Wanna write my own story sometimes
Leave out the sad
Make it all happy
Erase the chapters where things turn bad
Leave off the parts where human frailty causes suffering and pain
Get to that fairy tale ending without all the trouble and strain
Letting life unfold in dramatic detail is unnerving, suspenseful,
The struggle is real
After bitter they say can come sweet
If you root out the feelings that seek to take you underneath
No ones life is in their own control
No matter how much money or power or beauty they hold
A wonderful life means learning to suffer well
To overcome the many negatives common to all
Even if we could fully manage
Do every little thing perfect
We can never do that to anyone else
Our lives depend on relationships
That live and breathe
Some die, or change or fail miserably
Living in Joy and Peace requires rebound and commitment to release
Being able to let go, let God, get on, not give up
It takes skill and love, being both tender and tough
No one can write their tale end to beginning
The plot twists will come just from living



Fish out of water can’t swim
No retrofitted fins can take you through a cotton field
If you were born for the sea
Gills dry up with nothing to breathe
Mountain lions in a cage at a zoo
Will never show how they can climb truly
No matter how many features you build
To display them for the paying public to oogle
Country boy stuck on a subway
Dressed in slick shoes
Eating fancy meals like sushi
When he was made for a Chevy and boots and the SEC
Socialites left out in the sticks with no parties to organize
No manicures to get, no fancy hairdo’s
Writers with no pens or places to publish
Artists without canvas or galleries
Hoarders without rubbish
Grounded pilots
Mechanics separated from tools
A preacher without a bible or a pulpit or lost souls
Man without woman
Child taken from its mother
Feeling out of place
Searching for comfort
A vet with no animals
A farmer without seed
A skier in the desert
When it’s 100 degrees
A swimmer in the tundra
Covered in layers of fluffy nonsense
For someone
Who only wants a spandex suit
To move freely in water
The teacher with no pupils
Or none who will listen
An extrovert on a island with no one but Wilson
The quiet child in a room full of noise
And banter and overstimulating toys
A runner stuck on a treadmill
Longing for the road or a track or a course with hills
The musician who goes deaf but still writes the 9th
Putting voices in to sing about the Joy of the Creator
Love and kisses and conquering hatred
Every soul is striving to be it’s best
To find the place to draw life and give it
When stifling circumstances and squelched dreams seek to kill
The human spirit drives to find a place where it can fulfill
Purpose and design
What one was made for in this life
The salmon swims against the current
As it was born to spawn and die
So we all are pushing to the place
Where what we are created to be can be displayed.

– Sherry Carlstrom
October, 2013

Regard no one according to the flesh? What????Such a challenging concept for us to live out this life while in the flesh, the mortal bodies which tend towards judgements according to the things we see with our eyes and our ears and even those things we take in through our minds. To be controlled only by the love of Christ and His regard for each person as He sees them, as His ambassadors, reconciling all people to Jesus and then treating them as He does, according to the spirit and not according to the principles of the world.

Paul lays it out in 2 Corinthians 5:15-21

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;  and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creationThe old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.   For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Yet,  often we DO keep regarding people according to the flesh. We look at the skin, the arrangement of the hair, the style a person owns or doesn’t or specific talents a person may possess or skills they have developed and we group ourselves with them or compare ourselves to them according to the principles of the world.  Humans often do not judge with righteous judgement but rather with fleshly concepts.  We categorize people into groups, we define with words that compliment or degrade. Even when we are trying to be gracious and even-handed our own preferences and words often give away our perceptions and judgements of others. We value one person over another based on externals.

One of my favorite books is “You are Special” by Max Lucado as it so clearly lays out how God looks at each person He created with Hid heart of love for the Uniqueness He placed internally in each one.

Here is a summary of the books beautiful message:

You Are Special

by Max Lucado  

“The Wemmicks were small wooden people. Each of the wooden people was carved by a woodworker named Eli. His workshop sat on a hill overlooking their village. Every Wemmick was different. Some had big noses, others had large eyes. Some were tall and others were short. Some wore hats, others wore coats. But all were made by the same carver and all lived in the village. And all day, every day, the Wemmicks did the same thing: They gave each other stickers. Each Wemmick had a box of golden star stickers and a box of gray dot stickers. Up and down the streets all over the city, people could be seen sticking stars or dots on one another.

The pretty ones, those with smooth wood and fine paint, always got stars. But if the wood was rough or the paint chipped, the Wemmicks gave dots. The talented ones got stars, too. Some could lift big sticks high above their heads or jump over tall boxes. Still others knew big words or could sing very pretty songs. Everyone gave them stars.

Some Wemmicks had stars all over them! Every time they got a star it made them feel so good that they did something else and got another star. Others, though, could do little. They got dots.

Punchinello was one of these. He tried to jump high like the others, but he always fell. And when he fell, the others would gather around and give him dots.

Sometimes when he fell, it would scar his wood, so the people would give him more dots. He would try to explain why he fell and say something silly, and the Wemmicks would give him more dots. After a while he had so many dots that he didn’t want to go outside. He was afraid he would do something dumb such as forget his hat or step in the water, and then people would give him another dot. In fact, he had so many gray dots that some people would come up and give him one without reason. “He deserves lots of dots,” the wooden people would agree with one another. “He’s not a good wooden person.”

After a while Punchinello believed them. “I’m not a good Wemmick,” he would say. The few times he went outside, he hung around other Wemmicks who had a lot of dots. He felt better around them.

One day he met a Wemmick who was unlike any he’d ever met. She had no dots or stars. She was just wooden. Her name was Lucia. It wasn’t that people didn’t try to give her stickers; it’s just that the stickers didn’t stick. Some admired Lucia for having no dots, so they would run up and give her a star. But it would fall off. Some would look down on her for having no stars, so they would give her a dot. But it wouldn’t stay either. ‘That’s the way I want to be,’thought Punchinello. ‘I don’t want anyone’s marks.’ So he asked the stickerless Wemmick how she did it. “It’s easy,” Lucia replied. “every day I go see Eli.”

“Eli?” “Yes, Eli. The woodcarver. I sit in the workshop with him.” “Why?” “Why don’t you find out for yourself? Go up the hill. He’s there.”

And with that the Wemmick with no marks turned and skipped away. “But he won’t want to see me!” Punchinello cried out. Lucia didn’t hear. So Punchinello went home. He sat near a window and watched the wooden people as they scurried around giving each other stars and dots. “It’s not right,” he muttered to himself. And he resolved to go see Eli. He walked up the narrow path to the top of the hill and stepped into the big shop. His wooden eyes widened at the size of everything. The stool was as tall as he was. He had to stretch on his tiptoes to see the top of the workbench. A hammer was as long as his arm. Punchinello swallowed hard. “I’m not staying here!” and he turned to leave. Then he heard his name.

“Punchinello?” The voice was deep and strong. Punchinello stopped. “Punchinello! How good to see you. Come and let me have a look at you.” Punchinello turned slowly and looked at the large bearded craftsman. “You know my name?” the little Wemmick asked.

“Of course I do. I made you.” Eli stooped down and picked him up and set him on the bench. “Hmm,” the maker spoke thoughtfully as he inspected the gray circles. “Looks like you’ve been given some bad marks.” “I didn’t mean to, Eli. I really tried hard.” “Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. I don’t care what the other Wemmicks think.” “You don’t?”

No, and you shouldn’t either. Who are they to give stars or dots?They’re Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.”Punchinello laughed. “Me, special? Why? I can’t walk fast. I can’t jump. My paint is peeling. Why do I matter to you?”

Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. “Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.”Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this–much less his maker. He didn’t know what to say.”Every day I’ve been hoping you’d come,” Eli explained.”I came because I met someone who had no marks.””I know. She told me about you.”“Why don’t the stickers stay on her?””Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them.”

“What?””The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about the stickers.””I’m not sure I understand.””You will, but it will take time. You’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.” Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the ground. “Remember,” Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door. “You are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.”

Punchinello didn’t stop, but in his heart he thought, “I think he really means it.”And when he did, a dot fell to the ground.

May all your dots fall silently to the ground, for if given by man, they matter only to other men, if given by the Gods, no one questions, the scars that make up our lives. (when given the choice, pass out stars, drop the dots in the trash.) “

– Max Lucado

I pray this for you, I pray this for me.. For myself I wish for clearer eyes to see, like He sees.Sherry

If there is one thing I can do with my life. it would be this, to find ways to add to the beauty that God has embedded in the Story, to tell it in a way that people can see  as Paul Coleman says in his song “Pray” –

“The Gospel is not the STORY of Jesus, it’s Jesus Himself.”

As my children are growing older and more defined, as I see my own failures, weaknesses and inadequacies present, sometimes I look at something my children are doing, and I think ArRGh, I am failing here, I have missed the mark in training them, my own flaws are creating some in them. Other days I am awed by the beautiful qualities that emerge, the brilliant ways they see and image truth and grace. I think, oh Lord, please make up the difference here and help us all to LIVE out this story well in spite of ourselves.

We recently attended the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, a venture to encourage followers of Jesus to tell a better story, to take steps forward in speaking into the darkness that has become prevalent in so much of our culture. There were some great projects on display, and the heart of each creator was clear, people want to engage and tell the story, or piece of the story the best they can.

Sometimes  Christians can live in a bubble, and forget how the story needs to be told to people who have never heard it, or who have so many layers of myths laid in, that we must realize  it will take a while of clearing the intellectual and spiritual rubble away before they can even see clearly what can seem to a Believer, so evident.The blinders must be removed, so they can see, and so we, who already believe the basic truths of the story, can have our minds renewed to the deeper truths found in the Kingdom.

I was struck by the thought of a verse in Acts that oft encourages me as I am sharing bits and pieces of what I know of Jesus, He who is Wisdom.

Paul was speaking in Athens, and was talking to a diverse group of people, explaining to them that Jesus is the One and Only God and giving the details of Jesus resurrection from the dead, and the coming resurrection that all will one day experience in order to stand before the Living God to be judged.

This is the description of the conversation from Acts 17:

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

This encourages me in that when we share, in all of our flawed methods,  God’s Word itself goes forth and produces fruit, sometimes it is 30, 60 and sometimes 100 fold in its return. We are to do our part in “compelling people to come in” to the Kingdom and we should do out very best to know and understand the truths of God’s Word and the principles of the Kingdom….but since God gave us the example of Paul….not always batting 1000….we can rest assured that it is God himself who is “watching over His word to perform it.”  This is a great comfort to me on the days, well, everyday, when I feel my composition may be less than perfect and my delivery may lack.

 So my prayer is this, “Lord help me to tell the part of Your story in the time and place You know it will hit the mark, or soften the target, or lay the groundwork for another reaper who is coming along behind me. Help me to train my children to be part of this Grand Story in beautiful ways that will bring Glory to Your name in the place where they can be most effective, and please, cover my flaws and gaffes and those of the other storytellers who mean well, but may botch it up a bit. Be glorified by your servants Oh Lord, May we -Add To The Beauty.”


Add To The Beauty

  • Songwriters: Matthew Bronleewe, Sara Groves

We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
Shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

It comes in small inspirations
It brings redemption to life and work, to our lives and our work
It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it’s worth, a soul find it’s worth

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
Shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

And this is grace, an invitation to be beautiful
And this is grace, an invitation

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out our best

And I want to add to the beauty
And I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

Add to the beauty
I want to tell a better story
Shine with the light
That’s burning up inside