There’s No One Like Me

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“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

When our daughter, Rachel, was little I sang a song to her I learned in an early education class at seminary meant to reinforce the fact that we were all uniquely and specially made by God. It went like this, “Search all the world over, there’s no one like me, no one like me, no one like me … search all the world over there’s no one like me, there’s no one exactly like me. Some people are short and some people are tall, God made them all, but there’s no one exactly like me.”

As I held my precious newborn baby girl I rocked her and sang this little song to her believing I was instilling in her newly developing mind how special she was. I sang it to her until she finally was able to talk to me at about two years of age. One day I started singing it and she frowned at me and held up her hand to my face and said, “I don’t yike that song!” I said, “Why don’t you like it Rachel?” Much to my distress she replied, “Cause no one likes me!” My face froze with horror as I replayed the years I had imprinted the words of this sweet little Christian preschool song into her tender psyche … but each time she heard the wrong meaning. I figured I had ruined my daughter and imagined years of counseling for her future.

What had I done? I picked her up and tried desperately to explain what these words actually were saying and how she had misunderstood the meaning. I told her that she was fearfully and wonderfully made by God. As I looked at her puzzled, unforgiving face, I said, “Well, not fearfully, like monsters…” Her eyes teared up. I tried again… “ No, no there aren’t monsters, but you are special and there are no monsters… “I’m saying, there’s no one like me, well, like you, not no one likes me or you…” No response… “Bill, you need to come talk to Rachel…” and that’s how it usually went.

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Much to my delight as Rachel grew older she showed no signs of having anything less than a stellar self-Image. Gratefully and unexplainably, confidence has never been a problem for Rachel. Sometimes we aren’t communicating at all what we think we are communicating to our children. Children, thankfully, are resilient. I think God took that into account when He gave us these little guys to raise. I have to believe my heart and love went much further than the misunderstanding of that well-meaning but deeply confusing little song. That song is forever in the delete pile in our family.

Misunderstandings are at the center of our interpersonal conflicts. It is a constant battle to say what we mean and to mean what we say. It is also an ongoing effort to explain what we mean and make sure the other people in our lives understand our meaning. Hurt, conflict and even broken relationships are the result of misunderstanding. It is up to each one of us to do everything we can to communicate clearly. All of us come from varied backgrounds and experiences, which sets us on unleveled playing ground. It is rarely easy.

I have to remind myself of this unlevel field, continually, as I usually begin my sentences in the middle of my thoughts and then abandon that thought as I leapfrog to the next. I readily admit, I am hard to follow. I guess recognizing our struggle is a good place to start in an attempt to communicate clearly and more effectively. I do know my heart, and it is a heart that wants people to know I care.

Regardless of our particular bent, we each need to remember how easily bruised most people are by careless words. Make it a habit of saying words that build up instead of tearing down. Search all the world over and there is no one like me or like you! We are uniquely designed by a God who knows and loves us each as specifically as He made us.” Believe it when I tell you … He does like you!

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Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

Just Jesus,

Sheri

 

 

 

The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assis

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Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

I pray this for my life today. God, allow me think of others before myself and to look for ways to love people the way Jesus loves me.

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Just Jesus,

Sheri

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temporary Living (version 2)

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“I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.” (Psalm 119:19)

I tried to go back in my mind and count how many times we moved and how many houses I lived in during my lifetime, but I gave up. Let’s just say I moved many times before I married Bill, and many more since. I think in college my best friend and I moved every semester trying out a different place. I pretty much live by a rule I initiated that says, “When the highest windows need to be washed it is time to move.”

I am aware that I struggle with contentment issues. This is why I find this subject so interesting- a temporary home… I am a ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ kind of person. I get restless, dissatisfied and preoccupied.   I want to be in on what’s going on over there but what if I miss what’s going on here? I’m always worried if I commit to this, I’ll miss out on that. My dad would always say to me, “never satisfied, never satisfied.” He couldn’t be more accurate- nothing on this earth satisfies the huge hole we have inside of us. The only thing that finally satisfies is Jesus. I’m putting all my stock in Jesus and eternity with Him.   The problem is the world is like a huge vacuum constantly trying to suck us back in and trying to convince us it’s better than Jesus.   We have this constant battle warring against us.

A friend I knew, who was building a house, would say with a very heavy country accent three times in a row, “I just hate that temporary living.” “I just hate that temporary living,” “Oh, I just hate that temporary living!” I always agreed, but I very much like the idea of a new house!   Weighing all things out — I am moving! The actual moving is the worst, however, it is a necessary evil. Then, just as you’ve recovered from that shake up, it is time to move it all again to a place you hope to stay longer than 6 months. The agreement my husband and I made with each other is the next time we move we have to get rid of 1/3 of our stuff. How do we accumulate so many things? Logically speaking the older we get the more things can stack up on us. I’m preaching to myself…we have to keep giving things away!

Temporary Living… The very word ‘pilgrim’ reminds us of our call to be distinctive and set apart for Christ. We must travel lightly through this journey we call life. The truth is  every place we lay our head in this world is temporary because our home is in heaven. If we know what it means to be pilgrims for Christ then we understand this and derive our happiness and peace from him alone.   So we are actually all in the same boat as believers, whether you’ve lived in the same house your entire life or like me, have moved many times- this is our temporary home. “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” (I Peter 2:11)

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Before we knew Christ we were strangers to him. As we gave him our life we traded our citizenship- from earth to heaven. We became joint heirs with Jesus Christ. The word sojourner means, to dwell for a time; to dwell or live in a place as a temporary resident, or as a stranger, not considering the place as his permanent habitation. So if you want to join me and lighten your grip on this temporary world I believe we will live a life of greater peace. We all have way too much stuff. Remember, we are pilgrims not settlers. For I am a stranger with you, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. (Psalm 39:12)

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Phil. 3:20-21)

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.”  (Ephesians 2:19)

 

Permanently sticking with Just Jesus,

Sheri Langley

 

(Portions taken from a previous post called Temporary Living)

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s All Just Calm Down

 

 

 

 

 

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When I was growing up living in Southern California we would make that long drive back and forth to Oklahoma where the rest of our extended family lived. It was the day when cars were uncomfortable and hot. My brother had quite a lot of rambunctiousness in his body. Halfway through the Mojave Desert my dad, once, stopped the car and said, “Well that’s enough, son! Get out and run behind the car until you get that all out of your system and calm down.” So, my brother happily jumped out, eager for this adventure, and began his run. I have to say, It was quite entertaining for me. I was delighted to watch the show from the back window. It wasn’t long before he started yelling, “That’s enough, I’ve got my energy out, I’m calmed down, I’m calmed down.” So, my dad eased on the brakes and let him catch up. He climbed in and was, actually, quite happy for the adventure. He was, as he said, “calmed down.”

Today, I want to encourage us all to just calm down! In my last blog I posted some of the great passages regarding peace from the scripture. Today I wanted to continue the subject, but from a slightly different angle. I believe Jesus wants us to be calm and at peace.

It seems, to me, like most people, today are wound too tightly. I hear people say things like, “My life is so crazy” and “I’ve got to slow down.” I think we all feel this way at various times in our lives, sometimes more than others. If you know me, you might be saying, “Sure, that’s easy for you to say. Your kids are grown and you don’t have all the demands I do with my kids.” That’s true. However, I still believe you can have a calm and a peaceful environment at any stage of your life. Being calm is a choice. Are there times when things pile up and we get overscheduled or overcommitted? Absolutely. But this should be the exception and not the rule.

I think it would be nice for a change to hear someone say, “I had such a peaceful and productive week.” I’d like to hear someone say, “I have an exciting plan and am ready for this summer,” or, “My kids and I had such a lovely day.” I have one friend who seems to portray this kind of demeanor. She has more kids than most but, when I read her social media and talk with her, I feel a sense of calmness and peace throughout her entire household. She doesn’t ever seem to be in a panic or in a frazzled tizzy. I know this is possible for others too.

It seems like so many book titles for women promote “crazy.” I run across book titles like, “How to Embrace the Crazy,” “The Frazzled Housewife,” “If It Ain’t Broke It will Be,” “How to Survive the Crazy Life of Preschoolers,” “My Drains Clogged and My Brains Clogged.” Ok, most of those I just made up … but do you see where I am going with this? Is your life really that way, or are you just repeating what you hear everyone else saying? Help me start a new conversation. Help me help you!   Let’s all just calm down! How about if we give the word ‘crazy’ a little vacation? Help me promote peace and calmness.

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Remember, if you calm down, so will your family. Children don’t do well when they are rushed, when they feel chaos around them, when they feel pressured to maintain a tight schedule, and when they don’t have time to just sit and play. Play is the work of a child. If you wonder why your kids are misbehaving or having issues? Check their schedule! You order your life! Don’t let other people determine your life. Learn how to say “no” for yourself and for your children. To me the epitome of our fast pace “crazy” lives is the fact that there are microwave directions for a Poptart. Brian Reagan says, “Who doesn’t have time to toast a Poptart? if you need to zap fry your Poptart before you head out the door, you might want to loosen up your schedule! If you’re waking, eating and hailing in three seconds, you’re booking yourself too tight.”

Meditate on Scripture like this verse, Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Mark 4:35-41, “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. Then everything was calm. He is the Master, The Creator … and he wasn’t going let his creation rule over Him. Jesus doesn’t like confusion and disorder. We also can’t let the chaos rule us. Remember, Jesus is our peace.

Just Jesus,

Sheri

 

 

Peace

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I have been studying about the peace of God this week. I wanted to share these verses on my blog today. It is hard to add much to these powerful scriptures on the subject. I am just letting these words wash over me today. I hope they bless you and meet you in a place that ministers to you.

Verses of Peace to Guard Our Hearts and Minds in Him:

  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

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 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippian 4:6-7

“The Lord gives strength to his people, the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Ps.29:11

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

 “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Isaiah 32:17-18

 “…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”  Romans 8:6

 “For He Himself is our peace…”  Ephesians 2:14

 He…Jesus is our peace!

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Just Jesus,

Sheri

A Million Tiny Decisions

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There seem to be so many things we can do to help ourselves become who we hope to be. The one thing we can’t do for ourselves is make others have respect for us. All the hard work, energy, strategy, education, manipulation and ambition can’t give us the one quality we all long for … respect. This is a quality that is achieved over a lifetime that’s made up of a million tiny decisions.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.” (Proverbs 10:9)

I like to watch the BBC. Their clothes, their speech and their manner fascinate me. As I watch shows like Downton Abby, and other movies from that country and time period, I always end up feeling so sad for these people. Public opinion is what they lived and died by, quite literally, I’m afraid. They are so proper and ridged that they, many times, have to live a kind of false facade of a life. They are given respect based on their position in society, not on their character. They treat people the way their cast system determines. I, for one, am very grateful to be an American and have the freedom to be who I am and say what I determine is best. Most often, I wish I hadn’t said anything … but there are other times when I’m glad I spoke up. It’s my choice as to what kind of person I want to be.

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I’ve been brought up and guided by many wonderful Christ-like people who poured cups of themselves into the pitcher of my life. After being stirred around for years, mixing all these varied flavors, I think I am a unique blend of Sheri Riley Langley.

We are told in scripture we are uniquely and wonderfully made. There are consistently times it was necessary to get bumped, having some unsavory cups sloshed out to make room for a sweeter cup here and there. Yet, the blend is select for me. The very best part is that of being a child of God — a joint heir of the Lord Jesus Christ. He does the work in me.

I try, as a rule, to always put my best foot forward. The pressure to behave in a way that pleases others, however, is not my main concern, at all. My main concern is to behave in a way that honors Jesus. That way others can clearly see Him without my getting in the way. Whew! Pressure off! So slosh me away, I’m praying it’s Jesus who gets all over you!

Do I want to be highly regarded in the eyes of people who know me? Who doesn’t? When push comes to shove and I behave badly, I pray I will always own it, confess it and repent before God and man. I don’t want people to walk away from me and say, “My, isn’t our pastor’s wife a wonderful person.” I want people to walk away and say, “She is just like me — a real, broken, leaky vessel who desperately needs Jesus every second of every day. If I make a stupid decision I hope they see me admit it and watch me attempt to make it right. It is a code I live by … “as far as it depends on me to be at peace with all men.” (Rms. 12:18)

Daniel always comes to mind when I think of integrity and character. A life being above reproach … that was Daniel. Scripture says that “he distinguished himself among 
the administrators . . . because of his exceptional qualities,” so much so that, “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Daniel 6:3-4). What a guy! I love Daniel and certainly highly regard this chap.

For a healing exercise this week I sat and wrote down the names of every person God brought to mind who truly knows me and loves me. These people who rise to the top when I run through the contact list in my mind from 50 plus years are people who made a million tiny decisions everyday to live a life of integrity before God and man. There is no way to hold back tears as I see those names on ink and paper. Joyful memories flooding my soul as I rejoice in knowing we will all be together again for eternity. These are my people.

The kinds of people who deserve honor are exactly the ones who would never seek the praise of men. Ironically, this is why they deserve respect, honor and praise. They are humble, honest, true, genuine, trustworthy and faithful. They are respected and loved deeply by anyone who knows them.

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No, you can’t ask people for respect. It can’t be given, it is earned by a million tiny choices made everyday of your life.

My husband, Bill’s, father Dr. Langley is one of those people for me and for more people than I could count in Elizabethtown, Ky and beyond. He was the real deal. I literally couldn’t give you an accurate figure for the number of people who have recounted stories of what Dr. Langley meant in their life, priceless! No, you can’t ask people for respect. It can’t be given, it is earned by a million tiny choices made everyday of your life.

This one’s for you Dad Langley, and all those seated up with you now and those to come who will receive the true crown in glory. Until then, as I review my list may I say, you are some of the finest people I’ve ever known. Integrity, respect, humility, honesty, faithfulness, selfless and kind… You are indeed highly regarded.

The greatest thing to hear will be one day when standing before Jesus, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

What do others say to describe you? Seek to be the kind of person that people regard highly. But more importantly, seek to help people see Jesus when they look at you so they can know Him too. Start today making a million tiny choices that lead to a life of respect and honor.

Just Jesus,

Sheri Langley

Words Have a Life of Their Own

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My brother once shared a conversation with me where a man in his church had spoken such harsh, hateful words to him.  Not surprisingly, he had been deeply hurt by the words that man spoke to him.  I said, “Mark, just forget it, consider the source, he doesn’t even know you.”  He said something I have never forgotten,  He said, “Yes but words have a life of their own.”  I’ve thought about that statement throughout the years.  The words we speak are words we are held accountable for. The most grace giving and beautiful thing we can do is to speak life-giving words into people’s lives.

Proverbs 15:23 “ How delightful is a timely word.”

Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones

Words are powerful! I pray I am very careful with my words and that the things I say are true.  I pray each day I would be truthful with the words I speak and the inferences made by those words.  We can alter someone’s life by speaking good or evil, truth or lies. We can breathe life giving words to someone who has never been told they are a beautiful creation of God and loved by Him.

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Oliver Wendell Holmes made the statement “ Many of us die with the music still is us.” Is it possible because somewhere along the way someone who’s opinion that really mattered to us discouraged us or didn’t give us words of encouragement we longed to hear and we were never able to get past it and we pass on that hurt to other people in our lives.

Phil 2:1-5 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

Just Jesus,

Sheri