Tag Archives: Suzanne Eller

My Risk: Transparency…

Risks_PhilippiansTorn
My dear friend, Suzie Eller, is hosting a blog this week on taking risks and I couldn’t wait to participate!  Be sure to visit her blog and say hi :)

I am torn between the two:  I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Philippians 1:23-24

That was the verse I read on the morning of October 2, 2014.

I read that verse after doing a Google search.  The phrase I searched for was…

“Torn between wanting to live or die.”

Yes, at 5am, I typed in those words.  And I wanted Google to give me the answer.

I learned many things that morning.

I learned that God is in control…of everything…even Google.

I learned that God is persistent and adamant about getting His point across.  According to Google, there were 35,000,000 results for that phrase.  7 out of the top 10 were the same…a Bible verse…Philippians 1:23-24.  7 out of 10!

I learned that God has plans for me and there is purpose in my struggles.  Really, I already knew that, but God was clear with me that morning, reassuring me and reminding me.  Last week was a week of much learning and growth in my life.

As I read that verse, I have to admit, I had mixed emotions.  In some ways, it was comforting to feel that God was speaking to me, letting me know I am not alone, that a man thousands of years ago had felt the exact same feelings I was feeling, to believe I need to be here for more than just stumbling through each day.  In other ways, I was disappointed, hoping for a way out, something that would say, “It’s okay, come on home.”  God was very clear and numerous things have come up since then that only confirmed this over and over.

Later that morning, a friend and I dug through the verses before and after the ones above.  They read:

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

As I read through that, the more clear things became.  I began to put things into perspective and think on my priorities.  Last week, after all of this, I was able to decide what’s most important and what needs to be weeded out.  I have a ministry, I have desires I believe God has placed on my heart and those are the things I want to strive for.  Those are the things I need to keep on breathing and that’s exactly what I need to do…press on.

My risks…

I am a Bible study leader.  This week, I shared this story with my class.  I was nervous.  I was afraid.  But I knew it was the right thing to do.  God had been preparing me for this…to step out of my comfort zone, to put aside the fears of what others would think, to be real and transparent, to be a voice.  I did that, with His help and through it, I gave Him all the glory.  My hope is that my honesty about my own struggles will encourage others to share and to let them know they are not alone.  After all, we are supposed to support one another and carry each others burdens (Gal. 6:2).

It was a risk.  People could have walked out of my class.  People could have been disappointed in me and questioned my ability to teach a Women’s Bible study.  I suppose they still could.  But, who would I be if I hadn’t obeyed?  Who would I be if I hadn’t stepped out, taken that risk and been honest?  I wouldn’t be me and me is exactly who God wants me to be.  No one else, just me.

And now, I take another risk by sharing this with you, the world.

What I know is that none of us are free from struggles.  We all face different trials.  We are all guaranteed to have difficult times.  But none of us should ever have to face those things alone.  We should all feel like we can tell someone.  We should all be able to get support, love and encouragement from others.  We don’t always feel like that is possible and that’s just sad.  When we are in our darkest moments, that’s when we need others the most.

I took a risk in sharing my struggle because it was the right thing to do.  Life isn’t easy.  For me, it never has been.  What I know now is God has never let me go and He promises He won’t.  He has placed people in my life that are walking along side me, and sometimes, they are helping to hold me up.  I’m learning to accept that.  I’m taking a risk by letting them in.  I’m the girl who’s spent her whole life pushing everyone away so letting people in, letting them see this vulnerability, exposing my weaknesses, my darkness, well, it’s nothing shy of terrifying but it’s so worth it.

I am confident that one day, I am going home.  But for today, God has me right here.  He has plans and a purpose.  And even though the events of last week haven’t erased the thoughts that cloud my mind, they give me hope.  He gives me strength and as long as I am here, walking on this earth, “I will continue to rejoice…I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” (Phil. 1:18-26)

PostSignature_xoxo

 

The Mended Heart

The-Mended-Heart

My sweet friend and author, Suzanne Eller, has a wonderful new book, The Mended Heart, coming soon!  And even better, it’s available now for pre-order on Amazon.

You can read the first chapter here.

Let me know what you think :)

Suzie is also the author of The Unburdened Heart.  This is most definitely one of my all time favorites!  Her style is very relaxed and easy to understand yet she dives deep into the heart of every woman.  She’s open an honest about her own struggles and triumphs.

Visit Suzie at her website and drop her a note.  I’m sure she’d love to hear from you!

And here, Suzie talks about her new book, The Mended Heart.  Check it out!

31 Days of Grace | Day 28 – Words of Grace

Books

Below is a list of books I have found that at some point touch on the topic of grace.  Some of these are still on my to read list while others I have already read.  Do have have any grace books to share?  Post them in the comments section below!  Enjoy :)

The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman

Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole by Angie Smith

Letting Go of Perfect: Women, Expectations and Authenticity by Amy E. Spiegel

Stumbling Into Grace: Confessions of a Sometimes Spiritually Clumsy Woman by Lisa Harper

Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine by Max Lucado

God Loves Broken People: And Those Who Pretend They’re Not by Sheila Walsh

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

Grace for the Homeschool Mom by Tamara L. Chilver

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

The Truth About Grace by John MacArthur

Finding Grace: A True Story About Losing Your Way In Life…And Finding It Again by Donna VanLiere
2012_31Days_Grace2

31 Days of Grace | Day 26 – Accepting Grace

TheUnburdenedHeart

I’ve been reading through the book, The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller.  It’s not an easy book to go through as Suzanne digs deep into many areas of forgiveness, but I highly recommend.

In one chapter, Suzanne talks about grace and part of that is being able to accept grace.

Do you find it difficult to accept the idea of grace?
Mercy, love, forgiveness?
Do you feel unworthy?
Punishing yourself?

Often times we struggle to accept grace because of a past that haunts us.  Perhaps our past was filled with abuse, violence, broken trust, or other painful situations.

Part of being able accepting grace is first being able to forgive yourself.

Some quotes Suzanne shares in her book are from women who struggled with this very thought – forgiving themselves.

“I stuff it all down.  I have never given myself permission to talk about what happened.”
“I did so many bad things.  Yes, my past is ugly, but the ugliest parts I brought on myself.”
“I don’t think God even sees me.”
“How can God love someone so mad at Him?”

Suzanne goes on to say, “You bring pleasure to God, yes, you.  Right where you are.  He sees your heart.  He sees your potential.”

“Every day is a new opportunity to love Him and walk with Him.”  ~Suzanne Eller

Oh the lessons…

Lessons

My heart sank when I walked in the room.

It was the first night of new Wednesday classes at church.  My class … a women’s Bible study on forgiveness.  (Insert big WOW here for – nothing like a big topic, right?!)

The book we are following, The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller, is simply amazing.  She does a great job of writing so that no matter what your story is, you can relate to the thoughts and feelings expressed in the book.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  So for the past few weeks, I’ve been so excited about how God is going to work in the lives of the women who come to this class, myself included.  I can’t wait to see how he works and the amazing things he will do.

As excited as I was to start this journey, I was filled with anxiety and fear.  I had spent the whole day fretting over praying out loud.  A few weeks back, I shared a little here about how God was working on me with prayer.  Surely I could tackle this praying out loud thing, right?  I was going to do it this semester in class – I would take the reign and pray for the women in my class.  After all, God has been preparing me for this.  Still, I was afraid, nervous, anxious.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Instead, I walked in with nerves raging and quickly noticed an unfamiliar couple sitting in the room – a man and a woman.  Immediately, my heart dropped.  My class was suppose to be only women.  In my head, there was simply no room for a man.  We were facing some really big topics, the possibility of deep, intimate conversations, some that simply wouldn’t be possible with a man in the room.  Without asking him to leave, I gently warned him that the class would probably be all women and that he may feel uncomfortable as well as the women who attended and hinted that he might want to consider a different class.  In most ways, you could say I handle the situation fine but the outcome was not at all what I had hoped for.

The couple left.  Not just left my class … they left the church.  If I had to guess, I’d say they left angry.  Angry that they had made the effort to come.  Angry that they needed my class and didn’t feel welcomed.  Even though my intentions were right, they left angry.

What was suppose to be a light and fun evening quickly started off totally wrong.  I managed to somehow pull myself together enough to get things going.  The class went on, women came, women opened up, we passed the tissue box around on the first night!  It was great and I am absolutely looking forward to the next 11 weeks with this wonderful group of ladies, getting to know them and seeing God working in their lives.

Why did I share the story above?  Well…if you’ve read many of my recent posts, you know that God is really teaching me.  Sometimes, lessons are pretty hard to learn.  Sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn from them.  It’s like riding a bike, sometimes we have to fall before we learn to ride.

This morning, as I’m sitting in the Sunday service, listening to our pastor talk about the man that was born blind that Jesus healed, my thoughts went elsewhere and I thought about the couple from Wednesday night.  Sitting there in church, I kept thinking about what I could have done differently.  Did I really handle it the way I should have?

The answer was simple – it was NO!

I did not do anything wrong by the way I addressed this couple but that doesn’t mean I did it right either.  Perhaps instead of standing across the room and going on and on about how uncomfortable he and everyone else would be, instead of suggesting he go elsewhere, perhaps I could have first of all introduced myself.  I did not even introduce myself.  Here was the this couple I had never met before, in my class, and I didn’t even take the time to welcome them or introduce myself.  Secondly, I could have gone over to them and after introducing myself, I could have leaned in close to inform them that this was really suppose to be a women’s class, however, they were welcome to be there if they choose.  Basically, I could have shown them kindness and acceptance, even if it went against the rules I had placed on the class.

Proverbs 21:13  Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

Philippians 2:4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The thing is, we have encounters like this every day.  God is trying to speak to us and teach us new things every day.  I am so thankful that through this, I learned a very valuable lesson.  I learned to be still, to take the time to acknowledge people, to welcome them, to show them kindness.  I learned not to be so quick to react.  I learned that even when a choice seems right, that doesn’t make it the best choice.

How many times has God tried to teach me something and I failed to see?  How many times have I turned away from his lessons?

While I am so sad that this couple left and the weight is heavy knowing that I am the reason they left, I walk away thankful that through this difficult situation, God is teaching me and that I am able to see it, able to learn from it and hopefully it will prepare me to handle situations better in the future.  Let my mistake be your lesson!

And while you’re here, can I ask you to pray for me?  You see, because I allowed anxiety and fear take over, we failed to pray at all Wednesday night.  I did ask the class to keep the couple that left in their prayers, but I failed to pray for our class and I didn’t even take the time to ask someone else to pray.  I allowed fear to get in the way and that’s not what I want.  I know God has been preparing me for this and I know that it’s not about me, it’s about him.  Please pray for me, that he will use me and give me the words of prayer that my class needs.

 

PostSignature_xoxo