Thursday, January 15, 2015

Actions - Re-Actions

As we drove across town a few weeks ago, my 4 year old GRAND announced, my feelings are hurt.

We adults queried, what hurt your feelings? (He doesn't get hurt feelings.)

But I do. My re-actions prove it--to me and all who surround me.

Last week I felt very un-trusted; my feelings were hurt in two different scenarios. My ugly un-invited re-actions proved my hurt. In those moments I didn't like where I was and I didn't like my re-active responses.

Then the timely words of two friends invited me to Ephesians 3.

I paused and listened.
God smiled and loved.

Paul's prayer at the end of Ephesians 3 reminded me of 4 importants.

1. Paul prays for the Ephesians (and me) that we would be strengthened in our inner being. My soul, the invisible me, the true me out of which flows the real me. Those re-actions spoke truth. Sue, tend to your inner being.

2. So that Christ may dwell in their (my) heart through faith. Faith-trust; noun-verb; where I am-what I must do--trust. I asked God what it would look like to walk in the path of trust in these situations.

3. "...that you being rooted and grounded in love," For many years part of my regular devotional time centered on reviewing God's love for me, grounding myself in his love. But I started skimming over that. I knew it. Do I really need to remind myself all the time? YES--I need to keep my roots healthy. Health doesn't happen if ignored.

4. "may have strength to comprehend with all the saints ..."  Oh how I need community! It was my friends who delivered me back to encouragement. It was my friends who opened Truth to me. I imagine it was many friends who pray for me that opened my eyes an my heart. I need you. We need each other.
Now I know why I like this plaque so much. It's message is biblical.

Oh that these truths would characterize me. Perhaps then I wouldn't experience the unwanted re-actions that surfaced a few weeks back. Or more honestly, experience them less.

How do you tend to your inner being? What does trust look like for you today in your now? How do you stay rooted and grounded in love? How does your community help you to be the person God created you to be?

"My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit--not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength--that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love."
                                        Ephesians 3:14-18, The Message (emphasis mine)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015, Words to Embrace

When reading another's writing and realizing I'm hearing from God, I HAVE to share.  Today Ann Voskamp, Robin Williams, and my friend Kara Tippetts speak wisdom you won't want to miss. They remind me to of my friend Sally Breedlove who asks, "Today may be your opportunity to choose to pursue rest in the midst of the battle you face. Can you take a break from all your trying; can you give thanks and celebrate the goodness of what is; can you allow the present to be imperfect? Will you let God--rather than fulfilling circumstances or a put-together heart--be the place you call home? I you do, the gate of rest will open to you." Choosing Rest, page 156.   AND, something else you won't want to miss is the retreat at Glen Eyrie on March 14 and 15, Sabbath-Living, The Pilgrimage. Sally is our main facilitator. For more info, contact me ...  Unfortunately, I couldn't get Ann's blog to come over correctly. Please click on her link at the left to read her words and the words she quotes from Robin Williams and Kara Tippetts.  As a bonus, Ann is also giving away a camera!               

"Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Psalm 90:12, MSG

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pathways, Pilgrimages

October 2010, God drove one of those proverbial stakes into the ground—the ground of my heart.

Just a month previous I penned my first Echoes post, Living Inside the Box. It spoke of a personal life lesson for me, God’s desire is that my life is lived on the safety of his paths for me. Just six weeks later He clarified—in a general way—what that might look like. The BIG idea was in place; now the skeleton was taking shape, the pathway was clarifying.

That October, I was invited to a weekend retreat in Sally Breedlove’s lovely NC home. There is something about southern hospitality that is warm and so inviting. The weekend painted a picture of a path that God was beckoning me to walk. It drew me by its beauty. It encouraged me with fellow travelers. It left me hungry.

I drove away from the weekend quiet, smiling, wondering, and with four big take-aways.

Snowy path in Vermont
This week as 2015 is unfolding, it’s my great honor to invite you to a women’s retreat and enjoy Sally Breedlove southern hospitality for yourself transplanted to the beautiful Glen Eyrie Conference Center in Colorado Springs. Southern hospitality nestled in the wild-west to offer you a weekend of discovering the paths God has for you.

Sabbath Living – The Pilgrimage

This is a retreat, not a conference. Sally’s engaging presentations will lead to personal times of quiet reflection. You will experience God’s heart for you in new, refreshing, and deeper ways.

You’ll choose an afternoon workshop to explore various ways to hear from God. Have you wanted to try art journaling? Deb Entsminger, the creator of the online art journaling course, "Who Am I", will lead you through a time that will leave you adding colored pencils to your shopping list. Veteran Nav staff Dana Kozlarek and Kathleen Selje are also leading workshops. Dana will help you discover how our seasons of life reflect how we hear from God. And Kathleen’s fun personality will bring Matthew 6 to life for you and give you practical tools for your pilgrimage with God. 
Wintery path in Colorado

The Glen Eyrie executive chef will be preparing our meals. Dinner will be in the historic castle, original home of William Jackson Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs.

You’ll enjoy worshipful music, time to catch a nap, and other special surprises along the way. 

This is a weekend you won’t want to miss. Mark your calendar for March 14 and 15. For the next two weeks the retreat fee is only $85 + the cost of your choice of lodging at Glen Eyrie (or commuting).

For all the details and to register, go to And if you have additional questions, feel free to contact me at or 719-332-7661.

I am hoping you will join with me for this retreat. I’m confident you’ll be glad you did.  Sue

“You make know to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

Thursday, December 25, 2014


And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:10 and 11

Merry Christmas my friends. May today be a day of celebrating this great joy, this best Christmas gift ever.

Let your light so shine, sue

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16 ESV
Liberty Springs PCA, South Carolina

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Treasuring, Pondering

Let your light so shine ... Liberty Springs PCA
Considering, treasuring, wondering, pondering. These synonyms sprinkled like salt bring out the best of Luke's and Matthew's telling of the Christmas story.

These words instruct ... stop, listen, question, rest here.

I want to know the narratives. I want to see the hope, the worries, the trustings of these long-ago journey mates. And then I want to hear my Gabriels, God's messenger to me ... What are my hopes, my worries, and my trustings that these holy words speak to.

Is this want possibly the best gift I can bring to the Christ child this Christmas?

Luci Shaw testifies in her intro to Sally Breedlove's book Choosing Rest, "I am a poet, and an idea for a poem may well occur to me on the fly ... to follow that image into the heart of truth, to wait for the Spirit that speaks ... requires quiet, undeviating focus, to listen for the Spirit's voice, to pay attention to the creation and the Creator ..." (page 8)

Sounds like considering, treasuring, wondering, pondering. Yes, this is the gift I want to offer this Christmas.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer uses Mary's pondering to speak of how we should read the Bible, "One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself ... we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them ... (letting them) linger in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love;" (page 136, parentheses mine)

Enquire, receive, linger, more synonyms. I especially respond to linger. Lingering is what I enjoy with a friend at a favorite coffee shop. Hmm, lingering with God ... I feel the desire.

My friend Janine often says about a scripture portion we're reading together, "I need to sit with this". Husband Bill encourages, "Put it in you pocket and think about it". 

I remember the 8 hour trip from Illinois to Minnesota that long ago Thanksgiving with our two littles securely strapped in their carseats behind us. And I remember the questions, the many, many questions! Littles inquiring, wondering, wanting to understand. And this mommy getting pretty tired of the conversation.

How different from God who welcomes, who desires, who loves our ponderings, our wonderings, and our treasurings, and even our questionings.

Yes, this is my gift.

What about you? What does pondering and considering look like for you? How has practicing these disciplines enriched your times with God? Which of all the words above communicates best to you? Why?

Children teach us so much about wonder. I love this picture of my oldest GRAND, Jack when he was 3 years old seeing a rainbow for the first time.

This little guy, the first GRAND of my good friend experiencing snow for the very first time.

Ahh, wonder.

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2:19

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Exalted those of Humble Estate

"Let your light so shine ..." Liberty Springs, PCA
It was the mid-1990's; we sat in the coffee shop and spoke of our common love of women's
bible study. Then the question ... Sue, what role do you want to play in the bible studies? Without hesitation I answered, I would like to train your leaders.

As I think back, I hang my head. Did my observations of the bible study make me think I had something better to offer? Why was I so bold, so confident? Was that position a need to bolster an identity crisis?

I'm not sure. But I am sure that it was a proud response, a response seeking to set myself up--exalt myself, to climb my own ladder. Arrogance.

How different from Mary.

Immediately upon learning that she was to give birth to Jesus, the son of God, Mary hastened to her cousin Elizabeth's home. Elizabeth confirmed her pregnancy. Did Mary even know that she was carrying a babe yet?

Mary's response from inside her being, from who God created her to be, was to magnify her Lord, to rejoice in her savior. It wasn't about Mary--it was about God. Every sentence focuses attention on God. Luke 1:46-55

"for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant...
for he who is mighty has done great thing for me.
and holy is his name." Luke 1:48 and 49

Mary's tender-hearted beauty, her lovely humility flowed easily from her heart to her words. Mary allowed God to exalt her.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you." I Peter 5:6

God wants to, intends for us to be exalted in his time, for his purposes, for his glory. The road to exaltation begins with humility. Mary's humility showed in her submission, her obedience, even in her willingness to suffer. And it led to exaltation. An exaltation Mary never sought; it was God's gift to her, and through her to us!

What does exaltation look like? Is it position? Is it influence? Is it living out God's design? What is the source of exaltation?

I learning that God initiates. God sends personal Gabriels my way with Sue-shaped messages in his time for his purposes. 

I learning that exaltation is what God does in me so he can work through me for the benefit of others.

I learning that in humility, a door is open for God to enter.

John Blase in his coda to Touching Wonder,

"Some would say a perspective like that leads to arrogance. Some say a lot of things. My friend, there is an "arrogance of belonging" that reveals hearts fully attuned to the moment and fully engaged in the story in which they find themselves. It looks like arrogance, I'll give you that. But upon deeper reflection, it shows that in the grand play each one has been given a part. The question is, "How will you play it?" (Page 122)

Where are your opportunities to practice humility? What have the Gabriels in your life offered? Are you listening to their messages?  What is the part God has assigned to you in his grand story? What would it look like for you to trust God with his definition of humility and exaltation for you?

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
I Peter 5:5