#livefreeThursday: Completely wrecked (in the best way)

Following Jesus
My feet are dirty, dusty.

For the past year plus I’ve been walking with the disciples in the book of Luke. I’ve peeled off my high heels and my ambitions and my to-do list and my version of Christianity and settled in to listen and watch.

These guys had no idea where Jesus was leading them. You see, all they had was His word that following Him would lead them to transformation.

And it did.

So I leaned in and listened more.

What would it look like if I started living like the disciples?

What I discovered wrecked my faith in a good way. After months I started seeing my faith differently.

I saw Jesus sitting around the table with sinners as He told the religious, “It is the sick that need a doctor.”

I saw Jesus crossing the street to love people that others avoided and He offered living water, grace and truth.

I heard Jesus telling the disciples to believe big when they felt small.

I saw power that came through belief.

I watched as Jesus continually reminded these men that riches have nothing to do with the size of your TV or how much is in the bank, but in people and in loving others.

I’m wrecked in a good way.

Faith is following Jesus. It’s listening to His voice. It’s crowding out the myriad of competing noises that confuse the issue and tuning in to Him, because that will never lead us wrong.

Over the past few weeks it’s been my pleasure — oh my goodness, my honor — to be a part of this amazing P31 OBS study over The Mended Heart. I hear some of you saying, “I’m not sure what’s next.”

Listen to Him.

Follow where He leads.

Let Him continue to wreck you and your faith . . . in a beautiful way as your life and heart and thinking are changed through Him.

Dirty, dusty feet.

That’s our faith. That’s all we need, sisters. It’s enough.

More than enough for you and me.

How is God wrecking your faith. . . in a good way?

Suzie

Today is #livefreeThursday and all day long we’ll be talking about “wrecked in a good way.” It’s an honest, real discussion with women from all over the nation. I hope you’ll join in. ~ Suz

 

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She forgave the impossible

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laurie2I met Laurie Coombs a few years ago. When she shared her story, it was one of the hardest stories I heard in a long time. Her father was murdered. The guy confessed and was sent to jail. Laurie battled anger, and it didn’t make it any easier when the letters started between them.

In her new book, Letters From My Father’s Murderer, Laurie shares her story of forgiving the impossible.

I’m so glad she stopped by to share a glimpse of where her healing began. ~ Suzie

Where the Healing Begins

Laurie Coombs

I didn’t want to revisit my past, but I knew I needed to. I had already seen God move mightily on my behalf in the short time since giving my life to Christ, but I knew He wasn’t finished yet.

Healing begins the moment I allowed Jesus complete access to the darkness contained within my soul. Darkness must flee in the presence of light, in the presence of Jesus, but light cannot go where it is not permitted. Doors must be opened for light’s rays to touch our darkest dark. And at this point, I was flinging doors open left and right, begging, Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Soon, I heard God’s gentle whisper––“It’s time to forgive.”

I knew what God was calling me to. I knew I was being called to forgive Anthony, the man who murdered my dad. But quite honestly, I thought I had already done that. Yet over the course of the next several weeks, God slowly showed me that, while I had forgiven Anthony as far as I was capable, I needed His grace to forgive completely, to forgive unconditionally.

But then God took it a step further––“Love your enemy,” He said.

At that, I cried out to God and said, “Okay, God, I get this whole forgiveness thing, but love my enemy? How am I to do that?”

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I wrestled with what God was calling me to do, but I had read account after account in Scripture of God redeeming losses. Of God healing physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds. I saw Jesus’s heart toward the brokenhearted, and I believed God could do all that for me as well. I didn’t want my faith to be just a belief system. I wanted it to be real. I wanted it to impact my life. I wanted it to change the way I lived. So I followed, believing wholeheartedly that God would deliver. That He would faithfully keep His promises.

And He did.

What began with a simple, seemingly insignificant call to love and forgive my enemy led to years of correspondence with the man who murdered my dad, through which I witnessed God do the impossible. I have seen God redeem a situation that seemed without hope or purpose. He has brought good out of evil, love out of hate, and peace out of despair. God has truly worked all things for good in my life. And I believe with all my heart that He will do that for you as well, if you let Him.

I pray you will.

You see, God has not left us to sit in our pain. Jesus came to heal. He is our redeemer, and I know it is His desire to lift each of us out of our despair and bring us in—to a new, better place. A place rich in beauty and blessings. But in order to get there, we must be willing to allow God unhindered access to all the pain and bitterness and anger in our souls. And we must be willing to forgive.

For this is where our healing begins.

Laurie Coombs

Laurie Coombs’s new book, Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness — tells an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God––and it’s just been released. It’s available wherever books are sold. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

I want to be wise

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Do you ever find yourself asking God for wisdom?

Umm, this girl does. All the time.

Sometimes I close myself in my room. In the darkness I’m honest with God.

I have no idea which way to go next, but I trust you’ll show me. 

I have no clue what to say. Give me the words to say and the words to hold back.  

Lord, I just messed that one up. Help me grow through it. 

I ask for wisdom because I need it, but more so because He promises to give it.

 

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. James 1:5-6 (The Msg)

 

That wisdom is found as I trust the Holy Spirit within me. You know, when my feelings are screaming one way and that gentle nudge inside says, “Hold up, Suz. Wait for me.”

I also find it in the Word, my Bible all inked up and underlined. My journals are my one-to-one walk with Him.

I find it in the words of others. I’m a book girl and they litter every room of my house. They are stacked by my bed. They sit on shelves and they take up space on my Kindle and my phone.

I can’t believe we are on week #5 of The Mended Heart P31 online Bible study. We have one more week to grow together through this study, and I hear many of you asking God for wisdom.

For the next step.

For the words to say and the words to hold back.

For help when you feel like you’ve fallen a step or two backwards.

Hold tight to the promise that you aren’t flying solo in this healing adventure. He’s with you every step of the way.

May I pray with you today?

Lord, thank you for the woman reading these words today. It’s no accident that she’s seeking wisdom and You’re assuring her that there’s an abundant supply of it. We don’t have to have all the answers, just the next one. Shine the light on what to do today. We take your hand and hold it close, trusting that You will guide us and show us the way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Suzie

If you’ve been asking God how to forgive someone — yourself, others, maybe even the person sitting in the next room, I’m so excited to share that my book (along with some other great resources) is on sale today through next Friday at $1.99.

Yes, $1.99. I know!

If you have enjoyed The Mended Heart, then I believe you’ll love The Unburdened Heart as well. It excites me to think that we might be spending a few more weeks together as you read it.

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Disclosure

#livefreeThursday – a letter to my younger self

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Last week in The Mended Heart P31 online Bible study, licensed counselor Stephanie Clayton shared this powerful tool in healing. She asked women to write a letter to their younger self and say all the things that she needs to know.

Today is #livefreeThursday. It’s a favorite day around this community. Lots of brave girls are gathering together to share their stories as well. I love hanging out as we encourage each other!

Dear Suzie,

You’re 13. I see you at the skating rink going round and round. You’re not the girl that people seek out, but there’s a lot I see inside of you.

You’re thoughtful. You’re fierce. You love your little brothers and I hear you telling them stories at night, weaving those tales that make them feel safe and loved.

Yeah, you’re skinny. I know that. You have psoriasis and it’s embarrassing. I know that too. But one day, sweet girl, those things won’t be your identity.

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I know things are hard and you keep those feelings pushed way, way down. Sometimes they erupt and you don’t know what to do with them, so you just put your head down and keep going.

I want you to know something.

You are beautiful. 

Your smile lights up a room. One day you’ll flesh out (having babies will help that along) and you’ll look back and laugh at all the times you worried about looking like ET for the rest of your life.

You are worth loving

Real love, sweet girl. I see that guy in the corner eyeing you. He knows that you’re vulnerable and that if he shows you attention there’s a good chance you’ll sit in that corner and make out. I want to scoop you up and tell you that if a guy wants something from you, but isn’t willing to give you respect and real love, then he gets kicked out the door.

Watch me. My mama-heart is not-so-gently eyeballing him and letting him know that the tender, broken girl isn’t his to conquer and then abandon.

You are fierce

You’re a fighter. Right now it shows up in the wrong ways, but that same spirit will one day make you strong.

You are seen

That day you sat on the curb, wishing you knew where to go. He saw you.

That night you slept on a co-worker’s couch because you were living as an adult at 17. He reached for you.

That day when things were so out of control and you could do nothing about it and you wanted to run away. He grieved with you.

One day you’ll realize that home isn’t necessarily a place, but feeling safe and confident on the inside. One day you’ll reach back and you’ll find God is your shelter.

One day you’ll realize that even though there are things you can’t control, there’s peace to be found. One day you’ll see that the people that are broken all around you, Jesus was reaching for them too.

So, hang tight, sweet girl. Don’t go down wrong paths out of brokenness or anger. You are worth way more than that. You’ll grow and you’ll learn and you’ll one day brim over with confidence and joy. Sounds crazy, right?

Except it’s true. I know what God is going to do on the inside of you.

From your way older self,

Suzie

Join in the linkup and share your letter to your much-younger self, or share it here. I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

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#livefreestory: I’ve been restored!

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Meet Crystal. She is RESTORED! This beautiful woman of faith is a mom of three, a pastor’s wife, a writer. She’s a creative and her work is beautiful. This is her #livefreestory.

I’m Restored!

Crystal Hornback

I’m not a “new” type of girl. I swoon over all things vintage or retro. An appropriate license plate would read “I stop for junk.” I like old things. I adore taking something old, tattered, worn, and giving it new life.

I call it upcycling. Maybe I’ll give it an entirely new purpose, or not. Maybe I’ll pick a piece for it’s solid bones and completely change it’s facade. Or maybe I’ll take an old school approach and simply clean it up, allowing it’s original beauty to shine. Either way, I’m a sucker for this art.

My home is one big eclectic restoration project; including the people who inhabit it. [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday: Nothing holding me back

So if the Son sets you free, you are

If you came over from Encouragement for Today after reading my devo, Giving God Your Not Enough, I want to welcome you! I’m so glad you are here.

Today is #livefreeThursday on the blog. Women from all over the nation are coming together today to talk and encourage each other. Grab your favorite coffee or smoothie and join us! We’re talking about: nothing holding me back.

I wish I could invite you into my living room.

I wish you could see my face when I realize a woman has just discovered it — freedom.

I wish we could sit together with the Bible between us and pray together.

I wish we could lift our hands together and praise Him for what He has done for us.

Over the past three weeks of Proverbs 31’s online Bible study of The Mended Heart, I’ve been in awe of what only God can do.

I’ve wept at the photos of women reading The Mended Heart, their Bibles open or pictures of passages underlined.

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I’ve read the messages on FB and Instagram and Twitter, like this one:

It’s no longer a gentle suggestion; it’s a clear call for the burden-carrying girl to put the weight down.

Oh yeah, messages like that set my feet to dancing!

For once we grasp the truth that we are loved, made whole, treasured, challenged, compelled, marked by God, then the layers start falling away and we are no longer twisted, tangled, trapped, broken, held back, but free to discover who God knew us to be all along.

Healing is hard work. No one’s going to deny that, but we start putting the weight down and realize that those things that used to hold us back no longer hold the same power over us.

Not the past. Not the way we think. Not people. Not words.

I love the song, Nothing Holding Me Back, because it describes what happens when brave girls put those weights down to receive all God has for them.

Will you worship with me today?

Suzie

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Will my thoughts ever heal?

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I was driving down the street but I aware of nothing.

Not the beautiful clouds floating in the sky. Not the blooming trees. Not the sound of my children’s voices from the back seat.

Instead I was rehearsing the things I should have said. The things I could have said. In my thoughts, things worked out the way they should.

There was just one problem.

Nothing changed in my situation. I didn’t gain the upper hand. I hadn’t resolved the conflict. 

Absolutely nothing took place . . . except my thoughts were on everything but what was really important to me. [Read more…]

Not how far you have to go, but how far you’ve come

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The wonderful thing about momentum is that you, and others, may notice progress.

Exciting, right?

The bad thing about momentum is that your progress may be made in such small increments in the beginning that the process causes you angst.

Let’s exchange angst for hope as we let this truth soak in:

Every step forward is cause for celebration.

When we try to rush the process, we may want to take things into our own hands. Or perhaps become frustrated when you can’t pinpoint exactly what comes next. If we aren’t careful, we can easily forget the first principle we learned together in week one.

The power of the Cross is not found in what we do, but in what has been done for us.

You can rest in that. God will complete the work He has begun in you. It’s okay to be realistic about the challenges, but also rest in the truth that He’s at work.

Celebrate what Jesus has already accomplished in you. 

Maybe that’s hope where hurt used to live. Perhaps it’s joy that surprises you. It’s like climbing a mountain. If your eyes are fixed on the mountaintop and you feel like you won’t ever get there, take a moment and look at where you began.

Celebrate every step. Every moment that you overcame and pushed through a hard place. Every thing you’ve seen that is new or different.

You have a partner in healing.

The goal is simply to trust. He’s got you. He knows where He’s taking you, and it might be in a direction you’d never found on your own. God sees what you cannot.

3. There will be hard places.

Momentum leads us to a series of crossroads—places where crucial decisions are often made, but with God’s help.

Consider what momentum looks like in those crossroads, how you might respond in each, and what to do when you aren’t sure how to take the next step.

You have 25,000 women walking through this with you. I love that! We are not alone as we discover all that God has for us.

Suzie

The Mended HeartCheck in with the current Proverbs 31 OBS study

One of the hardest things for me (and I shared this in the book) is asking anyone to help or do something for me. But I need you. If this book has been a blessing to you, I’d love for you to consider leaving a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Christian Books.

Why is this important? 

Because women are seeking healing and when they are searching for a resource, they want to know what you think. They need to know that it has helped others and could be a blessing to them. Your voice makes a huge difference!