2 more days until #ComeWithMe study: I don’t want to hold back

2moredays

 

LoriLori Schumaker is a Come With Me study leader. This #livefree girl is not just beautiful on the outside, but she’s just as gorgeous in her love for Jesus.

It’s evident that she wants nothing more than to run after Him, but that’s scary sometimes. Maybe Jesus will lead you on a difficult path, or one that you don’t think you’re ready to walk.

I love her honesty in today’s post. I think it will resonate with many of us. ~ Suzie

 

Have you ever thought “not me?!”

I’m not qualified.

That’s too intimidating!

What would others think?

As those whispers intently pursue my spirit, there is another more adamant than the rest.

The one repeating,”I’ve chosen you.”

This past spring, I joined Suzie in her launch team for Come With Me. I was already quite a fan of Suzie’s authenticity and love for Jesus, It drew me in. Her heart is to share with others the Jesus who has transformed her life.

No other agenda. Just love and just Jesus.

The book arrived and and I opened the first page. I was aware of the slow fade happening within me. Aware of my hesitancy to follow Him. Aware of the fear I’d allowed to take root.

It was something I couldn’t hide from or avoid. It was something I needed to address.

Right there in Chapter 1 was struck by her invitation to whisper yes where no wants to take root.

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There was a time I had wholeheartedly dropped everything to follow Him. I was on fire for Jesus.

I sensed His call and there wasn’t a mountain big enough to stop me from following.

Somewhere along the way, amid the messiness of life, I shrunk back.

The mountains appeared too big and the climb too arduous. I wanted to stay in the safety of the flat shadowed land, not realizing I was missing the incomparable view that could only be found at the top.

But in the pages of Come With Me, God began to awaken my spirit once again.

He reminded me that even though following Him wasn’t always easy, it was worth it.

Following him had been hard at times, but it had changed me.

I was holding back because I feared following God would lead to a difficult destination. A destination that may hold failure, hurt, or rejection. One that wouldn’t work out as I intended or hoped.

Holding back is never the answer.  Twitter-01

 

That answer only leads to frustration and unmet dreams and goals.

A better answer awaits us.

Whisper yes.

When others don’t understand, whisper yes. 

When feelings of “unqualified” arise, whisper yes. 

When fear creeps in, whisper yes. 

Are you holding back because the idea of following Jesus terrifies you?

I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve talked with and watched as precious women have missed out on that adventure with Jesus because they allowed no to take root.

That is why I became a leader for the Come With Me On-Line Bible Study.

I believe Jesus calls each of us to a very unique journey with Him. This book, written with words sought through prayer, will push you to discover that journey to which He has called you.

I have a passion to speak hope into the lives of others. To encourage and see God’s children rising up and following Him wherever He calls. To see others becoming their best selves.

I have witnessed the work Jesus is doing as women dig deep into His truths and come together in community with this book as a guide. It’s a beautiful thing and I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than walking alongside women as they experience Jesus and the work He does in them!

Are you joining us? I hope so!

I’m so excited as I whisper yes alongside beautiful women brave enough to jump in and follow Him! Together, we are stronger.

Together we will set fear aside and whisper yes when Jesus calls! ♥

Lori

Do you want to be in a Facebook group with others going through this study? Comment below and we’ll get you connected!

Do you want to start a Facebook group and invite your friends? Here’s all you need to know.

3 more days until #ComeWithMe study: Looking for a sign?

3 more days until #comewithme by Suzanne Eller releases!

 

crystalCrystal Hornback is in full-time ministry, a mom of three, and a fabulous blogger. She’s also one of the Come With Me study leaders.

Sometimes Jesus’ invitation is to pause and embrace His words just for you.

This is Crystal’s #ComeWithMe story.  ~ Suzie

Will You Come?

It captured me when I least expected it, even though moments before I had been asking (more like begging) for it.

The Come With Me retreat was going more flawlessly than I could have imagined. God was moving… powerfully.

Women were hearing Him… loudly.

Will you come?

Will you follow where I lead?

I served on the sidelines, waving my arms every so often, “Hellooooo, Lord! I have already said Yes… I will follow… just tell me where!” I was only a few chapters into Come With Me, but nearly every word of every page had resonated.

My soul was stirring. “Yes, Lord! YES!”

My family had been at a crossroads. We were willing, ready.

Where was He?

There are markers in your faith where you’re just rolling along, and suddenly you come face-to-face with the beauty of God. -Come With Me

After a beautiful riverside devotional, the women split up, each on a mission to explore the ranch. I needed a breather.

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Earlier in the day, I’d overlooked a giant sign and nearly entered a restricted area of the river as I reveled in my newfound kayaking abilities. I decided to walk the riverbank to see where that destination led, had my companions not gotten my attention.

It appeared that others had missed the sign as well.

Just over the falls rested a handful of stranded canoes and kayaks, nose and bottoms up.

Sitting at the water’s edge, I asked Him to speak.

I assured him that I was listening… that I needed to hear from him. Nothing. After some time I convinced myself that the weekend hadn’t been for me, but for the women I was serving.

And that was fine. Beautiful, actually.

I ventured towards camp, focused on the rocks beneath my feet. Somewhere along the trail I heard, “Look up.”

I stopped; my eyes met the most incredible view from the valley and I felt Him.

We were face to face.

He asked me to drop the rocks I had in my hands. Tears fell from my eyes as I pondered a toddler-type conniption.

I knew He was really saying, “Trust me. Look up, not back… I got this.”

It was my sign

I almost missed Him. I almost kept the rocks. But His beauty grabbed me right in that place, when I had given up, in the moment he knew I needed it most.

I don’t want to miss Him.

I don’t want my busyness, my stubbornness, my absentmindedness, or anything else to keep my eyes off of Him. To keep me from following Him, wherever that may be.

Weeks later, we are facing an adventure that we wouldn’t have stepped toward on our own.

Fear. Doubt. Lack of self-confidence. Uncertainty. Sin. Yeah, they’ve all held us back. But, trust… faith… Jesus… that is the adventure.

To simply say, “Yes, Lord. I will come,” and to stop, listen, and follow.

Will you join me on this adventure?

If you have even an inkling that He is calling you toward something, then this study is for you. Maybe you can’t pinpoint quite what it looks like. Or, maybe you can, and it scares you big. Yep, been there. And then there are those of you who don’t feel it at all just yet.

Don’t miss the sign, friend. He’s calling all of us.

Will you drop your rocks and look ahead to whatever it is that Jesus has for you?

One of the most beautiful things about Come With Me is that we are reminded of this: Jesus doesn’t ask us to look at all the things we’re leaving behind to follow Him.

Rather, with every invitation He gave a destination, leading the disciples toward their destiny, toward their calling, toward His plan for them.

There is a beautiful invitation for each of us as we move toward the Lord. 
-Come With Me  Twitter-01

 

He has something incredible for you, for me.

Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5

Join me in this study. It’s gentle. It’s powerful. And if there were ever a time that we desperately needed to move towards Jesus, it’s now, friends.

I can’t wait to see you there!

-Crystal

OBS promo pinDiscover everything you need to knowabout subscribing to this study, or inviting friends to join you online, or sharing this free study with your church or small group.

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Please feel free to share this with friends who long to go deeper with Jesus.

 

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4 days until #ComeWithMe study: Are you wrestling or resting in your faith?

4 more days until #comewithme by Suzanne Eller releases!

 

I was wrestling

Wrestling with how complicated my faith seemed.

Wrestling with what was cultural versus what was Jesus-led.

Wrestling with how much I love this beautiful gift of ministry versus how pulled I was in so many directions.

Tell me I’m not the only one.

That’s just it. I know I’m not alone in this.

That led me to walk with Jesus for nearly two years. Crazy, right? Because I’d been walking with him since I was a teen.

Yet I was looking for a new sign in my faith. One that read: This is a new path. Fresh. Challenging. Intimate. Life changing.

I took that exit sign and began a new journey, one that lead to rested faith. Challenging faith.

Maybe you feel the same way I did. 

In four days we begin the online study for Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads.

This personal journey didn’t begin as a book, but it’s my privilege to invite you to exchange wrestling for resting in your faith.

In this brief video, I share a little more about that journey.

 

 

Today women from all over the nation will join me in #livefreeThursday. We’ll talk about what it looks like to wrestle and perhaps how we arrived there. We’ll also explore what it means to be rested in your faith.

This is what it looks like to me:

Simple rather than complex

Listening to the voice of God daily and responding

Modern-day follower of Jesus

Partnering with God to impact the world, in big and small ways

I hope you’ll join in today’s conversation, but I also pray that you’ll join in this six-week study beginning next Monday.

Invite your friends to sign up.

Start a small online Facebook group and invite others to join you. Everything you need to host a private group with your best friends (and those who might not otherwise go to a church study) is right here.

Share the news of this study with your Women’s Ministries director.

Or just do this, you and Jesus.

I’ll share videos twice a week that you can share with others, or use in your church or small group, or watch on your phone or iPad.

We’ll pray for each other during this study. I’m super excited because I’ll be popping in to a few groups here and there by Skype!

You are invited to join a movement of women across the world following Jesus wherever he leads.    Twitter-01

 

If you are already subscribed to this blog, then you will receive my blog posts and videos. If you desire to be a part of a group, wave your hand in the comments below and we’ll get you plugged in. If you desire to start a group, let me know how we can help you with that.

Let’s do this!

Suzie

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How can I pray for you?

Break4

 

Sometimes you just have to slow down.

Today I want to hear your questions. I want to know more about you and your group. If you are in a group or church study, wave your hand. I just might get to Skype in or FaceTime with you!

I also have another freebie for you.

It’s a bookmark to print out and tuck in between the pages of Come With Me.

Download it: ComeWithMe Bookmark

 

#livefreeThursday: when it feels like the world has turned upside down

hold on

Oh, the fixer in me is restless.

I desperately want to find a magic wand or just the right words to fix our world right now. I’m listening to the conversations and I hear others who want to do the same thing.

If we’d just do this . . .  all would be well.

If we’d just do that . . . this would all end.

Sometimes I listen to the news and the weight of humanity hurting humanity feels crushing.

Just turn the news off, Suzie. Don’t watch that stuff.

That doesn’t make it go away, sweet friend.

Even as I put my fingers on the keyboard today I want to write words that will help this all go away, or at least help you and me find the peace that we need.

Instead, I sat alone with the Lord and asked him the hard questions.

Why, Lord?

What do we do in a world turned upside down?

Is there something I can do?

Jesus often talked about upheaval with his disciples. It might not have been their favorite subject, but it defined their world. It made sense to talk about it.

It’s not our favorite topic either. We want to read the chapters nestled with all the goodness and promises, instead of words like these.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Matthew 24:6 (NLT)

We want to pass legislation that will fix this — or debate it until everyone sees it the same way (not going to happen).

There are helpful things we can do, but today I want to sit across from Jesus and truly listen to what He’s saying in these passages. Even as He warns of sorrow and trials and wars and threats of wars, He assures us with a promise.

There’s peace to be found in Him

Not a trite, “You’re going to be okay” pat on the back, but deeply rooted comfort that anchors us in uncertain times. There’s peace that transcends circumstances.

But there’s a second part to this. There was a reason that Jesus warned the disciples.

He wanted them to keep going.

If we are anchored and at peace inside, that means that we’re strong enough (through Him) to walk into those trials, and live among wars and rumors of wars and experience sorrow in our world, and keep going.

There’s work still to do and we don’t have the luxury of hiding in fear.

Jesus told the early followers to expect chaos and hard places, but always with the greater promise of, “I’ve got you, so keep going. Keep doing what I know you can do.”

In an upside down world, we hold on to what is trueTwitter-01

That’s what the disciples did. At the very end they all professed this one thing as they held on to truth.

I’d do it all over again.

Knowing Jesus was worth it. 

I was forever changed by His love, not my circumstances. 

I feel so compelled to pray.

For my nation. For racial division to come to an end. For innocent men, women, and children caught in the crossfire. For my friends living across the world in one of the most dangerous countries to live as Christians. For the Church to love people and not be afraid to talk about the harder issues.

Yet it’s not heavy.

I realize that I can’t change the world. It’s not expected of me. Instead, I will pray. I will believe that we all have a small part to play and when we do that, there is hope for change. I’ll also trust what Jesus told the disciples, because you and I are also disciples.

He said, “take heart.”

We can take heart (courage, bravery, encouraged, hope-filled, anchored) over living in fear any day of the week.

How will you hold on to the truth? How will this anchor you in a world turned upside down?

Suzie

 

OBS promo share squareWhat would you say if Jesus asked you to follow where He leads, wherever that may be, whatever that may look like? Would you be willing to whisper Yes where No wants to take root?

I’m hosting a six-week study over Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads. It’s for personal use. It’s for small groups. It’s for churches and women’s ministries.

Everything but the book itself is free for you — videos, resources, and more.

It’s been a dream of mine to invest in a study like this and to offer it for free to anyone, anywhere that wants to join (or use it in the future). Join the Come With Me On-Line Bible Study! Start by signing up here: http://tsuzanneeller.com/come-with-me-study/

 

 

livefreethursday

When you are the statistic, and you don’t want to be

13th disciple

Today Jennifer Connell is sharing her 13th Disciple story. It started a long time ago when she discovered that she was part of a statistic, one that often left her feeling insecure and hurting.

Thank you, Jennifer, for joining us today and your raw, honest words. ~ Suzie

 

I’m one in nine.

Did you know that one in nine women are infertile? I am one of those. While that figure is astounding it is even more staggering to find out that most of us believe we are unloved at some point. Insecurity and depression aren’t uncommon.

I think feeling unloved might just be one of the greatest schemes of the devil.

While you may never deal with infertility, you may question if you are loved. My church, Coastal Church, has a slogan. It says that it is, “A Church For The Rest of Us.” I love that this captures Christ’s heart of grace for each of us. My pastor, Chad Stafford, says, “Jesus wants everyone.”

And. You. Are. Next.

In Suzie’s book, Come With Me, it shows that Jesus calls all of us. As I read, I was overwhelmed that Jesus gently placed importance on every member of the team.

Everyone counts in God’s kingdom.

Every. single. one.

In chapter five I was hit hard because I always felt like the girl she described in the church pew.

I was once hopeless. It took me 30 years to figure out that God wants me. I hid the hole in my heart by striving to succeed. One of the ways I tried to perform was to have the perfect house, husband, and family. Twelve years of trying to conceive and three in vitro later, I finally realized the perfect family did not exist for me. Michael and I mourned for the children we lost in the womb. We grieved over the state of our hearts.

I humbled myself before the Lord and said, “I want you more than a baby, Jesus. I want your will more than my right to be a mom. I give you, Jesus, my agenda, because it’s not working anymore.”

 

jennifer connell

The least of these

There was an argument that broke out among Jesus’ disciples about who would be the greatest in Luke Chapter 9. Jesus already knew their thoughts so he brought a little child to his side.

Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” Luke 9:48  

Jesus wrapped His arm around the little one and held him tight.

I decided that while Jesus was holding my little ones tight in Heaven I could hold others close with His words.

I was willing to do things for Jesus I wasn’t willing to do before.

I started writing love letters from Jesus to people I had never met on Twitter. I took photos and added verses that encouraged me during my season of infertility. Later I started a blog.

I spun words for the weary women who felt trapped by infertility, depression, addiction, divorce, insecurity, and abuse.

I wrote as God pulled me out of my pit of despair.

When I was finally eight months pregnant with my first child, my friend Amanda asked me to join an infertility group.

Why in the world would a group of infertile women want me there?  Wouldn’t my protruding belly be a problem?

Just be present, she said.

“By occupying a seat you will be a blessing. You don’t have to say anything until the end after everyone has shared. Just listen and when you share be vulnerable.”

So, I did what she said.  I sat silent, listened and prayed. At the end I cried and told them that I couldn’t promise them a baby, but I could show them a mighty God.

The least of us were found — all of us hurting women. While I was trying to bless them, they were really blessing me. My best friend is now a mom to five. Everyone one of the women our infertility group now have children to call their own.

But we were found far before we became moms. He loved us when we hurt, and he continued to love us.

God loves the least of these.

I believe because I am one.

And. You. Are. Next.

Jennifer

jenniferConnect with Jennifer Connell

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your story. I love your heart of faith and your encouragement for other moms.

If you’d like to connect with Jennifer, you can do that at:

Twitter

Her blog, Heart Conditioning.

 

 

 

OBS promo share squareWhat would you say if Jesus asked you to follow where He leads, wherever that may be, whatever that may look like? Would you be willing to whisper Yes where No wants to take root?
I’m hosting a six-week study over Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads. It’s for personal use. It’s for small groups. It’s for churches and women’s ministries. Everything but the book itself is free for you — videos, resources, and more.
It’s been a dream of mine to invest in a study like this and to offer it for free to anyone, anywhere that wants to join (or use it in the future). Join the Come With Me On-Line Bible Study! Start by signing up here: http://tsuzanneeller.com/come-with-me-study/

Will we pray for the end of racism in our nation?

Praying

 

I was in Central India.

We slipped in late and observed a Mission India literacy class. Some of the women were Hindu. Others were Christian. All of them were hungry for the education they never had.

If I walked away with one gift from India, it was this.

It was a reminder that prayer is powerful.

We heard stories from women whose church plant pastor or animator (a teacher of the literacy class) prayed for them or their child or their marriage —  and miracles took place.

Big miracles. 

One woman’s son fell into a ditch and the doctors said he had to have an operation to survive. When you live in a slum, there is not enough money for food much less an operation. Her teacher quickly came to her side and prayed for her son.

 

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He recovered.

Today she is a believer in Jesus, though her husband is not. It’s important that you understand how courageous she is to call herself Christian as a woman in her community, and especially when her husband doesn’t believe. She’s open to isolation and beatings and even legal ramification if her belief system sways others to follow Jesus.

I know that prayer is powerful, but this was living-in-the-book-of-Acts prayer. When I prayed for one person, others pressed in. They didn’t care if their neighbors gossiped about what was taking place in that small tin building. The presence of God was tangible and they wanted in on it.

This past week I watched conversations unfold.

Many people I care about are in that conversation. One is my beautiful young friend and mom, Jessica Cowen. She’s married to Nick, an incredible man. She has three beautiful, ornery sons. They are black. She is white. She shares her thoughts about the current events in gut-wrenching blog post.

Another friend named Cyrenthia brought it up on Facebook. She’s an incredible mom of two, a little guy and a new baby girl. She’s heartbroken over what seems to be two very real acts of unnecessary violence that took the lives of black men. She’s afraid for what the future holds for her son.

Another acquaintance is a policeman’s wife. Her husband is a good man who grieves these recent events, not because they were caught on video, but because they should have never happened. The reality is that this makes his job of protecting his community that much harder. In reverse, he’s seen as a bad guy because of bad things happening clear across the country.

There are healthy conversations taking place, but there’s also the same ‘ole comments that reveal that we don’t have a clue what it’s like to be on the other side of prejudice.

Last Thursday I went to a monthly community prayer gathering and this subject was on the hearts of those leading it. When I shared that I was going to the prayer gathering, a person who doesn’t know me well asked, “What good is prayer going to do?”

And that’s where I’m suddenly standing back in India.

I’m watching women who have experienced incredible persecution for their caste and their gender experiencing the power of prayer.

Twitter-01If prayer is powerful, and I believe that to be true, how can I not pray for change?

At the prayer meeting I sat next to my friend Cynthia. She cried as she shared her fears. I wept with her. We put our hands together, black and white, and we prayed.

Later I watched as Cynthia and another friend sat on the couch. Pam had her hands on Cynthia’s face and they prayed and wept together.

 

Our nation needs prayer.

We’ve been under a stronghold of racism for generations and at some point it has to stop. Whether you’ve experienced it or not, there are people who are afraid simply because of their skin color and that’s not okay.

Whether you want to argue statistics or point out that criminals should be shot, I’m not talking about criminals. I’m talking about people who get pulled over for a broken tail light and who serve in their community and who lay dying in their car while no one helps.

I’m asking us to pray for little boys who one day lose their innocence as they realize that the way that God created them is seen as “less than” by others created by that same God.

I’m praying that people like Nick and Jessica don’t have to beg people to read their blog post, but that posts like these become conversations that lead to healing. I’m praying for my beautiful grandson, two years old with a rich heritage of white, black, and Puerto Rican, and that things will be different for him when he gets older.

I’m praying for police officers (and their families) who enter a thankless, low-paying job with pure motivations who struggle because someone across the country shot and killed a guy with a broken tail light. I’m praying for those police officers who posed for pictures before the recent Dallas shooting began, their arms wrapped around the peaceful protesters. I’m praying for the families of brave men and women who rushed people to safety even as bullets took down their fellow officers.

I’m praying for those peaceful protesters who were hurt in the fray, caught in the shooting as they courageously asked for change.

 

Our communities need prayer

Hands clasped, black and white. Methodist, AG, Presbyterian, non-denominational, singing with music, singing without, shouting and dancing, reverent and liturgical.

Let’s ask God to allow the church to lead the way as we pray together.

Let’s be honest that there’s a problem and it’s been talked to death, but there’s still churches and homes where we don’t intersect with other races.

 

We need prayer

We can’t pretend like it’s not real anymore. We can’t say that because we don’t see it, that it doesn’t exist. We can’t argue and debate and try to justify racism or violence any longer.

But we can pray for every tongue, tribe, and nation to come together through the power of Jesus Christ. 

That I know for certain.

Will you pray with me today? Let’s put our hands together and ask God to show us the next step. While we are at it, let’s love each other like Jesus loved us.

Suzie

 

#livefreeThursday: why we all could use a little salt

salt

It’s after one in the morning.

It’s been a crazy travel day.

Lots of time sitting on tarmacs. Lots of delays. One of those days when it feels like you’ve been wearing high heels for 24 hours straight.

And now I’m finally home and before I go to bed, I just want to hang out for a few minutes. [Read more…]