Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Friends, My Mirror

Just when I thought I had found my place, reached my potential, was living my destiny, that old voice, the little liar garbed in new clothes returned.

It started with truth. It needed to build the case. Sue, you see it now. She is not who you thought. Those titles, those opportunities - don't be fooled. Her real, her insecure real, her shame hides beneath.

I saw the titles; I saw the position; I saw the rank; I saw the surface and I believed. From my distance, all seemed well, even enviable.

But then the distance shortened, and I observed cracks. Her real oozed out. The not-so-obvious became obvious. 

I was frustrated and cynical. But I smiled, I am not her.

The little liar smiled too. He knew he had me fooled, ensnared, one foot entrapped.

With my one foot snared, I plod on pulling the weight, ignoring the hurt of the teeth clamped to my foot.

The little liar thinks, okay, another angle, another friend. 

The phone conversation is long full of details. Just decide, I think, it's no big deal. 

I tapped "end call". Again frustrated and cynical. How glad I am to not be trapped in the people-pleaser mode like my friends. 

The little liar smiles BIG. The second trap is about to snap shut. 

Two friends, two different chapters, two unique situations. The same response.

I'm exposed.

I too stumble along the people-pleasing, God-pleasing path. The pebbles sometimes slippery, the rocks sometimes trip-able.

I wanted to help THEM see the light. 

Then the still small voice, another whisper aching to be heard, Sue, you need to see the light!

I crumbled and fell. I remembered truth and repented. I crawled through the tall weeds of the pleasing path to the soft grass of the trusting path - a-GAIN. 

The little liar crumbled and fell too; defeated by the still small voice. 

God used my friends as mirrors. For a while the mirror was foggy, but as truth blew across it, I saw myself, not my pretty self. And I knew.

"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
Matthew 7:5

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Conversation with Jesus

Sabbath-Living Retreat, March 14 and 15, 2015
What a special honor to walk with 100 friends through a Sabbath-Living weekend Retreat. Oh how I wish you all could have joined us! Next time, okay?!

Part of Saturday and Sunday mornings was set aside for personal reflection. These times are always some of the best. Sitting (or walking) quietly and enjoying a conversation with Jesus.

Our attention on Saturday focused on the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet.

"Having loved his dear companions, he continues to love them right to the end.
Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron."
John 13:1 and 5, The Message

These are some of the questions we pondered ...

What if this is a too hard to believe, too good to be true type of verse. What direction would your conversation with Jesus take?

Remind yourself of how you experienced the love of Jesus in the last week, last month, or last year.

"dear companions" - What name do you hear Jesus calling you?

What would it look like for you to trust or rest in Jesus' love for you?

"continues to love them" - what does anticipating his love look like for you? How would you describe the hope of that reality?

Perhaps these questions might enhance your time with Jesus. 

Would you share what you heard? I bet we could all bless each other.

"The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name 
that the mouth of the LORD will give."
Isaiah 62:2 (italics mine)

Thank you to Karma Bradley for sharing her photos.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Break, week 2

Now it's really getting exciting. Our first friends arrive for the Sabbath-Living Retreat today.

Echoes of Grace officially returns March 19 ... but in the meantime, please scroll up to last week's post. The prayer request has not changed and I'd be so honored if you would be praying especially Saturday and Sunday for this very important retreat.

Thank you.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spring Break

Hello Friends,

As I'm getting ready for our Sabbath-Living Retreat in just one week, I need to take a two week break from Echoes to concentrate on praying for and the giving attention to the many last minute details an event for 100 ladies requires.

Yes, the retreat is filled, but you can still join us and I hope you will.

Would you please join us in prayer asking God that each women would hear from Him personally during the course of the weekend. My greatest desire is not that we leave remembering the great presenters (yes, we do have wonderful women speaking, leading workshops, and sharing personal testimonies), or that they were awed by the worship music, or the lovely location, but that each one would leave saying they have heard from God!

Thank you!! What a treat to journey with you.

Echoes of Grace will return on March 19.

Blessings and love to you,

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Words of Truth, Words of Life

I can't wait to read her next book, her next blog post (, the articles in the news or magazines that also have hung on her words.

Kara speaks truth--life-giving truth, freeing truth. Truth that is Jesus; Jesus and the grace he offers is the only truth that sets free.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 14:6 (underlines mine)

Ahhh, I breathe more easily. Kara by the way she lives gives me permission to take off my mask, to live out-loud, and to live in the freedom Jesus offers.
Kara and me last month.

I've mentioned my friend Kara before. You may know her too--she is my friend who is living with terminal breast cancer. As I type she is experiencing the care of hospice.

Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease. But the horrible laid bare Kara's love for Jesus, her identity as his precious daughter, and her heart for his people in new and deeper ways. We have all been blessed.

I started my Thank You for Kara list last summer. It keeps growing.

In no special order, let me share my Top Ten Thankful-for-Kara List.

10. Kara appreciates our engaging with her, our questions for her. But she requests, Please ask, not how I'm feeling, but how am I living? And that is her question for us as well, How are we living today?

9.  Kara lives vulnerably. she shares the hard; she lets us into her real. Kara is human and sometimes human is not pretty. Kara doesn't offer her religious persona, she offers herself. 
II Corinthians 2:14 and 15 come to mind, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ ..." Vulnerability is different from transparency. Kara asks, she wants our thoughts too. Kara is an aroma of beauty.

Kara and Jason
8.  Kara lives with intention. she asks God and she asks herself, How does my mothering look? What does it look like to love Jason well? What do my friendships look like in the midst of my reality? Because she asks, she hears God's wisdom and she lives well in the midst of her harsh. 
James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God,"

7.  Kara lives her creativity. she communicates uniquely, refreshingly, and in fun ways. she always draws her readers in. Kara is a writing tutor for me and many others. "But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart ... able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." 
Galatians 5:22-24, The Message. 

6.  Kara models the beauty, the strength, the attractiveness,  and the safety of grace. May that grace spread to us all! Grace, not just graciousness. Grace allows Kara to be Kara and then Kara loves well.

5.  Kara trusts the goodness of God. Many times her words, "Hard is not the absence of good" have challenged and ministered. Brennan Manning in Reflections for Ragamuffins says, "The troubled eyes and furrowed brow of the anxious believer are the symptoms of a heart where trust has not found a home." (page 7) Trust has found a home in Kara's heart.

4.  Kara knows Jesus knows. In the same volume, Brennan writes, "Christian living makes no sense unless we believe that at the moment, Jesus knows what hurts us. Not only knows but, knowing, seeks us out." (page 67)
from October

3.  Kara continues to live well while fading (her word). I love her phrase, "As long as I have breath to breathe ..." Her sense of humor is alive and well. "I am a gifted napper and pill taker." (I bet there are others who would like the gift of napping.) Speaking of her littles, Kara says, "Let's hope they can at least find their shoes and get their teeth brushed" ... every mother's hope.

2.  Kara allows others to minister through her story. "Let it be to me" the title of a blog I penned during Advent came from Mary's response to Gabriel's message to her. Kara's life truthfully echoes Mary's words.

1.  Kara reigns in life! "For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." Romans 6:17 (underlines mine)

Thank you, Kara. I am blessed to you friend.     sue

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Winter Aspen

The stark sentinel standing tall
     The winter Aspen gracing our yard.                  

Beautiful in its quiet grandeur
     Embracing God's ways

I take a deep breath
     And enjoy
          God's picture of growth,
          God's picture of life.

My creation craves quiet places
     Embracing God's ways

I look forward to
     Tiny buds
     Delicate green
     Fluttering leaves in summer breezes.

A story of God's wisdom
     Seasons are good
     Seasons are necessary
     Seasons of quiet
          Embracing God's ways
     Seasons, a gift from God.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

That *#*#%** Airport

Now I laugh. It wasn't funny then.

I was more than frustrated that early morning in Florida, I.was.angry! And those gate agents ... who also worked the counter knew it. As did anyone else who was there and awake that dawn.

The business trip morphing into a ministry trip (or a ministry trip partially disguised as business) started well enough. Connections happened, revenue was generated, partnerships deepened. Now I was off to a collegiate ministry conference.

Then the hinge.

My friend drove me to the small airport that morning. The line was short--no surprise there. Luggage checked, boarding pass in hand, we (this was before 911) headed for the fake-leather upholstered seats in the waiting area.We continued to talk business while we waited ... and waited.

I glanced at my watch, surely anytime now they will announce my flight.

Nothing. Silence except for the man snoring a few seats down.

Again I check my watch and this time looked out to the tarmac. A small plane, my small plane, was pulling away from the gate!
Okay, it wasn't quite as small as this Cessna. My husband Bill is on the left.
I rush to the gate agent. Sorry, too late. "I never heard the boarding announcement", my irritation obvious. "No, you wouldn't have. Our PA system is broken."

*#*#%**. My frustration (really not that mild) exploded. I.was.mad!

As I look back on that incident, I have new understandings. Missing the plane wasn't my biggest issue.

Missing the plane was the trigger that ignited my shame; ignited that old lie I had come to believe about myself, I'm not good enough.
GRAND, Judah doing a pre-check before going up with Papa.

At that ministry conference I had one responsibility, greeting. That was my role, the hat I was to wear that weekend. Missing the original flight stripped me of what made me look like a somebody.

It was unconscious, but the ember of that lie were close enough to the surface to catch oxygen and burst into flames of anger.

That was the real issue.

Oh, I covered it up well enough (or at least I think I did). I smiled. I told my story in a calm voice. But inside the fire of shame was hot.

This incident also highlighted a second truth about me and I was totally missing the bright, flashing yellow light.

"We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives." 
II Corinthians 4:7, MSG

My belief system told me that because I didn't have a job to do providing a hat to wear (like greeter), I was value-less. I was not good enough.

"It is clear to us friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. ... Your lives (not your role) are echoing the Master's Word."
I Thessalonians 1, MSG, underlines and parentheses mine.

Sue, it's your life, who you are, Jesus in you who loves and ministers through you. Not what you do or what hat you wear.

I was not trusting truth. OUCH!
I felt I needed to create a persona, rather than be who God created me to be.

I was not trusting the truth, because my circumstances were shouting so loudly, truth totally eluded me. OUCH! OUCH!

I'm learning to listen. What might these emotions, these re-actions, these flashing yellows be trying to communicate? 

My unresolved sin of believing that lie caused me to focus on another (the gate agent) and their issue of the broken PA system and try to hide what was true about me (I was living out of a faulty belief system).

Now it's so clear. Now I can laugh ... until next time anyway. 

What are the lies that lead you into emotions and re-actions that are big yellows for you? What helps you re-claim truth? Do you see the pattern?

"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
Matthew 17:5