Shine like an O Star

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

I love a clear night. 

The stars intrigue me. God’s speckled lights bring me joy as I admire how He orchestrated patterns for our enjoyment. The twinkle of a star is a God wink to me.

For fun, I researched star classifications. After all, God created them, and His Word states we will shine like stars: “…then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14 (NIV)

I love the thought of being light in the darkness.

I derived information from Atlas of the Universe: Stars are given classifications according to their surface temperature and brightness. The classes are O, B, A, F, G, K, and M. The O stars are the hottest, M stars the coolest. O stars are rare but bright. M stars are numerous but dim.         Our sun’s classification is somewhere in the middle.

I took the liberty and used these classifications to represent Christians as stars. Since O is the hottest and most rare, I classified it as Obedient. Complete obedience to God is rare—I know it is for me. Oh, to always be obedient to the Master, a bright light to lead many to righteousness.

“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3 NIV).

The more numerous yet weaker stars are M-Mediocre. No one wants to be mediocre when serving God. Notice the word mediocre begins with the word “me.” I was a complacent believer focused on self. I chose mediocrity instead of obedience.

I knew God wanted me to call a friend to see how she was doing. I loved this girl and spent hours on the phone listening and trying to comfort her. I was tired and did not want to speak with her, because she complained and recited the same stories. Years with a counselor did not help her. 

Do you have a friend like that?

I sent an email instead of calling. An email was safe. You need to call her, the Spirit echoed in my head. I ignored his prompting. Call her!

“Lord, I don’t want to hear the same stories over and over.” A few days passed. Call her now! I said, “But Lord…”

The Spirit interrupted, I did not ask you to heal her, that is my job. Just listen, like I listen to you. I wanted to cry. I blatantly disobeyed and tried to justify my half-hearted attempt with an email. I remembered my pastor’s words, “Partial obedience is disobedience.”

I called.

She recited the same stories, but my attitude had changed. I wanted to listen to her like the Lord listens to me. God loved her through me, and she was thankful someone cared.

I prayed before all my conversations with her and the Holy Spirit empowered me with patience, kindness, and love. Complete obedience also brought peace and joy to my heart.

When it comes to serving God, I desire to serve with a wholehearted devotion and a willing mind, giving my best because he gave his best for me. I still fall short- I praise God for His grace and mercy.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my continued journey from mediocrity to obedience—the Holy Spirit gives the power to obey. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” 2 Peter 1:3 (ESV).

Now, when I observe the evening sky, I’m reminded the Creator of those stars loves me and empowers me to shine like an “O” star.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Shine Don't Whine

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation: When has God called you to be a friend to someone?

Birthdays Matter

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 ESV  

August is my birth month.

My birthday was my day.  A special day set aside just for me. But something changed on my 45th birthday.  

We lived in New Hampshire.  My husband was out of work, money was tight.  My husband was sad because he could not get me a birthday present. We rarely exchange gifts anyway. I had a long talk with God about this whole gift giving idea. A person should never feel pressured to give a gift.

I continued my conversation with my Abba as I drove to the grocery store. 

While in line, I noticed the woman in front of me as she fumbled through her purse. She did not have enough money and looked embarrassed. I’ve been in that same situation and I usually put items back.

“Here, take this.” 

I handed a ten-dollar bill to the young man at the cash register. It was the rest of our food budget after I purchased the items in my cart. “No! I can just put the ice cream back.” the woman said without making eye contact.

“Not the ice cream, it’s my birthday today, the best present I could get is to buy ice cream for someone else.”  The words came out before I could stop them.

“Happy Birthday!”  The young man at the register and the woman said in unison.

“Thank you!  Now, you would not want to deny me this present on my birthday, would you?”

I loved the confused looks on both of their faces as the woman walked away, with her groceries, including the ice cream. I purchased my groceries and headed home. Joy filled my heart and I thanked God for the wonderful birthday gift.

I shared the story with my husband and son. “From now on I am going to give on my birthday.  The gift I get in return is far more precious than anything money can buy!”

I rarely tell anyone I do this. I am not trying to promote myself or get an “atta girl”.But, how can I keep such a wonderful blessing from you?

I want to challenge you to give on your birthday.

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35 ESV).

The best part—don’t tell anyone you are doing it.  What an amazing secret between you and God. I know many of you already give to the poor and needy.  God sees that.  Will you go one step further? Will you join me and give on a day people least expect? All the Glory goes to God!

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer and speaker. As a certified Christian Life Coach Minister, and Ordained Minister, she aims to share the love of Christ wherever God leads. Cherrilynn is a speaker with Women Speakers. She contributes to the Blue Ridge Writers blog, is published in four compilations books, and her book Shine Don’t Whine released in 2020. Cherrilynn served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her 19-year-old son Michael, Jr., and her husband of 22 years, Michael. She fondly calls them her M&M’s.

Join the conversation: How do you celebrate your special day?

Grounds for Addiction

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16 ESV

I was stuck with the overnight shift in the Navy.

Sleep was an unwanted intruder. If I allowed myself to doze, I would go to jail (rules of the Navy).
I had to drink coffee to stay awake. I hesitated. I hated the taste. But after a few nights of fighting to stay awake, I had to succumb.

That jolt of Java promised to keep me awake. That slap in the face from a dark brew kept me alert.
Jail or Java? A simple decision for me. After a while, I began liking the taste. I even longed to go to work to get a drink. I confess, I am a coffeeholic. It seems I cannot get my day started without it. I look forward to my morning Joe the night before.

K-Cups are my favorite. Whoever invented the Keurig is my hero. Hot coffee at my fingertips one cup at a time. That is Genius!

I tried doing without that jolt of java, but I got a headache. I know that is a sign of addiction. I know I am not alone. Are we bad people for needing this wake-up call every morning? I don’t think so. Why there are shops created just for our addiction!

One morning, I had forty-five minutes to myself. I wanted to grab my cup and fellowship with God. I long for that time, before the sun rises, to read the Word and sip my coffee. I grabbed my cup from under the spout. What? An empty cup?
I forgot to put the water in the machine. Now I had to wait all over again.

UGH! My quiet time was disintegrating because I did not follow proper Keurig procedure! I made sure everything was set. K-cup in. Water added. Cup under the spout. Push the button. Wait…

Yes! A hot cup of pure joy. But at my first sip, I quickly spit it out. Rather than a warming swallow, it was lukewarm. Have you ever tasted lukewarm coffee? YUCK! No one likes lukewarm anything.

At that moment, the Spirit reminded me of the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3. God hates lukewarm.

Laodicea was known for its lukewarm water because it was located between the hot springs of Hierapolis and the pure, cold water of Colossae. Some scholars believe the metaphor for hot and cold came from Laodicea’s location. The Laodicean church was criticized for their lack of zeal for the Lord. The English language refers to those that are neutral or indifferent in matters of faith as “Laodicean.”

As I finished my new cup of hot coffee and pondered the message, I asked myself: Was I half-hearted in my service for Him? Was I giving God only portions of my life? I asked the Lord to show me where I’m lacking zeal for his kingdom. My little coffee fiasco had proven to be a great reminder to serve him with a wholehearted devotion and a willing mind.

Will you join me and be a zealot for Jesus?

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.

Shine Don't Whine

You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation: In what do you struggle to be zealous for the Lord?

Forget Where You Live?

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior. Philippians 3:20 NIV

“I am so tired of moving,” I said to my son as we walked to the gym.

“I know Mom, can we stay in this house forever?”

We took a few more steps, and a smile came to my lips as reality set in. ” Michael, this is not our forever home, our citizenship is in heaven.”

“That’s right mommy, I forgot!”

I find it so easy to get caught up in my earthly address, consumed with daily mundane tasks.

God blessed us with a beautiful temporary home in Rhode Island. Although the winters can be harsh, I thank God this house has so much sunlight provided by skylights. Even on the dreariest day there is a glimmer of light.

But the glorious light we will see in our forever home…”And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5 ESV).

My earthy home has my wonderful pets. Two cats named Peach and Baxter. I love all cats; especially lions. I long for the day I will hug one without worrying that I will be his lunch.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6 ESV

I share this earthly dwelling with my husband and son.  Sometimes there is strife, misunderstanding, or chaos. We’ve experienced deaths of loved ones, cancer, mental illness and more.  We desire to love each other unconditionally, but we fail.  In Heaven, we will all be together with our spiritual family; no tears, anger, or infirmity. We will be with the Prince of Peace.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4 ESV

I think of my friends in Togo, Africa, who live in straw huts with dirt floors. How much sweeter heaven will be for them. Now they walk on dirt. In Heaven, they will stroll on streets of gold.

…and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:21 ESV

I could go on and on. But I digress. Although my earthly dwelling is comfortable, and I am surrounded by loved ones, nothing on earth can ever compare to our heavenly home.

As my son and I continued our walk to the gym, I thanked God for our temporary home. I praised Him for allowing me to be here to help further the kingdom.

I still long for heaven where our bodies no longer need exercise, food or healing. Worries with be exchanged for worship.  I will be face to face with Jesus; consumed by His love and light.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer and speaker. As a certified Christian Life Coach Minister, and Ordained Minister, she aims to share the love of Christ wherever God leads. Cherrilynn is a speaker with Women Speakers. She contributes to the Blue Ridge Writers blog, is published in four compilations books, and her book Shine Don’t Whine released in 2020. Cherrilynn served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her 19-year-old son Michael, Jr., and her husband of 22 years, Michael. She fondly calls them her M&M’s.

Join the conversation: What do you look forward to in Heaven?

Rogue Wave Redemption

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. Romans 8:28-29 ESV

The rooster interrupted my sleep every three hours. I rolled off the uncomfortable church pew and joined the team for breakfast of granola bars and a bottle of water. The pastor had invited us to El Salvador to show “The Jesus Film,” and offered his church as our resting place.

We gathered our gear for the day and the team headed for El Playa de Cuco beach about five hundred yards away. Its meaning, “crazy beach” — was a good name to express the events of the day. We set up the volleyball net, and played with the kids who lived on the beach.

Small huts made of straw and wood transformed the beach into a makeshift village. Mothers nursed their babies and cooked meals on campfires outside while the men sat on logs and chatted.

Volleyball was fun, but I escaped to write in my journal.

Lord, Thank you for a log for our stuff or it would have been taken out to sea by the waves if we left it on the ground! We have not taken showers since yesterday morning. No Power! No Water! We must smell ripe! We are almost playing v-ball in the houses on the beach (water was coming close to us and the homes). I love you Father. Gracias.”

I put my journal away and went to the large log where our backpacks rested. The one I just thanked God for. I heard screaming…

1 pm (journal entry): WIPED OUT by a big wave! Gloria a Dios (Glory to God), no one was hurt but me. 3 kids went under the hut. All of us went flying. I tried to grab the bag and had a hold of it but the wave took the big log right with it. I was behind the log and it knocked me over. My legs are all cut up and bruised! Babies were everywhere. All are fine though. The locals helped us gather our things. A man named Pablo let us use his table and wash off in his water. (He had the only fresh water well within miles of the beach) Pablo gave me some blue ointment for the cuts on my legs.

We thanked Pablo and gave him The Gospel of John. We left the beach to gather our thoughts, have a soda, and clean our gear. We praised God for keeping us safe as we remembered the verse.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah  43:2 ESV

The next morning I wrote. Visited Pablo. He loved the peanut butter (peanut butter is a delicacy there). But, he really loved the book at read into the morning.

The next day we said our goodbyes, traveled to Honduras, and boarded a plane home to Rhode Island. Later, the Pastor of the church told us Pablo is now a child of God and leads others to Jesus. God used a rouge wave to save a soul.

My dear friend, I know life is difficult. Will you praise Him with me for taking the difficult and mundane to accomplish His purposes?

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.

Shine Don't Whine

You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation: Have you seen God take a “rogue wave” in your life and use it for good?

As Numerous as the Stars

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  John 1:4 NASB

While living in Honduras to help a missionary doctor, the town lost power. We prepared for many nights of darkness.

I looked to the heavens, holding my flashlight. as I walked the dusty street to Bible study. The stars pierced the sky and I was reminded of God’s covenant with Abraham. “Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars.”

I prayed, “Lord, use me to add to those descendants while I’m here in Honduras.”

As we studied John chapter eight by candlelight, we took turns reading verses. I loved hearing Scripture read in Spanish. Some ladies learning English read their verse in English with some help from me. What joy to share in God’s Word in any language, especially by candlelight. A few ladies did not know the Lord, but came because it was something to do in the quiet little mountain village. They just listened.

My turn came and I read John 8:12 from my ESV Bible. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

As I declared the second “light,” all the lights suddenly came on. We looked at each other shocked, smiled, then jumped and cried “Gloria a Dios.”

We cried happy tears at God’s faithfulness and clear sign He was with us.

Rosa remained sitting, her mouth wider than her eyes. I had been told Rosa lived a life of gossiping, sexual immorality, and bitterness. She looked at me and said, “We never get power that quickly. I want your Jesus.”

That night, Rosa accepted Jesus’ free gift of eternal life and went home to tell her family. She had been rescued from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Light (Colossians 1: 13).

Rosa reconciled with her husband, and the family attends church and Bible study on a regular basis.

A few months later, I said my goodbyes with tear filled eyes, knowing, God continues to fulfill his promise to Abraham by shedding the light of the Gospel in the darkest hearts and tiniest places.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer and speaker. As a certified Christian Life Coach Minister, and Ordained Minister, she aims to share the love of Christ wherever God leads. Cherrilynn is a speaker with Women Speakers. She contributes to the Blue Ridge Writers blog, is published in four compilations books, and her book Shine Don’t Whine released in 2020. Cherrilynn served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her 19-year-old son Michael, Jr., and her husband of 22 years, Michael. She fondly calls them her M&M’s.

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you a sign that He is with you?

Concealed Weapon

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Luke 8:17 NIV

My son loved to play with toy guns.  One day, after much begging, I let him play with his toy pirate pistol at the bus stop. The bus arrived. I kissed his forehead, took the toy gun and walked the short distance home. High school lunch period had just begun. Students drove past me on their way to grab a bite to eat.

I’d better hide this toy under my sweater, so no one thinks it is a real pistol, I said to myself. Just as I hid it, a car drove by with teen girls.  The look on one girl’s face was utter horror. I shrugged it off.  I did not think she saw the toy. I concealed it.

I proceeded home where a wonderful lunch awaited, prepared by my husband. As I bit into my sandwich, we heard a knock at the door. There stood two of Hampton’s finest. “Have you seen someone carrying a gun?”

My knees buckled, and I almost burst into tears. “That would be me, it was a toy, I am so sorry!” I couldn’t get the words out fast enough. He seemed to relax a bit.

“Yes, a young girl reported that there was a woman carrying what she thought was a gun toward the school. May we see it?” I showed them the orange pirate gun and promised never to bring it to the bus stop again.

“We put the school on lock down because of that toy. Maybe you should not have tried to conceal it.” The officers left, and I cried.

Are you concealing anything?

 Hatred? Adultery?  Sexual sin?

Just as I hid that toy under my sweater, I concealed an unforgiving heart toward my abusive father for a long time, which manifested itself in bitterness and self-loathing. Others around me witnessed the effects through my complaining spirit and depression. They could not see the origin of my pain. I hid it so well, I didn’t know it had embedded itself into my soul like a bloodsucking tick burrows into a dog. I prayed and asked God to show me why I was filled with angst and depression.

 Our great God, in love, showed me I still had not forgiven my biological father for abusing me. I gripped my right to fight until I saw justice served. I wanted to witness his suffering and demise.

My healing took time. I gave my pain, anger, and depression to God daily as I put my heart on lock down from the lies the evil one. Concealed Sin is nothing to play with! Bring it to your Heavenly Father. He knew the sin before you committed it. He will never shoot you down. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 (ESV)

That afternoon, my son exited the bus with a big smile and a hug for me. “How was your afternoon, Mommy?”

Usually, if I had a difficult day, I hid it from him. But today was different. “Let’s go have a snack and I’ll tell you!”

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.

Shine Don't Whine

You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation: How has God helped you with concealed sin?

When Your Name Means Broken

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

“CHINGALING!” Laura and Zoila shouted as a vase crashed to the floor. They saw me standing in the doorway of their white stucco home. Saturdays were high dusting days for this mother and daughter team, and I had startled them.

I’d come to say goodbye.  It was time for me to leave Honduras and return to Rhode Island.

I worked in Guinope for three months assisting at the local medical clinic. When I first arrived, many people could not pronounce my name, Cherrilynn (Sherry Lynn). As hard as they tried, they could not pronounce the “SH”;  it always sounded like “CHI”.   

So my name became Chingaling. I grew to love it.

Unbeknownst to everyone in Guinope when I arrived, my heart was broken and my body ached.  I could not leave my emotional baggage at the airport. So I dragged it down dirt roads, through the hospital at Tegucigalpa, and rested it by my bed at night. My wounds from childhood abuse screamed to be healed, and they would not stop just because I was in a foreign land.

 I was good at hiding fear, and depression. However, the Lord was at work in this quiet mountainside village. There was no escape. His loving hand desired to touch my wounds and mend them, but I needed to let go of my broken identity and accept God’s healing. I had many long talks with God as I walked through the dusty streets of Guinope (emotional baggage in tow).  As I responded to His love, the weight of despair dissipated and I loosened my grip on the handle of my emotional baggage.

As my friends turned to stare at the glass shattered on the floor, they repeated: Chingaling!” 

“Are you that happy to see me?” I said.

 “No, I mean yes.” Laura and Zoila looked at each other with delight. “Chingaling!” they shouted and began to laugh a full belly laugh.

“What’s so funny?” I began to laugh with them.

They stepped off the chairs, avoiding the glass.

“Chingaling,” Laura said as she pointed to the broken glass on the floor. Laura spoke fluent English. “The Spanish word for the sound of glass as it crashes to the floor is chingaling.”

I hugged them both, and we laughed as we cleaned up the glass.

As I swept the broken glass into the dustpan, the Holy Spirit impressed these words upon my heart: Chingaling, I am sweeping up the broken pieces of your heart.  I will mend them together for my joy and purpose. Trust me.

I left Guinope with a renewed hope, knowing God would use the story of healing from my brokenness to lead others to Him.

Jesus endured excruciating physical and emotional pain as he hung on the cross.  He understands brokenness. He knew the outcome of his crucifixion—reconciliation with the Father. He became broken, so that He could empathize with His followers who were in the same condition (Hebrews 4:15-16).

But He was also broken that we might be healed and made whole. “He bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 ESV).

Do you feel shattered, like there are too many broken pieces to repair? Trust God to heal you.

This resurrection season, will you join me and thank Jesus for identifying with our brokenness?  Let’s praise Him for His ultimate sacrifice that brings reconciliation and healing.

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer and speaker. As a certified Christian Life Coach Minister, and Ordained Minister, she aims to share the love of Christ wherever God leads. Cherrilynn is a speaker with Women Speakers. She contributes to the Blue Ridge Writers blog, is published in four compilations books, and her book Shine Don’t Whine released in 2020. Cherrilynn served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her 19-year-old son Michael, Jr., and her husband of 22 years, Michael. She fondly calls them her M&M’s.

Join the conversation: Has God healed you from brokenness?