In and Thru Youth

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Who are these people we call youth or teens? Are they leaders in the world today? When is the last time you asked a youth in your community or in your church community this little question: What is God doing … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

More Than Purple

photo(22)It was a day when the sun was shining, the purple was blooming outside of my living room window, and all seemed well in front of me. I was picturing the deer that danced across the road just a few days ago early in the morning as the sun was rising; leaving a bit of slobber and a random dent on my hood. Maybe her world seemed calm with the view of green things to nibble on across the road. And there I was. There we were. Completely changing what she thought was going to happen.

I sometimes talk with people who sound as if they have life all figured out. I wonder how that works when the world around us is continually changing. I keep learning how much I don’t have figured out!  As I reflect back on this week alone, I can picture the “list” I made each night before bed of what I hoped to get accomplished, actually needed to get accomplished the next day. Situations happened. People needed taken care of. Kids needed towed in windy lake water. Schedules needed redone and redone. Life didn’t flow…in one sense.

However, if we step back, wake up and take another breath; we can find the calm outside of our windows. Maybe it’s more than a purple flower. If you step into my yard, and look down, you’ll see a handful of vegetation surrounding each foot. It changes as you take the next step. I can’t tell you the purpose of each plant, but I see it. I see it across the hills. Soon we’ll see yellow, blue, red, orange and more color than we actually recognize, growing under our feet…if we stop to look out across the horizon or under our feet. It even grows back after it is burnt off. It fights its way back into new life.

photo 2(2)
Watching the green return is one of my favourite things of the spring, especially in the Flint Hills. My calm looks out over the Flint Hills and into neighboring communities, Kansas and the rest of the world. Even when the immediate need is to focus on the one next thing that needs to be done (and the many things not accomplished yesterday), does it mean we must lose sight of the long-term hopes for what could happen. The vision. Maybe vision continually realigns as the day to day happens and as the “oops” of life happen; but does it need to go away in the storm of the moment? Maybe it’s about doing the day to day to get to the future.  Some call it survival…I call it perseverance and hope. Hope that the challenges of the day will end in triumph for the future!

I woke up 2 hours ahead of what I had hoped for this morning. Well I went to bed 2 hours later than I had hoped for. Although that doesn’t calculate, my mind thought it did. The sun came up and as usual, I was wide awake! After wrestling to think I just needed more sleep, I came to look out my window. I then thought I might as well test the temperature of the morning to see what to wear for a morning run. That’s when I spotted the purple. It reminded me that situations have a purpose. A purpose to strengthen us; so that as we walk out the future, we have what it takes to follow through with what we know can happen. All it takes is a little hope. Or maybe it’s a little faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust (as Peter Pan might suggest). While my Bible doesn’t say I need pixie dust, it would be fun to try it out!

Am I feeling optimistic today? Yes. Even tonite, almost 18 hours after I wrote this. Some of it is faith that things will work out. Some of it is just the fact that the future does come with each new day. Maybe optimism is a choice we sometimes need to make; every minute. Sometimes its easy. Sometimes its not. photo 1(2)

And what happened in Zambia and South Africa? …That story is coming. Its on that “list” I make out each night.  Along with the Orlando trip.

I came across these quotes that seemed like they belong here.

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism: The Essays

“If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse… but surely you will see the wildness!”
― Pablo Picasso

Posted in The latest happenings | Leave a comment

And What to my Wondering Nose should appear…

One month ago I began to smell an odd scent in my kitchen closet. I searched in boxes, on shelves, in corners and everywhere in between.  Because the closet has a dropped ceiling, and on occasion I hear the scurrying of feet late at night (not my own); I assumed a mouse had come to its end in my ceiling space.  Eventually the smell lessened, and I only had a faint odor in my closet.  At least it wasn’t stinking up my house!Image

Until today.  I’m not so used to having a vacuum cleaner and my carpet is easy to sweep.  So when I actually clean, I usually just sweep my floor and carpet.  Until today.  I had wood splinters from my fireplace I thought I’d clean up before my friend and her kids arrive.  I pulled out the vacuum and that familiar smell came with it.  I thought surely not.  How would a mouse get in the bag.  I turned  on the vacuum cleaner; and what was far beyond the smell of a burnt rubber belt filtered through my living room.  Upon opening the canister, which I didn’t know would unload onto my floor, out rolled a little fur ball.  At first it appeared to be only dog hair (from the previous owner), but as I began to pick it up I noticed a peculiar little bundle of something.

That something was the culprit!  A little field mouse.  In my house. In my closet. In my vacuum.

The vacuum is all better. The culprit is resting in piece in a larger garbage bin. Candles are burning. The smell of spring is coming in through my open windows. Life is good.  My house is as clean as its gonna get! A run was calling my name, so off I went.  And soon, after a visit to the seasonal opening of a small art gallery; the reason I found the mouse will appear at my doorstep. Four little people and their mom, who will love my story!

My thanks to Tracey for my decision to vacuum …and Ryne…for capturing that little guy somehow before you left!

Posted in The latest happenings | Leave a comment

Brown Suede Clogs…finding a Place

Somewhere in someone’s corner, in a drawer, under a bed, in a closet, maybe even donated; there live a pair of clogs. Light brown suede clogs to be exact.  They once fit my feet when I needed to quickly run outside or when I needed something other than a running shoe or a flip flop.  I’m sure they still fit, if only I could locate the house where they have found a place to live.  I’m sure they’re being put to good use!

As I sit and look out my window (pondering their place), the things in front of me seem to be in place. They know where they live. They know where to land. They know how to fly if that’s how they were created to move. As I watch, I sometimes wonder how many people really know their place in this world, or even in their community; and believe that their life makes a difference. We can know what we’re good at. We can know what we enjoy. But how many really believe their existence; and the skills they are gifted with, can make a difference in “their place”.    skydive

We all have a place; and we see it from different angles.  Some see the up-close.  Some see it more as if they are tied to a parachute looking in (this I like).  Whatever your place may be, it changes as we grow younger 🙂 (ok maybe older), but somehow it all fits into this journey we are on.   Years ago I had it all figured out.  A few years ago I even figured out what I thought I had all figured out.  Its funny what you know at age 25, until you hit 26 or 35.  When I left for Asia I was ready to take on the world I was sure I could figure out.  Now…well there’s still a lot of figuring out to do.  The best part then comes when I’m reminded that I don’t really need to figure it out.

Being a do-er who wants to live in a the world where every person sees the potential inside of themselves,  and the potential in those around them as we all use it to help a neighbor or a community; but who realizes there is so much more to learn and life isn’t always that simple, this is a challenge. Possibilities seem endless.  I love it when a life is changed because of a friendship of another person who lives life full of hope. I then realize (for myself again), that wherever I am and wherever God is with me, this is where I need to find my place to be. We all have a place on a team, big or small. As we all do our part to contribute, life moves forward.  It simplifies life every time I’m reminded that my part is not everyone else’s part. And as we live out what we believe, people begin to see who we  are.  Speaking before living doesn’t seem to work as well.

I was talking to a new friend who lives a few twists and turns down the road.  As I was explaining how much I’m enjoying new things developing that lend themselves to community life with Middle School students, she listened and then quoted something from Frederick Buechner. I had to look it up to find the exact words; and I  found it quoted in many ways. “The place where the world’s deep need meets your deepest gladness is where you find your purpose in where God calls you to.”   Deepest gladness. I like that.

Its that overwhelming gladness that makes me know I am exactly where I need to be. Missing Africa and friends, but living in Kansas at Camp Wood YMCA, in a house on the prairie, surrounded by wind, creatures mostly small, tall grasses, sunrises, sunsets, people, a new look into community, spending time with friends, and soon to be surrounded by a lot of kids!  elephant on tree

I’ll be back in South Africa for a week and Zambia for 2 weeks at the end of the month to help with a training and to sort through some things in South Africa, seeing some friends while I collect my stuff;  and even with that I think I can safely and maybe even adventurously say the best is truly yet to come. What would life be without adventure and new things just around the corner…

Posted in a life changed, The latest happenings | Leave a comment

Not just a day

photo(17)Today was a day not like any other day.

No day ever seems to be like any other day because its a new day.

Today brought a new friend who enjoy parts of life that I love, a chat with some people from distant lands, a visit with old friends, a walk on a cool prairie night, some texts with a friend who knows me well, and a long chat with a friend who has walked some miles with me on a journey that is best explained in pictures and stories on a campfire night; with marshmallows.

It was a day that reminded me that I owe an update on life to a whole bunch of people out there who keep asking me where is that update?

Those on facebook see the pictures, and can imagine what I’m up to. Those not on facebook are quite possibly the ones wondering where I’m wandering!

So to all of my social media friends out there waiting on an update; it’s sort of like a puzzle.  When you piece together the pictures, create a few stories, you then know that I’m meeting a lot of incredible people with a heart for kids, youth and communities; and you can also piece together an understanding that I’m doing exactly what I love…and the best is yet to come.

I’m adjusting to this “I live in Kansas” piece of life; trying to understand how the part of Africa that became a part of me now fits into the bigger picture of life in the USA and the international picture that lives here.  It’s a process in a long journey that brings smiles and on days tears, but in the middle of it all there is a strange yet familiar peace that I am exactly where I need to be.  Life is good. If I was a heart type of person I’d say I heart my life at camp.

The wood stove has a fire warming up my cabin-style house.  The windy hillside breeze is just outside my door. Coffee keeps me warm. I even had some tea. And life is good.

That’s my update for the day.  The newsletter that I’ve promised really is in the making. I’m just re-making it as the days go on.  One day I’ll hit the send button and then wish I’d have said this or that or left out THAT!  But you’ll know I’m still in Kansas…unless of course its when I’m in Africa in April. But then I’ll be back and you’ll know I’m in Kansas…or somewhere nearby.  Summer is coming. Camp is busy. And in the midst of busy, and travel to meet people, and setting up this or meeting that; people are still who we need to serve; helping to add a smile to a life, one day at a time.

Just being honest in the day to day.  Sleep well and enjoy the sunshine when it comes.



Posted in The latest happenings | Leave a comment

The Ridge to Home Trails

Did you ever want to be a champion? Do you know you are?

Running along the pathway of the hill to my house makes me feel like Rocky. (Are you singing the song?) One day last week while crossing this terrain, the wind was blowing through my layers of warmth that suddenly weren’t so warm. Huge flakes of snow were falling. I entered the lodge to my office laughing; as I pictured the scene in Rocky IV where he crosses a Siberian mountain ridge training to become the best and the fittest he has ever been.

His goal: to defeat all odds and take down the man who led to the death of his friend; the one Rocky trained to become the World Champion. Rocky discovers he can’t do it alone. He needs the support of the team who has always been there for him.

Right now the ear-chilling wind on my Kansas pathway makes it seem more like a trail to conquer. Its not a Rocky IV mountain ridge but the wind makes it seem like it could be! Soon I arrive at either the office or at home. Both are good. Both provide something different to stir my mind. As the seasons change, the look of the Kansas ridge will change, but the ridge will remain basically the same. It will still travel between 2 points, with options of trails to explore along the way. Some people will only see the office and the house. Others will see the options to explore. Some will check out the trails to see where they lead. A few will create more trails and maybe wonder what it looks like from an airplane or a hang-glider. God made us unique. If we all wanted to explore, who would draw the calculated details off a map for generations to see!

IMG_20140211_141015I’ve come to realize that all are necessary on a team. I’m not always sure what to think of the people who seem to focus on the office or the house; but I’m quite certain that these people are often the ones who help the explorers find their way back home. What would you see on a mountain ridge or a hillside trail? Do you know who has you on their team?

Posted in The latest happenings | Leave a comment

The question is…

The question is where in the world is Cheri?

My final answer at this point in my journey is Kansas, USA.

There is of course a really good story to go with this that I will write… just as soon as I catch up on what it means to be back in Kansas. It was official on December 23rd, without a lot of prior understanding of what was about to happen.  Phone calls happened. Chats were had.  Ideas were tossed around. Questions were asked.  Now here I am.  Wood burning stove included!

My thought, if we’re honest: is when recently in my life when a big change was coming did have I had a lot of warning of what was about to happen?  Often the lead-up is there, but then it all just happens with a loud HERE YA GO!  Some would say they could have told me a move was happening. The only thought I have to that is: I smile because I have such great friends.

Because my faith is in a God who I believe created me to be who I am (and I’m learning a lot about the me in me), as well as this universe that I live in, I’m a really firm believer that He works out the details when we pay attention and listen (red skillet, pocket knives, and all). He sees our hearts and hears our thoughts because that’s what a true father does.  As the details worked out and people came across my pathway in ways that really couldn’t be explained; the best thing to do was to pay attention, listen and to be willing for anything.  So here I am.

Until the stories appear to share what happened, rest assured my coffee paraphernalia is slowing appearing.  I’m back at Camp Wood YMCA in Elmdale, KS.  (YEP!) I’ll continue to be involved on an international level in the same things I have been doing; it will just look differently. I’ll be back in the southern part of Africa in April to help with the training I am committed to see through (and am very excited to see what is going to happen as we team train). I’ll continue to help get this Youth Sport Leadership Development curriculum in motion…that we kicked off in November!  Everybody say WooHoo!

My commitment is to enjoy what  I do everywhere I go.  We have a great team here.  I will and I do miss my life in Africa and my incredible friends there in a way I cannot even explain.  Outside of that piece, I am excited to be able to have some time to input into the world of youth in the states and the YMCA movement.  It’s been fun connecting with friends here. I don’t really know how this will look, but maybe that’s the fun part of the adventure to uncover.  Details are coming… Thanks for sticking by me!






coffee is waiting…come visit!

Posted in The latest happenings | Leave a comment

A day that went a bit astray

What do we do with a day that seems to have gone astray?

Will this day ever go away? Have you ever had that thought? Or said it out loud before you realized it was said…by you?   Some of you might be thinking well that sounds like a pretty negative statement.  While others are saying YES!  And some of us can’t wait until tomorrow begins (especially if we’ve been waiting on today to end!)

The cliche’ we often hear spoken: “its what we do with the day that matters” is a great cliche.  The question is what then should we do with the day that goes astray?

As 3 pumpkin pies were not cooking in the oven, for a reason yet to be discovered, I was thinking about my day.  I got up. I had some coffee. I ran around a bit and did some work online. I waited  for the heat-wave so I could go for a run and not have to see my breath in front of me. I was told it would bypass freezing!  I got frustrated at someone who didn’t feel well knowing not even she knew why she said what was just said. I spent time with family and visited a friend.  I even got my iced over windshield wiper to work.  Then I got a message from an 11 year old. An 11 year old who hasn’t had the best of week.  An 11 year old who isn’t sure what tomorrow will bring. It sorta rearranges a person’s thoughts.

What if I wake up tomorrow and say: I wonder what today will bring and it goes astray…again?  What if you do and what if it does?  Do we then stop being excited about tomorrow?  Do we stop breathing in the air around us and instead allow it to  swallow us up.  Do we stop smiling at others who quite possibly are having a day that’s gone astray and maybe need that smile just to get through the moment. I’ve been there. I’ve needed that smile.  I’ve also passed on that smile and had it change my day.

Last year I had some days that quite possibly went astray before I even woke up! On some of those days after my morning run, I would force myself to walk down to the quick shop (petrol station) and talk to the cashier inside. I would find a way to make her smile. It was a choice but the choice made my day much different. It wasn’t a fake smile; it was simply a choice to get out of my feeling and do something with it.  Plus the attendants pumping petrol were always smiling so I had to get through their greetings to get inside…maybe that’s what gave me the smile to cheer on the ladies inside.

Maybe that’s where hope can be found. Hope in something outside of ourselves, outside of our circumstances.  Hope in the unknown of what tomorrow might bring. It’s exciting if we think about it.  Even in situations that involve life and death: What if it doesn’t go astray?  What if a miracle happens? What if its better than expected!  What if its incredible!

What if it only lasts a moment?  Or if its a day like any other day…or worse, but we see it as a new day of life; a day worth celebrating that reminds us that it really can be incredible.  Isn’t that hope?  Or is it?  Where does your hope come from?

Mine is in the living God who created me, whose Son we just celebrated on Christmas, Who actually knows all these crazy things I think before I speak them. He knew them yesterday when I had them. Its a good thing someone does!

What do we do with the day that’s gone astray?  What if…?

Posted in The latest happenings | Leave a comment

pondering the adventure out there

The conversation between friends…

Yellow Smiley Man:
There’s a world out there.
What are you gonna do in it?
Whose life will be encouraged by your existence in it?
What adventure in your journey will challenge others to step away from the box?
Will you see the challenges that land at your feet? And walk through them?

Live in it with every piece of my being. Enjoy the moments in the journey. Appreciate the people who challenge me. Learn from them. Walk through the painful moments. Play. Laugh. Explore the unknowns. Stop for a cuppa coffee and look around…
Breathe each day.

Yellow Smiley Man:
Will it be easy? Do you want easy?

It will be an adventure of a lifetime every day…if I choose to live life to its fullest with all of my being.

Posted in The latest happenings | Leave a comment

Stop Signs and Roll-throughs…

Could rolling through an unseen stop sign lead to more…?

This question became one to ponder after the 2nd roll-through:

So how do we proceed through stop signs of life?

It started in Florida. Sort of. I went to visit some friends after our Orlando meetings had finished. The youngest daughter shared a birthday with me so I thought it would be fun to take the 4 girls out for ice cream. We ended up being the only ones out for ice cream that night at the restaurant… actually the only ones there at all!

My friends had left us with their van to drive home, guaranteeing that one of the girls would be able to get us home…and we had a gps.

As we departed the restaurant there was a sign on the far side of the road that read “Do Not Enter”. No problem…if we only knew which road the sign went with. It was placed between 2 roads and it was dark so a bit difficult to decipher. As I proceeded in the direction the girls thought was correct, I took a right turn. Good choice, if only I’d seen the stop sign.

The lights behind us told me I had done something wrong. Due to it being Florida I wasn’t sure if it was ok to pull over onto a grassy shoulder in marshy territory, but finally I decided I really should stop. The officer asked for license, registration, insurance. Frantically we searched, laughing a bit as I explained that it was a borrowed vehicle from the girls parents. One of the girls said…and borrowed girls! (Maybe not the best thing to say in this world of human trafikking.) We laughed and I apologized a few times as one of the girls kept handing me ‘maybe this is it’ papers. Finally the officer took what we had and went to his car.

When he returned he told me what the cost of a ticket would be (I could eat off that amount for 2 months!). I looked at him and gulped out an ‘oh’. He smiled and said but I’m not gonna give you one (in his best southern smile filled with grace). He then looked at the girls in the back seat and asked: “do you girls have a license?”. They looked at him as he said “because if you don’t I’m gonna have to give you a ticket”. They looked at him quietly. Then he told them he was teasing and laughed a hearty laugh. He told us what animals to look out for this time of year and off we went. Covered in God’s grace I do believe!

The question I started with: How do we proceed through stop signs of life?

I’ve pondered this several times, again when I apparently took a left turn onto a college campus where there was a hidden stop sign. 🙂 no ticket.

How often do we roll through a stop sign in life when we would have benefitted with a stop and wait, a look both ways and a proceed with caution?

As I sit here watching out the train window heading to the cooler north parts of the USA, and we bypass stop signs and potential roll-throughs; the distance is nice. Maybe sometimes we need to get away from the stop signs at the end of the road that force us to make a choice of left or right. Maybe there are more choices if we step back and look before entering. Even if the next step is into unknown territory at least we’ve seen it from a broader viewpoint. Sometimes others help provide that broader viewpoint; sometimes we just need the silence and the willingness to look and listen.

Being a seeker of adventure…I’m learning that sometimes maybe I need to step back first…and then jump in! So I am.

Enjoy your week and stay warm.

Posted in The latest happenings | 1 Comment

Hobbit Trails

Since we’re on the topic of trails…

I remember when I first encountered The Hobbit. I was in Middle School. I thought how cool it would be to have furry leathery feet so that I would never need to wear shoes; to have the ability to sneak around in the woods so quietly that not even a mouse was disturbed. I day-dreamed (really) about how cool it would be to live in the forest where I could walk around so freely; to live in an underground tunnel house with a winter fireplace and a built-in escape route. The list went on as I imagined into the night what a hobbit trail would look like.  DSC07464

Still today I often want these things. Maybe not the furry feet, but definitely the tough leathery feet that would allow me to run freely through the trails without shoes. I could go where none have gone.  I think I’d long for a turtle’s log to soak up the sunshine, but surely I could trade the tunnel house in for a tree-topper. The tunnel house could then be converted into a cozy coffee-house in the center of the community!  It could be a place for those passing by to stop in for a chat; to catch a rest; to encounter something fun and friendly. It could be a place to frequent on a regular basis because something different was noticed in the atmosphere. A place for families to be. For youth to enjoy. For activity to happen.  For people to be free to be themselves. We could even serve yak butter tea or chicory and milk if someone needed that sense of home.

Hobbits enjoy their comfort, or so we are told.  I’ve never personally met one.  We’re told that somewhere inside of a rare one there lies a spirit of adventure. When that spirit is released to explore, the ensuing adventure is life changing…maybe life challenging.  There is no return. Like the hobbit, I enjoy the comfort of a good cup of something warm and a friend or two on the other side of the conversation.  Like the rare hobbit, I also enjoy the adventures.  Those that lead to coffee on a mountainside that some might avoid because the trek takes an extra twist or a leap is needed to securely pass; or that lead to coffee prepared in a sock at zero degrees in a village after waiting on the water to boil.  I enjoy racing through a pathway surrounded by kids to see where it leads; and I enjoy the leaders who race with them.  It’s all a part of the adventure or maybe also termed the journey or a long trek.  DSC07825

Some of our journeys take us to distant lands, some lead us through forests as we develop those leathery feet of adversity.  Some happen outside our front door in a daily routine of life that looks like an 8-5 job with a  home full of challenges.  I think a hobbit could survive the day-to-day routine of a westernized life, but I have a feeling it would run back to its tunnel in all the noise and craziness of the day-to-day routine that often leads to running here and there and everywhere.

If I were a hobbit in today’s world I’ d possibly be that one with the adventurous spirit that sometimes leads into unexpected situations like hippos in the river or rhinos staring me in the face; but through it all if I had to relive life I’d probably be found living out similar adventures.  I think I’d listen a bit more and talk a bit less.  The difference due to what I’m learning…I’d include many more coffee & tea breaks, more time asking people how they really are, and community life would be at the center of my existence. Jesus lived in community as He walked and talked and taught what life is about. People wanted what He had on the inside. I think people still do.

I just returned from a bit of travel that took me to Minneapolis, Lakewood, Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, and back to Nebraska and Kansas. I spent time with friends who challenge me to think and to stop long enough to listen to what I’m thinking.  I kayaked through lakes and rivers; and bicycled and hiked and ran through wooded trails.  I connected with friends at a conference from all parts of the world.  I even helped do a training.  I was blessed to spend time with friends from Asia and Africa.  Through it all the question that continues to ring through my mind is this: What are people looking for in community that will fulfill or satisfy the need or the drive to have more?  What is the more being sought after that possibly gets missed in the search?


Posted in The latest happenings | Leave a comment