The Stirring Faith Blog

Join The Strange Readers Cafe: Discover Your True Identity in Christ

strange readers cafe

Discover Your True Identity in Christ

Are you longing for a sense of belonging and love in a world that often makes you feel unseen, overlooked, or left out? Do you yearn for authentic connections, but find yourself struggling to navigate through life’s challenges? If so, I invite you to embark on a transformative journey with me through my latest book, Can You See Me, Now? Good News for the Lonely, Left Out, and Less Than in The Strange Readers Cafe.

I’m thrilled to introduce you to our FREE private Facebook group, The Strange Readers Cafe, where we will come together as a community of like-minded women to explore the profound truths of my book. In this seven-week journey, we will delve into the heart of God’s purpose for us as women, uncovering the beauty and significance of our existence in His eyes.

Uncover Your True Identity

In a world that often diminishes our worth and encourages conformity, Can You See Me, Now? offers a biblically based approach to help you discover your true identity in Christ. Through practical insights and captivating stories, we will explore how we were handpicked by God to express love, thrive in community, and enhance the world around us.

Cultivate Courage and Authentic Connections

Throughout this journey, we will learn how to cultivate the courage to connect with others authentically. You’ll discover the joy of finding people who fill your heart rather than drain your soul. Say goodbye to the old tendencies of blending into the wallpaper and embrace the vibrant woman God created you to be.

Overcome Feelings of Loneliness and Invisibility

Have you ever battled feelings of loneliness and invisibility? You’re not alone in your struggles. In The Strange Readers Cafe, you’ll meet other women who share similar wallflower tendencies and have faced the same challenges of never feeling like enough. Together, we’ll support one another and find the strength to overcome these obstacles.

Join the Journey

Our journey begins on Monday, October 2, and concludes on November 17, just before the holiday season begins. It’s the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter in your life and leave invisible you behind. Inside the group, you’ll discover:

  • A daily reading plan to guide you through the book.
  • Accountability and encouragement from fellow participants.
  • Access to live Q&A sessions and additional enriching content.
  • Free resources that will enhance your experience.

How to Get Started

To get ready for this exciting adventure, follow these simple steps:

  1. Join The Strange Readers Cafe Facebook group USING THIS LINK.
  2. Secure your copy of “Can You See Me, Now?” in either paperback or e-book format. You can purchase it from Amazon or through The Stirring Faith Company.

I can’t express how eager I am to meet you in the group and embark on this life-changing journey together. Together, we will find our true identity in Christ, overcome loneliness, and discover the depth of God’s love for us. Let’s free ourselves before the holiday season and step into the abundant life God has designed for us.

Check out the book trailer

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to belong and be loved. Join The Strange Readers Café today, and let’s start this incredible journey together.

5 Strategies for Practicing Biblical Hospitality

biblical hospitality cover

5 Strategies for Practicing Biblical Hospitality

Sometimes lessons that need to be learned must be experienced before they take root. When Chad and I were newlyweds, we relocated to a different city for work purposes. In no time we found our place in a local church that offered a weekly class with other newly married couples. In the midst of making new friends, serving, and learning more about the Bible, we also experienced what it looked like to practice Biblical hospitality. Essentially, it was a phenomenon caught rather than taught. Although we were only there for two or three years, the fruit from that era has lingered for decades.

A Real Live Example of Biblical Hospitality

Chuck and Kathy were old enough to be our parents. They were empty nesters who were spending their lives pouring into twenty-somethings. They did not teach that class filled with newlyweds, but they were the heart and soul of establishing a welcoming environment for anyone who showed up. From our first appearance on the premises, these two helped us feel as if we already belonged. In fact, I believe they invited us to their home for pizza within the first two weeks. This act, we learned was nothing special. It was simply the way they lived life. You were never an inconvenience, your need was never too great, and their doors were always unlocked.

At the time I couldn’t put my finger on why they were so different or what caused them to stick out in my head as examples of how to meaningfully engage with others. I just recognized the impact these ordinary lay leaders were having on those who happened in their sphere of influence. Today, I know we were simply experiencing a living example of Biblical hospitality.

What is Biblical Hospitality?

Hospitality can be defined as “the act or service of welcoming, receiving, hosting, or entertaining guests.” We often think of hosting a dinner or gathering, making sure everyone enjoys themselves and has everything they need. But Biblical hospitality is more than working a room and providing awesome hors d’oeuvres.

Hospitality in the Old Testament

The concept of hospitality is introduced in the Old Testament. We find Abraham welcoming three men on a journey, spending the day with them, and providing a place to rest and food to eat (Genesis 18:2-5). As the men (or angels) move into Sodom and Gomorra, Lot meets them in the public square inviting them to his home for the same (Genesis 19:1-3). it was issued as an explicit command.

By the time Moses liberates the Israelites from Egypt and God directed them into the wilderness, hospitality is more than optional. It’s made part of the law.

“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt” Leviticus 19:33-34.

Hospitality in the New Testament

In the New Testament, we find the word, hospitality, used four different times. In Greek, the word literally means ‘love of strangers.” It first shows up in Paul’s letter to the Romans where he encourages believers to “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality,” (Romans 12:13). Biblical hospitality at its essence, is sharing who we are and what we have, not with those close to us, but also with those outside our circle. In fact, Paul calls the reader to look for opportunities to do so.

Such hospitable behavior is viewed by the early church leadership as virtuous—something to excel in and practice for a lifetime. To Timothy, Paul mentions hospitality as one of the requirements of widows who would receive assistance from the church (1 Timothy 5:10).

The Hard Work of Biblical Hospitality

But that kind of giving and serving is not easy. It’s not cheap, either, nor does it necessarily come naturally. The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 13:2) taps into this reality when he encourages believers to be hospitable because of the possibilities at stake. You just never know. By practicing hospitality, you may encounter an angel, harkening back to the experience of Abraham (Genesis 18). In other words, any expense or effort is worth it.

Peter also understands the demanding nature of biblical hospitality as he encourages those believers to whom he writes.

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9

Why might grumbling come with the responsibility of biblical hospitality? Because it’s not on our agenda. It often is needed at times when we have other things to do, other financial responsibilities, and we frankly just want to do something else. For many, expending themselves in hospitality is like asking your teenage son to take out the trash or clean the litter box. We just don’t want to do it.

Those who have gone before us, showing the importance, commending the actions, and calling us to persevere understand that the heart of the matter is that showing hospitality to others is really an extension of the Gospel.

Hospitality as The Gospel

Why all the fuss about something we deem as a skill some possess and some do not?

Because these early New Testament writers recognized that the Good News is best shared by word and deed, in relationship. At the core, real transformation is seen and heard in the everyday stuff of regular life. It’s how you interact with the person next door. Inviting them into your life—for something as simple as coffee can communicate more than small talk. We demonstratge the Good News when you and I handle difficult situations with joy instead of despair or extend a helping hand and expect nothing in return. It might even occur when you show up with a meal or gift card. Relationship and a sense of community is the starting point.

“Hospitality is the ground zero of the Christian life.” Rosaria Butterfield

Living a Life that Pursues Hospitality

Indeed, the Christian life calls us to live beyond ourselves. Maybe you don’t see yourself as the hospitable type. Paper plates and take-out pizza more your flare? No problem. Nowhere in the Bible does it specify how we demonstrate hospitality, just that we do it.

In a post-Covid world, most of us need to be reminded of how the simple act of showing hospitality can change a life. Not that we drag people into our circle to try to convert them, but to demonstrate what it looks like to be a believing mom, wife, or sister who is willing to share what she has as if she had known them for ages.

You and I also need encouragement. If you lack the How-To for Biblical hospitality, I have given you five strategies you can use, no matter your background or experience. You don’t need to be a Pinterest Queen or an excellent cook. Just take the next step. It might just be right across the street.

biblical hospitality stories

5 Strategies for Practicing Biblical Hospitality

Begin with “hello.” Remember the famous line from the movie, “You had me at ‘hello’”? (Jerry McGuire) That’s what we are aiming toward in extending hospitality to others. The examples I shared from my newlywed days have withstood decades of various moves and constant church-going. What I learned those years ago turned out to be spot on. Extending hospitality begins before offering any invitation. It starts with contact. Introduce yourself and take note of the person’s name.

If you struggle with names, come up with a system for remembering. I have people often repeat their name before we end the conversation (because I often have already moved on), and then I jot it down in my Notes section on my phone, along with some fact about them, such as profession, number of kids, or where they are from. You and I should work on being attentive. Doing so communicates more of Jesus in you than you might be aware. Currently, many in our midst feel as if they are unseen and unknown. Taking a moment to focus all of our attention on the person before us will fuel more than the conversation. It may be the very thing the person needs.

 

Start small. If you have little experience with carrying conversations with people you don’t know well – or the whole idea freaks you out, don’t go there yet. And when you do go forward, go with a plan. Come up with three or four general questions that require more than a yes/no response. Make your inquiry generic so that you can remember your go-to questions and use them whenever necessary. It will calm your nerves and give you the direction you need.

One thing I observed in my time with Chuck and Kathy was how much time they spent asking questions, allowing the person to talk about what was near and dear to them. The conversation focused on the other person. Biblical hospitality begins long before a person steps into your home, but with your first contact.

 

Develop a friendship instead of attempting to save their souls. Do you have a suspicion the person doesn’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior? No problem. Be open and available to build a friendship with them. But it’s not our job to make them accept the Gospel. That role belongs to the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is to show up, to speak the truth, and to extend compassion and love to them.

 

Add hospitality to your schedule. Although our desire should be to become hospitable people, we may find we don’t have room for it. Showing hospitality to others who might not be like us likely won’t come naturally. We need to pray, asking God to reveal what can go so that there is bandwidth for living out the Gospel where we are. It won’t just happen. You and I need to pivot toward being intentional about showering hospitality to others, making choices, even sacrificing what we want for what they need, and serving for the sake of Christ.

 

Just do it. Forget having the ideal conversation starters. Don’t worry about the aesthetics. Forget vacuuming. Feed them frozen pizza if you must. Your meeting together doesn’t need to be Pinterest-worthy. Just do it because hospitality is a kingdom-focused work God uses us to complete. Do it, because showing hospitality changes you and me.

 

When we practice hospitality, we experience the refreshing joy of becoming conduits of God’s hospitality rather than being self-decaying cul-de-sacs. The joy of receiving God’s hospitality decays and dies if it doesn’t flourish in our own hospitality to others. Saturate

This week, what is one thing you can do to show Biblical hospitality within your sphere of influence? I plan on inviting a few neighbors over for coffee. I’m putting it on the calendar. What about you?

I can’t wait to hear about it.

For His glory,

Did You Know?

For the one who feels invisible, largely passed over, and insignificant – Cheri has created a resource for you. Grab your copy of Can You See Me, Now? Good news for the lonely, left out, and less than and join the Strange Readers Café. We will be going through the book together beginning Oct. 3 until December 16 – just in time for Christmas.

Buy the Book 

Join the Group

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WAIT! THERE’S MORE.

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Sometimes It’s Worth the Risk

risk is required

You may not feel it today, but relationships are worth the risk. Today, we wrap up our 5-day journey into how you and I navigate friendships. Yes, in spite of the pitfalls, relationships are, indeed, worth the risk. Still, risk-taking doesn’t mean indiscriminate bonding. Risk should be cloaked in wisdom (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15–17

Before Paul closes his letter, he informs Timothy of those with him who send their greetings (2 Timothy 4: 21). That seems odd. Where were these individuals in Paul’s dire moments? How does he possess a courageous vulnerability to trust again when so many let him down when he needed them most? We can’t know for sure, but Paul shows he understood some relationships were worth the risk.

He embraces the biblical warning against a haphazard seeking of companionship (Proverbs 13:20). Though he might be lonely, there were a select few on the shortlist worth the risk of disappointment or abandonment. This is oh so important to note. You and I cannot hope to escape all the ills in relating with others, but we can circumvent toxic relationship trauma using discretion when filling our social calendars.

What should we look for in a friend?

Some people leave you better for being with them.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

This is your tribe. Look for those who are reliable (Proverbs 18:24), who are supportive of your joys, and loyal in your defeats. Pursue women who encourage you as a person (Amos 3:3). Yes. There are people like this who will love you.

Be sure to pray about who God will send. And when you find yourself in social settings, get off your phone. Instead, ask questions like, How did you come to be in this group, or What does your family do on X holiday? Ask about a favorite quick recipe or how they survived Covid.

Asking questions of people shows you value them, and it allows you an opportunity to learn more and determine if this is a relationship to pursue. Let this experience embolden your faith to believe God for your good in relating with other people.

The Take Away on Friendship

Building adult friendships requires courage. Just start with what you know by remaining close to Jesus. That hunger for relationship is God’s idea. He is working His plan for your good. There are people out there who need what you offer. Trust God to equip you and aim your efforts toward what endures and then ask Him for the grace to become the friend you need.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

To return to the beginning of this plan, use this link.

Before you go, make sure you received my FREE gift to you. Get 3 resources to help you experience more of God in your everyday life. It’s filled with practical helps for living out what really matters.

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Did you catch the Book Cover Reveal?

Book cover reveal

 

If you would like to become a part of the private FB group, She Prays, we would love to have you. Click the image to join.

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Cheri’s YouVersion plans have been enjoyed by over 700,000 readers. Did you know Cheri has over TWENTY different reading plans for you to choose from? Just click on the images below to check out these other popular plans, available here and on the YouVersion app.

The Journey Toward Waiting WellConquering Chaos

If you like She Prays for battling fear you will like finding light

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

Times of testing

Aim for What Endures

aim for what endures

We are in the heart of Hey There, Girlfriend: Finding Courage for Friendship. It’s Day 4 and today we are focusing on our aim. You and I can actually point our own actions and responses toward what endures. Think about the relationships you have experienced. You, too, may have bundled up past hurts because of soured sisterhoods. Emotions linger, often wrecking our courage to try again. We wonder why we should strive for friendships only to be hurt and disappointed again.

Paul offers sound counsel for how to navigate this emotional obstacle in his final closing statements to Timothy. Paul gives personal instructions. He notes where people have gone, who has remained, and which people to stay away from. He even requests his cloak (2 Timothy 4:10-15). Woven among these personal details lives the best advice for aiming toward what endures.

“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them,” 2 Timothy 4:16

In the middle of the hurt and disappointment, Paul communicates a tremendous amount of Christ-likeness to be embraced.

What? Where was Luke? Where were his friends? Why on Earth was Paul alone? This is an opportunity to wallow in disappointment and suffering, but Paul does not. Instead, he points Timothy to God’s ability to meet his needs when all humanity fails.

“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth,” 2 Timothy 4:17

Paul wants Timothy, along with the reader, to know people are going to disappoint us in tremendous ways. Sometimes those we think should show up for us will not. They will make choices we would not. It’s possible that those closest to you will be insensitive, acting in ways you find unconscionable. You, too, might experience heartache from good friends or family.

Godly people.

Paul demonstrates to us how to aim toward what endures.

As if sharing wisdom in relationship dealings toward Timothy for the future, Paul writes, may it not be charged against them. In other words, these people are still our friends. It’s going to hurt when it happens, but don’t hold it against them.

Chances are, you and I have let some people down, too. There may have been times we couldn’t be there, or we didn’t see the event as important as they did.

May it not be charged against us.

Courage calls us to aim toward handling our relationships like Paul. Loving when it’s hard –

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity Proverbs 17:17 ESV

Forgiving when it hurts:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV

May we not charge it against them.

To return to the beginning of this plan, use this link.

Before you go, make sure you received my FREE gift to you. Get 3 resources to help you experience more of God in your everyday life. It’s filled with practical helps for living out what really matters.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Did you catch the Book Cover Reveal?

Book cover reveal

 

If you would like to become a part of the private FB group, She Prays, we would love to have you. Click the image to join.

glimpses of she prays

Cheri’s YouVersion plans have been enjoyed by over 700,000 readers. Did you know Cheri has over TWENTY different reading plans for you to choose from? Just click on the images below to check out these other popular plans, available here and on the YouVersion app.

The Journey Toward Waiting WellConquering Chaos

If you like She Prays for battling fear you will like finding light

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

Times of testing

God is For Your Good

for yur good

Day 3 of Hey There, Girlfriend, a 5-day reading plan for finding courage for friendship, is upon us. And Don’t forget, you can also find this plan available on the YouVersion app. Together, we are looking into the Word of God to discern a biblical model for friendship. In today’s reading, we will shine light onto a truth we often forget: God is for your good –even in healing hurts created by those you let in close and giving you reliable and lasting relationships.

I know this one from experience. Years ago, my husband and I packed our family into a moving truck, sold the house, and left no forwarding address. We showed up at the new location with bright smiles in our attempt to leave the pain behind. Inside, we remained battered and bruised emotionally because of deep relational hurts we packed up along with our furniture.

Still, God was working. We found ourselves drawn to a couple at church. She knew everyone, having lived in that town all her life, sporting inner and outer beauty and sophistication. He was a coach, and the understated, but hilarious life of the party. A sweet relationship developed in time, and I have never been more thankful.

After we had been friends for a long time, I found the courage to ask how they had room for us. Our need was obvious. Friendless, broken, and desperate for relationships defined us. Why did they befriend us?

Tears flowed from my put-together friend. She never explained the tears, but I realized they simply needed us at just the time we needed them.

Learning God is For Your Good

Experience has taught me that when I am feeling alone, and need a friend, I am most likely not the only one. God is working in someone’s life who needs a friend as well. This is the juncture at which we find Philippians 4:18 at work.

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Most adults have room for a new friend. We are not alone in our sense of isolation and friendlessness. Rich, true, and loyal friendships require that we believe God is preparing just the right friends for us; people who will like who we are, love us despite it, and even need us because of who we are.

Good and lasting friendships bloom when you and I are “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12).

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:11-12

Therefore, these relationships transcend decades, seasons of life, or favorite pass times. Forget selecting people who are like you, or even your same age. Some of the dearest friends God has ordained for you may be thirty years older than you, or the same number of years younger.

Remember, you are not alone in your loneliness.

Ask God to prepare your future friends as He prepares you to be women who mutually encourage each other’s faith as you experience life together.

Meet you tomorrow for Day 4. (If you would like to go back to the first day, click this link: Day 1.)

Before you go, make sure you received my FREE gift to you. Get 3 resources to help you experience more of God in your everyday life. It’s filled with practical helps for living out what really matters.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Don’t miss the BIG REVEAL!

If you would like to become a part of the private FB group, She Prays, we would love to have you. Click the image to join.

glimpses of she prays

Cheri’s YouVersion plans have been enjoyed by over 700,000 readers. Did you know Cheri has over TWENTY different reading plans for you to choose from? Just click on the images below to check out these other popular plans, available here and on the YouVersion app.

The Journey Toward Waiting WellConquering Chaos

If you like She Prays for battling fear you will like finding light

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

Times of testing