Fresh Air Blog

The Ugly Wife

The Ugly Wife

When I hear Jacob tell my father how much he loves my sister, my heart sinks. I’m second place because of my sister’s good looks. Passing by, I can’t help but notice the twinkle in their eyes as they hold each other in their gaze. Him, tall and ruddy; her, bright and curvy. I couldn’t possibly feel any more plain or invisible. I almost choke when my father wants me to slip me into Jacob’s tent and marry him secretly. What a horrible trick. Am I that ugly that I need to lower myself like this? I do as he asks, but it isn’t pretty. Even as I marry Jacob, I wonder: How can I be a happy bride when my new husband is all ga-ga over my little sister? He loves her so much he asks my dad if he can work for him another seven years—just so he can marry her too! What could be worse than being loved so much less? Than getting the raw end of the deal? Where are you, God? In the middle of my mess, God speaks to me in strangest, most amazing way. Clearly, he must have seen how much more Jacob loves my sister—because, of all things, he closes her womb and opens mine! In the midst of rejection, heartache, and unfairness, God steps in by balancing the scales and making things fair.  He comforts me in the midst of my lack by giving me the treasure of treasures. Babies! My tears of sadness turn to joy as God makes my crooked path straight. Things might not feel right to you at the time—because we only see a small piece of the puzzle—but God’s justice breaks through in the end. “For God does not show favoritism.” Romans...

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Raging Seas

Raging Seas

Shaken Heart Waves ride high, licking the sides of your boat, toppling inside. Water deepens, clawing tightness in your chest. Jesus had snatched this boat at the end of a long, crowd-saturated day, so he could reach the other side of the sea. With Jesus asleep now, you feel abandoned. Must you and your friends battle this storm by yourselves? In a howling gust, your boat couldn’t be more tossed and you know you’re going to drown. What in the world? Shouldn’t Jesus at least see this mess he threw you into? Winds roar so loud you can hardly hear your own voice. “Jesus! Wake up! We’re going to die!” Your teacher rubs his sleepy eyes and you wonder:  doesn’t anything rattle this dude? This is the storm of all storms. You’re about to go under—and he’s clueless! Breathless, you try telling him this, but he only shakes his head, mumbling something about the size of your faith. Rather than going on about it, he simply raises his arm and talks to the storm like nobody’s business.  And just like that, he puts the raging storm in its place. Your jaw drops as you watch the waves bow low. As you watch the ripples flatten like glass and nature obey, powerless to the sound of his voice. Your mind spins, the only thing out of control now. Sure, you knew this man was extraordinary, but this is insane. Defies human reasoning. Changed Heart Your admiration for Jesus shoots sky high. More than ever, you want to be like him:  powerful, fearless, bold. Then you see it:  He wants this for you too. Your teacher wants to teach you to trust him. To stop marching to the beat of fear.  To know whose you are. All along, he wanted to do the biggest miracle inside your soul. He wanted to help you face this new storm with more victory than the last. And you know it’s possible now with God’s Spirit breathing deep inside you. You know the King of Kings who calms the raging sea can also calm your raging heart. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans...

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U.S. Son on Malaysia Flight

U.S. Son on Malaysia Flight

News Video: Grieving US Mother Clings To God Grievous disappearance How does a mother respond when crisis strikes? Sondra Wood had just seen her son, Philip, the week before he disappeared on the Malaysian aircraft, flight 370. Philip had visited her Texas home and shared about his IBM job-move from Beijing to Malaysia. “He was excited about his new adventure,” says the devastated mother. “Only people who know God can survive things like this in a good way. I know in my heart I will get through this.” As a Christian, Sondra knows God doesn’t spare us from trouble. He does, however, keep us safe in his eternal hands and never lets us go. “I know in my heart that Philip is with God,” she continues. “And I plan to be there with him because I have a deep faith in my God.” Her faith shines as a beacon in this dark time. I hope I would shine as brightly. Trials are opportunities to turn to God with passion and determination. To sink our broken selves into his love with child-like trust. When we look to Jesus in the midst of grief, he gives us supernatural strength in exchange for frail, human weakness, and out-of-this-world peace above our lack of understanding.   Mysterious   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about how life doesn’t make sense from our earthly perspective. We only see part of a rainbow–until we’re flying high above it. Then and only then can we see how it connects into a full beautiful circle. Right now, though, separation from our loved ones feels like a severed limb. We feel broken and incomplete. One of the things I loved about watching Sondra’s news story was seeing others gather around her for hugs and support. Times of brokenness are opportunities for others to rise up and be an extension of Jesus’ hands and feet.   But God…   No matter what you’re going through today, I pray God sends the right people to love and support you. And may you feel God’s presence in an extra deep, personal way. He wants that for you. As someone familiar with the worst pain and suffering, including separation from his Father, Jesus not only understands what you feel, but he also deeply desires to restore and to lavish you with amazing, mind-blowing things he prepared for you since the beginning...

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Press On Strong

Press On Strong

As many of you know, I’m working on a new book that will release with Zondervan next year: Jesus in my Room   At least that’s what it’s called for now.  We’ll see if they change it or not. Have you ever worked on something where you continually feel that streeeetch of the soul? Then you know how I feel. Sometimes I wish I could order a little more trust and patience.  Maybe press the “buy with one click” button on Amazon. Here’s me talking to myself again: Did God call you to do this? Yes. Absolutely. Well, if he called you, you don’t have to worry. He’ll bring it to pass. Phew. Good reminder, good reminder. But you do need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Yep, doing that. And keep thanking God. Thank you, thank you…. And on it goes. Truly, I feel so incredibly blessed to be the collaborator for this project. Ema McKinley is an incredible lady with an incredible story. When Jesus appeared in her room on Christmas Eve of 2011, he healed her deformed and crooked body from head to toe.   She’s a walking talking miracle! People who knew Ema before and after her miracle naturally show emotion when I talk to them about what happened—even her dentist! The other day, after getting a little boggled with writing, guess what came in the mail? The sweetest letter from a seventeen-year old girl, who has a lot more maturity than I did at her age. Anyway, I don’t think she’d mind if I shared her letter.   I want to encourage you with the encouragement I received.  I’m excited about how this will minister to you as well:  Dear Cheryl, I’ve been thinking lately of how you’re probably occupied with the wonderful God-inspired story you are writing, and I wanted to make sure I wrote you to say – keep pressing in and pressing on!  The Lord has your back.  He’s giving you courage and joy (indescribable) that will fill your heart!  I am so thankful that my family has a friend like you and your family. You all have the peace of the Lord residing within you! The other day I wrote a song called “Peace” and I want to share it with you.  So a recording of it will be coming your way via Facebook probably.  The song is based...

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God’s Detours

God’s Detours

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. Exodus 13:17-18 I love how God considers our weaknesses when planning our itineraries. Yo, Gabriel!  Better steer that Cheryl Ricker toward Sam’s Club instead of HyVee down the street.  HyVee has a sale on chocolate and they’re handing out free samples! “So God led the people around by the desert toward the Red Sea.” I wouldn’t blame the Israelites for raising their eyebrows and scratching their heads at this logic-defying detour. But God had a plan. The Israelites were war-aphobic.  The very sight of the Philistines could have driven God’s people back to jaws of Egypt and slavery, away from God’s promised deliverance! Has God ever steered you off your path? I remember my first time driving alone.  It was at night, and off I went down a dark, winding country road with poor visibility.  I had a panic attack, and my body remembered the experience. Years later, when married, pregnant, and in a new country, I had still only driven a handful of times; and quite honestly, that was all I cared to drive.  Ever. That’s also when I developed an ugly, itchy rash, and guess what God did?  He used the lesions to get me behind the wheel! Three times a week I had to drive to the opposite end of town for skin treatments.  The world’s best Counselor gave me exposure therapy! As I reclined in the dentist’s chair today, my hygienist told me her sister-in-law, Sue, was affected by the shootings in Aurora, Colorado.  Sue was all set to drive to the midnight movie, but in the last minute, she got a migraine.  Frustrated, she called her friends and told them she couldn’t make it. I could share story after story of God’s Divine re-direction.  Like the time my friend, Jane, agreed to go skiing with her friend, Libby, but broke her leg a few days before.  On the way to the hills, Libby got in an accident that left a gaping hole on the passenger side where Jane would have been. No,...

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