#livefreeThursday: Making others happy. . . matters

Theme: More than Just Me

I went swimming with my mom at the YMCA on Saturday. She is strong again now, recouped from her scary illness in April, which was a wake-up call for me. That I might not always have forever. 

The greenhouse pool at the Y was at a smokin’ 113 degrees, but the water was cool and wonderful. There were lots of comments from the other 70-somethings, like, “who is this pretty young’un?”.

I love to be called young’un at 48.

As I drove home I thought about my mom’s smile. She has somehow managed to keep a youthful, vibrant smile and she used it a lot that day.

Remember how we talked about passion last week? How we get so caught up in the busyness of life that minutes, days, years tick by and suddenly we realize we’ve invested time, effort, emotional and physical health in things that don’t mean a lot when we stop and measure it? 

I’ve decided that making my mom smile matters. [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday – I’m not that brave

brave

As I write these words, Thursday has not arrived yet.

As you read them, it has.

We awoke this morning at 3:30 a.m. and stumbled from bed.

How do I know that?

I’m SO not a morning girl. Stumbling will be my best effort.

We’ll arrive at the hospital at 5 a.m. and Richard goes into pre-op. I’ll whisper goodbye as they roll him into surgery.

And then I’ll be brave. 

I’m grateful that the cancer was discovered and that it will soon be out of his body. I’m grateful for family that has wrapped themselves around us. I’m grateful for friends who have already signed up to bring us food as he recovers.

I’m grateful for the private “I love you’s” texted and messaged by beautiful Proverbs 31 ministry sisters and church family and even strangers.

I’m also grateful for God.

We walked through this years ago as a couple and I know that He’s by our side. So it’s not the statistics or the bigness of this 5-hour surgery that will be my focus.

It will be Him. 

Because as peace-filled as we have been, it’s all so real today and I’m not near as brave as I look, but. . .

God is big and that brings me strength.

So, will you pause just for a moment and whisper a prayer for my guy? I’d love that. In fact, I need it.

While I won’t be able to check in today, later when he’s asleep in the hospital and I’m resting nearby, I’ll hold those prayers close like a treasured friend.

Suzie

LIVEFREETHURSDAYI’m excited that today is #livefreeThursday.

Women from all over the nation are sharing their stories of “brave.”

That’s what this is. . . every single week. Brave girls who love Jesus coming together to love each other.


 

 

 

 

Living life UNDONE {{GIVEAWAY}}

undone

 

michelleToday it’s my pleasure to introduce you to my friend, Michele Cushatt. Every once in a while I pick up a book and it’s an instant keeper. I know it will be on my shelf from that moment on.

This is one of those books.

Michele is also one of those people that you know are “keepers.” Friends for life. Today I share about Michele’s book, her story of living life fully in the midst of the unexpected.

“I was so focused on dying that I almost forgot to live.”

Those words stopped me. I highlighted them. Underlined them. And for good measure, I put a star next to them. [Read more…]

When good comes out of the bad that happened

rescued

She’s one of my heroes.

Her name is Becky Shaeffer. She grew up with a mom who was mentally ill.

Many nights little Becky lay in bed, afraid for her life. Finally, she was rescued. She was placed in a group home. She had lots of new friends. She was always fed. She had a soft bed.

And then she was abused in that group home by someone who was supposed to keep her safe.

When Becky became an adult, she didn’t have a safe place to call home. No soft place to land.

Except for her faith. [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday: I’d rather be a late bloomer

late bloomer

 

We were sitting around the family table when my mom announced, “Suzie, you didn’t talk until you were four.”

Um, what?

That was news to me.

“So are you saying that I was quiet?”

“Nope, you didn’t talk at all. In fact, we were worried about you.”

Well, isn’t that peachy. I was a late bloomer. A really late bloomer.  Which makes the fact that God invited me to talk and write that much more a miracle.

It’s ironic. Was He sitting around in Heaven, saying something like this:

Let’s choose the one who no one else would think to pick.

It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think that this took place, because the same God chose a stutterer to speak for a nation, a despised tax collector to carry on the Gospel, and a little guy with a meager lunch to provide for thousands.

Maybe you came to your faith late in life. Can God still use your life to impact others?

Yes.

Perhaps you spent a lot of years running from your call, but now you’re waving joyfully in surrender; is there still time?

Yes.

Maybe you’ve wasted time comparing yourself to others because you forget that He uniquely created you for such a time as this. Is it possible that God can redeem that wasted time and lead you to the path carved out for you?

Yes, yes, yes!

I’m a late bloomer. Not just in talking. I was the “fix-a-flat” girl at 14 (if you were too, you’ll get this).

I shied away from new friendships for way too long out of insecurity.

I fought speaking for years because I thought someone else would be a better fit.

And then I bloomed. 

elliot

Physically. . .

That super late blooming meant that the skinny-girl-thats-not-gonna-be-noticed learned to focus on the inner stuff, because that’s where I could actually do something. That became a gift.

Spiritually

That late blooming meant that the girl not raised in church could clearly see the difference between having Jesus and not having Him, and chose (and continues to choose) Jesus all the way.

Emotionally.

That late blooming meant that I had to trust God when He called me to do things outside my comfort zone. Which means that I get to partner with Him, rather than step on stage in my own confidence.

It’s better to be a late bloomer than to never bloom at all. 

Are you looking in the mirror and thinking it’s too late?

It’s not.

Are you watching a child and thinking that their late blooming is going to hold them back?

You might be surprised at the plans God has for that child. 

Are you watching a relationship unfold or a marriage begin to flicker with hope and you’re wondering if it’s enough?

It is. 

I’m a late bloomer.

Are you?

Suzie


When people let you down

judge

My friend, *Marjorie, feels misunderstood. . . because she has been.

She fought for her marriage for years, privately holding back the scenes and hurts that no one else saw. On the outside he looked like the perfect guy. The perfect Christian. The perfect dad.

Marjorie winced when she was reminded of how lucky she was, but inwardly she prayed.

God, let Him become the person everyone thinks he is.  [Read more…]

Grow where you are planted, and other such nonsense

Grow where I am planted

10 more days till surgery.

The moment the calendar flipped to April 1, it became real.

We’ve been on this grand honeymoon of sorts — just living life normally, with a heavy-duty doctor’s appointment or test here and there.

I know what it is to have faith. We’ve been here before. I know that deep in this Jesus girl is a reservoir of strength because the Holy Spirit lives inside of me.

But that doesn’t keep me from thinking about the real stuff. Like a five-hour surgery. Like hospitalization. Like bringing home my strong guy to take care of him while he heals.

Sometimes we have to walk through places we’d rather detour.

Years ago I listened to a speaker and the title of her message was, “Grow where you are planted.”

At the time I was pretty young. Grow where you are planted seemed like nonsense because my philosophy was, “Get out of that stupid garden and grow where you want to grow.” [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday: Your family might be someone’s answer to prayer

Family

The framed photo mingled with others on the fireplace mantle.

“Who’s that?”

“He’s our extra son,” she replied. “We wanted him to feel like family so we put his photo up with our other kids.”

That “extra son” is a college student. He lives far from home and on holidays he’s usually sleeping in or hanging out in his apartment because home isn’t a safe place to go.

They met him through their son when he came to visit. He was pretty tight lipped about his family, but over time he felt comfortable enough to share.

What they found out was hard to hear.

That weekend visit led to others and then they started showing up at some of his college events to cheer him on.

They became the family he had prayed for. 

They have no desire to replace his mom or dad. In fact, they pray for healing and restoration in this young man’s biological family. They just want him to know that there’s a group of people who love him, who see the good in him, and who he can count on.

Maybe you grew up in a stable and loving family.

Maybe you have a stable and loving family wrapped around you today.

What a gift! Sure, every family has issues, but if you have people that you can call and celebrate when good takes place, and that will show up at your side when the bad hits — then you are blessed.

Because not every one has that.

In fact, too many don’t even know what that feels like.

When I was growing up, there were families that opened their home to me (and others). We played games. We ate brownies and popcorn. We toilet papered the neighbor’s house (this was after they went to bed). ♥

Like a kid in a candy store, I watched how they interacted. The words the man spoke to his wife. How the mom offered love in the form of gooey chocolate cookies. How they fussed at one another, and at the kids, but lightly and how they worked through conflict on the bigger stuff.

They had no idea the impact they had on my heart by letting me be a small part of their family. 

When Richard and I married we decided our home would be a sanctuary of sorts.

Over the years we were blessed to have a few live with us for a short time, while others stayed longer. Some showed up on Friday nights. Some came for dinner.

We didn’t have a perfect home — not in the Pinterest kind of way.

We didn’t have a perfect family — but we did have love. We had food. We had laughter.

And we had Jesus, who held us all together.

If we believe that everything we have belongs to God, 

does that include our family?

I think it does.

One young mom from my church said, “I invited a college student to spend time with my family. I was worried because most days I’m in yoga pants in a toy-strewn house with loads of laundry waiting to be folded.”

She invited the girl to come once a week to her home and live life with her for a few hours. They folded laundry. They played with the kids. They went to the park. They had lunch.

Nothing big, but as they folded clothes this college student saw a young mom balance the nitty gritty of motherhood. They talked over sandwiches and interruptions from toddlers. They prayed together.

1 Cor 10-31

It doesn’t seem like much, right?

Except living life with each other is exactly where the glory of God can show up.

What does this look like for you? I don’t know. That’s a you and God question. For us, it means that we don’t wait for our home to be perfect before we let people in.

It means that holidays are super special for family, but family might include someone who doesn’t share our DNA.

It means that there will be non-related people who see me without makeup (gasp), or running gleefully after a grandchild who just sprayed Gaga with a hose.

It means that we eat together and if the Pinterest recipe goes south, we order Subway sandwiches (umm, I love a mean chicken-bacon-ranch on honey wheat).

Family. It’s a gift.

Are you sharing yours?

You just might be the family someone has been praying for.

Suzie