GNO with Cher Curtis: Clean Underwear, Hating to Housekeep, and Performance

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Cher with her two granddaughters, and her husband, Lee.
Wow! Where does one start to write a short bio? I’ve been married to Lee for 47 wonderful years, I’m mom to Libby, Sarah, and Doug, mother-in-law to Todd and Emily, and Grandma Cher to Cate and Addie!  Faith and family are most important to me. Lee and I both come from families with five kids – in fact, the thing that made me positive I was going to marry this guy was when he started telling me his family stories – and they were just like mine!  (Parenting was much more casual in the 1950’s. Growing up then we had plenty of opportunity for “creative chaos”!) Being the oldest of five children was actually the best training I had for my “accidental career” in children’s ministry at Central Presbyterian Church. Children’s Ministry was the last thing I ever thought I would do, but the Lord had other plans for me — and it was a perfect  fit  for 20+ years!  All of those years of orchestrating pageants, parties, costumes, and even “restaurants” (where all of the food was made with dry oatmeal and raisins) for my younger siblings gave me the courage to tackle numerous VBS programs, building the Tabernacle in the CCS gym, and Pilgrim’s Progress in drama form for Sunday school. I also have a passion for studying God’s word, and which led me into writing curriculum for kids. I also enjoy “blossoming people” – identifying gifts in others and encouraging them to find ways to use those gifts in the body of Christ. As I’ve read the other GNO posts, I’ve been amazed at how many of these women I have had the opportunity to mentor informally over the years, and who are as precious to me as my own family. Now at the “empty nester” stage of life, Lee and I are experiencing  a new richness in our relationship and are looking for new ways for God to use us in His Kingdom Work — and I’m even learning to play golf!
What has God taught you about trusting Him?
Before our severely developmentally-disabled daughter, Sarah, was born, I would have told you, “Trust the Lord, of course I do!”After Sarah’s diagnosis at 6 months of age, I began a journey that revealed that I, in fact, did NOT trust the Lord, but He was going to bring me to a place of total relinquishment – and growing faith. I found with that prayer of relinquishment God actually replaced my grieving with joy – something totally unexpected, since the circumstances had not changed a bit. I love Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

What is the best homemaking/cooking/cleaning tip that someone gave you?
Housekeeping has never been my strong suit! When I was first married, there was a popular – and very funny – paperback, “The I Hate to Housekeep Book” by Peg Bracken. She had advice to the “random housekeeper” (of which I was one) which went something like, “if you’re a random housekeeper, never resist any housewifely impulses that come your way – you never know when you might have that impulse again!” That gave me permission to reorganize the junk drawer even when I had mounds of laundry to do. Now that my memory isn’t what it used to be, I keep a notebook of chores that need to be done and about how long I think it will take to do them. If I have an extra 20 minutes, I look for a 20-minute job to do in the notebook. It makes me use my time more productively.

What would you tell the “younger you” about boys/men/relationships/marriage?

I have been blessed with a 47-year marriage to an amazing man, my husband Lee! However, there have been valuable lessons that I had to learn the hard way, in the crucible of experience.
God created my husband with a strong ego so that he would protect, provide for, and cherish me. In the early years of my marriage, I did not always appreciate that fact and did not always show my husband the honor and respect in ways that were important to him. I had a very sharp tongue and could make a cutting remark (in the guise of “humor”) that hurt him deeply– especially when I did it in public. That male ego that appears to be so strong can be crushed so easily with a careless word! God taught me in a study of Ephesians 5 that Lee was doing a much better job of fulfilling God’s command to husbands, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” than I was of fulfilling the command to wives, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Submission is a charged word in our culture, but Ephesians describes mutual submission – the recipe for a long, joyous and God-glorifying marriage!
Take delight in serving your husband and he will respond in amazing ways. Little things are important! Clean underwear and socks neatly folded in the drawer are Lee’s “love language.” It took me years of hearing him ask in the morning, “Do I have any socks?” to figure that out! In our “empty nest” stage of life, the first one up makes the coffee and brings it to the other in bed. A great start to any day!
How has God given you understanding about your identity in Him?
I think all of us struggle with performance versus grace issues, having been rewarded for “performance” for most of our lives. When I find myself falling back into performance mode, I go back to the World Harvest Mission Gospel Transformation premises: “Cheer up! You are worse than you think you are! Cheer up! God’s Spirit works in you weakness! Cheer up! The gospel is far greater than you can imagine!” and “Cheer up! God’s kingdom is more wonderful than you can imagine!” I need to “preach the gospel to myself” daily!

What is a lie that you believed as a younger woman that you don’t believe now?
The fallacy that, as a woman, “you can have it all.” (Hmmm, does that sound like something from the Garden of Eden?) I graduated from a women’s college right as the women’s movement was being born forty plus years ago. Like the serpent whispering “you will be like God,” the women’s movement promised all kinds of things that it didn’t deliver, and in the process left destruction in its wake. Make no mistake, its ultimate goal was the destruction of the family. While the promises the movement made sounded enticing, I looked at the lives of my friends who had bought into it:they were dissatisfied, their marriages were falling apart, and their children were a mess. I am so grateful that God gave me the insight to walk away from all of its false promises! The good news is that there are seasons in a woman’s life, and there is joy and fulfillment in embracing those seasons in God’s perfect timing! The Proverbs 31 woman is my ideal – and she didn’t do all of the things listed in that text at the same time! I hope someday my family can say about me, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, he praises her . . . charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Your friend, 
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