Your assignment: Be nice to you

 Break4

What if your assignment is you?

Sounds weird, I know.

We feel called to love a world, but what if God is calling you to show that same love to yourself?

Maybe we’d be nicer to ourselves with our words.

Maybe we’d take a compliment.

Maybe we’d stop beating ourselves up so much.

Maybe we’d quit apologizing when there’s nothing to apologize for.

Today I want to take a little mini-break in the study, because I think this is worth talking about and I want to hear what you have to say about it.

In Come With Me, Chapter 10, we discover what it means to be rescued, how to love others, and how to let our faith be a part of our everyday life and conversations.

I meet extraordinary women all the time who do that well.

They are unique. They are courageous as heck. They have conquered hard things and they are talented. They love people BIG. They are in ministry. They are moms. They are single women or single mothers. They are older. They are young.

These women grab hold of Chapter 10 and they ask God this big question: Lord, how can I love people like you love me?

Some of those same extraordinary women – who love and care deeply — don’t even come close to showing that same love to the person in the mirror.

I get it, because that used to be me. It was deeply embedded in a lack of self-confidence. I didn’t see myself the way that God does.

We don’t have to stay in that place! No we don’t.

So, here’s a simple #ComeWithMe invitation for all of us.

Let’s speak truth and life to ourselves, when we need it most. Let’s offer a little mercy, for pete’s sake.

Let’s stop when we’ve run into the end of ourselves and let his words become renewed life in our bones and spirit.

So, this is your assignment.

Be nice to yourself today.

Pray about it.

Hold up your words that you speak over your heart and ask God to change them.

On page 182 of Come With Me, there’s a question that I asked and I want to tweak it just a bit today. I pray you’ll answer it here so we can talk and pray together.

5. Read Galatians 5:22–23. What does the Holy Spirit produce inside of us? Describe one way that this might show up in your relationships with those closest to you.

Here’s the revision: Read Galatians 5:22-23. What does the Holy Spirit produce inside of us. Describe one way that this might show up as you begin to see yourself the way that God does?

Suzie

Chapter #10: When what God is asking you to do feels risky

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Praying was easy, but this?

It was too risky, or at least it felt that way.

God was asking me to reach out to someone who might not be interested in what I had to say. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the possibility of being rebuffed.

I also don’t like treading in when I don’t know what to say.

Yet it wouldn’t go away.

So I did it.  I wish I could say that, because of my obedience, there was a magical ending to this story.

There wasn’t.

I came away with some insight that will help me to pray. My friend was honest with me. This person didn’t see my words as an invasion of privacy or unwanted, but isn’t ready. . . yet.

So, was it a complete failure?

That’s not how it works. Obeying God, especially when it comes to loving people, isn’t a pass and fail test. We have no idea what God is doing behind the scenes. We have no idea what a person is walking through, or how he or she feels.

All I know is that God loved this one enough to shake me out of my discomfort zone to take a risk. God is calling this beautiful human being back to himself and this person is worth a little discomfort on my part.

Maybe you’ve felt that same nudge.

You feel the Holy Spirit leading you to send a card, or a text, or to show up in person. Maybe you’ve resisted because it all seems so risky.

Let’s redefine that word from “what might happen to us,” to “what God sees that we don’t.”

If you sense God leading you to reach out, start where you are.

Pray for that person.

Pray for the right words to say, and the words to withhold.

Pray not to take it personally if they aren’t ready yet, because sometimes God’s love is steeped into a heart one word and one action at a time.

Today we begin with Chapter 10. Can you believe we are already that deep into this study? It’s all about living your faith as if you believe it is true, and partnering with God to reach a world.

I’d love to hear your story today.

Tell me about the moment that someone reached out and told you about Jesus.

Suzie

  • Read Chapter 10
  • Watch the video
  • Start your discussion with the discussion starter at the end of the video
  • Journal your thoughts
  • Answer the questions at the end of Chapter 10 in Come With Me

 

Today is #livefree Thursday! Women from all over the nation will join us in a conversation about “starting where you are, but not staying where you are.”
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Following Jesus isn’t a charmed life, it’s a changed life

change

She’s comfortable in her skin.

Those are the words the radio host said as she introduced me to her listeners.

I want to introduce Suzie Eller, a woman who is the most comfortable in her skin of anyone I’ve ever met.

I almost missed my cue. Her words took me by surprise.

What surprised me the most is that they are true — and believe me they didn’t used to be.

There was a time that I was in my twenties and insecurity was my trademark. I hid it well, but it surfaced at all the wrong times. It made me hold on to things that weren’t healthy, like doubt or uninvited guilt.

It made me question myself, rather than just settle in and live life fully.

When did the insecurity leave?

It left in bits and pieces, usually in the harder places of my faith.

The more I depended on God — because I didn’t have the answers, or because it was way bigger than me — the more I learned about myself.

I was strong, in Him.

I was resilient, because of my faith.

God saw things inside of me that I could not, and trials and storms brought them out.

This was my silver lining.

When I look at who I became in those harder places, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Now, let’s be real. That’s easier to say when you are on the other side of the storm. ♥

So we hold on to the Word when we are in a trial.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NLT)

Perfect. Complete. Needing nothing.

Is that the same as feeling comfortable in your skin?

I think it might. We’re still human. We’ll always need Jesus and depend on Him. We’ll make mistakes and find mercy as we confess and grow through them.

Yet, we know where our strength comes from.

We know where to go.

We rest in our faith and celebrate in His goodness.

Hey, that excites me! 

That’s what is available to all of us, and it can be our greatest surprise in the storm. You and I can come out on the other side of a trial stronger, our endurance greater, and our trust in Him our greatest treasure.

Share one surprise that came out of your greatest trial. Let’s celebrate that together!

Suzie

 

 

Chapter #9: How can I be still when my life is turned upside down? {{giveaway}}

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If you came over from Encouragement for Today, welcome! We are in the midst of a Bible study, but I want you to simply join us. You are so welcome here!

Sometimes I struggle to sleep.

My brain goes into overdrive. I’m truly tired, but my brain whirls away. Sometimes, after a couple of hours of just laying there, I’ll climb out of bed and go into another room to read. Sometimes I play spades on my phone or check Facebook.

The problem with getting up or flashing the blue light of a phone in my face, is that now I’m even more awake. My thoughts move to the to-do list for the next day, or other things that are pressing.

And I’m EXHAUSTED the next day.

Several months ago I put a new strategy into motion. Rather than get up, I remained still.

I was listening to the radio and someone instructed those struggling with sleep to remain in bed and take deep breaths, lying as still as possible, as you count backwards from 100 to 1.

I tried it night one.

Nothing.

Night two. Night three. Night four. Night five.

Each night I remained still, breathing deeply, counting backwards slowly from 100 to 1, and before long something was happening in this sleep-deprived girl.

Staying in bed when I was restless felt foreign at first. All my former go-to’s pulled at me. Yet over time I started to embrace the stillness. Counting slowly, breathing deeply, calmed my whirling thoughts.

I didn’t fall asleep right away, but I did fall asleep peacefully.

Sleep started to come much sooner. I didn’t have to do the exercises every night anymore. Eventually I started to sleep almost every night.

It’s been a beautiful thing!

What in the world does this have to do with Chapter #9, Suzie?

 

Being still in a storm isn’t a natural response.

It’s not our natural response to almost any crisis, whether that’s a string of sleepless nights or when your world turns upside down. We react. It’s what we do. We have to do something, whether that’s worry or make lists or spring into action.

Be still. 

Those were Jesus’ words. They were for the disciples, and they are for us.

So, what does that look like in real life?

 

Remain where you are

This isn’t a physical place, but spiritual.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you (John 15:4).”

Our greatest source of strength will come through His Word, through His presence, through our faith in a God so close that we are literally grafted in to that strength.

 

Don’t forget to breathe

One of my favorite stories is when Jesus literally leaned over and breathed on the disciples (John 20:21-22). It’s kind of a funky thing to do, if we think of it in the natural, but it was powerful.

Jesus knew these men were going into a new season as he went back to the Father, and they marched into the world as apostles. They would face trials. Battles. Difficult people. Victories and miracles.

They could not do this on their own.

We can breathe in the power of the person of the Holy Spirit. That presence lives inside of us. It might not feel like it, but when we start to breath deeply in our new-found stillness, our whirring thoughts slow down and we realize we aren’t in the storm alone.

 

Count

Storms are temporary. It’s easy to forget that when the winds are strong and the rain is blinding.

Yet we can count on this. . .

Throughout scripture we find passages where God’s people are in storms. I really love this description found in the Psalms.

Some of you set sail in big ships;
you put to sea to do business in faraway ports.
Out at sea you saw God in action,
saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean:
With a word he called up the wind—
an ocean storm, towering waves!
You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out;
your hearts were stuck in your throats.
You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk,
you didn’t know which end was up.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He quieted the wind down to a whisper,
put a muzzle on all the big waves.
And you were so glad when the storm died down,
and he led you safely back to harbor.

Psalm 107:28-30 (The Msg)

The Word is our anchor. It holds us close. It reminds us of past storms where God was faithful, despite our circumstances.

If you are in a storm right now, please know this is a safe place for you to say that, “Things are hard right now.” We’ll pray with you and believe big together.

 

Suzie

  • Read Chapter #9
  • Listen to today’s video
  • Answer the discussion question/starter
  • Answer the questions at the end of the chapter
  • BONUS: Look up one scripture about God’s faithfulness in a storm. Share it here or write it in your journal.
  • Giveaway: I’m giving away two copies of Come With Me this week. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win. If you already own a copy, it can go to a friend!

As we go into the weekend, a prayer starter

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Let’s pray together today.

If you’ve struggled with knowing where you fit, or whether you are in the spotlight or not, or struggled with the fact that God is asking you to climb out of your comfort zone, let’s pray. [Read more…]

Hey, you are needed in this thing called ministry {{giveaway}}

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They came from all over the nation.

Some drove. Many flew. Some carpooled. When the arrived, we started our Come With Me journey together.

I was surprised when I met some in person. All I had to go on was the small picture beside their name on Facebook or in some other online community. One woman was supposed to be short, or at least that’s how I imagined her. When she stepped out of the car I was surprised to see that she towered over me.

She was beautiful!

What I loved best about this weekend retreat is how real we all were. Moms. Single women. Grandmas. Wives. Working women. Writers. Speakers. Teachers. It was all over the map.

I taught, wearing jeans and Sketchers, as we sat beside a lake. We sat in the grass. We listened to the Word. We prayed and laughed and grew together.

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We roasted marshmallows and ate S’mores. We rode horses. We kayaked. We even zip lined! It was glorious. [Read more…]

Chapter #8: Changing the world one chair at a time

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What if no one recognized your hard work?

Like ever.

There are lots of people whose hard work isn’t recognized. Last Sunday there were people stacking chairs in churches all across the nation.

Right now there are people preparing snacks for Bible study. Someone somewhere is doing graphic design. Someone else is arranging complicated administrative details.

Today I’m sitting in my living room. My hair is in a clippie. I’m wearing my OU T-shirt and black yoga pants. I don’t have a stitch of makeup on. I’m finishing up this blog post.

A roast is in the crockpot because Bible study meets in my home in a couple of hours.

I was going to clean my bedroom, but I gave up and just shut my bedroom door so they wouldn’t see my unmade bed and the pile of laundry I stacked on my dresser.

Everything I’m doing today is behind-the-scenes stuff. You know, the stuff you do if you are in ministry. If you are a mom. If you work. If you lead. If you love people. . .

Right? [Read more…]

That little thing that drives you crazy — that you’ll miss one day

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She swept the floor like a madwoman.

He was gone and his leaving created a big hole. The day before he was gone he seemed annoying. They battled over little things, all day long.

Like that pesky habit he had of sweeping the kitchen floor throughout the day.

All day.

Whisk, whisk.

Right under her feet. The sound grated on her. The nonstop whishing of the broom on the tiles. Why didn’t he go outside? Why was he attacking every stray piece of lint that landed on the linoleum?

I couldn’t know what she was thinking but as she pushed that broom right and left, I wondered . . .

Is this her way of feeling close to him?

Is the very thing that got on her nerves now bringing her comfort? [Read more…]