Saturday, April 30, 2011

Disobedience in Prayer

God has been been trying and trying and trying and trying to get me to listen to him lately regarding my prayer life.  To be perfectly transparent, I struggle with prayer.  The Bible is so perfectly clear on the subject that I can’t really argue from an intellectual standpoint.  We are to do it.  End of story.  Paul told Timothy – I urge, then, FIRST OF ALL, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.  How can I argue that?

But the reality is, when I look back on my life – and the hundreds of prayers I’ve prayed – I struggle to see the big reveal moments where I prayed and the miraculous happened.  I selfishly want that miraculous and undeniable act of God as a result of my prayers.  THEN I could believe.  THEN I would fire up about prayer because I would know for sure my prayers weren’t in vain.  This ugly secret in my heart has kept me from having the vibrant and effective prayer life I’m called to.  Simply put, I’m being disobedient.  My personal prayers are sporadic and not uttered from lips which deeply believe my words will be a vehicle of God’s purposes.

My exec director has been asking us to each be praying diligently and faithfully about a few key things regarding our ministry.  She prays EVERY DAY as diligently as the sun seems to rise.  As we study Experiencing God as a staff, Henry Blackaby continually reiterates the power of how God works and speaks to us through prayer.  I think God is telling me – “Cheryl – It’s time to step it up.  I have some things I want to do through you that can only be accomplished through prayer.  It’s time child – time to learn to pray.” 

I need to say here – I believe that our faith journey is just that – a journey.  While I have always been called to pray, I have never felt the weight of my calling to prayer as deeply as I have recently.  God seems to be raising the bar in my life at this time.  He does that you know… he will teach me something today, and when I begin to obey, he will reveal the next layer of sin and disobedience.  Something perhaps more subtle, that I never recognized as disobedience before.  I mean – I pray at mealtime, in church, before bed – God do you mean I’m called to MORE than that?!  Yes child. It’s a lifelong sanctification process. 

When I feel a specific calling to grow spiritually in a certain area of my life, my disobedience – which I may have been oblivious to in the past – begins to weigh heavier and heavier.  I feel the weight of my rebellion.  It’s no longer me saying “I’d rather watch TV tonight”… it’s me saying “God – I don’t want to pray to you.  I’m choosing the TV over you.”  It’s like I feel my body utter the ugly words as I pick up the remote. Ick.

So, in addition to the prayers I’ve been asked to pray as a result of my career and ministry, God has placed several much more personal prayer needs on my heart recently as well.  It’s almost as if He’s telling me that he has chosen my prayers as his means of working in these moments, and I need to get down to business.  So - I am committing to pray deeply about these topics for at least 6 weeks.  Every day.  I am asking God to not only make this a time of intercession on behalf of The WorkFaith Connection and my other prayer subjects, but to make this a time of teaching for me.  A time where he teaches me the value, importance, effectiveness, and power of prayer.  In my ugly rebellious moods, I will commit to pray (whether I FEEL like it or not) until the cords of sin are broken and I can rest in the joy of obedience.  I can’t wait for the day I DESIRE to find my quiet corner and cry out to God in stillness, knowing in the deepest and most convinced part of my heart that my prayers are strong and mighty weapons – leaving my lips and being used by God to effect mighty change!  God may that day come quickly!

I crave a life changing experience – one that stirs up in me a new found NEED and DESIRE for prayer.  One I can carry into my forever.  Please Lord, make today the first day of a permanent change in me.  I know you can do so much more through me if I will be a willing servant dedicated to deep prayer.

Ahem, tap tap, is this thing on?

It’s been a while, but I’m still here!  I have plenty going on in my life that I want to share with the world, but I sometimes wonder if the world truly wants to hear!  I mean I don’t have babies to show off or world travels for you to envy.  I typically don’t enjoy sermon blogs either (i.e. I’m going to tell you what the Bible says and why you should do it…) But the truth is, my mom said I should start blogging again and I really did miss it!  I love to write, but just was a bit self conscious about the whole thing!

One thing I can say – God has been getting ALL up in my business lately!  Much has happened in me since December when I last posted, and if there is any lesson I’ve been learning – it’s that transparency is a GOOD THING.  Me being open and vulnerable with my brothers and sisters fosters an honest environment where you can see me for who I really am, and feel free to show your true colors around me.  That’s all I ever really want in people… just let me see YOU.

At my office, I am so blessed to work in a Christian environment where we openly seek God as a group - praying together, studying the Word together, and handling office conflicts through a lens of “What is God trying to teach ME in this moment”?  It’s real life, nitty gritty, heartbreaking, overwhelmingly joyful stuff.  I serve under a leader who loves God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength.  It’s no utopia, but it’s God’s place.  One of our former students wrote to tell us recently that they were mentioning The WorkFaith Connection to a friend of theirs and the friend responded “Oh! Is that that God place?  I’ve heard of it”.  Music to my ears and my heart!

So I realized – I do have a story to share!  I won’t blurt the whole background in one blog post, but hopefully can share in the next few days.  Just know that I have decided to rename the blog to more appropriately reflect this season of my life, the story I have to share, and my identity in Christ.  God has me on an unusual and exciting journey – I want to share what God is teaching ME (not to preach to YOU) and help shed a little light on the beautiful mess that my eyes have been opened to.  I will unveil the new name after I think of it, I just feel compelled to make it happen!

Love y’all so very much!


Friday, December 31, 2010

Angels we have heard on high!

One of my favorite Cox family Christmas traditions is picking out my new ornament every year from Hallmark. We each have our "things"... dad gets a train, Lo gets a puppy, Mom gets a church, and I pick out a different angel every year. I love each and every one of my sweet angels and picked them each because they spoke to me in some small way that year. Since mom said tomorrow is the big "break down" day I spent some time this afternoon taking pictures of my beautiful angels so I can remember them until next Thanksgiving when they come out again. I have put a few of my favorites at the top with their special stories. The rest you can see towards the bottom of the post!

IMG_5166This pretty little angel was the first one I ever picked. I believe we started our collections somewhere between 1994 and 1996 after we moved to Kingwood. She is actually a sweet little bell. Her slightly crooked little halo and soft peachy lips make me fall in love with her!




This ornament was instant love at first sight - she is supposed to be a little girl in a church pageant with her tin-foil wings and her homemade dress. She recites the story of Jesus' birth from the bible in the sweetest little voice you've ever heard!




IMG_5204This is my all-time favorite angel (to date!) She is a Madame Alexander angel and she reminded me of a beautiful antique Madame Alexander doll my mom has in our house which I always thought was so beautiful!


IMG_5245The year I picked this little one I decided to veer away from the strict definition of angels and allow “winged creatures” in general to make the cut. Look at her adorable green eyes and mistletoe! How could I possibly say no?!



IMG_5169When you stroke her harp strings they play Angels we Have Heard on High!






IMG_5185She’s a little cookie jar… if you open her up there are 3 little cookie ornaments inside!






IMG_5240I LOVED this angel the year I got her (1997 as it says on her scarf). This year when I pulled her out of the box I decided to read her “story” – turns out she’s a Kwanzaa angel! Ha! I decided then and there she could be anything I wanted her to be – and she’s my beautiful little African CHRISTMAS angel!



Other beautiful angels I’ve collected over the years:


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Home of Hope Orphanage Facing Shut Down

I am writing this post with a lot of emotion in my heart.

Many of you may remember that about a year and a half ago I had the great privilege to travel to Kerala, India with my friend Raju Samuel. While there, I spent a week loving on the sweet children of the “Home of Hope”, a Christian home for orphaned boys which has been the salvation both physically and spiritually to 20 precious boys for the last seven years.

Sweet boys - they just love being hugged!

Without “Home of Hope”, these kids would be on the street, fighting for survival in the slums, working in the rice fields, or trying to subsist on pennies a day doing common labor. But more important that all of this - these boys are being given the knowledge of the true God who loves them and can save them.

"Cheryl Auntie! Picture!" - Abue

But in a devastating turn of events - the Hindu government has decided that they have other plans for the orphanage.

Orphanage licensing regulations changed last year; they will no longer be allowed to rent the home for the boys. The Hindu government of India has decreed that all orphanages must have their own property and building or lose their license. In response to these governmental rulings Raju purchased land last year but there were no funds for a building. Now he must go before the officials in India and ask for an extension.

“I will promise them that we will begin construction by this December if they will allow us until next June (2011) to finish the building. It will be large enough to house fifty boys plus our staff and will cost around $106,000. But to get construction started we need $50,000.”

Friends - it is the reputation of our God that is at stake in India. The false religions are watching closely. Can the Lord of the Christians provide for His work, or does He need Shiva, Vishnu, one of the other three million Hindu gods, or Allah to bail Him out?

If this work fails, what will that say to the Hindus and Muslims of southern India? What will it do to the lives and faith of the precious children who live in the “Home of Hope”?

But God -and Raju- have a better plan than failure.

“We’re going to show them that our God is the true and living God,” he says. “God provided money to buy the property last year and I know He will provide money for a boys’ dormitory this year. We’re going to focus on putting at least one stone on that property by this December, 2010. We will let people know that we are not just talking; we are taking action.”

My dear friend, Raju

I wish I could introduce each and every one of you to Raju - I have NEVER in my life met a man quite like him. I don't know how else to say it except that when Raju prays, God answers LOUDLY. That being the case, I have NO doubt that God will be glorified and the orphanage will be saved, but it is through the faithfulness of the church that God's plans will be accomplished.

Please consider doing something to help save the orphanage:

  • Most importantly, please PRAY PRAY PRAY. A million dollars can't have the impact of a faithful prayer. Pray not only for the success of the orphanage, but pray that God might show you if you are being called to help.

  • If able, please consider giving money to help the building fund. There are sweet lives at stake here - lives I've encountered, little bodies I've held in my arms, little cheeks I've kissed. To imagine my sweet Abue back in poverty breaks my heart deeply.

  • Pass along this post to your friends - especially those with a heart for Christ and the means to help.

Raju has laid out the situation in much more detail in a newsletter I would LOVE to send to you - please let me know if I can send you the newsletter.

I love you all - please send me a facebook message or call me if you want more information.

Friday, September 17, 2010


So last night I was blog surfing and read the blog of a sweet girl from work... her and her husband have recently taken on the incredible challenge/responsibility/JOY of adopting a baby! In reading about some of their journey, I was reminded that I am NOT the only one dealing with having patience and trusting God this year! It was such a blessing to read about how strong they have been throughout this slow process... so if she reads this - THANKS :)

Basically – I’ve been dealing with some severe patience issues lately and while I hardly ever question WHAT God is doing in my life, I have REALLY been questioning his timing, which to me, is very illogical! But I have to remember, His ways are higher than my ways, and that I cannot lean on my own understanding. It will only bring heartache and frustration. I am effectively letting the enemy taint what God intends to be a joyful and sweet process – because in the end, God’s will WILL be accomplished. But when I look back on it 10 years down the road, will the journey to get there be remembered as a sweet time that I basked in the joy of God’s powerful and almighty hand, standing in awe and excitement at all he was accomplishing apart from me? Or will it be remembered as that time that I was filled with anxiety and grief over the minor details that didn’t sit well with me? I sincerely hope the former, but if I’m not careful, I am going to spoil one of God’s most radical moments in my life.

I prayed specifically this morning that God would give me a hyper-awareness of His love for me and a double dose of trust as I make the conscious choice to change my perspective!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Burn, baby, Burn!

It's my long lost friend... the blog!! I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for the inspiration to come - and it showed up today! Woot!

Lately I've been experiencing what one might call a spiritual "slump". My mind has been in a funk and my heart was just riding the wake. This week I began committing this "slump" to prayer and really asking God for two things:

1. That he would reignite my desire to actively seek Him

2. That he would rekindle my passion for ministry and missions

I have always had a "thing" for missions. There is just something about seeing someones life be transformed by a sudden influx of realization that - oh my gosh - God loves me! When a person is given a leg up, and in the process experiences the full weight of God's love for them and the startling and beautiful reality of the free gift of salvation (how EASY it is to accept Christ's redemption) there is truly nothing sweeter. That is the purpose of life. The Bible calls us all to go and make disciples. But when we live day to day in OUR routines - our job, our money, our friends, our family - we tend to hit the cruise control on life's steering wheel and just sit back and let life roll on by.

I think this is where I found myself this past month or two. Not surprisingly, when I considered mission opportunities, the former flame wasn't burning as strongly as I had grown accustomed to throughout my life. Disconcerting!

In an effort to rectify this quite disarming realization, I signed up to serve on the Missions team at MetroLive on Thursday nights at my my church (Houston's First Baptist). Concurrently, I prayed that God would use this as a stepping stone to reignite that passion in my heart. So tonight was volunteer night #1. A few incredible things happened!

1. One of the ministries we are supporting is called Charasia. This ministry takes little girls out of the red light district in India and provides them with a safe home, an education, and a Christian upbringing that will help them break the cycle of prostitution in their families lives. I have long had a heart for India and the beautiful people of that country... I started feeling that fire start to burn. I also accidentally showed up early for volunteer training this week due to some email communications and ended up sitting through a leadership meeting. Just listening to the hearts of those leading these teams reminded me of God's will for me. I believe I did not show up early on accident. They kept apologizing for making me sit through the meeting, but it was just what I needed!

2. I was working one of the Charasia tables in the foyer (passing out fliers and promoting our Summer support programs) and one of my co-volunteers was a great guy from East Asia - the same country I had the privilege to serve in for 6 weeks the summer after I graduation from college. He couldn't manage to pronounce my name (the "ryl" is very difficult for most foreigners, apparently the shape your mouth makes is very unique to English) and it reminded me of the students I met that summer and the laughs we had trying to teach them to say "Cheryl". We got to talking about my summer in East Asia and he looked me dead in the eyes and said "THANK YOU for going to my country to share the gospel. I always tell people thank you when I hear they have gone there, because I was saved by an American missionary when I was in college". What a moment. I was reminded of just how important that work was, how much joy it brought me, and how it really did change lives. Here was a young man who was serving on a missions team in America and sharing the gospel in MY country because someone took the time to share Christ's love with Him. Beautiful! It made my heart swell - a familiar old feeling that I was so happy to experience tonight.

Anyways, there you have it. I felt a kindling in my soul tonight. A hug from my God reminding me of God's love for me, and reassuring me that even when we go through "slumps" (and we ALL do) God remains in control and all we need to do is ask and obey. Ask God for the fire. And then fan that flame by taking a small leap of faith. Join a team. Attend Sunday School this week. Just take it off of cruise control and see how God moves!

Amen :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Tyranny of the Urgent

"We live in a constant tension between the urgent and the important. The problem is that the important task rarely must be done today or even this week. Extra hours of prayer and Bible study can wait. But the urgent tasks call for instant action - endless demands pressure every hour and day." - Charles Hummel on what he calls "the tyranny of the urgent".

Does this not hit you in the very heart? It's my constant struggle and my deepest frustration with being a woman, an employee, a daughter, a friend, and a christian!

My new years goal is very simple this year: Constantly remind myself that my purpose in LIFE isn't to meet a deadline, gain the approval of my bosses or the world, or even to read my Bible every single day... my purpose to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and strength. If God is for me, who can be against me?

At the end of my life, if I've loved my God and received His love for me with open arms, I will have accomplished enough.

That's the only goal I need. I pray that keeping this in the forefront of my mind will alleviate a portion of the stress and anxiety that I prescribe myself each day. The world's opinion of me pales in comparison to the accomplishment of having peace and joy through my relationship with Jesus.

Love y'all deeply - even if I'm too busy to let you know :)