

“The sand and pebbles represent the busy things that eat up your time but don’t have eternal value,” she said.  “Think about activities and errands that take time but really are not essential.  You’ll notice that all these rocks won’t fit into the jar.  That’s because I have chosen to make the non-essential, trivial things in my life the foundation.  Now I have little room for Jesus, the Rock.”

 Then she dumped the contents of the jar onto a pan and separated the sand, pebbles, and rocks.  “Let’s see what happens when we fix our eyes on Jesus, our Rock and Savior, and make him the foundation of our lives. “  This time, she put the large rocks on the bottom of the jar. “Now let’s see if I can add some of the lesser important activities.”  Next she added the pebbles, and later the sand.  “Now I have room to fit in other activities because I have made Jesus the foundation.”  All the rocks, pebbles, and sand fit into the jar.  “This is your life, and you have choices on how you spend your time.  Let’s ask God to help us prioritize so we give our time to what’s really important – especially during the Christmas season.”

Driving home, I decided not to give in to the hustle-bustle of Christmas.   I know many people who like to shop, bake, decorate, and prepare for Christmas.  But to me it was starting to feel like a Martha Stewart Christmas Comparison Contest.   Agony and stress pumped through my blood, and I felt overwhelmed. 

That‘s when I decided to peel back the layers of Christmas.  I would do only what felt most important and that I enjoyed.  I cut down on shopping, decorating, baking, and celebrating.  We peeled Christmas down to the heart.  That year, we had a small tree and displayed our beautiful nativity to remind us daily of the heart of Christmas.  Since I love to write, and our friends and family expect to receive a Christmas story in the mail the first week of December, I put that at the top of the list. We enjoyed a beautiful, stripped-down Christmas.  Instead of worn out and waiting for the holidays to end, I felt energized, grateful, and focused on the Christ child and the gift of the cross – the true heart of Christmas.

I’m grateful I attended Bible study that hectic day in December because I gained the gift of prioritizing during the holidays.  Now I recall the jar demonstration every year, and focus on the beauty and glory of the season.  I’m much better at avoiding getting swept up into the insanity of trying to create the most spectacular Christmas ever.  I don’t have to worry about that because it was done on the very first Christmas when God came to earth as a baby.  That, I remind myself, is the heart of Christmas.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 21, 2010

Twelve Days Of Dave Ramsey Song

Twelve Days of Ramsey Song

(To be sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”)

by Cherrie Herrin-Michehl (www.cherriemac.wordpress.com, www.cherriesotherblog.com)

COPYRIGHT 2008 Cherrie Herrin-Michehl

On the first day of Ramsey I lived like no one else,

1.  I shredded all of my credit cards                    (a partridge in a pear tree)

2.  Got on a budget                                                      (two turtle doves)

3.  Sold my BMW                                                          (three French hens)

4.  Ate beans and rice                                                 (four calling birds)

5.  Kicked out Sallie Mae!                                          (five golden rings)

6.  Made a big debt snowball                                    (six geese-a-laying)

7.  Sold my stuff on eBay                                            (seven swans a-swimming)

8.  Stayed out of the malls                                          (eight maids-a-milking)

9. People called me crazy                                           (nine ladies dancing)

10. Had cash just in case                                             (ten lords-a-leaping)

11. Paid off all my debts                                               (eleven pipers piping)

12. Lived like no one else                                            (twelve drummers drumming)

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 21, 2010

Christmas 2006

 

Dear Friends and Family:

It was a glorious day in October.  The sun and clouds fought fiercely until finally the sun claimed victory  A few leaves lazily sauntered down from the Japanese maple to kiss the soggy ground.  I felt bored out of my skull as I sat behind my laptop dreaming up ways to get out of my counseling paperwork.  A match?  Or accidentally-on-purpose spilling my peppermint mocha on my notes?  Flushing them down the toilet?  Hmmm…I doubted that would do much besides cause two major glitches, one in the marriage and another in the pipes.

Visions of disappearing paperwork danced in my head,  when all through the house rang a clatter.  Or rather a tool box clunked onto the porch.  “YES!”  I said to myself.  Someone was at the door, so I could procrastinate a little longer.  It was George’s
electrician friend, Steve, who came to fix some electrical problems (not his real name).   This meant we could finally plug in the stove of our newly remodeled kitchen.  I’d never been that excited to meet anyone in my life.  I was about to get the stove out of my living room, get the fridge out of the entryway, and become the next Martha Stewart.  Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little.  At least I would be able to bake my reindeer cookies for Christmas.  The only downside I could see was having no more excuses to go out to dinner.  But I had faith I could always come up with more. 

I went back to my laptop and stared into my screensaver, daydreaming.  For some reason, visions of lupus problems spun in my head.  A few weeks earlier I had been in the ER because I could barely breathe.  It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  It turned out to be inflammation of the chest  wall, called costochondritis.  Dad told me it’s probably from shopping at Costco too much!  I wondered how the lupus stuff would end, and how long I would have days when I felt so tired it seemed as though I’d been drugged.  (Incidentally, I bought the coolest turkey roaster you’ve ever seen at Costco a few weeks ago!  I may never use it, but don’t you think it’s important to have a turkey roaster?!  It means I’m an adult.)   

A few minutes later I went back into the kitchen and chatted with Steve.  He said that his wife was terminally ill with a rare disease.  They have three little girls, and she home schools because it gives her something positive to focus on.  I barely held the tears back as Steve shared.  After our chat, I went back to my laptop and got online.  After floating around to different web sites, I landed at my bank and  decided to check my  balance to procrastinate just a tad longer.  I noticed that Steve had cashed the check we had written  him the previous day for fixing another electrical issue.  I realized that this could be coincidental, or that he had an unbearable financial hardship due to his wife’s medical bills.  Deep in my heart I felt it was the latter. 

 After praying for wisdom, I went back out and was amazed to find Steve singing  worship songs to God as he performed electrical wizardry.  I gently said I wanted to ask him a question, but emphasized that he certainly did not have to answer if he felt uncomfortable.  He gave me permission, so I asked if his wife’s medical bills had been overwhelming.  He said  they had lost their house because the medication cost more than $100,000 per year.  I could almost hear my heart shatter.  I told him I would be praying for him and his family.   Suddenly the $1,700 I ran up for my problem in the ER felt like nothing.

George finally got back from what he calls his second home—Home Depot.  (Those little kitchens in there are not really samples—it’s where he does his cooking.)  I called him back into  the computer room and told him the scoop.  We agreed to pay Steve much more than what he had asked for.  He tried to refuse  but we insisted.  He left, and I will never be the same. 

I plopped into the computer chair, pulled up my counseling program, and tackled my paperwork like the Energizer bunny with a venti triple latte buzz.  Perspective ran through my blood and thankfulness engulfed my soul.  Compared to Steve’s wife, my costochondritis and fatigue drenched in a batter of fear was nothing.  Most days I feel very healthy, and am able to have a pretty normal life.  I thanked God for the blessings in my life   It took more than thirty years to learn that life is not about being “successful,” but that it’s about relationships—with God and with people.  This is a time of year to reflect on how God gave up his power and humbled himself to be born as a baby so that we can have abundant life.  No, not a perfect life here on earth, but deep peace and joy although the world continues to spin out of control.    Hope saturates the air like giant snowflakes dancing in a blizzard.  If we grasp at hope it is ours forever — the greatest gift ever given.

People  have sought hope in money, achievements, and power.   Some have searched for peace in wine, women, and song.  I always forget if King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, or vice versa.  Either way, it was a whole heap of hormones.  King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, without God, all is emptiness.  And you can’t say he didn’t look for it elsewhere since he was the richest and wisest man who had ever lived. 

 We pray that you will have a Christmas filled with hope and the peace that can’t come from money, power, or success, but only from the hope of the Christ child who died so that you could have abundant life.   May your heart be filled with thanksgiving and peace as you share your blessings with others.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 21, 2010

Christmas 2007

Rottweilers were on the tippy top of Santa’s naughty list that cold, blustery day in December of ‘93.  The dude in the red duds was tired of all the letters he had received about Rottweilers causing havoc all over the world.  Poor Daphne, my 91-pound Rotty,  had to pay the price.  It  just wasn’t fair because the worst thing she had ever done  was eat a jumbo bag of Tostitos and wash it down with a quart of Pace Picante salsa.

Dusk fell around us as Daphne and I walked through my parents’ neighborhood in Mountlake Terrace.   I had  to find a good home for her because I no longer had time for a dog.   I had just moved back to the beautiful Northwest the year before, after a seven year stint in California and Arizona.  It was great to be home, and I was thankful to have found a teaching job.  But this meant I would have very little time for Daphne.

Since Rottweilers had a bad reputation, it was going to be a tough sell.  Even though Daphne was a sweetie (except for  the chip and salsa incident, but you and I both know we’ve done worse things than that), it would be next to impossible to find her a home—let alone a good one.  Most people preferred puppies so they could train them.  Daph was two years old, which would lower her chances of getting adopted.

I decided to say a prayer about Daph’s situation.  Someone told me it worked, but I wasn’t  sure back in ’93.  I was ticked off at God because I thought he had ruined my life with a bad marriage (not to George, of course!) and bad health.   Everywhere I went, people kept telling me about a church in Bothell, now called CrossPointe.   I didn’t live or work near Bothell, so that was odd.  I knew church wasn’t my thing, but after so many people told me about it, I went just to get them off my back.  The plan was to go once and then get on with my life because I didn’t have time for God, and it was obvious he didn’t have time for me.  Anyway, the people at CrossPointe were really into this prayer thing, and as it turned out I greatly enjoyed the church.  So I figured I’d say a prayer for Daphne.  After all, what did I have to lose?

Taking a deep breath, I said (in my head, so nobody would think I was a freak ) “God, hey it’s me, Cherrie.  I really need a good home for Daphne, because I don’t have time to spend with her now that I’m teaching again.  Please help me.  She’s really good, except for the chip deal.”  Okay, it’s a done deal, I thought, except I’ll have to do my part instead of sitting around on my derriere, wondering why God hasn’t pulled his weight.  So I began to think  about listing Daphne in the paper.  Of course Internet wasn’t around at the time, back when the dinosaurs were just starting to die off.

All the sudden I heard a clatter, or actually it was chatter—the chatter of a lady driving by.  “Hey, what a beautiful dog!”  she yelled out her car window, slowing down as she drove past Daphne and I.  “I’m looking for a Rottweiler, but I want one that’s about two years old so it’s already trained and housebroken and stuff.  And of course I want a female.”  Good golly, miss molly, I thought.  I had just sent up the prayer less than five minutes before.

“Pull over so we can talk,” I motioned.    Geez Louise, I thought, maybe I should put in my order now for a new red Mercedes convertible while the getting  is good, or at least  a Jeep Wrangler or something fun with a lot of spunk to put my kayak on…

She nodded, pulled over, and we chatted about Rotties.  She had been looking for a trained 2-year-old female Rottie for a few months.  A retired ,single nurse , she  wanted a dog to lavish her love on, as well as to protect her.  After a few trial runs, we both agreed that Daphne and Linda were meant for each other—like peppermint was made for mochas.  So Daphne and all her toys moved in with Linda.

Every so often I would think about Daphne and wonder how she was doing, but didn’t want to stop by or call because it would be hard emotionally.  About a year later, I was waiting in a pharmacy line, beginning to think I would be spending decades there.  By the time I got out of the pharmacy, I figured I would be about 96.  Bored out of my skull, I saw a lady who looked vaguely familiar, but couldn’t quite place her.  A few minutes later, she turned around and said, “Hey, you’re the one that gave me Daphne, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,”  I replied.  Linda reported that she enjoyed Daphne a great deal, and that she took her to have doggy massages every few weeks.  Since Linda was retired, they went on many trips to the beach and camping outings as well.   Sheesh, she has a better life than I do, I thought.  Everything turned out as happy as a six-year-old on Christmas morning.

I will never forget the day I prayed for Daphne,  because it’s the day  the Lord showed me that he is the God who provides,   the God who cares , and “the God with whom nothing is impossible.”  It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized that particular phrase is repeated many times in Scripture.    He is not a Santa Claus that gives us toys if we’re good girls and boys.  But even better, he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth,” says the Good Book.

Since then my life has changed in too many ways to count, and God has answered hundreds of my prayers—maybe even   thousands.  Sometimes he answers them right when I pray them, other times it takes a lot longer, and every once in a while he    answers “no”  or “wait.”  But each time he says “no” or “wait,”, there is always a great reason.  He has shown me that he not only is the reason for the season, but he is the reason for life, and that true peace, life, and joy can only be found at the foot of the cross.  Money, power, fame (or even chocolate!) can’t begin to compete.

We pray you will find true hope, peace, and joy this Christmas and all the days of your life.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 21, 2010

Christmas 2008

This can’t be happening, I told myself.  Clayton seemed to have been around forever.  Not only that, but part of me hoped and prayed that he would live forever.  You could almost drown in his ocean blue eyes, and his smile would knock you to the ground if you weren’t braced.  He seemed as stable as Christmas itself. 

Rumor had it that the elderly gem of a gentleman had deeper pockets than Santa, and that he dipped into them whenever his heart sang a sad song for someone.  That turned out to be quite often.  I heard that Clayton had helped a family buy a house, and that he bought cars for others in need.  Sometimes I wondered if he was too generous with his money, but I guess that was his own business.  I used to worry that people would take advantage of his humongous heart, which seemed to take up most of his body. 

Clayton’s heart danced to a distinctly different drum beat—the drum beat of love.  His passion was serving, and he threw his soul into the eight private food banks that he ran.  Dawn was still asleep when Clayton crawled out of bed, ate breakfast, and drove his older Mercedes to Costco, Albertsons, QFC, and other stores to pick up day-old food to deliver to his beloved food banks.  Day in and day out, for years and years and years, Clayton delivered food and operated (with the help of other generous volunteers) the food banks.  One summer George asked him if he was going on vacation, and he responded, ”Who would pick up the food?”  Then he dashed off into his sleigh—I mean his old Mercedes, and gallivanted off to the next stop.

Maintaining eight food banks kept Clayton busy, but he still found several hours per week to transport people with MS and cancer to their medical appointments.  He also volunteered at his church.  

Shortly after 9/11, I asked Clayton, “Do you ever worry?”  He smiled, answered “No,” and pointed up to heaven.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I remembered that even when it doesn’t seem like it, God is in control.  And in the end, the good guys and gals always win.  The deal is that sometimes we have to wait. 

One year Clayton decided he wanted chicken and dumplings for his birthday dinner and asked my mother-in-law, Dorothy, to cook for him.  I used to tease her, saying they could get married in her glorious back yard, and her daughters and I could be the bridesmaids.  She turned redder than Santa’s suit and insisted they were just friends.  But I often saw  heart-shaped sparks in Clayton’s eyes when he delivered  food to Dorothy’s garage, which housed one of the food banks.

I don’t have many heroes, but Clayton was certainly at the top of the short list.  So the summer before last, when a friend called to say that Clayton had died in a car accident, I stopped breathing for a few seconds.  I couldn’t believe that the stop button was pushed on Clayton’s life.  The accident happened on a major road in front of a QFC, and he died upon impact.  Food was scattered all over 124th Street.  Costco poppy seed muffins, spinach, lettuce, oranges, potatoes, and chocolate cake with creamy frosting decorated 124th like snowflakes falling at Christmas.  Clayton had been on his way to zip in and pick up a woman to drive her to cancer treatment before delivering the food to his next stop.  But of course he never made it because he took a detour to heaven.

We pray that you will embrace the true meaning of Christmas.  And remember, Clayton was right.  We have nothing to worry about because God has given us a perfect gift.  The paradox is that it was not wrapped in a Nordstrom box and placed under a tree.  It was actually a baby-man-God wrapped in swaddling cloth and placed in a manger.  That is truly the greatest gift of all.  May you be a gift to your friends and family this Christmas and forever, just as Clayton was a gift to all who were so blessed to have known him.                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                            

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 20, 2010

Christmas 2009

Mary sighed, wondering why men often forget their cell phones.  Is it a genetic problem- or what,she asked herself.  She made a mental note to check it out on Wikipedia when arriving  back home. If onlyJoseph would have booked reservations online with his new smart phone, I would have an easier birth process, she thought.  But Mary did not nag or complain like you or I would have – even though she bounced along on a donkey for several days in her ninth month of pregnancy.

She wondered how long it would take to get to Bethlehem for the census, and wished her parents wouldhave given her a GPS for her birthday.  But of course they were from Nazareth, the bad side of the tracks, and they couldn’t afford a spendy electronic gizmo. Considered the armpit of the Middle East, Nazareth’s imageneeded a makeover.  Mary hoped and prayed they would not get lost again. And so it came to pass that the infant Jesus, our beautiful Savior and Lord, rested in a manger.

The actual setting did not look like your sweet nativity set.  In real time, the manger smelled awful and looked dirty.  Flies and dust gave the location an earthy feel quite unlike your set – unless your garage or attic needs some serious cleaning.  (If so, I wouldn’t wait until Spring to clean because it may be too late!)  The Maid Brigade had not cleaned the manger, and Martha Stewart had not decorated it.

The three wise guys in your nativity set may not be the correct number, either.  When reading the passage, we notice three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Because of the three gifts, people assume that three decked out rich dudes from the East checked out the scene.  But we don’t know for sure.  Maybe one of them sent his gift ahead of his arrival, or ordered it late on EBay and didn’t want to pay the extra fast shipping charges.  Or who knows?  Maybe someone stole his identity and he could not get access to his money to buy a gift.  Or he was cheap, like the typical millionaire.   After all, research shows that millionaires get that way because they are extremely thrifty and generally do not buy ritzy brand names.  So maybe one of the wise guys was actually so tight that he squeaked when hopping onto his camel.

Mary wished she would have networked with someone on Facebook before leaving home to see if they could crash at someone’s house.  Then she wondered if she was spending too much time on Facebook and whether she needed to re-evaluate how she spends her time.  What a great New Year’s resolution, she thought.  She made a note on her palm pilot to think and pray about this.

Joseph looked upon Mary and his new son, Jesus, with great adoration.  Man, I wish I would have remembered my smart phone so I could have put these beautiful pictures on Facebook, he thought.  All the people who say that Nazareth is the bad side of the tracks – if only they could see this glorious sight of my son, the Savior and Messiah.  Oh well, he thought, maybe someone in the small crowd of worshipers will take a few snapshots.

Of course this is a pretend story based loosely on the facts about Christmas.  I don’t think God minds because he definitely has a sense of humor.  After all, he created you and me, didn’t he?  Maybe you have always thought that the real story of the birth of Christ was just that – a story.  But in reality, the birth of Christ is the most powerful moment in all of world history other than the cross.  The little baby/Savior/ was all man and all God, and he is the greatest gift mankind has ever known.   If we accept him into our hearts, we receive the free gift of salvation from sin and from ourselves.  We hope and pray that you will experience this beautiful gift of the real Christmas today and every day of your life.

Peacefully,

George and Cherrie

PS.  Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me  (Cherrie) to pursue my passion of writing over the past few years.  A few months ago I signed with a well-respected agent for my humorous –yet-serious book on body image called Fannies:  Reclaiming the Plunder of the Body Image Bandit.  She is currently speaking with publishers on my behalf.  My blog on body image is based on the book:  www.cherriemac.wordpress.com.

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | December 20, 2010

Christmas 2010

“Where is everybody going?” my 91 year old mother-in-law asked, her forehead furrowed.  “And why are they in such a hurry?” 

What a profound question, I thought.  Where is everybody going, and why are we racing as if the world will crumble if we slow down?  For a woman who dropped out of seventh grade to work on the farm and help raise her siblings, she had loads of wisdom.  But then again, wisdom and education don’t necessarily reside in the same person.  What would  happen if we slowed down and re-evaluated what is most important? 

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her gnarled fingers and thought of the years Dorothy picked sugar beets to help feed the family.  Those same hands milked cows and clutched the reigns of horses as she drove the horse and buggy to town.  The hands with a rich, colorful history.

I was driving Dorothy to Top Foods for candy to turn her kitchen into a gingerbread house mini-factory.  The store showcases dozens of glass columns from floor to ceiling filled with candy of every shape, size, and color.  Dorothy magically transformed it into roofs, windows, siding, chimneys, sidewalks, and fences for her little gingerbread masterpieces. Then she turned tiny toy babies into snow-suited kids with matching hats riding sleds and ice skating outside the houses.  She gave Christmas magazines a run for their money.  The end result melted peoples’ hearts as they slipped into the glorious winter wonderland created by the heart and hands of Dorothy Michehl. 

*          *           *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

They sat soaking in silence, gazing at the glittery Christmas tree. He, with his arm around his mother, who no longer could speak. Alzheimer’s robbed her of many things, including her speech. Together, like I have seen them many times before, soaking in the silence of love.   

I walked down the hall into Dorothy’s room at the lovely adult family home, where she now receives hospice care at the age of 95.  I sat beside her as she slept, noticing her hands resting against her cheek and pillow.  The beautiful, gnarled, arthritic hands that once created a lovely garden.  Bridges, a pond, a small waterfall, and a natural stream kept the hundreds of flowers and bushes company through the years outside her simple home.  The same hands that managed a private food bank for fifty people out of her own home, which is why she received an award for Volunteer of the Year.  Such beautiful hands that loved well for close to a hundred years. 

Outside her room, I heard people laughing, which reminded me of Dorothy’s hearty laugh.  I remembered when I was in graduate school and my sister-in-law, Joan, visited from Chicago.  She asked me what subjects I was studying and I mentioned several, including Sexuality in Marriage.  After we started the conversation, I apologized to Dorothy because I thought she might feel uncomfortable.  She said, “How do you think I ended up with four kids?!”   

After reminiscing for a while, I realized she would probably sleep most of the day and got up to leave. I quietly squeezed one of her beautiful hands.  I walked down the hall and said goodbye to the man and his mom, still sitting near the Christmas tree.  His sacrificial love reminded me of the sacrificial love of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  He came to earth, wrapped in humanity and later died on a rugged cross to pay the price for our sins.  He is the reason for true peace, joy, and for this glorious season. 

I pray that we all stop and reflect on Dorothy’s profound wisdom:  “Where is everybody going, and why are they in such a hurry?”  May you have the gift of sitting in silence as you gaze at your Christmas tree, thinking about where you are going and if you’re moving too fast. 

May you have a glorious Christmas!

Check out my blog at www.cherriemac.wordpress.com.  Fannies:  Reclaiming the Plunder of the Body Image Bandit

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | August 8, 2014

There’s only 1 Woman with No Body Image Issues!

This is a short video. Under 2 minutes.

Learn her secret!

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10203648089674299&id=1578349327

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | July 17, 2014

Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Flagging Traffic

image This morning as I drove to Canyon Park, I saw a construction crew ahead. Fortunately I noticed in time to safely turn around when I saw the “Expect Delays” sign.

A few seconds later, the screen of my mind pushed the rewind button. I almost smelled the fresh asphalt as I reflected on the “ghosts” of Christmas – I mean Summers – past. I saw myself at nineteen through twenty-two. I flagged traffic in summers to pay for college. I received some scholarships for college, and took out a few loans. But the main course of my college money – every last piece of gravel of it – I earned from flagging. My sister and I were the first ones to receive an education on either side of the family tree for generations. We worked hard to scrape together the funds attend college.

Visions of hot Summer days danced in my mind as I reflected on the seasons I worked as a flager. The sun warmed the asphalt to a temperature almost hot enough to fry an egg. Often we worked twelve or fourteen hour days. My ankles swelled like little watermelons. I didn’t have a walkie talkie, and the boredom sometimes expanded like a beach ball in my heart. At times, few cars passed. Maybe just a handful on some days, depending on the location. Flaggers seldom received potty breaks either. So yes, we chose the biggest bush around. Sagebrush and trees, sometimes with rattlesnakes lurked nearby. But – no pun intended – as soon as I decided to go, the mailman came.

No technology, as in phones, was available. Just me, myself and I.

So what – you’re asking – did I do to pass the time? Okay, I hate to admit this – I practiced the phrase, “ET phone home.” The ET movie came out, and I needed something to push my watch hand faster. I enjoyed the solitude, listened to the birds, and waited. That’s if the traffic load was light.

When the traffic was heavy – on Bluett pass, I watched people sit in their air conditioned cars, sipping water while they drove to Lake Chelan. Sweat dripped down my forehead, layered with fine dust, and my tee shirt soaked up the drenching sweat. I envied the people who complained they would have to wait – sometimes up to almost twenty minutes – who were driving to Chelan.

“What the hell is takin so long?” a middle-aged man asked. He turned off the car and stomped up to my face, glaring in my eyes. He sipped his ice tea and I ached to have even one ice cube in my water. “I’m on my way to Chelan, and I was supposed to be there an hour ago.” Well, jerk, it’s not my problem you left late to begin with.” Yet I kindly smiled and explained the road crew was resurfaced the road so it would be smooth instead of filled with pot holes. The expansion and contraction of the ice, snow, heat, combined with semi-trucks constantly beating them up chips and cracks them. They feel like you do after a rocky day. Why so many trucks on the road? To bring you coffee, computers, deodorant, and food. (I know, you’re having a seizure because you just realized the connection between trucks and coffee.

Many people expressed great kindness to me as well as the other flaggers. They brought me water, pop, fruit, and fun, interesting conversation as they waited. My orthodontist noticed me, and offered me several baskets of fruit. I gladly took him up on it and smiled in glee as he probably noticed his workmanship.

The girl at the other end was gorgeous. She received donuts, more fruit and drinks. One day, a guy driving a shiny new fire engine red Coca Cola semi-truck pulled over to give her Coke and donuts. Pulling over a truck is quite an ordeal, but he managed.

Another day, a woman didn’t see any of our signs, and was about to drive into a ten-foot deep hole about thirty feet long. “STOP! STOOOOPPPPP!” I yelled, but she didn’t hear me. So at the last moment, I threw my sign onto her hood, possibly saving injuries of her and her children.

Another guy begged me to let him go through. “My wife is gonna kill me when she realizes I was gone all night.” That’s not my problem. Somehow I navigated the conversation and kept him there.

A big burly biker dude dressed head-to-toe in black leather turned off his engine. He pulled a beer out of his saddlebag and started to guzzle, but I told him to pour it out. “A girl flagging a bridge was just killed last week by a drunk driver,” I said. He poured the beer onto the hot pavement. I didn’t tell him I had desperately begged my dad for the job, but he wouldn’t let me have it. The job was a night position, and I would get paid much double due to the risk. “Cherrie, if a drunk driver comes along, where are you gonna go?” Like that’s ever gonna happen. I can feel tears well up in my eyes now as I type this, thinking about the young woman who lost her life. That scene replays in my mind every now and then when I’m wondering why God won’t give me something I want.

Road construction is like The School of Life in many ways. Both offer lessons such as: Expect delays, detours, and not getting what we want. Yet sometimes this is a gift.

One morning a passenger of a car yelled and screamed uncontrollably at me while the other passengers held her down. “I’m late for my court date – and it’s all YOUR fault!” I notice she wasn’t wearing any jeans.

A guy sped through the new asphalt on another day, causing a layer of newly poured asphalt to spray his new lemon yellow Corvette. “Damned construction! What the hell?! You’ve ruined my car! What are you gonna do about this, bitch!” He jumped out of his car and screamed about five inches from my face as I flipped my sign around to let the traffic safely drive around the construction zone. Fortunately a state inspector arrived a few minutes later and rescued me. If he would have slowed down as the sign said, the car wouldn’t have been damaged.

A woman often brought me cookies and Jehovah’s Witness literature several times a week. I ate the cookies but always threw the pamphlets away, unbeknownst to her.

Many beautiful, glistening moments passed on those sweltering, sweaty, dust-covered days. The mountains, trees, and river sparkled God’s glorious landscape. Bluett Pass is a jewel, and will forever glimmer in my heart.

Two years ago, I waited as the first car for about twenty minutes as I listened to a flagger. I could have turned around but decided to hang out with her till the pilot car arrived so I could help her digital clock move faster. She flagged traffic year-round as a single mother and basically barely survived. I asked if I could come back with her favorite coffee, but she said no. She wanted to talk. I listened just about the whole time as she told her life story and told me how people swear at her for stopping them. “And I’m doing this so they can drive on a road without potholes. People are so blessed to live in this country where the roads aren’t full of potholes and cracks. And besides – imagine how cranky they would be without their coffee? They see no relationship between the roads and the coffee.” I agreed with her and smiled on the inside. She flags traffic regardless of the weather. The days I’m dry and warm, she shivers and attempts to stay dry as the Seattle rain blasts her from all directions. Then drives home to cook dinner for her family. Once again, in her feet.

Last year, driving home from work, I noticed some sweaty, dust-covered flaggers far ahead. I quickly checked traffic and did a safe U-turn. Then I drove to Target and bought two gigantic pops with extra ice. About a half hour later, I pulled far off the construction zone. I wonder what the guy thought as a professionally dressed woman in heels walked through the gravel to bring him the refreshment? “Hey, I brought you a pop,” I said. His smile could have lit a football field. He thanked me, and I walked back across the gravel in my high heels. I realized the new pair of heels might chip and scratch, but many things in life are more important than heels.~

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | June 27, 2014

There’s More to Life than Chasing Skinny! 3 Short Minutes to Change a Life

Freedom!

I feel freedom in the air as we approach this July 4th. Gratitude beyond words grips my soul as I think of the sacrifices men and women made so you and I can live free.

I’m sure you or someone you know receives regular attacks from the Body Image Bandit. By the age of 17, Americans have watched over 250,000 ads. Most of the ads shout, “Thin is beautiful, and beauty is almost everything.” This is why I am committed to helping women recapture their true callings. There’s more to life than chasing Skinny. Readers of Tooshie will experience glorious freedom through the book. It is a collage of humor, faith, stories and the psychology of food and body image.

Here is a short video – only 3 minutes – that explains the core of what freedom from the Body Image Bandit looks like. I recorded it with the vision of setting the captives free. I hope you enjoy it. If you don’t have body image issues, consider sharing with someone who does.

After all – there’s more to life than chasing Skinny!

Blessings,

Cherrie
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Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | May 14, 2014

The Big “R”

 

About a year ago, I attended a meeting in which the topic was resentment. I thought, “Oh I’m so glad I don’t have resentment toward anyone.” A lovely, fun woman next to me said she used to think she had no resentment toward anyone.

Many others shared, and I deeply searched my heart. Then I felt God gently convict me about someone I resented. I was surprised about this, although I don’t remember who the resentment was toward.

“Resentment is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die, “ another person shared.

Now I think about this periodically and dig deep into the trenches of my heart to specifically look for the big R – Resentment.

Unless you’re wearing water walking shoes, you most likely have a bit or a heap of resentment toward someone. Perhaps more than one person.

Do you have the courage to dig deeply into the trenches, to invite God to convict you? This will set you as free as a wild horse on a rolling green meadow on a crisp, sunny day.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” ~Psalm 51:10

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Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | May 11, 2014

The Bracelet: My Thoughts on Unmotherhood

When I was ten, I bought a bracelet at Goodwill. My family didn’t have much money, so finding such a thing was beyond special. I felt the lime green bracelet was the most beautiful thing I ever owned.

I noticed a few scratches in it, but cherished the precious bangle like it was solid gold. When I wore my special treasure, I felt like a gem deep inside my soul. The flaws were minimal compared to its beauty.

Due to its size, I outgrew my bracelet within a few years. But I decided to keep it to pass down to my daughter one day. I had no doubt whatsoever that I would have children someday, and people told me I would be a very loving mother.

The bracelet traveled with me as my family moved to Maui and back. Then I took it to several other cities I lived in. In my late teens and twenties it went to Pacific Lutheran University with me, then to Ellensburg while I was at Central Washington University. As an adult, the jewelry lived in California and Arizona with me.

Finally it landed back with me in Washington.I forgot about my bracelet until about ten years ago, when I realized I would never be a mother. I felt a need to do something with it, but I couldn’t think of anything. So the treasure sat in my jewelry box.

For several reasons, I didn’t have children. Yet raising children is so difficult these days, I am now at peace with it. I truly feel I had a different calling on my life, and I feel very blessed. Of course I wonder at times, what would it be like to have a little girl? What is it really like to be pregnant? I don’t go to baby showers because it strikes a knife through my heart.

I gave up going to church on Mother’s Day a few years ago, when all the moms were given a flower. I was also handed a flower, because the person passing out the flowers assumed I was a mother. I felt like I shouldn’t have a flower, and tried to give it back.

This wasn’t about feeling less valuable, but simply believing mothers deserved at least a flower on Mother’s Day. But they insisted I have a flower. It just didn’t feel right. I know with every fiber of my being that motherhood is the hardest job in the world.On December 12, 2012, I sat staring at the TV as I followed the news about a shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School. I cried and prayed for the families and cried more and prayed more. What has this world come to? I asked myself a thousand times.

And then I remembered the bracelet. For a whole year, I prayed several times throughout the day for all the victims, using the bracelet as a reminder. Each time my eyes landed on the bracelet, I poured out my heart for God to heal the hearts of the parents, the spouses, the friends, the siblings, and the children who saw the others die. After a while, it seemed to be easy to remember. It wasn’t a ritual, but an honor to pray for the parents of those precious souls.

Eventually, after the news died down and people stopped talking about it, I moved the bracelet to keep it fresh in my mind. I didn’t want to forget to pray for them. This helped me re-focus on praying. Sometimes I would pray during the night when I woke up to use the restroom. No matter what happened in my life, I wholeheartedly prayed for all involved.

After a year passed, I decided to put the bracelet back in my jewelry box, and thought about mailing it to the principal at Sandy Hook with a letter about my prayers for them. But for some reason, I never did.

I feel like the bracelet has now served its purpose, and that it will always be a treasure.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there. You have the hardest job on the planet, yet our society forgets you. You are treasures, and you are blessed. And for all who never became mothers, you’re in my thoughts and my prayers.~

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Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | January 7, 2014

Caleb’s Courage: Following God Wholeheartedly

Originally posted on Rhapsody en Route:

The word “wholeheartedly” almost lifted off the pages as I studied Joshua 14.  Twice  in the chapter, Caleb reminded Joshua how he had followed God wholeheartedly while the rest of the explorers

made the hearts of the people melt with fear.” Quite a word picture. I envisioned them shaking, dripping with sweat, as they lost courage and

focused on their circumstancesinstead of the power of God.  Hopelessness gripped their hearts as they let themselves drown in the deep sea of discouragement.

The third time, Joshua wrote how Caleb “had followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.”

While the other men called to examine the land cowered, Caleb stood up to answer the call.  He wore a medal of courage on his heart. Although he looked at the same set of circumstances, he knew that nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)

Forty-five years after he obeyed the call, the leader remained physically strong. He asked Joshua…

View original 98 more words

Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | November 1, 2013

Reflections on Gratitude: Letters of Thanks to God

Years ago, I began a tradition of writing a thank you letter to God. Each November I sat with pen in hand, silently reflecting in solitude on the gracious gifts God bestowed on me.

If you could have looked into the windows of my life at the time, I possessed few belongings. I left my abusive husband and travelled 1,100 miles to live in my parent’s basement.

Although I owned almost nothing, my heart overflowed with gratitude.

Non-things. Those topped the list. Family, friends, and my precious relationship with Jesus adorned this thank you letter to the Lord. Freedom – something often taken for granted – also hit the top ten.

The fact that I could walk and move easily found its way on the letter. I’d been an athlete since childhood, but at age 28 a weird disease called ankylosing spondylitis entered my life.

Many say it’s more painful than childbirth, and by the time I started writing these letters, my heart filled with tears of gratitude if I could walk, dress myself, drive, and use the restroom without excruciating pain.

Over the years, I wrote many such letters of thanks to God. But somewhere along life’s voyage, I stopped writing them. I don’t remember when or why, but before Thanksgiving, I once again will sit down with paper and pen to write my thankyou letter to God.

And this year, I invite you to do the same. Your heart will overflow with gladness as life’s pitfalls and dreary days fade into the background and gratitude bursts through like daffodils in early Spring.

Pull up a chair, grab a pen, a cup of coffee, and let your heart sing a song of gratitude to God.

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Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | August 9, 2013

If You’ve Dared to Love a Dog: In Memory of Custer

Custer  fan 7-13

If you’ve dared to love a dog, you’ve opened your heart up to a world of unconditional love that reflects God’s love for you. Just as God loves you more than all the words in the dictionary could describe, dogs are capable of reflecting a similar love that isn’t based on performance. They just love you because you’re you.  Not because of your intelligence or your looks or your bank account or the way you dress. They simply love you with every fiber of their being. Because you are you. Period.

My precious, sweet golden retriever, Custer, exuded life and love. She wore a smile in her heart and wagged her tail with every step. Golden retrievers are known for their gentle, sweet temperaments. Custer certainly brought smiles, love and joy with each breath. All the neighborhood kids loved her. But it’s no wonder- as she loved people deeply and they felt enormously loved in her presence. And of all those she loved, she loved me the most. She knew she had me wrapped around her paw, so to speak. I spoiled her and learned early from the vet and trainers that golden retrievers are usually spoiled because they are so gentle and loving.

I’m one of those “dog people” in that spending time with Custer made my heart sing. She loved attention, and thought the universe revolved around her. But no wonder, because I treated her like a queen. She was swimming in love from me and other people as well. People were drawn to her because of her loving demeanor.  Wow, what a glorious world it would be if people loved each other as Custer loved people.  Truly, Custer loved well.

I really sat down to write a snapshot of her life, but I’m still so raw and devastated that tears are streaming down my face as I reach into my heart for the right words. Creating canvasses with words is usually easy for me, but not this time. The depth of the loss I feel from losing Custer is monumental.

Custer, you will be remembered forever.  You were a beautiful treasure, wrapped in joy and reflecting God’s unconditional love. I will miss you forever. Thank you for blessing me with your love. I dared to take the risk of loving a dog, and that means I’m brave beyond words. After all, dog lovers know their pets will live relatively short lives. You poured your love from January 28, 2001 through August 1, 2013. Your paw prints are forever on my heart.

And for that, I am truly blessed.

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