#livefreeThursday: the power of touch

Honeycomb

As a teen I went to a local nursing home with a group of friends. I often lagged behind the others as they walked down the halls.

I wasn’t a good singer.

I didn’t know what to say, especially when the residents didn’t have words to express first.

One day a hand reached for mine. She held tight. Her skin sagged and felt papery thin, almost as if it might tear at my touch. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I couldn’t sing. It didn’t matter that I felt out of place.

There was power in simply touching another human being.

I almost take for granted how many times I’m touched each day. My husband reaching for a kiss in the morning before work. His arms around me as I stand in the kitchen.


meljaneellemelissa

A grand baby nestled under my chin, her soft hair wispy around my face. My mother who instantly reaches for me when I see her. My daughters who sit close.

But there’s another touch that I pray I’ll never take for granted.

Recently I met a new friend and we sat together as she told me her story: Drugs. Rehab. Failure. Children. Lost relationships.

Yet there was joy in her face. Because there was a second half to her story. She had reached out to God.

People had given up on her but He touched her. She had tried to find ways to numb the pain and nothing worked, but Jesus did.

We sat and praised God for how His touch continues to change her thoughts, take up residence in her broken places, and help her discover a whole new way to live.

There’s another woman who was touched by Jesus.

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”

Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” 

Mark 5:25-34 (NIV)

This woman found instant healing physically but we see that there’s more work to do. When Jesus looks around the crowd to see who was healed, she reacts in fear.

She was unclean. Everyone around her would tell her that she had no right to be touched by Jesus.

Except for one thing.

Our “unclean” status isn’t the primary factor. His holy touch is.

His touch overpowered cultural assumptions. It rocked doctor’s diagnoses that she’d never be well. It hurled every label that marked this woman’s life as far as the East is from the West.

He reached for her and helped her to stand tall.

Even that, touching her publicly, was part of the miracle. He was telling the whole world that she was worthy of touch.

A woman whose faith in Jesus made her well.

So today, I want to challenge you, my friend. I want you to reach out and touch someone today. Hold them close. Reach for the person’s hand who hasn’t been touched in weeks or years. Let the power of touch be a gift to someone else today. If you aren’t a hugging kind of girl, do it anyway.

But there’s a second challenge.

Open your heart to His touch. I don’t care what anybody says. You are not too broken. You are not too far gone. You aren’t beyond the miracle of His holy touch. What you said or did yesterday doesn’t eliminate you from His touch today.

Be that woman who reaches for the hem of His garment. In fact, let’s do it together and let His touch begin its holy work.

Suzie

LIVEFREETHURSDAY

 

When you feel whiny

gratitude

The brownies were in the oven when the texts started coming. One helper wasn’t showing up. Another woman, who normally helped me pick up some of the women, was working late.

A couple of people that needed rides lived on opposite sides of town. They got off work at different times which made it a little more complicated.

Suddenly I was juggling. I thought I had time and now I had not enough time. I thought I had help and now I had none.

You know that stress that you feel when you realize that you can’t do it all?

And then you start down that whiny path.

Yeah, that path. 

The one that makes you cranky. The one that makes you a little bit unbearable, even to yourself.  [Read more…]

Healing is hard work

Healing (1)

Years ago I was writing a book. As I wrote it, I invited my mom to join in the process. This invitation led to face-to-face conversations we’d never really had.

My mom began to share her story. There were parts that I knew well, but there were many parts I had never heard.

Something happened as my mom shared her story.

I began to see her. [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday: Slug ‘em good!

doinggood

 

She took a risk and tried to do the right thing. Her words were tangled and misrepresented. Her actions held up to light and found faulty.

“I’m never going to try to help anyone ever again,” she said.

I didn’t know what to say. The reality is that she did try to do something good and it backfired. It took guts for her to say and do something when everyone else had given up.

The response to her beautiful gift was criticism. Anger. Gossip. Her motives were questioned.

My friend needed a few minutes days to work through the emotions that weighed heavy. I didn’t really have advice for her at the moment because she wasn’t asking for it.

But maybe you know how my friend feels. When someone hurts you and it wasn’t deserved, you might want to respond this way:

Hit them where it hurts.

Make them take it back.

Hit them with a passive-aggressive remark.

Turn the other way and give up entirely. 

Later, when my friend and I talked again her feelings were still tender, but she was ready to talk. I only had one piece of advice for her:

Don’t let someone else’s bad response keep you from doing good. 

At heart, my friend is a beautiful person. She’s generous. She’s a fighter in all the right ways. She’s climbed out of an unhealthy place and she grieves over those who remain there. God has awakened her to the fact that every women is worthy of feeling safe and nurtured.

Speaking up was a huge risk. Crossing a line to offer words of comfort was another. It didn’t work out the way she thought, but my prayer for my friend is that she keeps being exactly who God is calling her to be.

And then there’s the second half of my prayer.

Lord, help her to slug ‘em good.

When you’re marching into the enemy’s territory, you launch a battle.

The last thing he expects is for you to slug back with good.

 

In Acts 16 Paul and Silas set a woman free from demonic bondage. What do they get for freeing this woman? They are severely beaten and placed in stocks in a dark dungeon-like prison.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a really bad day for me. So what did they do?

They slugged back with good.

With untended wounds in dark spaces surrounded by chains and guards, they sang at the top of their voices.

–> Which caused some kind of heavenly earthquake.

–> Which caused chains to drop from their hands and feet.

–> Which caused a guard to fall to the ground in fear and surrender to the Lord.

Rather than allow the enemy to use someone else’s bad response keep them down, they turned it into praise.

Slugged ‘em good, yes they did. 

My friend is better now. It happened. It hurt. She is healing.

We live free when we put up our dukes keep on being exactly who God has made us to be.

If somehow you’ve been doing good and the response of someone else made it feel bad, let’s pray together, okay?

Father, thank you for this woman who loves you. Thank you for her bravery. Thank you that she listened to you and that is a beautiful example of faith in action. Lord, this bad response isn’t what she hoped for, but she praises You. Thank you that the good in her (which comes from You) shakes the strongholds of the enemy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you are working on forgiveness, The Unburdened Heart might be exactly what you need. It’s gentle. It’s deeply rooted in Biblical principles.

It’s two friends sitting across the table working out the hard stuff so we can live free.

SuzieLIVEFREETHURSDAY


Dear friend: I love the Lord, but…

Once a month I take your question and we discuss it here together around the table. Your prayers and thoughts for Mary are welcome today ~ Suzie

Your touch

 

Dear Suzie, I love the Lord and I sometimes, more often than I should, find myself allowing other things and people to get in my way of having a true relationship with Christ.

Can we talk about that? What do I do? Mary C. [Read more…]

Words of love for you

God Loves You

We make God’s love really complicated sometimes, but today I want to share with you 10 scriptures that demonstrate God’s love for you. . . and how you can receive that love.  ~ Suzie

Ten scriptures that remind you of God’s love

1. How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wingsPsalm 36: 7

2. There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5: 5 [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday – My story is . . .

restored

My Bible study on Wednesdays isn’t ordinary. Sometimes it’s loud. It’s filled with tears or aha moments. The women around the table haven’t had it easy. Sometimes just getting by takes all that each one has.

We’re studying the book of John. Though these women love God fiercely, they are grasping the concepts.

One sang through the table of contents as she flipped through to find a particular book of the Bible.

Another flipped the Bible shut. “#&%*@,” she said. Then with a sheepish look. “Oops.”

I didn’t worry about the word. I was far more excited about the fact that she’s digging deep into the Word of God and it’s changing her, just like it continues to change me.

So we found the passage and dug in. We were in the book of John, chapter 1. We lingered over John 1:6a:

There was a man sent from God. His name was John. 

John was handpicked by God to tell others that Jesus was coming. People flocked to John because he had a story to tell. He was different. He was truthful. He didn’t seek the limelight. In fact, he went the opposite direction.

Verse 8 says:

He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

 As we dug deep into the story of John, we began to see that we are also witnesses to that Light.

Impacted by Jesus.

With a story to tell. 

So we did. One by one, we went around the table and shared our stories. At one point, one so excited that it felt like we’d slipped into an old-time revival.

Preach it, I said.

And she did.

We flipped back to John 1:6 and put our fingers over the words. And then we put our names in that passage.

There was a woman sent from God. Her name is Suzie.

I was once an angry girl who didn’t know Jesus. A neighbor pestered me until I went to church with her. That day nothing changed at home, but everything began to change inside of me.

My encounter with Jesus transformed not just me, but my children after me and one day, their children after them.

How can I not share such good news about God’s love?

There was a woman sent from God. Her name is Peggy.

There was a time when Peggy was an adult addict on the streets of Chicago. Today she’s a woman of faith who serves those who are sick or aged. She loves nothing more than telling others about Jesus as she rides the bus to work every day.

There was a woman sent from God. Her name is Angelita. 

Growing up as one of many, hurt by one who should have treasured her. Underestimated and identified by her past, until she threw the shackles off and ran after God with her entire being. I call her a Bible-study-teacher-in-the-making, because she has such a hunger for knowledge of the Word.

Others repeated the phrase. . .

There was a woman sent from God. Her name is {                          }. 

Filling in the blank. Telling the stories.

When I think about my Wednesdays around my kitchen table, I also see this community. You. Me. Others coming around the table. We are not face to face, you and I, but we meet, our hearts so hungry for God or change or a call pressing so hard on our hearts we can’t wait to run after it.

Maybe you’ve been wondering about #livefreeThursday.

Can I tell you what my prayer is? I am asking God that thousands of women will connect across the world every week and tell their stories around the table.

And that those who are seeking Christ will join us and we’ll grow together.

What about you? What is your story? Begin here.  .  .

There was a woman sent from God. Her name is ____________.

I’m listening. I’m excited that you’ve come to join us around the table.

Suzie


What love isn’t

unsplashpeople

There are a lot of open letters rushing across cyberspace. This isn’t one of them.

It’s just between you and me, sitting across from each other. Women who are imperfect more than they’ll ever be perfect. It’s not a condemnation, but an invitation to talk friend to friend. Without heated words or dialogues to nowhere.

In a month wrapped around the concept of love, I want to talk about what love isn’t.

Love isn’t labeling an entire race with words or jokes that never should fall from our lips.

Love isn’t posting status updates on Facebook telling others that if all people struggling with poverty just worked harder like we did they’d be better off. [Read more…]