Greetings from Davalynn Spencer in Colorful Colorado. Please join me today in welcoming author Cheri Strange.
Cheri, please give us an overview of your book, Can You See Me, Now? Good News for the Lonely, Left Out & Less Than.
Can You See Me, Now? is for any woman who has ever been left out of the group, felt alone, or insignificant, and it offers a biblical path forward. It’s a 75-day journey toward genuine transformation with a guide and a personal plan to help you experience it.
The title draws me in. Why did you write this book?
The initial reason for why I wrote this book lies with my own history. This is my story: a place of pain and how God delivered me through it while my circumstances did not change. It wasn’t long before I noticed the same familiar pain points showing up in the lives of my daughters. I have six daughters originating from three different continents and cultures. My thought was to privately offer them encouragement and biblical guidance when facing these issues.
It wasn’t long before I recognized the issues were more widespread. No longer was it just me, and my daughters, but half the population. Experts estimate we are the loneliest society on record in the last fifty years. A large majority have felt left out or always feel that way. What these realities illuminate is that most women have come to know the sting of not being missed and would like it to be different. This 75-day journey equips a woman familiar with loneliness and being passed over to understand her value and enables her to experience the personal change necessary for becoming seen even if or when her circumstances remain the same.
What hope you are presenting. Is there more to the take-away from this book?
It is my hope that the reader gets the sense that she is not alone in her loneliness. If she has ever experienced being left out of the group or treated as if she is less than those around her – she will find solace here. But comradery in our places of pain is not enough to draw us out of it or make us different. This 75-day journey means to illuminate how God sees her, how He can heal her, re-calibrate her, if needed, and draw her toward becoming who He created her to be. My desire is that she takes these gleanings, internalizes them, and works her plan for leaving the shadows and the lingering loneliness to become seen for all the right reasons in all the right ways, for the rest of her days.
What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
The greatest challenge I faced in crafting Can You See Me, Now? was writing the beginning. It comes from such a private place of pain, getting it out in words ushered in all sorts of emotions, but this personal element wasn’t always there. In fact, the first time I submitted the manuscript, I did not utilize my own experiences. The criticism I received was the absence of a personal touch, or soul, which was intentional. Who wants to tell their inner struggles to strangers? Not me.
Rather than write the revealing, I filed it in a drawer. But when the world shut down in 2020, I had time to reconsider and pray. Yes. The message was incomplete without my journey infused. Oh, it’s not what we would consider traumatic. It’s just my ordinary experiences. And that, I realized, was the missing centerpiece. As I wrote, the emotions turned from regurgitating the pain, the failures, and the missteps to thanksgiving for the transformation in my own life that can be the reader’s as well. The path toward becoming seen is not limited to where we originate or even where we are today, but is cultivated through the Word of God, one day at a time
Is there any particular reason why you chose this genre?
Can You See Me, Now? is in the Christian Living genre. The book leans toward being more devotional in style and pacing, divided into 75-daily readings that should take only a few minutes. That structure and design is on purpose. I have been writing for YouVersion, the Bible app, for several years. My readership largely develops from what is available on the app, and I have found this style and genre to be my sweet spot. I enjoy providing thematic Bible reading plans, utilizing Scripture to investigate a common theme. These are written in doable chunks for busy women with an invitation to make it personal, each day. This genre allows me to help make the teachings of the Bible and the whole of Christianity accessible to this generation. For me, there is no higher calling.
What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
Writing is lonely. The entire endeavor is solitary, by necessity. There are not a lot of kudos or at-a-girls, but rather rejections or re-starts. Most do not understand the personal risks involved, the time required, or the years it takes to cultivate the skill. When someone asks me what they can do to alleviate this element in the journey, I simply suggest they invite me to lunch or coffee sometime. It may seem like a small gesture, but it is life-giving.
Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
When I first started writing, I wrote in a scholarly professional arena. I hold a PhD from Baylor University, and the role fits my personality and demeanor. When I moved away from that arena and toward working in women’s ministry, much of my learned style of presentation and even my language needed to change. My research jargon and ivory tower proclamations do not transfer into a reader’s daily life. I needed coaching in how to “find my voice” for the audience to whom God has led me, as well as opportunities to exercise it. Making the transition took about nine years of learning.
The most touching comment came a couple of years ago from a reader with limited education and little formal Bible instruction. She wrote, “I like the way you write. Somehow you know how I’m struggling and how to say what I need so that I can understand it.”
I took a victory lap with my hands in the air around my block. God is so faithful to do in our lives what seems impossible and unattainable to accomplish His purposes. I am ever grateful for the years of writing to no one in order to communicate effectively to the one I am sent.
What a precious gift, for both you and your readers. Are there other ministries in which you are involved?
Currently I am drowning in teenagers at home and at my church. Four of our kids are in high school this year, which fills up our social calendars as well as all the other hours. Honestly, these teen years are, hands down, my favorite stage of parenting. I like my teens. They are funny, responsible, Jesus-loving humans. Beyond home, my husband and I also lead life groups in our youth department at church. He teaches boys, while I teach the girls. Typically, we journey with these same groups until they graduate, allowing us to build deeper relationships and truly be a resource during those years and beyond. Both my teens at home and in my classes are a tremendous joy.
In addition, I serve on the praise team as a vocalist, and I’m on the leadership team for our women’s ministry.
Most of us struggle with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
My husband of thirty years and I have eight children. Two are biological and six are adopted internationally, one of whom is special needs. Most women get a glazed-over look to learn these details because they are thinking about all I have to cook and how much laundry ten people can produce in a week. Yes, it is a lot. Obedience to the calling God has given me requires me to work within the boundaries set for my life. That might mean early mornings and later nights is some seasons. Lots of seasons. At times we have literally scheduled my writing time on the family calendar to make it work.
The greater problem is my need for perfection. To meet deadlines and finish the task, I have learned that sometimes good is good enough to move on. The discipline for navigating deadlines, completing the important and dealing with the urgent comes as I am faithful to lay out the needs to the Lord before the day begins, trusting Him to take care of what gets checked off and what does not. Then do it again the next day.
Great guidance there, Cheri.
Can you share your favorite library memory with us?
A month after graduating from college I began a master’s program at the same university. The first semester called for a research class. I don’t even remember the name of the course. What I do remember is the excessive hours of library work including tedious investigations in books that could not be checked out, and the skill to locate and print microfilm pages. While most students complained and did everything to get out of the task, I discovered my happy place. My favorite memory of the library is the day I recognized how much I loved what I was doing. That day I walked into the same library rarely inhabited the four preceding years, breathed in the musty book aroma and felt I was home. It’s funny how one course requirement jumpstarted my pilgrimage toward becoming a research assistant turned university professor, national presenter, and author.
What project are you looking forward to in the future?
I am working on another non-fiction piece that offers a message of hope for the woman who feels unfulfilled or somewhat disenchanted with where her life is heading, who might be wondering if there is more. In a sense, it is for the person who is drinking, yet remains thirsty for more—of what, she doesn’t know. It answers the question, what if all these needs, these desires, and the debilitating deficits were God-given so that we might find our hope, our satisfaction, and our fulfillment in Him and Him alone? Filled with captivating stories, biblical insights, thirst-quenching recipes and other practical resources, the reader will discover how her deepest needs can be fulfilled in Christ.