Review of Cherish: Cultivating Relationships with Parents, Friends, Guys, And More

cherishCherish: Cultivating Relationships with Parents, Friends, Guys, And More by Vicki Courtney

In case you don’t read any further, let me go ahead and say that if you work with  or are raising girls, specifically teenage girls, this is a book to have on your shelf.

The week before this book made it to me, I was approached by a mom on how to handle a situation with a girl she knew that was sending inappropriate photos to a boy.  After our conversation, she asked if there was any good resource to share and I was at a loss.

What book is even up to date enough, I thought, to be able to talk about the expectation girls feel to send photos, better yet all of the other pressures they face?

And the very night I received this book I was planning to talk to my girls about relationships with parents, but again was at a loss as to what a good resource would be to be able to share with them.

Needless to say, Cherish met me exactly where I needed it to, and if you work with girls, I’m sure it can meet you in the same way.  Also, if you are a middle school or high school girl, go ahead and click that picture above and press purchase.


 

Cherish reads a good bit like Seventeen Magazine to me.  It’s full of quizzes, “5 Ways to Know if…”, and other fun articles.  Within the topics of Parents, Friends, Guys, and God, Vicki provides a variety of short little articles and snippets that are quick to read, insightful, and hit on a wide variety of topics all geared toward about a 7-9th grade reading level.


I     L O V E: 

  • This book hits on a wide variety of topics.
    Specifically within the context of families, Pam Gibbs provides some great insights on and advice for living in a family with non-believing parents, growing up in a blended family, an unsafe home environment, etc.  I love seeing a resource that approaches families with some intersectionality.
  • The boys chapter isn’t all about your husband.
    Few things bother me more than a resource emphasizing the value of purity that solely focus on the effect your present purity will have on your future husband.  Instead, Cherish talks about the risk of STDs along with the very present ramifications of sexual impurity, while taking a beautifully redemptive approach to such a difficult issue.
  • It’s up to date.
    Let me tell you as a small group leader to 16 year olds, if your book talks about life and doesn’t talk about Instagram, it truly hasn’t talked about anything.
  • It shares some hard truths about friends.
    I think teenage girl-hood is such an important time to recognize and practice what healthy friendships are.  Articles included touch on some hard truths of friendship- even when it’s time to let go of one.
  • It takes on the uncharted territory of teenage hormones.
    From mood swings to shame and everything in between, articles included touch on putting words to the craziness of a teenage girl’s brain hormone wise and even how to interact with parents about it!

 

I     D O N ‘ T     L O V E:

  • QR codes.
    Some videos can be found  online as a supplemental resource to Cherish, but they are linked through QR codes in the book.  I personally hate QR codes, because I never have enough memory on my phone to download a QR scanning app.

Women of Valor

This month’s guest blogger is Tonja Smith.  There are so many things I can say about Tonja and it is all too difficult to sum her up in just a few sentences.  Tonja is a mother of 4 and has her own medical transcription company.  She is an activist in her community and leads a group for single moms in my home church.  Furthermore, Tonja was my discipleship leader from when I was 12 years old until 18.  We met each Sunday night and she had to put up with all kinds of crazy from my group.  Tonja has definitely been a spiritual mama for me, she has prayed big and fierce prayers for me, and truly inspires me in her passion for studying Scripture.  I pray you enjoy the wisdom she shares in this post as it is just a glimpse of the wisdom she has shared with me over the past 10 years. tonja


 

God’s ways are higher than our ways, His plans are always the best plans to follow, and they are laid out for us in His Word. The Tabernacle in the Wilderness is described in 50 chapters and is a shadow of the Heavenly sanctuary, which is why Moses was given a specific pattern to follow. Hebrews 8:5 says, “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” It’s a copy of the throne room of God, and the High Priest, Yeshua, is wearing the priestly garments.  In speaking of the Heavenly pattern, women have a specific role to play in building and serving in the Tabernacle.  The women, whose hearts were willing, gave materials used in the Tabernacle to make the coverings, tapestries, curtains, the bronze laver and the priestly garments.  Under the direction of Moses, and the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge given to Bezalel (in the shadow of God) and Oholiav (Father’s tent), everyone who the Lord gave ability to do the work of the Sanctuary worked together.

Exodus 35 gives this description in verses 25-26: “All the women who were skilled at spinning got to work and brought what they had spun, the blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and the fine linen. Likewise the women whose heart stirred them to use the skill, spun the goat’s hair.” The Tent of Meeting consisted of several layers of materials with the Tabernacle being the inner layer made of wood, silver, and gold, and the walls lined with the finely woven linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them. The vail that covered the entrance was also of this same woven material with cherubim woven in. The next layer was a tent over the Tabernacle which is made of curtains of goat’s hair.

Exodus 38:8 says, “He made the basin of bronze with its base of bronze from the mirrors of the women serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” This bronze basin, or laver, was used by the priests to wash their hands and feet before entering the tent of meeting. Exodus 39:1 says, “From the blue, purple and scarlet yarn they made the garments for officiating, for serving in the Holy Place and they made the holy garments for Aaron, as Adonai had ordered Moses.” Exodus 39:27-29 says, “They made the tunics of finely woven linen for Aaron and his sons, the turban of fine linen, the linen shorts, and the sash of finely woven linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, the work of a weaver in colors – as Adonai had ordered Moses.”

The Lord stirred hearts and gifted people to do all the work for the sanctuary, and women were very much a part of this.  You can see echoes of this in Proverbs 31, in the woman of noble character. “She procures a supply of wool and flax and works with willing hands.” (vs 13). “She puts her hands to the staff with the flax; her fingers hold the spinning rod.” (vs 19). “When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings of tapestry for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple…She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.” (vs. 21-22, 24). This woman is described as an entrepreneur and caretaker of her family and those around her. Strength and honor are her clothing.

Ruth is also described as a “woman of noble character” by Boaz. This term in Hebrew is chayil, which means army, strength, valor, ability, wealth, and is most often translated as army. When Boaz covers her with His garment as her Kinsman-Redeemer, it is a marriage proposal and it is a picture of our Redeemer who covers us with his Robe of Righteousness as spoken of in Isaiah 61, His priestly garment that fills the entire Heavenly Temple as described in Isaiah 6.

1 Peter 2 says those who come to Yeshua the Messiah are being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices. Women are part of this service, part of this Heavenly army. Women of valor working in the Kingdom of God as a warrior bride, weaving the threads of Spirit and Truth into her family and those around her. This is her garment of praise. 

Eve played a role in sin in the garden of Eden, leaving the cherubim guarding the way back in to the Tree of Life.  Women are given the task of contributing to weaving the tapestries on the walls of the Tabernacle, and the curtain of separation containing the cherubim. This is the curtain that was torn as the Messiah gave His life to save ours, granting a way back to God’s presence.  When He was crucified, His garments were divided between the soldiers, and “They also took the tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.” They cast lots for this garment and did not tear it. (John 19, Ex 39:22-23?). This was a priestly garment. Perhaps it was Mary who wove this garment for Him. It was a woman who washed the feet of Yeshua with her hair before His sacrifice and entry into the Holy of Holies in Heaven. Women were the last ones at the cross and the first ones at the garden tomb to see the stone had been rolled away by the angel of the Lord.  They were the first witnesses to the resurrected Messiah.  “Adonai gives the command; the women with the good news are a mighty army!” (Psalm 68:11). Indeed this is what it looks like to minister at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and we are invited to come all the way in, beyond the curtain to dwell with the One who came to Tabernacle among us.

We are to have our garments ready, as spoken in Revelation 19:

“A voice went out from the throne, saying,

‘Praise our God, all you His servants,

You who fear Him, small and great!’

Then I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd,

like the sound of rushing waters, like loud peals of thunder, saying,

Halleluyah!

Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, has begun to reign!

Let us rejoice and be glad!

Let us give Him the glory!

For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb,

And his Bride has prepared herself –

Fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear.”

 

Eyes on the road

Feature photo by Katherine Dalton

I feel like the story of the Prodigal Son has been a key story in my life this year, not necessarily because I’ve had some uniquely wayward experience- I do so greatly need grace each and every day.  But, the Lord has continued to bring this story back to the surface for me.

I’ve been struggling recently with the question What do I do when I am watching a friend walk into a situation I know is not good for them?

We all have been there and I know that friends have been in the very same situation for me.  So what do we do? How do we respond?

I was talking to a friend recently who is battling a season of watching her sister make choices that she knows will cause her pain down the road.  She loves her so much that it hurts to know she’ll soon be hurting.  But, we all have been given advice at times we didn’t want it and know exactly how we received it.


My small group girls have been walking through the book Popular by Tindell Baldwin, in which Tindell shares her testimony, many choices she wishes she didn’t make and scars she wishes were never created.  She shared that amidst this she felt so alone and so broken, but the one thing that kept her going was that amidst it all, her parents loved her.

She had cheated on her boyfriend when she was drunk so he broke up with her and though she was in a sea of consequences for choices she should have never made, her parents bought her a bouquet of a dozen red roses and put them on her night stand and told her they were sorry her heart was broken.


And what I realized recently about the Prodigal Son is that for the Father to have seen the Son coming from a long way off, it means that He hadn’t taken His eyes off the road.

The Father had never lost all hope for His child, never decided to just go on with life and believe His son would always be broken and wayward.  He kept His eyes on the road in eager anticipation of His son’s return and when He laid His loving and gracious eyes on Him from a long way off, He ran to him.


And I think this is how we’re called to love the people in our lives that we see in seasons of brokenness.  If it’s our place to speak boldly and directly about the choices they’re making then may we ever so abidingly do so (disclaimer- if anyone in your life is in danger to themselves or anyone around them, it is not only your place but your obligation to say something and report the situation).  But for situations that are not life threatening, situations that maybe kind of aren’t your business or aren’t your place to speak up, though you are painfully watching them unfold, I think we follow the Father’s model.

Keep your eyes on the road.

Don’t you dare give up hoping that was is lost will be found, broken will be redeemed, empty will be filled, damaged will be restored.

But the Father doesn’t just run to Him, He welcomes him back into His house as a son.

And this is so important.

Often when we are in seasons of wandering, seasons of brokenness, we forget who we are. And the people who make the biggest difference are not the ones who tell us we shouldn’t and are so eager to say “I told you so.”  Instead, the people who make the greatest difference are the ones who look at us in the midst of our broken, lost, and weary souls, and tell us who we are- redeemed, whole, holy, loved, and accepted in Christ.  

“When you see me filled with doubt or self hatred, when you observe me during my worst seasons of discouragement and failure, I want you to both weep with me ad I weep and be filled with hope, not the empty hope that says trite things like “It’ll all work out” [..] but a hope that exists because it sees something in me that is absolutely terrific.  Believe that there is life in me.  I want to catch the gleam in your eye that tells me you know there is more to me than my problems and you are confidently hopeful that good will emerge.  I want you to ache when you see the good buried beneath so much bad, but I want you to be passionately convinced that by the grace of God the good is there, waiting to be revealed.” – CONNECTING, Larry Crabb

So may we keep our eyes fixed on the road, knowing that there is no brokenness, no sin, too far gone that the grace of our Father cannot restore and the creativity of our Author cannot redeem.  And may we remind the broken that in them is wholeness.

 

What do you think?

How have you been affectively loved and cared for in seasons of making poor choices?